Having investigated my preferred option of public transport I decided to hire a car, which was a lot cheaper than I had envisaged.
I was now able to drive, within reason, wherever I wanted. I had already discovered that Vancouver Island is a damned site bigger than expected and that I would not have time to explore as much as I had hoped. In fact Vancouver Island is a tad larger than the mainland of Great Britain, so covering it in a week was out of the question.
So I set out to tentatively look at the area where my father actually lived in 1942-3. My first stop was at the British Columbia Aviation Museum, which is on the edge of Victoria Airport, formerly RAF/RCAF British Columbia. When I got there the museum was not yet open, but this place was:
The name “Mary’s Bleue Moon Café” is a tribute to the Blue Moon coffee shop that was demolished with expansion of the airport.
Here are the adverts from 1942.
Well, whatever else has changed, Mary’s Coffee Bar is still The House with the Friendly Atmosphere. I was greeted as I entered, but was more taken aback by the decor:
Apart from the model aircraft over the bar, every wall was festooned with memorabilia in the form of photographs and documents. I was soon moved to tears. A selection below:
The staff here were so friendly, and so interested in my pilgrimage and what their coffee shop had added to it, that I admit to sitting in a corner and blubbing for a few minutes.
When the museum opposite was open I made a brief visit to ask permission for a later engagement and then went in search of more locations from Dad’s photograph album, of which more in the next posting.
As a departure from the normal games in my Operation Sealion e-mail campaign, this was a relatively small, company level, skirmish.
The report is attached as a PDF and as a Word document which should allow expansion of the pictures.
PDF version Battle report G Cuckmere Haven 0900-0935
MS Word version Battle report G Cuckmere Haven 0900-0935
Day three of my trip to Victoria, British Columbia. Armed with photographs taken in 1943, some personal and some small purchased souvenir pictures, I set off with my camera around the city’s landmarks.
The first was obviously the Parliament Building.
In front of the Parliament Buildings is the War Memorial, seen here in 1943
and in 2016, with the addition of 1939-45 and 1950-53.
From there I moved on to Thunderbird Park, a small area filled with totem poles of what are now known as “First Nation” people, but which were in 1943 were referred to as Indians. The “Patrician” of April 1943 devoted several pages to the local Indian people, including these photographs of the totems:
My own photographs are shown below.
The large central picture it the oldest schoolhouse on the island which. along with the First Nation house, was not yet open for the tourist season. We have at home a wooden model of the “thunderbird” totem bought by my father. Checking the souvenir shops I found that all modern versions are cast in resin, which somehow did not make them worthwhile buying.
The final place on my town tour was the Crystal Gardens, which in 1943 was a swimming pool, but now is part of the Victoria Conference Centre. Again, I appear to have lost the 2016 photo, but here it is in 1943.
Here is the report of the battle at Winchelsea on 17th September 1940. This was an opposed landing, actually opposed only by a single Vickers Machine Gun team in a pill box.
Battle report D Winchelsea 17 Sep 0730-0900
I am currently watching the DVD of the TV series: “Fortunes of War”, based on Olivia Manning’s novel. It led me to wonder whatever happened to the novel I used to own depicting the fortunes of a New Zealand artillery battery during the Greek and Cretan campaigns of The Second World War. I have no idea what the book was called or the author, but if it rings a bell with anyone, please let me know.
in return, I rcommend the following novels, which deal with the preparation for, and subsequent battles of Normandy in 1944.
Warriors for the Working Day, Peter Elstob, 1960
Death of a Regiment, John Foley, 1959
and reverting to the 1940 campaign in France, Tramp in Armour, by Colin Forbes.