Category Archives: Canadian Hospitals WWII

March 18, 2017 – Thoughts on our trip – 3- France

Have to start by saying today was a wonderful day.  Temps in the 50’s and we took a hike in Rock Creek Park in DC and it was delightful.  Being in the woods, walking along a river, climbing hills and walking down them again.  The girls were wonderful and good sports.  We will all sleep well tonight.  The parents are out having a date night which we always try to provide for them when we come down.

So, now thoughts about France. We both enjoyed our visit to France. Going to Normandy was a good thing to do and I think we could have used one more day to see all that I wanted to see or maybe even two.  The hotel we stayed at in Bayeux was lovely and they were very helpful to us.  The one in Rouen on the other hand was not so nice and I would not send anyone else there who speaks English.  Or I would take a refresher course in French before returning there but would not stay at that hotel.  They were rude and the idea that a hotel in a tourist area only has staff that speak French is weird. No where else that we visited on this trip or others have we run into a problem where hotel staff could not assist us and just gave us the “No English” statement.  Not even the staff in the little restaurant for breakfast were helpful.

Seeing just one of the cemeteries from WWII was moving.  The men were so young and there were unmarked graves, they know the soldier was a Brit but they did not find their ID.  I imagine today they should be able to use DNA to figure out who they were.  We did not get to the Juno Beach as I wanted but that was because I was sick to my stomach that morning..  I think more time is needed to deal with and confront feelings as one visits the various sites.  By the time my Aunt Pat arrived in Mid July 1944 the troops had moved on as they were pushing back the German’s pretty quickly at that point.  Things were slower in Belgium and that is where Pat really experienced bombing and large numbers of soldiers coming in quickly from the front either to be fixed up to be sent home or to have their hands held as they died. And some went back to fight another day.

War is not something I have ever had to confront myself and even during the Viet Nam War I did not have close friends that I knew were there.. I might have found out about old classmates much later but not during the actual War.  And I do know if my brother had been drafted I would have taken him to Canada and left him there. No way would I have wanted him over there. It was a useless war and not one that brought about feelings of patriotism.  They were no direct threat to us so why were we fighting them.

But in WWII it was obvious that we needed to be there.  I had two aunts, and one uncle actually over there near or in the battle areas.  Also another Uncle worked with the US on developing treatments for those coming back with what we now call PTSD.  I found some articles he had written about this.  And on my Dad’s side he had cousins who lived in England fighting from the very beginning of the Brits being involved. And some lost their lives.  I never knew any of this but research has opened up those pages of the family history in both World Wars.

France was nice but either we needed longer or a different approach to our visit.  Maybe going their first and then up to Belgium might have helped give a clearer feeling about Pat’s travels. I will never know one way or the other now will I?

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March 17, 2017 – Thoughts on our trip – 2- Belgium

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Hope you all had a grand day.  We drove down to see our Grandkids..

Belgium was the second leg of our trip.  It is a lovely country, we enjoyed the food, the sights, the history and the chocolate.  And I discovered Advocatt the wonderful drink which is very unique. Yellow, egg nog flavoured, and great with whipped cream and I bet would be delicious in chocolate cups.

We visited three cities. We stayed in Gent/Ghent and took day trips to Antwerp and Bruges.  I wanted to see where my aunt had served in WWII and it was eye opening. Not what I found but what I did not find.  It took me a while to understand the history that made Belgians not willing to to talk about WWII.  First we tried to find in Antwerp the marker for the theater that was bombed and hundreds of people died. We could not find the marker. We had the address but could not find the marker.  I had contacted some history group there and they told me about the marker but could not help me with the location of the hospital.  When we got there I asked the tourist folks for some help and they could not help at all.

We did go and search out some sights with no luck.  At some point I realized that I had seen no memorials to WWII.  Finally towards the end of our day in Antwerp I found one plaque to the Canadian Division #3 which was the force that Aunt Pat was friends with so many people.   About that time we had a long discussion about the lack of statues or walls with names of  the dead in any of the cities we had visited.  Belgium was one of the first countries taken by the Germans and they had a resistance movement but others just went along with being taken over. Basically saving their lives but not fighting things.  They probably did not have an army or if so it would have been small.  We decided that they just don’t like to talk about that part of their history.

But aside from not finding what I had come to find and acknowledging that I need to return and actually to talk to some folks. There must be some historians who have studied that period and know it.

Belgium is a place you can put on your places to go list. It is wonderful there. The folks are wonderful and friendly and helpful. Good food was had, good coffee, desserts, hotels, shops etc.  Just really enjoyed it there.

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February 18, 2017 – War Day

We changed our plans this morning after I was up again last night in the middle of the night.  My stomach definitely is not happy with the food in France.  I decided no matter what I would stay off of gluten today and proudly I did.

What we did today was walk up to the Museum of the Normandy invasion.  Boy it is enough to make you sad and mellow.  They had very little about the hospitals but some about the Canadian 3rd Division that Pat writes about all the time since her friends were all part of it.  So tragic the loss of lives over the month of the assault on Caen.

I did get a picture of the Bridges’s that she talked about in her letters across the Seine that the engineers were able to make usable after being bombed.  It was impressive to see pictures of them.  I did not focus on the machinery or the weapons.  It was a just war but still so painful for so many.

After that we walked over to the British Commonwealth memorial and the cemetery.  Again so sad to see all those graves and the book of names of the dead.  Especially the graves with just no name on them but maybe a rank and group they belonged to but unidentified.  It is a very quiet place as people walk around.

From there we went down into the town again and got some lunch. I had a stuffed baked potato with cheddar cheese and onions and a little salad.  It was really good.

From there we walked to the Tapestry Museum.  This is a must see item if you are traveling in Normandy.  It is the story of the Battle of 1066.  William the Conqueror battling Harold.  It is huge and they have finally figured out how to display it without damaging it further.  70 meters long and 55 centimeters high.  They give every one a hand held speakers to listen in their own language to the story of the war as displayed in the tapestry.  They believe the stitching was done a few years after the battle but they are unsure where it was done, England or Normandy.  It is impressive and worth seeing.

Then on the other two floors they have displays and a movie.  I was so tired I fell asleep during the 20 minute film.  They were just retelling the story of the tapestry so I don’t think I missed much and really needed the rest. Was wishing we had sat through the next French version of the film so could have slept longer.

Walking back to the hotel we stopped for coffee and a sweet at a lovely shop. I had a raspberry  thingy which was soooooo good and my third cup of coffee for the day. I never do that.  And even at that when we got back to the hotel I fell a sleep again.

After a rest we went out to dinner which I hardly ate, hate wasting good food and money but my stomach was just not up to it.  So after I finish writing this I am going to sleep.  Taking something to hopefully keep me asleep until morning.  We have a cab coming at 10 to drive us up along the coast to our next hotel.  Should be a nice ride and hopefully he won’t mind stopping for a few pictures a long the way

the following two sites will let you learn more  about what we saw today..

 

http://www.bayeuxmuseum.com/en/la_tapisserie_de_bayeux_en.html

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayeux_Commonwealth_War_Graves_Commission_Cemetery

 

February 17, 2017 – Short but Sweet

Yup, that is me…  Also my day today.  Actually last night was a rough sleeping night for some reason.  I woke up in the middle of the night and did sleep again but not well.     We were up early and left the hotel and headed for the train station.  Stopped for something to eat before we hit the station.  We were very early for our train so we went on line and caught up with the latest news.  All bad of course.

We got the train for Caen and the ride was lovely.  Saw lots of farms, small villages, horses, cows etc.   It was not a long ride, just about two hours. Then we had 20 minutes to find the train for Bayeux.  Only issue was they did not have an escalator and I cannot carry my big bag up and down stairs so Denis had to do both of them.  The ride was only 19 minutes but we got to ride in one of those cars with private doors for each group of seats.  The kind you see in the movies.

We arrived and walked down to the hotel.  It was about half a mile to get here.  they don’t have an elevator so the woman at the desk carried my bag up the stairs.  It is a nice place so no complaints.  After settling in we headed down to the tourist office and got some info on what we could do to get to the landing beaches where the Canadians entered France.  We tried to see if anyone was doing a tour tomorrow but no luck.  We really did not want an all day tour of all the various beaches since Juno is where my Aunt Pat and all the other Canadians arrived.  So after trying several tour companies etc and knowing the price of a taxi we are opting to try and rent a car in the morning just for the day.  If that works we will do that otherwise we will hire a taxi for four hours or so.  Really, it is just money right?

Then we took a walk.  The old town is so charming and the streets much narrower than some of the other towns.  I love the architecture of the old buildings.  The Cathedral was open so we went in and walked around a bit.  Then went and found someplace to eat since we really had not had much all day.  I was starving.

Am not putting up pictures at the moment because I have to fix something with my system.  I think I am going to bite the bullet and pay the cloud for some space and that should fix the problem.  I am tired of deleting pictures from the last couple of years that I am not sure i have on my computer at home.

So not sure what the adventure tomorrow will be but it will be what it will be.

Sweet dreams all and I hope I have some myself rather than the yucky ones I had last night.

A picture I got off of Wikipedia.  Shows you the charm of Bayeux. I took a picture looking the other direction as I was standing on that little balcony looking at the water wheel.

June 20, 2015 – Summer is coming!!!

Today was a wonderful day.  Slept in longer than I had thought I would. Actually was shocked to see that it was  9:30 so I jumped up, probably too quickly, and dressed and found out we had no visitors yet.   Michael stopped by a little later to pick up his Bee suit.. Had a tea and chat and enjoyed that start to the day.  Then Ron stopped and helped us move the table upstairs and a chair so I can start planning how I will work up there. Have to decide whether to look out the window or down at the school house wall.  .

D and I sat outside and read and chatted and I could feel the relaxation setting in. No TV, no newspaper to spend an hour reading.  Just time for us to spend together doing things we enjoy. The day seemed to go that way.  We went to St. Denis’ Church in Athens to Mass at 5 pm. It is interesting. I have a bet on that the priest is on the Aspergers Syndrome.  He never looks directly in your eyes and he is just so cute and quick about saying the Mass.  Afterwards we chatted a little bit with Gerry Flood and his wife Pat.  He is not a relative but does work on the same Flood family that is related to ours.  We think they are connected but have not figured out how yet.

Also charged the car today so going to church we got something like 73 miles per gallon.. wow. can see how for local driving this could be a real money saver…

The big treat was dinner at Petra’s..  For those of you who don’t live in Canada, every town has a “chip- wagon” Our local one is Petra’s but hers is a step above everyone else’s.  She uses local farmers as suppliers, and the chips are cut there and fried. They are so good.  I gave myself a gluten free holiday and had a chicken burger, fries and a ginger ale.  Not very healthy but so good and fun to sit outside and eat dinner with my guy.  Here is Petra’s facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/petrasplacelyndhurst?rf=397658003620885

Suppose to rain tomorrow so will work on setting up my work area.  Also I went through one of Aunt Madelines scrapbook and found some really interesting articles that would make good rainy day reading.  She has a ton of articles about the history of Kingston Ontario, Queens University and some things about the family.  If I find anything good I will write about it later.

Letter mailed from Truro – ordinary envelope/ 18 May/ No lll / Truro / May 18 / 7:30 pm/ 1944
Thurs. May 18th ‘44

Dear All,

Well we are still in the ward, only now it is full to the door plus another ward making 81 all together – it is jammed to the door.   There are girls from Vancouver, Winnipeg, London, Toronto and Ottawa + us. So far Mary Doyle, Mary Kennedy + myself have stayed together to a degree.

I did a huge washing last night and ironed it to-day and really didn’t mind it at all. I certainly enjoy my writing case very much as it is just right to carry and you can write on it so easily. We have to go to report to Transit Officer now – shall add more later.

Well it is now 1:30 and we are all sitting on our beds reading etc. We had our instructions and for Johns sake do not say I’ve written this, we will be here 1 week from to-day and as far as you know you have not heard from me since I’ve arrived – you heard once from me – since I’ve arrived. That is all – understand, but I shall go on writing daily as long as I am able to.

We are not doing a thing other than check-up business such as rechecking documents etc.

We have this week-end off, as far as we know – so we phoned Fitz in Halifax and as far as I know we will go down there to-morrow Friday noon, and stay till Sunday nite, as it will give us a chance to see Halifax. They are planning a dance for us Mon or Tues night as there are 81 of us, there will be quite a crowd.

So far I have $40 left so I’m going alright. They also sold us bar of chocolate bars so I got some Oh Henry and refilled my little black box and it is a grand little box so handily.

I have not been able to contact Bob yet but shall try again to-night as we will be here for a week.

They were sure we were pulling out to-day noon but there was an upset- when we do pull out there will be a 3 hour notice – so – you might get a card at least.

Well there is no real news, this shall be all for now. Do give me Father Martin’s address as I want to write him an extra special thank letter as he was so nice to come out to the station.

It is raining and very dreary out. Well dears this is all for now and shall write soon again
We are not drilling or anything yet and I guess will not be,

Love + Kisses
Sheila