No 1 Special Wireless Group - A Brief History
The members of No. 1 Canadian Special Wireless Group produced a souvenir booklet before leaving Australia. The short history and the section write-ups that follow are extracts from this booklet.
No. 1 Special Wireless Group - A Brief History
In June of 1944, the Minister of National Defence authorized the formation of:
- Serial 1657 - No. 1 Special Wireless Group, R.C. Signals.
- Serial 1798 - No. 1 Special Wireless Group Intelligence Section, C. Int. C.
Staff work in connection with the formation and equipping of the group had been going on in Ottawa for some months, and as soon as the formation was approved action was taken by the Director of Signals and the Director of Military Intelligence to post Officers and men to the two Units.
The first four members of the group were Capt. H.L. Hall, Capt. R.E. March, Lt. J.H. Legere, and Lt. J.D. Miller, who were posted to it on July first.
It had been decided that the unit should be formed and trained at Gordon Head Camp, Vancouver Island, and on July thirteenth Capt. Hall, who was then the acting C.O., and Capt. March, the Adjutant, arrived in Victoria and commenced work. The first N.C.O. to reach Victoria was C.Q.M.S. H.S. Carleton, and the first O.R's, five former members of No. 10 Area Signal Company, Vancouver. They arrived at Gordon Head on July fifteenth.
Throughout the balance of July, officers, N.C.O's, and men continued to arrive, some of the vehicles were received, and equipment and stores reached the Victoria dock in an ever increasing flow.
On August first when Lt-Col. H.D.W. Wethey arrived in Victoria to take command of the unit, its strength was 5 officers and 49 men. It shortly became apparent that Gordon Head Camp could not hold both our unit and the Casualty Retraining Centre which was beginning to move in. On August eleventh, the unit moved in its own transport to Mills Road Camp, Patricia Bay.
The unit rapidly began to take shape. Personnel continued to come into the unit until, by the end of August, the strength was up to 253. The first task was to set up the station and the necessary aerial masts and to prepare the training huts. Also, there was the well-known general cleanup of the camp.
On August twenty-first Cpl. Kurtz of the Kent Regt. and two other N.C.O's commenced instruction in basic subjects. On the same date the first classes were held for the training of 0perators Monitor Sigs. By this time sections were forming up and new men were being posted for training and duty.
The Glee Club has the honor of being the first club formed in the unit. A group of interested personnel met in Hut 11 on August thirty-first and a Glee Club was formed having as its immediate aim the presentation of an "amateur night" in conjunction with the Legion movie. This day was also marked by the first opening of the Wet Canteen.
On September twenty-fifth Maj-General G.R. Pearkes, V.C. G.O.C. of Pacific Command visited the camp. After inspecting the troops on the M.T. compound parade square he continued a visit of the unit in training.
During the month of October the unit was well entertained with a Variety Show presented by the Glee Club which followed a movie program. Also a Concert Party and a Variety Show were presented by the Canadian Legion.
Packing of equipment began at the end of October. A packing expert from the United States had come to instruct in the packing following the arrival of most of the equipment during the month of September.
The good news regarding furloughs was received on November fourth following Lt-Col Wethey's return from a trip to N.D.H.Q. Embarkation leave together with seven days furlough was to be granted. The following week the radio station closed, training classes ended, and all available personnel were engaged in the task of completing the packing.
The first weeks of December saw the camp practically empty with the members being away on leave. The final packing was completed and the equipment moved to the docks at Ogden Point.
Christmas day was marked by a light-fall of snow giving the much deserved "White Christmas." In the morning a parade of all personnel was held and the C.O. gave a talk outlining future plans. The Unit, he said, would be moving to Australia. Christmas dinner with all the trimmings was served by the Officers and Sergeants. The two mess halls were well decorated for the occasion with fir boughs, a Christmas tree in the centre of the hall, and red and green table decorations.
New Year's was spent waiting for departure. In the first week of the New Year the unit was inspected by Maj-Gen. G.R. Pearkes and by Col. W.L. Laurie, Director of Signals. Maj-Gen. Pearkes gave a farewell message.
On January thirteenth a convoy of motor vehicles moved the unit out of Mills Road Camp. Embarking on the CPR Princess Charlotte the unit sailed to Seattle from where it proceeded to Camp Stoneman, California. Here followed five days of perfect relaxation and enjoyment. Approximately two hundred members of the unit visited San Fransisco and the remainder enjoyed entertainment in Pittsburg and Camp Stoneman itself. While at Camp Stoneman, Col. Guy Gurney, Canadian Military Attache to Washington inspected the unit and took the salute on the march past.
Too soon the stay at Camp Stoneman ended. By river boat the unit was transported to San Fransisco where the USAT Monterey was boarded and at six o'clock on the evening of January twentieth the unit sailed out under the Golden Gate. During the first few days many of the members suffered from "mal de mer" but in a few days the sea calmed down and they gained their sea legs.
The trip was made with personnel of several other countries. Members of the USO provided entertainment and a fairly comprehensive library of fiction was placed at our disposal. This helped immeasurably in passing the time. In addition there was a "GI" show held with personnel of the unit taking part. On January twenty-eighth the Equator was crossed. King Neptune and his party boarded the ship and all personnel were subjected to his court until proven "shellbacks". The following day we had the experience of crossing the International Date Line and losing a day.
Early on the morning of February fourth, we put into our first port, Finschafen, in that tropical paradise of New Guinea. Two days were spent here taking on water and supplies and unloading mail. From here we continued on up to Hollandia where American units were disembarked and our unit changed over to the ill-famed USAT Shawnee. After sitting under an equatorial sun awaiting the pleasure of "This is Major Johnson the Transport Commander," troops were finally allowed aboard to find the bunks already occupied by lice, bed-bugs and cock. roaches. The remainder of the afternoon and the following morning were taken up with the job of disinfecting and cleaning the ship's quarters. From Hollandia we sailed on February tenth, proceeding down the New Guinea coast and stopping at Oro Bay (where American troops and casualties embarked) and at Milne Bay for oil.
The very welcome sensation of again feeling solid ground underfoot was experienced on February sixteenth when we docked at Brisbane. Lt. Legere, who with Lt. Larkin had travelled to Australia earlier by air, met the unit and directed us to Chermside Camp. The stay in Brisbane was marked by the overwhelming hospitality of the Australians. The Australian Comforts Fund arranged week-ends to interesting districts in the suburbs of Brisbane. All was not play while the unit was at Brisbane. M.T. prepared their vehicles for future use, the operators worked with the No. 1 Australian Special Wireless Group, and members of Intercom took classes in operating and procedure. In addition to this routine work, the equipment had to be moved and various fatigues carried out in the camp. On March fifth the unit was inspected by General Sir Thomas Blamey, Commander of Allied Forces in the South- West Pacific Area.
A sad event for all in the unit was the death of Sgmn. D.J. Green on March third. He was drowned at Maroochydore while surf bathing. Services for the late Sigmn Green were held on March fifth at St. Joseph's R.C. Church, Nambour, and burial was at Woombye-Palmwoods Military Cemetery.
On April fourth the unit departed from Camp Chermside to Exhibition Station where it boarded a train. The three day train trip to Mt. Isa was one which will not soon be forgotten. Attempts to sleep in crowded day coaches, eating mutton three times a day and a detour at Home Hill because a railway bridge had been washed out were interesting details in Queensland's mode of travel.
At Mt. Isa a two and a half day stop was spent unloading the equipment from the train onto trucks. In the evenings Mt. Isa was visited and although some had difficulty in making the return journey to camp, all agreed that they had a good time. From Mt. Isa the trip to Darwin was made by motor vehicles, stopping each evening at staging camps. Upon arrival at McMillan's Road Camp in Darwin on April eighteenth the unit was played into camp by the N.T. Force Band.
Work commenced immediately preparing the camp for use. Antennaes were laid out, trenches were dug for cable, the station was set up and numerous other necessary tasks were completed. On April thirtieth the first regular shift went on duty at the station. As the unit commenced its work it was found necessary to re-organize the sections in order to form a more efficient working organization.
On May eighth the news came of the cessation of hostilities in Europe. The unit heard Prime-Minister Winston Churchill's broadcast on the BBC through station 5DR. The following day a Thanksgiving Service was held. Major Pick gave a short address and also read a special Order of the Day by Maj-Gen. J.J. Murray, G.O.C.N.T. Force. The remainder of the day was declared a holiday.
The unit was now prepared to take over the complete job formerly done by the Australian Special Wireless Group. On May eighteenth, although Australians were still maintained, the Canadian Special Wireless Group became responsible for the working of the station. On May fourteenth classes were resumed for the instruction of partially trained operators. The Rear Party arrived on May thirty-first providing additional personnel for the work.
With the unit running smoothly, personnel were able to devote more time to sports and activities. All the clubs began to function. The "Static Press" started weekly publications on June fourth. The Glee Club was active preparing for the recital by the Darwin Choral Society and for a variety show put on in the camp on August twentieth in conjunction with the "Canuck" orchestra. Besides this the quartette "Harmony Four" appeared weekly on 5DR. The Camera Club commenced building a dark room where members could work. The first unit dance in Australia was held on July sixteenth with the "Canuck" orchestra supplying the music. A regular feature of the camp's entertainment was the movies which were shown three times a week through the kindness of the U.S. Signal Corps. In addition a sports program was arranged including the favorite camp sports of softball, volleyball, swimming and boxing.
On August second, Col. Moore Cosgrave, Canadian Military Attache to Australia, visited the unit. In the afternoon he inspected the unit on parade and took the salute on the march past. After the parade Col. Cosgrave congratulated all ranks on parade for the splendid turn out and the general conduct of the unit since coming to Australia.
The news of Japan's acceptance of the Allied surrender terms laid down at the Potsdam conference came on August fifteenth. A Thanksgiving Service was held with 85th Wing R.A.A.F. led by Chaplain Clayden of the above Wing. The remainder of the day and the day following was declared a holiday for all troops not on duty.
Within the short span of a year the gigantic tasks of organizing, training, moving overseas, and going into operation had been accomplished. The Job assigned to this unit has been carried out, and in such a manner as to win the praise of those under whom it worked. The history of the unit will not be complete until it has arrived back in Canada and has been disbanded. However, regardless of what follows, members of the unit can stand with those of other Canadian Units, proud of their record.
The majority of the members of this Section were among the original personnel posted to the unit when it was first organized at Gordon Head. All were experienced tradesmen, some having worked at least four years at their trade before coming to the unit. For five months we laboured days (and many nights) with documents, inoculations, optometrists reports, leaves and furloughs and the many administrative tasks necessary to prepare the Unit for overseas service.
Proceeding overseas involved an adventurous trip which was at times, both exciting and dull. A little over a month and a half of travelling found us set up in a "fresh air" camp near Brisbane. It was at a seaside resort near here that a popular member of H.Q., D.J. Green, met with an unfortunate accident and was drowned in the surf. After a period of two short months which we spent accustoming ourselves to Australian life and enjoying, the generous hospitality, of the citizens of Brisbane and the surrounding country, we were given orders to march on Darwin. It is noted at this time, that none of the numerous eligible bachelors of H.Q. succumbed to the blandishments of the Australian female and all were able to proceed with a clear conscience (I wonder) on the rail and road trip to that Nemesis, Darwin, anathema to all Australian diggers.
Arriving at Darwin, we lost a number of our clerks to Intercomm Section. The following is the remains of H.Q. section:- CSM Addy, who was acquired from Vimy. We realize his presence most every Wednesday afternoon especially when he says "March On". Our Pay Office crew, S/Sgt. Ross, Sgt. Whaley ("Thank God I'll be too old for the next war") and then of course, our Orderly Room Staff, who think they have had many troubles but seem no worse for wear. Sgt. Flynn, in this day of accommodation shortage can always tell you where to get a hotel reservation. Ask him about the time he secured one in the Officers Annex to the Crosby Hotel. Cpl. Riley, hut gardening arranged at your convenience. Cpl. Simpson, shorthand artist. Sigmn. Fox, a gentleman and a scholar, who can swim farther, dive deeper, come up higher and drier than any man that ever lived, a sport and can't help it, too good for this world and heaven's bound to be his home (his own words). Sigmn. Scott, the boy from Newfoundland, who was with us in the Orderly Room until one month ago when he took over the management of the men's Rec. Hut, where he has done a swell Job. Cpl. Mills, as Officers Mess steward, has mothered the officers and made the Mess a home away from home. Sigmn. Ein, originally our postal orderly and now Men's Canteen steward is doing nicely as a bartender. Sigmn. Mizzi, our ex- Orderly Room runner is at present helping the cooks in the kitchen. Sgt. Markham (the Digger) who looks after our ailments and Cpl. Faulds, who minds the Post Office, are our two representatives from the Australian Army.
Last, but not least are our officers. Lt-Col. Wethey, our C.0. has given a considerable boost to the sale of that Canadian product, Buckleys "Canadiol", in this country. Great interest is being taken in our C.O. at present, a smile means we get out of here in two weeks, a frown, two months. It is rumoured that our 2 ic, Major Pick, has his eye on a certain cement mixer to take back to Canada as a souvenir. Major Rowland, who has always ensured an adequate water supply for the Admin. Bldg. has never been found wanting at the pay parades twice monthly. Captain Reid ("Oh, balderdash"), is our present adjutant.
In summing up, your writer would like to report that the Section, as always, is ready at a moments notice to pack up and move, in the direction of Canada this time we hope.
"Q" Section is composed of three different groups-- Q.M. stores staff, the cooking staff and a sanitation Corporal. This is the section which keeps everyone in the unit clothed, fed and happy.
Cpl. Frank Pizzuto who hails from Edmonton, is an old and faithful member of the Q.M. staff. His favourite pastime is softball in which he excells on the mound. During the softball season he was a member of T.M. Section's team. Cpl. Bill Clark from Toronto is also an old faithful of the Q.M. establishment. Enjoys softball behind the plate and during the season was catching Pizzuto's slants for T.M. Johnny Toole from the ?herring choker's country" of St Johns, N.B., is a new member of the staff, having previously been engaged as a driver batman. He is not a ball player but never misses a game if given the chance to see one. These three, and C.Q.M.S. "Stan" Carleton have done a fine Job in the stores. Their motto is "If its in a box, we will move it."
The cooks arrived at Pat Bay from all over Canada. Jim Crosland and George Stott came from Chilliwack, B.C. Lou Gamache and Casey Underhill from Borden, Hugh Fletcher Stan Turon and Ken Hewitt from Red Deer, Alberta, Ernie Podjan from Work Point barracks in Victoria and Sgt McAleece and Johnny Comanic from Calwood, Vancouver Island. As they say themselves they "Have slung hash all over Canada and know all the tricks."
The cooks look back on their trip to Australia as a complete holiday. They did some cooking on the Shawnee but their only comment on that experience is "Thank God we are not in the navy." Upon arrival in Australia they were faced with the task of adjusting their work to Australian kitchens and rations which they will assure you was no small task.
Despite the well-known army beefs about food, the cooks are well liked by everyone in the unit. Kitchen fatigues, if nothing else, have made them all familiar to us--Johnny and Stan with their water fights, Casey's shaved head, Jim on the night shift, Stotty's and Lou's daily remark, "Why are you fellows always late", Fletch's good-willing cheerfulness to give second helpings and Sgt. McAleece's game of chance in the early morning hours are known to all.
Last but not least in "Q" Section is Cpl Crosby in charge of sanitation. "Bing" was originally in Training Section but took over sanitation when we arrived in Darwin and has done an excellent job.
The hours of work in "Q" Section have prevented us from extensive participation in many of the activities of the unit. In spite of this we have enjoyed our life and work here. We will recall with pleasure the many card games, the sports, and the evening firesides which have made camp life interesting.
T.M. Section was, for a long period a mystery to other members of the unit. There was some doubt in their minds as to which letter came first. However, we no longer have to suffer being mistaken for a certain Section that gets trimmed nearly every night at volleyball. Today everyone realizes the multiplicity of our duties, for it was T.M. that gave them that pretty station and kept it running. It was T.M. that was responsible for most of the improvements in the camp.
It might be well to mention a few of the unsung heroes of T.M. We have Moffat, Shera and Sampson our linemen deluxe--the boss, the brains and the brawn behind our camp power system. Cooper too is a lineman. Sid is the inside man at the exchange and, incidentally, is considering settling in Darwin and growing peanuts.
We often wonder if Chartrand will say the same things when he is awakened at home as he does when Bell does the job? Gord is our industrious "wood butcher" and Al is our machinist.
Holm and Trottier are the long and short of it. Slim is our literary genius who should be writing this. Jean-Paul and Ted Loney make up 50% of the now famous "Harmony Four". They also get entangled in the queerest arguments heard this side of the Pacific.
Sgt. Cook is our radio expert and the only one in the shop that can put a recordagraph together and have nothing left over. There is also Jim Davis, the Ontario cowboy. We used to wonder why he went outside to practice but now that he has moved inside we know. Wright comes to work at weird hours and hides behind an array of meters. We haven't discovered yet what he does--they say it is top secret. Dave Porteous is reported to be working on a weapon to conteract the Atomic bomb. When questioned about this he mumbled something about north and south poles and why wouldn't it. Pegg was sorely missed on third base in the softball finals. Ray is our advance party in the south. Morris is the man with the voice--well it's loud anyway. Ernie is a one man cheering section. "Doc Blast Em" Sherman is the guardian of Technical Stores and section canteen "Rep". Then there is Len Reid, T.M.'s softball coach and local mastermind. Our Lloyd Maywood knew the exact distance to the moon to the surprise of 5DR.
Rhodes is our new screen star. Watch for him in the newsreels carrying a typewriter. Dowling helps Dusty on typewriters, but at present Gord is supervisor of imported labour. Trudeau took over the indirect lighting business from Dusty and is also "G.O.C." mobile workshop. All complaints regarding this article should be sent to the "ladies" of the T.M. bridge club who railroaded McEachern into the job in his absence.
Finally we have "Staff" Roy, Jackson and Potts. Although they are not actually in T.M. we still have to put up with them. "Handle Bar Harry" is the one and only holder of the "Tropo Star". Potts spends his time walking in circles. We hear that "Staff" Roy, our aimable "F of S", is considering staying in the rabbit business.
So that's T.M. Section. We have had many good times together and now look forward to the days when we shall meet again in civvies.
M.T. was first combined with Technical Maintenance under the command of Capt. J.H. Padfield who returned to Ottawa before the unit moved overseas. Subsequently the section officers have been Capt. March, Lt. Legere, and presently Lt. Rutherglen. This section when it left Canada was composed of thirty-six all ranks. It included fitters, drivers mechanic, drivers I.C., and diesel power plant Operators.
A great deal of credit is due the members of the section for the efficient manner in which their vehicles were prepared for the trip overseas. Aside from minor scratches the vehicles arrived overseas in excellent condition. Upon arrival in Australia no little trouble was experienced in the sudden change from right to left hand driving. Many amusing incidents occurred but in short order the drivers became accustomed to the new methods.
The pleasant but short stay in Brisbane was spent unpacking and readying the M.T. equipment for the next move. There was, however, ample time to develop an exceptionally good section softball team and to partake of the fine Australian hospitality.
In conjunction with the Australian Army which transported the M.T. equipment by rail to Mt. Isa, a group from the section safeguarded the vehicles on the journey. From Mt. Isa the overland highway to Darwin presents an unparalleled test both to the stamina and physical training of drivers and to the maintenance and quality required of motor vehicles. With these qualities the drivers withstood the grueling test with little more than a few sore backs!
With a large complement of vehicles the M.T. Section was confronted with a great deal of work upon arrival in Darwin. In a matter of eight weeks, however, everything was well under control. Under the supervision of Cpl. Wagers a grease ramp (which became the show-piece of the M.T.Compound) was constructed, impregnable to everything but Australia's white ants.
Aside from the normal activities of an M.T. section many other important obligations have been fulfilled. Bill Fraser undertook the responsibility of supplying the unit with wood. The diesel operators demonstrated their worth in providing the unit with a never ending supply of electricity. Eight others proved their trust and capabilities serving as driver batmen for the unit officers.
On the lighter side we look back on the volleyball contests held with T.M. Although there was often more argument than ball playing we claim to have come out the victors. The games were further enlivened by Paul "The Kingston Kid" Murray who insisted upon kicking the ball with his feet. As a morale builder we believe Benny Black takes the championship with Cpl. Wagers running him a close second. We salute Benny for his daily rumors hot off the press which kept us believing that we would be leaving for home the very next day. Cpl. Wagers kept us happy by continually renewing our hopes of receiving campaign pay. For morale busters, Ken Walker and Gordie Wilson both tried their best. Ken "The Little Boy from Bracebridge" who had to be kicked out of bed each morning and Wilson who consistently held five aces in the hut card games caused headaches.
The Section as a whole has shown willingness to do their Job and do it well. In doing so we have helped to better the efficiency of this unit.
No. 1 Operating (Station) Section
Along with the other elements of the Group, the Ops. were mustered at Gordon Head and Patricia Bay, B.C. from August, 1944 to January, 1945. The personnel from this section were recruited mainly from the Canadian Special Wireless stations and later augmented by partially trained members from all parts of the Dominion.
Throughout their stay in Canada they all went through the various stages of Basic Training, endless fatigues, operated a Special Wireless station and still found time for recreation together. Then came the trip to Australia and we shared the doubtful beauties of the Islands and New Guinea, along with the other forms of torture necessary to a long ocean voyage on a troopship. Upon arriving in Australia we immediately began to adapt ourselves to the different Australian way of life and adjusted ourselves in matters pertaining to their recreation, work and customs.
Then came the never-to-be-forgotten trip north to Darwin and our subsequent endeavours in trying to make our camp livable according to our standards. Such words as "improvise" became the order of the day until we settled down to the everyday run of camp life and made the best of what we found.
During our stay here the Ops. have done a marvellous job in their army profession and have acquitted themselves to the best Canadian tradition. We have held a major role in winning for this unit the highest commendation from those whose job it has been to make use of our labors.
During all the hard work we have found time for sport and recreation. Although the "Trained Ops" have not won any major competitions in the sport line, they have held the top spot in the softball league and only lost out in the finals to the hard hitting kids of No. 2 Operating Section.
There are many of us who will look back on our stay here with mixed feelings. Many strong friendships have been built around our everyday life together. Many incidents, both humorous and tragic, have taken place in the section but most of us will only remember the humorous side. Incidents will be talked and laughed over for years to come whenever a few of us get together, and the friendships formed here will be a source of enjoyment throughout our civilian life in years to come.
We came overseas to do a Job as trained operators. We have done that Job to the best of our ability in spite of numerous difficulties. Not one us will fail to be able to look back on these days with justifiable pride knowing that we accomplished what we set out to do.
No. 2 Operating Section
No. 2 Operating Section or Training Section came to Pat Bay from camps all across the Dominion. We were drawn from various units--Armoured Corps, R.C.A., Infantry, etc. After the initial task of cleaning up Pat Bay camp we began training under WO 1 Halliday and his group of instructors. In the next three and a half months we recall our efforts to ensure a week-end pass to Vancouver, the many arguments which occurred in theory class, and Sgt-Major Halliday looking over the rims of his glasses and beginning one of his many tirades with, "You boys think?"
Leaving Pat Bay we took in the night life of San Fransisco and "enjoyed" our cruise on the luxury liner SS Monterey. At Chermside we shared the camp fatigues and enjoyed the social life of Brisbane. In Darwin after a period as common laborers, No. 2 returned to training classes under Lt. Legere. Sgt Vaughan-Smith and Sgt Balcom were the instructors. After guiding us through the intricacies of procedure classes Sgt Vaughan-Smith left us to enter the station and we received two instructors from the Bear Party--L/Cpl "Andy" Anderson and L/Cpl "Rhythm Jim" Vernon. One of the high-lights of the Training Ops stay in Darwin was the section Anniversary party held at the beach. Supper rations, beer and lolly water were taken to the beach and the evening was spent in singing and spinning yarns about the past year.
Our section carried out its own extensive program of sports. In softball, the section had a three team league which operated twice a week. It was an exciting schedule and Jessiman's hard-fought Bludgers came out on top over the Lasthopes and the Sluggers. The players on the winning Bludger team were: Jessiman, Boileau, Murphy, Roberts, Hunter, Palmer, Wilhelm, Wilkinson, Grant, Clark, Kensett, and Vernon. The six team volleyball league provided all of us with plenty of fun and excitement. Tommy Middleton's Winners cane out on top after playing great ball to defeat Corbett's Dodgers in the semi-finals and Campbell's Didahdits in the finals. The Winners lineup was as follows: Middleton (Capt), Clark, Rousseau, Murphy, McNicol, Hutchison, Lawton, Bodman, Lindon, and Scott. In track and field, we visited 3 W.U. for a sports day which included not only track and field events, but also softaball, volleyball and badminton. We won over the Aussies by a narrow margin. Training Section's sports were a complete success. The main idea behind the extensive program was to get everyone "in the act". This certainly was achieved. To Lt. Legere goes much of the credit for organizing this program and for its successful completion.
The year together has brought a lot of laughs for No. 2 Op. and we hope we have not caused too many headaches for the other members of the unit. We have been well represented in the unit activities with members in all four camp clubs. In sports we have more than held our own, winning all three unit championships including the coveted softball league, table tennis and horseshoes.
In looking back over the past year we can see ourselves in future years remembering such instances as: "Hutch's" feeble cry at 7.30, "Time to get up?"; D'Avignon's adventures at Mt. Isa; Tommy Miiddleton's "Come on bones, roll for daddy"; Bill Murray's parcels; 0scar's grin; "Major" Bartholomew's "Two and six? please"; Kensett's love affairs; Jim Groome's great midnight fight; Clark's thoughtful endeavors to make us all better men; Art Johnson's many escapades which he took with a smile; Trumpour's and Montrieul's moustaches; "Boombaw's" record player; Boileau with Clark's guitar; Marshall's celebration on V-J Day and the many other instances in our life together.
The Rear Party
Last March a draft of twenty men was made up in Vimy and after spending a furlough at home assembled in Vancouver. Here we were joined by twelve men from the Intelligence Corps, five men from the Victoria Station, our Sergeant-Major, and four officers. This group of men comprised the Rear Party which left Vancouver on April 9, 1945. Sailing from Los Angeles, we arrived in Melbourne on May 4, and began the trip northward. We stopped in Brisbane for a four-day leave before continuing. Then on to Mount Isa where we proceeded by convoy up the Defence Highway to Larrimah. From here we travelled aboard the "Spirit of Protest", that infamous train of the North. We Joined the unit in Darwin, May 31, after a trip which lasted fifty-three days.
Immediately we began to adapt ourselves for life in the great Australian "out-back." The first few days our complexions darkened and we could no longer be called "white men" by those who had come before us. After three weeks of hardening-in by such things as laying water pipe, hauling rocks, mixing cement and erecting a building, we commenced our work.
In our spare time we have added a few conveniences to our hut to make it more comfortable. Those two rustic benches around our fire-place have been a source of enjoyment for every one of us. Here we gather in the evenings to talk of days gone by and plan for days ahead while the flames rise upward to the night and shadows play across the ruddy faces of the boys. Visitors from all over the camp come to enjoy our fireside. Thanks to "Moe" Guennette and "Gumba" Gamberg, there is always tea and sometimes even more than that.
The boys of the Rear Party quickly fused in with the rest of the unit and have taken an active part in camp activities. Photography has been the most popular hobby and we have some really good pictures which we will appreciate later on in life. Then we have swimming, volley-ball, softball, and hiking to keep us in shape, and Lou Savlov ingeniously constructed a set of dumb-bells for the manly art of weight-lifting. In such ways we have created considerable variety in our camp life.
Now the war is over and everyone's chief interest is to get home. Nevertheless, another great interest has arisen and that is to get these large documents from King Neptune autographed. The way we have been going about it has made one wonder whether or not the fellows are movie stars. Surely long after we have been re-established in civilian life, we will glance at our elaborate document with all the names inscribed and smile, recalling fond friendships reminiscent of travels and experiences shared with the comrades of the Rear Party.
Intercommunication in modern warfare stands with complete justification alongside every other device born of the science of Mars. Perhaps not as exciting as some branches of Signals, it nevertheless calls for a more exacting application of communication sciences in the all-important task of placing the correct information in the right hands at the right time. The Intercomn Section of this unit was called upon to do that task--did it well-- and has every right to be proud of its achievements.
Formed as an integral part of Canadian Special Wireless Group, Intercom has proven itself sufficiently flexible and adaptable to meet the contingencies in service often unforeseen in even the most capable long-range planning. Originally the section was composed of Operators Line and Wireless, Despatch Riders, Linesmen, Exchange Operators and clerks. Many of these forsook their trades to enter the teletype branch when it became evident that this service would require the bulk of Intercom's energies. In reorganization shuffles we lost our linemen to Technical Maintainence Section but appreciate the spirit that brings them back to our hut in the evening hours to "scuttlebut" and exchange rumours in the best tradition.
We did have a radio link for a while, but its span was brief. Our despatch riders have "jeeped" their devious paths with the required amounts of "Vigilans", "Versutus", and oftentimes, more than the necessary amount of "Velox". The exchange operators have worked quietly and smoothly keeping their circuits in operation. All hands pitched in to make the teletype section an organization that drew rich praise from high quarters. Stated simply,-- we did our job.
And we left our mark in other unit activities. Our softball team made an impression in the league, but were displaced in the play-offs by a hard working, capable No 2 Operating nine. The Glee Club and Quartette enjoyed our best talent--we have been active in the Camera Club--and, oh Yes!--regimental duties.
But we haven't been too busy to have fun. 'Member the "Atomic Cocktail" which raised our Christmas spirits at Pat Bay? Some of you may remember how it pole-axed you right off that rosy cloud--others prefer to forget. Steak and eggs at Sydney--cocktail bars at 'Frisco--Yankee hospitality, and the penalty we paid when the Monterey did a few bumps and grinds just off the Golden Gate. We were'nt exactly down-hearted in Brisbane either, when Aussie hospitality made itself felt. Shhhh! We don't mention Mt. Isa except after lights out! Let's see the scars you picked up when you tried to pulverize their cement sidewalks with your head!
We all have our own private stock of memories to recount and some highly technical lies to tell the folks back home. But we carry the important fact deep within ourselves. We were of Intercom Section. We were an instrument of Victory and Peace.
In the Spring of 1944 the laborious work of D.U., under the capable leadership of Lt-Col E.M. Drake and Capt J.R. Mackay was given a recognition it had long sought. The men who had been selected from units all over Canada were offered an opportunity to serve overseas as Intelligence personnel with a Canadian Signal unit then forming. First positive information came in May of 1944. Capt Woodsworth was to take charge of the draft. Lt. Larkin and Lt. Burns were named to officer the party with Capt Woodsworth. On the 29th of August the group proceeded on leave before joining the No.1 Special Wireless Group at Victoria.
After completing basic training at the end of September, it was found that the Japanese language classes required instructional aids that could best be obtained at the Japanese Language School in Vancouver. Accordingly the group moved to Seaforth Barracks for a few weeks followed by a similar period on subsistence while attending classes at Seaview School. At the school the group divided in two, one group devoting their time to Japanese language under Capt Woodsworth's direction, the other concentrating on general Intelligence under Sgt Yolleck. At the middle of November our recall to Pat Bay preceded embarkation leave.
The record of the journey from Victoria to Brisbane is dealt with elsewhere. At Brisbane after a short period in Chermside Camp where Lt. Larkin rejoined us, the group moved to Camp Ascot for duty at Central Bureau. The Canadians fitted into this many-sided organization. Let it be said to their credit that they were sought by all departments. On April 7th the major portion of the group left Ascot to rejoin their parent unit, the #1 C.S.W.G.
On Monday, 23 April, a special warning order was distributed to a few personnel in MacMillan's Road Camp. A party of R.C. Signals and Canadian Intelligence personnel were to visit 51 Australian S.W.G. to observe the general operation of an Australian camp at first hand. In addition some excellent parties were given the Canadians by their hosts. In a few days, on return to MacMillan's the combined Australian-Canadian unit was functioning to produce Intelligence. On May 31, Sgt. Handforth flew from Brisbane to join this unit at Darwin. About July 1st Corporal Gardner and Gilmore likewise flew from Brisbane to take up their work with the unit.
Meanwhile, in Canada a second party of Intelligence personnel had been formed. Capt Mackay was able to obtain his release from H.Q. to 0.C. this group. Accompanying officers were Lts. Carrington and Holmes. There were thirteen corporals in this rear party group.
In Brisbane, Lt. Carrington, S/Sgt Ralph, Sgts Boivin and Moore, and Cpl Book have carried on with the remains of the Australian Rear Echelon. In Manila, Capt Woodsworth, Lt. Burns, S/Sgt Van Ert, Sgts 0lmstead and Bourne, Cpls Dennis, Rogers, Veale and Ewing, and Pte Hartwell maintained the good name of this group.
It is unfortunate that the security regulations of Intelligence work prohibit the story of the interesting details of day to day duty in the climactic stages of the war. The contribution of the Intelligence section must likewise be bypassed. However, it is to their credit and to the ability of the operators and staff of the 1 C.S.W.G. that within the narrow limits of Allied Intelligence circles the name of the Canadians invokes considerable respect.