Collection of Remembrance Day archive stories 2

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Provincial, Wednesday, November 11, 2009, p. A5

 

Defence

Regiment's history includes War of 1812

 

When John Warren was visiting Ontario this summer, he took a chance trip to a quaint "War of 1812" town and was surprised to find a memorial to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

 

One of the monuments in a park recognizing the townspeople's service in various wars acknowledges the regiment's assistance to the British in fighting the Americans, just a few decades after it shed British rule.

 

Amherstburg sits across the river from Detroit.

 

Warren, a 78-year-old former military police officer, said as he took pictures of the monument, an elderly man called out to him.

 

"Where ya from, my son?" the man said.

 

"'Newfoundland,' I said," Warren recalled.

 

"'Oh my God,' he said. 'I'm a Second World War veteran. I served with the Newfoundlanders and they were a fighting force.' It made me feel right proud."

 

Warren said the Royal Newfoundland Regiment's role in the War of 1812 is little recognized.

 

"We know about the Second World War veterans. We know about the Korean War veterans. And the First World War veterans, but we don't know anything about these guys."

 

The regiment is most known for its bravery and bloody loss at the Battle of Beaumont Hamel in the First World War.

 

According to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment's National Defence website, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Fencible Infantry played a prominent part during the War of 1812, in such battles as Lundy's Lane, York (now Toronto), Stoney Creek (now Hamilton), Lake Erie, Michillmackinac, Niagara, Chrysler's Farm, Ogdensburg, Fort Erie and others.

 

War historian Ed Hollett said such memorials can be found around Ontario. There is even a group of regiment re-enactors.

 

But much of the regiment's history is not widely known back home.

 

"What people know about the regiment is limited - sad, but true," he said.

 

"The war of 1812 is not a very known story."

 

Some 1,000 members of the regiment were deployed as marines to the British effort.

 

They were especially helpful because they could function on both land and sea.

 

••••

Provincial, Tuesday, November 11, 2008, p. A7

 

St. John's City Council

Freedom of City medallion presented after six decades

 

Steve Bartlett

The Telegram

 

Someone who sailed on the HMS Newfoundland finally has something to commemorate the vessel's Freedom of the City - 64-plus years after the honour was bestowed.

 

The Second World War British warship was given Freedom of the City May 15, 1944, by then St. John's mayor Andrew Carnell.

 

It came during the colony class cruiser's only visit to the port, which was also its only stop in its namesake colony.

 

But apparently the accolade wasn't officially approved by the council of the day and went unrecognized for decades.

 

That has now been corrected.

 

Prompted by recent visits by members of the HMS Newfoundland Association, - a group dedicated to preserving the ship's memory - the vessel was added to the Freedom of the City plaque at City Hall earlier this year.

 

And on Monday, during the regular meeting of St. John's city council, Alan Waite, the association's treasurer, accepted a Freedom of the City medallion from Mayor Dennis O'Keefe. In return, the mayor received a photo of the Newfoundland, a letter from the association's president and an engraved crystal glass.

 

"We're proud to renew the acquaintance with the ship and Newfoundland," said Waite, who sailed on the ship but not during its St. John's stopover.

 

"It does mean a lot, because of the nine ships in the class, I would say we are the only ones who have anything to do with the former colony they were named after."

 

On hand for the ceremony with Waite was fellow association member Terry Hull.

 

Both addressed council and plan to march in the St. John's Remembrance Day parade today.

 

It was noted during the meeting that the U.K.-based HMS Newfoundland Association will hold its final meeting ever next spring.

 

Because of that, O'Keefe said it was fitting that the connection between St. John's and the ship was being recognized.

 

Coun. Art Puddister suggested that the city consider sending a representative to the final get together next year.

 

The organization has more than 400 members from around the world.

 

The oldest is 109, one of three First World War veterans still alive.

 

••••

 

News, Tuesday, November 11, 2008, p. A4

 

Unwilling hero

 

No penchant for pension

Tommy Ricketts was entitled to an annual gratuity for receiving the Victoria Cross, but rarely applied

 

Terry Roberts

 

Much has been said about how Victoria Cross winner Tommy Ricketts retreated from the spotlight following his return from the First World War in the winter of 1919.

 

He rarely wore his medals, often refused to attend Remembrance Day services and would never talk about the war.

 

It should come as no surprise, then, that for many years, Ricketts refused to even apply for the annual VC pension that was available from the British government.

 

"I think it fit the character of the man. I'm not surprised," said his son, Dr. Thomas Ricketts.

 

Initially, a special pension of 10 British pounds was granted for each recipient. In 1960, this was increased to a tax-free allowance of 100 pounds.

 

After Ricketts' death in 1967, Premier Joey Smallwood and his parliamentary assistant, White Bay North MHA Ed Roberts, intervened on behalf of Ricketts' widow, Edna.

 

Smallwood and Roberts successfully lobbied both the British and Canadian governments.

 

Correspondence from that period tells the story.

 

Smallwood first wrote to Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson on March 10, 1967, asking that Ottawa pay Ricketts' widow an amount equivalent to the pension that was forfeited by her husband.

 

"Such an award would be most welcome to the family in view of their circumstances," the letter, which was drafted by Roberts and signed by Smallwood, stated.

 

According to the letter, Ricketts applied for the gratuity for several years after the war, and again applied sporadically in the 1950s. He failed to apply for the higher pension in the final three years of his life.

 

"I am told the total amount of gratuity to which he was entitled was of the order of 2,000 pounds. I do not know why he did not apply. The decision was his and that he did not receive the money was his own choice," Smallwood wrote.

 

Four months after Ricketts' death, Pearson wrote Smallwood a letter which contained the following passage:

 

"The British minister of social security has agreed to pay Mrs. Ricketts 300 pounds of Victoria Cross annuity which was due Sgt. Ricketts at the time of his death.

 

"The Canadian Pension Commission has also granted an entitlement to Mrs. Ricketts under Section 25 of the Act for a pension in the amount of $175 per month for life, to cease in event of her remarriage."

 

At the time, it was the maximum amount of pension that could be granted to a widow.

 

"We are most grateful," Smallwood replied to Pearson.

 

Ricketts' son said the amount of the pension probably had a lot to do with his father's decision.

 

"The VC allotment was extremely small. Some books on the VC indicate it was a pittance at the outset," said Dr. Ricketts.

 

It wasn't the only courtesy given to the Ricketts family by the Smallwood government.

 

Smallwood also ordered that Ricketts be given a state funeral, with the province picking up the cost.

 

It is very likely the only time a private citizen from this province has been given a state funeral.

 

Roberts, meanwhile, later served in Smallwood's cabinet and most recently ended a five-year term as the province's lieutenant-governor.

 

He has long had an interest in military history, particularly the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

 

troberts@thetelegram.com

 

••••

 

Family, Tuesday, November 11, 2008, p. B1

 

Keeping it real

 

Alisha Morrissey

The Telegram

 

Banged up and bleeding in the middle of the Mediterranean, Michael (Mick) Barnett gulped back water under blue skies blackened and bruised by smoke.

 

He could hear the strains of his fellow sailors also blown into the water, singing with pride, "There Will Always be An England."

 

At just 19 years old, floating in the oily water wearing a lifebelt made of cork, he was thinking, "This looks like it."

 

Many of us learn about the Second World War in museums, or from grainy black-and-white films or Remembrance Day newspaper articles.

 

But some war stories - like those of the Barnett family - can be found a little closer to in home, in letters (like the one at right) and family lore.

 

Mick's story is only one that Maureen (Barnett) Losinski has saved in two large boxes to pass on to members of her own family.

 

Her father was a war hero and her uncle survived the torpedoing of one of the largest British warships ever to be sunk by German U-boats in the Second World War.

 

The letters and photos from that time have inspired Maureen and are a lasting legacy of her family's war service.

 

In fact, the Barnett war stories are not only part of the family's heritage, but they are part of its present, as Maureen likes to recount the stories to her own children and her grandchildren.

 

"You try to keep it in their minds. (It's) their heritage, you know?" she says, adding that her granddaughter recently gave a presentation at school about the sinking of the HMS Hood and how her great-grandfather was lucky not to have been on board.

 

"It's nice for veterans to be recognized ..." Maureen says.

 

"The World War was a World War, it was something that they had to do to save the world. It wasn't Ireland, the Catholics against the Protestants, which my father lived through, too. They fought for mankind."

 

Maureen said she was encouraged to share her family's stories by her husband, Donald; they are stories she shares with a smile, at times, and at times with tears in her eyes.

 

Luck of the Irish

 

Mick Barnett once tried on his brother's uniform and decided he, too, wanted to join the Navy. At the age of 17, he did.

 

Only a few years later, the Irish-born sailor was working on the ill-fated HMS Barham as a gunnery office messenger.

 

In 1943, the ship came to St. John's for fresh supplies. Knowing his brother had a wife in St. John's, Mick thought he'd try to meet her or her family while he was on lay-over.

 

Walking off the ship, he went up to the first man he saw on the dock and asked if he could help him find Rita Noel.

 

"He explained his circumstances," Maureen said. "'Our ship is in and I'd like to meet her,' and (the man) said, 'You just hang around now for about another half-hour,' he said, and 'I'll take you to her. That's my sister.'"

 

Mick was welcomed at the Noel house for dinner. The family took photos of Mick and his new sister-in-law during the visit, which Maureen keeps in her box of letters.

 

Shortly after he shipped out of St. John's harbour, Mick wrote to his sister-in-law: "As we came away from the jetty we let out three shrieks on the sirens which were enough to waken the dead. ... We were about halfway out when that beautiful fog of yours engulfed us like a mantle and that was the last I saw of St. John's ... your loving brother, Mick."

 

Mick was only in his mid-40s when he died 25 years later, in a car accident in the U.K., but not before he had his daughter, who is also named Maureen.

 

'He would tell me stories ..."

 

Losinski's father, Edward Barnett, joined the British Navy when he was just 15 years old. He served on the infamous HMS Hood and other British ships throughout the Second World War.

 

He started as a cabin boy, earning a shilling a week, and worked his way up to chief petty officer. He was a gunner on the Hood when it was bombed in 1941.

 

His best friend died at his side, Maureen said.

 

Edward was injured in 1943.

 

"My father would talk about the war ..." Maureen says, her eyes welling with tears.

 

"He'd talk to my boys when they were (teenagers). What he would tell me is that there were two cats and they were pets and their names were Coco and Fishcake.

 

"I was the daughter, so I'd only hear about the mess and how they cooked on the Hood. He didn't talk about the gory stuff."

 

One of the worst stories she does remember hearing, was that her father helped with the cleanup of bodies at Normandy.

 

Edward Barnett died in a car crash in St. John's at the age of 70.

 

'Mushy and romantic'

 

Rita (Noel) Barnett met her Irish husband by chance.

 

Edward Barnett was in St. John's on a ship called the HMS Greenwich in 1943, two years after the sinking of the HMS Hood. After a short courtship, the two were married. But they weren't able to be together long, as Edward was shipped back to the war.

 

Throughout the three years they were apart, the couple sent dozens of letters back and forth.

 

After her parents' deaths in 1990, Maureen inherited the letters and has re-read them many times since.

 

"Hers are very mushy and romantic. ... She was quite a good writer," she says of her mother's letters to her father.

 

"His were more - everything was censored, so it was all 'I can't wait until we get home,' and of course, in none of the letters did he mention the war. Never said, 'I'm so afraid,' or, 'Maybe I won't see you again.' Just upbeat."

 

Throughout those years, her father travelled all over the world and got to visit with many of his and Rita's relatives.

 

"The strangest thing was he couldn't get back here," Maureen says of St. John's.

 

After the war, Edward and Rita could finally be reunited, but she didn't want to take a ship to Ireland. Instead, he travelled back to St. John's in 1946 on a ship filled with British war brides headed for Canada to meet up with their husbands.

 

After Edward moved to Newfoundland, he never saw his Irish relatives again.

 

'Now it can be shown'

 

Mick Barnett's description of the sinking of the HMS Barham was detailed in a letter written Nov. 25, 1941 and passed down to his family.

 

But the details of the sinking were kept secret from the rest of the world.

 

The ship was lost - as were the lives of the more than 850 men on board - after being hit by four torpedoes from a German U-boat.

 

The British Admiralty knew within hours that the ship, deemed by many to be unsinkable, had gone down, but it was discovered that the German military wasn't aware of the sinking.

 

The admiralty asked that the families of the dead tell only close relatives or no one at all.

 

The sinking and final explosion were captured on film by a reporter on a nearby ship, but that information was censored and no stories were written and no film was shown of the event until 1945.

 

A newspaper story published in the Daily Mirror on July 9, 1945 reads "Now it can be shown."

 

More information about the HMS Barham can be found at the website (www.hmsbarham.com) of the association named after the ship and run by the ancestors of those who served on board. The site includes photos and videos of the sinking, as well as the ship's history and a list of the crew who served on board.

 

amorrissey@thetelegram.com

 

Boxe(s):

 

Between brothers

 

Excerpt from the letter Mick Barnett wrote to his brother, Bo, on Nov. 25, 1941

 

... It was very nice of Mrs. Lunberg to wish me all the luck of the Irish, I've been relying on my Irish luck ever since I've been away. I suppose you have been wondering how I got in the Barham (a fine ship). I'll tell you my story as near detail as possible.

 

At the time I was Gunnery Office messenger with my pal (the greatest friend I ever had) and we had been asleep all afternoon in the Gunnery Office, when we woke up an air raid was on so we went on the upper deck, and when it finished we went down the mess to have our tea. When we had finished eating, Halcroe said "Come on, Barny, let's go up for a smoke." Well, we went up for a smoke and got out on the upper deck and proceeded to light a cigarette. I had no sooner got mine alight than there was a terrific explosion which felt as a giant hand was shaking us and then another. There were about four in all.

 

Well, yours truly as usual did not have his lifebelt, so I scrounged around and got a cork one. Well Bo, I never thought 35,000 tons could go so quickly; I scrambled up onto the side that was in the air, and Halcroe followed and that was the last I saw of him. I never wasted any time. I got straight over the side and got caught between the lower boom and the ship's side but after a bit of a struggle I got out and threw myself down the bilge. When I got in the bilge the keel was coming out so I thought, now or never, and jumped.

 

As you can imagine I went down a good way and when I next broke surface I was about 10 yards from the ship and just as I stuck my head out she blew up. All I saw was a terrific flame roll out of her and then I submerged again.

 

Bo, I hope you never have the same experience. I went away down and round and round in a vortex, all the time I was saying to myself "This looks like it," but that is where the Irish luck came in. I swam with all my might for the surface and then someone caught hold of me but I lashed out in a mad panic and I freed myself. I can tell you I drank more Mediterranean than I've ever had tea and then instead of water I took in a great gulp of air, but I couldn't see a (thing) as there was a great pall of smoke which eventually drifted away.

 

It was a good job I had a lifebelt on because I was absolutely beaten. I just hung limp while I regained some energy. There was at least six inches of oil on the surface with bits of wreckage floating around and carrying across the water. You could hear people moaning and shouting, some in the throes of death and others for help, and when I looked up, I saw a gigantic spiral of smoke which seemed to disappear in the clouds.

 

By then I had regained enough energy to continue my struggle against the elements, so striking out with my excellent dog-paddle, I proceeded at the rate of one and a half knots towards the nearest piece of flotsam; namely a broken spar which looked like the original top mast. I had just got hold of the aforesaid piece of wreckage when two more joined me, one of which had a broken arm and a hole in his thigh. I, myself, was bleeding from my left arm and hand and my foot was numb.

 

Well, after exchanging a few words, I once more took to the waves and steered a course out of the oil fuel, and then I got a slight idea of a life on the ocean wave which reduced my speed by about a knot. Then wafted across the waves I heard the voices of a few hundred men raised to the tune of "There Will Always be an England," so I, too, raised my voice and opened my lungs, only to receive a mouthful of ocean.

 

After an hour or so I was picked up by a destroyer. When I got on board they stripped me off and got as much fuel oil off me as they could and proceeded to bandage my arm which was grazed. My foot and thigh were also knocked about but not very much, and then I staggered into a queue and got a tot of neat rum which bucked me up a lot.

 

When we got underway we had another air raid which we drove off. All the time the doctor was stitching up like clockwork. When we got back to harbour I was sent on the hospital ship Maine ...

 

 

•••

 

Provincial, Monday, November 10, 2008, p. A3

 

Dedication

Closer to home

New monument erected to make life easier for aging veterans

 

Peter Walsh

The Telegram

 

Call it a monumental idea that became reality. The Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 1 in St. John's has erected a new memorial pillar at its Blackmarsh Road location for aging veterans who find it too difficult to attend the Remembrance Day ceremony on Duckworth Street.

 

Bill Saunders, a Royal Navy veteran of the Second World War, said he is delighted with the new marker.

 

"I don't get around like I used to," said Saunders. "I'm 87 years old. It's better for me."

 

Saunders does plan to attend Tuesday's service at the Duckworth Street War Memorial, but said he will reflect at the new marker throughout the year rather than make the trek downtown. Some aging veterans can't make it to Duckworth Street.

 

"Some can't get on our (shuttle) buses, or can't walk the steps of the War Memorial," said Lorne Gracie, a retired soldier and volunteer at Branch No. 1.

 

"Some of them are getting up in age."

 

Gracie had the idea for the new monument 10 years ago when he learned his Branch was the only Royal Canadian Legion in the province without one. There is a large memorial on the grounds - but that is to commemorate the first transatlantic flight in 1919 by John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown, which took off at Lester's Field, near the Legion's Blackmarsh Road site.

 

While running an errand at Muir's Marble Works in St. John's about three months ago, Gracie mentioned his idea to Muir's owner Eddy Howlett. Turns out Gracie couldn't have run into a more interested listener. Howlett's uncle, Robert E.. Howlett, was the only native of Goulds to have died in the Second World War.

 

He died when the HMS Avenger was torpedoed in November 1942 in the Strait of Gibraltar. Robert E. Howlett Memorial Road in Goulds is named in his honour.

 

Eddy Howlett said Muir's usually donates to charity or volunteer efforts two or three times a year and he liked Gracie's idea.

 

"He said it was a done deal in a matter of 15 minutes," said Gracie. "I was ecstatic. It worked out great."

 

"We've done a lot of veterans' monuments over the years," said Howlett. "I couldn't think of a better cause, to be honest with you. My own uncle gave his life during the Second World War. It just seemed to work out. I'm glad to be able to do it for the veterans."

 

The monument - valued at about $3,500 - stands about three feet tall.

 

"To acknowledge all veterans and their families for the sacrifice during war time and peace time," reads the inscription.

 

It's made of grey granite mined from a quarry in Barre, Vt. - the same granite used for all veterans' stones throughout Canada - and is maintenance free, according to Howlett.

 

Muir's etched deep letters that require no paint.

 

"Once it's there, it's there for good," said Howlett. "It's the best grey granite in the world."

 

"I think it's pretty good," said Saunders. "It's high time it was there anyway. There was nothing up there and everybody else seemed to have one, and now we're up with everyone else."

 

Gracie said veterans who want to attend their memorial service can gather at Branch No. 1 at 6:45 a.m Tuesday.

 

"One time, we used to have four 55-passenger buses. We're down to two now," said Gracie. "We could probably get away with one this year. Our veterans are getting older now."

 

Five years ago Legion Branch No. 1 had about 900 members. Today, they have 300, according to Gracie.

 

•••

 

Digest, Sunday, November 11, 2007, p. B1

 

Remembrance

 

Ghosts of war

Painting of regiment spirits now in museum

 

Paul Banks

 

It was one of the most challenging - and emotional - pieces in her career as an artist, but Brenda McClellan was honoured to take it on.

 

The result is a 24- by 30-inch painting that now takes its place in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum in Pleasantville. "Reveille - Beaumont Hamel" is an eerie depiction of the Newfoundland Memorial caribou monument at the First World War battleground in France, and the ghosts of some of the soldiers from the famed Newfoundland Regiment killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916, approaching the modern-day fixture.

 

"It was a challenge to come up with something unique, and there's a lot of emotion involved with it for Newfoundlanders," recalled the artist.

 

The idea came from David Parsons, a retired physician and amateur historian, whose main interest is the Newfoundland Regiment and who has written a book on its Great War involvement.

 

He was inspired by two paintings of Australian artist Will Longstaff, known for his works depicting the First World War. "Menin Gate at Midnight (Ghosts of Menin Gate)" of 1926, his most famous, shows military apparitions approaching a memorial in the Belgian town of Ypres, the theatre for many battles.

 

The other was "Ghosts of Vimy Ridge," of 1931, which honours Canadian troops in a similar fashion.

 

"I always felt, why didn't we have one of Beaumont Hamel?" said Parsons.

 

And then he thought of McClellan.

 

This is despite the fact the subject of war was something she never explored before, specializing mostly in landscapes, and local culture, including out-migration.

 

And while Longstaff's images of soldiers' spirits are faint, McClellan decided to give the ghosts of the regiment more definition.

 

"It's really (Longstaff's) idea, with my execution. But this one was bolder," McClellan said.

 

She doesn't normally like doing commissioned work, she explained, because it can sometimes be hard to match what the client has in his or her mind already. The cause behind the project was the only reason she agreed to do the piece.

 

"And I feel it is important. And I was really honoured to be asked to do it."

 

Parsons says the painting is effective.

 

"It's very evocative, at least to me it is," he remarked. "It will affect different people in different ways. Having known these other paintings, and the special meaning, and now having one of Beaumont Hamel and the Newfoundland connection, it's marvelous."

 

Parsons says while the painting was based on another artist's concept, it was McClellan's interpretation that made "Reveille - Beaumont Hamel" a great piece.

 

"Most people are quite moved by it and amazed. I was fascinated by it ... and seeing it in reality was beyond belief. I was totally taken up with it.

 

"The regimental museum has a great and developing collection of artifacts ... and this is just one more piece of property - an added factor."

 

McClellan decided to donate the painting to the local museum, and it was presented during a ceremony on June 30 as part of Memorial Day commemorations for July 1.

 

Prints of the painting are available for sale to the public, and most of the proceeds are being donated to the local legion. They are available through the regiment and at the Red Ochre Gallery.

 

pbanks@thetelegram.com

 

 

••••

 

News, Sunday, November 11, 2007, p. A5

 

Remembrance Day

 

City in darkness

St. John's gripped with terror during blackest days of Second World War

 

Jamie Baker

 

Looking out at The Narrows at night from his bedroom window, Andy Coady often worried there was a German torpedo out there with his name on it, skulking through the dark waters.

 

Watching a city in total blackness, fearful of a German blitzkrieg, he saw ships slipping silently in and out of St. John's harbour and wondered which of them would make it and which of them would run afoul of the dreaded U-boats.

 

It was the early 1940s, and most of the fighting was being done on the other side of the Atlantic, but the fear that consumed Newfoundland, especially its strategic capital city, was overwhelming.

 

"We were in the middle of a war - everybody was terrified. They were expecting German planes to fly over any time at all and bomb St. John's," Coady recalled.

 

He was born and raised in St. John's, just like his father and grandfather. He grew up on Gower Street at the top of Pilot's Hill in the family home he shared with his mother, father, three brothers and three sisters.

 

The city had been a different place before the war, a gentler place.

 

The streets were filled with horses and trucks. Time was kept by the whistle from the tobacco factory on Bond Street and by the noonday gun on Signal Hill. Andy's father taught him that if you wanted to be exact, you set your watch by the puff of smoke, not the sound of the cannon.

 

On the waterfront, the smell of rope and oakum permeated the air, along with the aroma of the stacked saltfish waiting to be loaded aboard cargo ships bound for exotic ports.

 

The Coadys' front window, with its panoramic view, was one of Andy's favourite spots. He'd use his father's brass spyglass to survey the busy harbour.

 

It was the height of the Second World War and he was seven years old.

 

His father, Thomas Michael - he had both of the dominant first names in the Coady family - was an engineer at Fort Pepperrell and likely would've ended up fighting overseas, except that "they didn't want to send over anyone with large families," Andy was told.

 

Instead, Thomas became what was called an ARP - for Air Raid Patrol. His nightly duty was to patrol the city streets and make sure no signs of light penetrated the darkness.

 

He carried a tin hat, an armband and a whistle. The only weapon he possessed was a set of "knuckle dusters" - like homemade brass knuckles, but made from different materials - that he kept in his pocket.

 

He worked out of the Civil Defence Headquarters that had been set up in "a couple of rooms at Bishop Feild College on Bond Street."

 

Each night, Thomas would head out while his family battened down the hatches. Gower Street in the early 1940s was a little rougher than today's largely gentrified neighbourhood.

 

Soldiers and sailors from all over the world were coming ashore in search of stiff drinks and pretty girls. Many of them passed right by the Coadys' front door on their way to the taverns and bars littering the downtown.

 

"When they hit the shore, they were wild," Andy recalls.

 

He says his mother carried a "shiny chrome revolver" in her purse. His father had given her the gun in case she needed to protect herself.

 

"My father had to leave the family home at night while all this was going on, in total darkness. It was terrifying," Andy says, recalling how some of the local lads used to jump American servicemen when they headed back to Fort Pepperrell alone.

 

"It was jealousy," Andy recalls with a grin, referring to how St. John's girls often favoured the American soldiers.

 

"You had the townies going around with their overalls on and the bib, spitting and chewing tobacco. The Yanks, they were slick as a whistle in their uniforms and they were gentlemen, too - they were opening doors for the women.

 

"When they realized the Americans were getting the women, some of them would go and hide up around Bannerman Park and in the bushes around the Colonial Building to pounce on them as they were heading home."

 

Thomas Coady died in 1980 at the age of 77.

 

Andy has no problem remembering those long-gone days - but even if he does forget a detail here and there, he has a remarkable collection of documents, keepsakes and photographs to help jog his memory.

 

He has a Royal Newfoundland Regiment-issued Christmas card that his father received from his good buddy, Jimmy White, when he was overseas.

 

It reads: "Dear Tom, a few short lines to let you know I haven't forgotten you. Don't forget to remember me to all the boys Christmas. Especially when you are having a snort. How about a letter, old cock? All the best. Jim."

 

There are other treasured items, too, such as a photo of Andy and one of his sisters sitting on an old tank that was used for target practice at Pepperrell. He also has his father's military, work and marine papers, and even a liquor ration book.

 

Andy flips through the pages of a binder stacked with enough history to fill an encyclopedia.

 

"There was a lot of cheering when the boys came home," he recalls. "A lot of cheering and a lot of relief."

 

jbaker@thetelegram.com

 

••••

 

News, Saturday, November 10, 2007, p. F3

 

Remembrance

 

A tribute to my father Second World War veteran Lewis Alberto Fry

 

Cecil Fry

 

Although he had his shortcomings, as we all do, my father, Lewis Alberto Fry, will always be my hero.

 

As a kid I could never understand why he did not want to tell me all about the war. I now realize I was looking at war through romantic eyes, whereas my dad saw the real thing without the propaganda and pageantry. He understood, better than most, that war was not something to be glorified.

 

He was not one to cherish medals and honors. It is only through the efforts of my sister, Lily Fry-Hookey, that his medals now exist. War changes people for sure and I know it changed my father. He was a tough, yet gentle man who would give you a piece of his heart or a piece of his mind.

 

Dad always stood for what he believed and he would not compromise his values. He did not put great value on material possessions. He was not a religious man but could carry on a religious conversation or argument with the best of them.

 

There was always a Bible in our house, though I know he questioned its teachings until the day he died.

 

Dad was quite the humourist, but at times was given to make profound statements. Always ready with a joke he would always laugh before the punch line. He loved his family, including his grandchildren, nephews and nieces. I know they all loved him and spoke highly of him.

 

He was the most honest man I have ever known and I am sure anyone who knew him can collaborate this statement. If there is one thing I strive for in my life it

Organizations: Bishop Feild College, Battle of Beaumont Hamel, Newfoundland Association National Defence Lundy's Canadian Pension Commission Gunnery Office Noel house British Navy Royal Navy Royal Canadian Legion Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum The Narrows

Geographic location: St. John's, Newfoundland, Ontario York Toronto Stoney Creek Lake Erie Fort Erie England Ireland Ottawa Canada Blackmarsh Road Goulds Menin Gate Gower Street Bond Street Maine Fort Pepperrell Duckworth Street Gibraltar Barre, Vt. Pleasantville France Ypres Vimy Ridge Atlantic Signal Hill Bannerman Park

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  • Linda Stoer
    March 02, 2013 - 13:34

    I wish you finished the story on Lewis Alberto Fry...he died on March 2, 1999