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My Mediterranean Cruise

By George Mock, Royal Canadian Corps Of Signals

“...we arrived at our seaport in Italy amongst bombed out ships, submarines and even a sunken Red Cross ship”.

Photo: George in front of 1840 Albert Road, his girlfriend’s house (now wife of 55 years.) He lived at 1850 Albert Road so had a long way to go to court her - three houses.

I was born in Ford City, (East Windsor) and have lived in Windsor all my life except for during my army service. I remember sitting in class at Gordon McGregor School watching the Essex Scottish do training in the fields, which later became the Ford Test Track.

My parents emigrated here from England; Mother was a servant for the Parson family in Walkerville and at one time, Dad was a gardener at Willistead and also worked at Walker Farms. Mother used to tell me the war would be over before I turned 18, which wasn’t the case.

I was 19 when I was sent to Italy as part of reinforcements for the Royal Canadian Signal Corps. I was hoping to go to France to be with my brother, but we had no control over that.

Our outfit boarded a troop train in Aldershot in Southern England and we all wondered where we were heading. Not long after the train pulled out we realized that we were heading north. Eventually we would arrive in Greenock, Scotland. That meant we were not going to northern Europe and they certainly were not sending us home, leaving us to believe we would be heading to the Mediterranean, probably Italy. Conditions on the train were terrible. We used our greatcoats to keep warm.

Anchored in the Firth of Clyde was our troopship, the SS Chitral. She wasn’t very large, only 14,000 tons compared to the Queen Mary at 81,000 tons. We were assigned to E Deck, the lowest deck on the ship just above the engine room. Our compartment held over 200, with bunks stacked 4 to 6 high.

After three days on board, we finally pulled out to sea. By daybreak we were in a storm, with the ship rolling and pitching – nearly two thirds of the 2000 troops (I was spared fortunately) were seasick. What a mess! When we were finally allowed on deck, the sight of being in a huge convoy was overwhelming. There were ships as far as the eye could see, along with many Corvettes for protection.

Days later we saw the northern coast of Spain and Gibraltar. The convoy then began going through the Straits of Gibraltar in single file while PBY Catalina’s flew overhead on the look out for submarines.

Three days later we arrived at our seaport in Italy amongst bombed out ships, submarines and even a sunken Red Cross ship. It was Christmas Eve. After 14 days my Mediterranean cruise was over.

After we disembarked we were taken by train and then by transport to our depot in a bombed out building half way up a snow covered mountain. We arrived late that night in unbelievable cold.

On Christmas day, I was assigned to return to our troopship to help unload supplies and I did not return to the depot until late that night. I hadn’t eaten all day and had also missed out on Christmas dinner. When I finally did get some food it was so dark I had no idea what I was eating.

I guess this is why I enjoy being with our children and grandchildren every Christmas and why it means so much more to me than anyone can imagine.

70 Boys from Walkerville C.I.
Never Came Back

by Ruth and Leonard St. Louis

The plaque displayed in Walkerville Collegiate’s front Hall was featured in “The Blue & White,”1947 (Walkerville Collegiate’s yearbook) along with some sentiments on its significance. Included were a short essay by Barbara Jane Lees and part of the famous WWI poem, “For the Fallen,” by Laurence Binyon.

1,283 students from Walkerville Collegiate answered the call of duty and served in WWII. Jack Gooby, brother of Ruth St. Louis, was among seventy boys from the school who didn’t return. Jack died in Normandy on July 28, 1944 while serving with the Royal Canadian Artillery, 2nd Anti-tank Regiment. He is buried in the Bayeux War Cemetery in Bayeux, France.

Robert Parent, (cousin of Len St. Louis) was killed October 23, 1944 while serving in the 21st Armoured Regiment (Governor General Foot Guards) and is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery, Bergen-op-Zoom, The Netherlands.

Surely the other names listed on the plaque will bring back many sad memories for friends and relatives of these former students.

Click here to see the plaque.


 

 

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