While going from UK to Algiers while in the 43:
Early in our voyage W.O. Prior came to us in the bottom of the troopship and said that some of us would have to work in the galley.We could decide amongst ourselves who would go; he would be back. I knew that there was rivalry between the airforce and the navy, but I was surprised at the reaction there was. There was no way we would work in the galley, we were passengers, it was the navy's job to feed us. We would have a sit-down strike.
When W.O Prior returned and was told that, he said, "You'd better think about that, I'll be back." When he returned he said, "If you persist with a sit down strike, this is what will happen: They will come down here and say,"This is not a sit down strike, this is mutiny on the high seas, in his majesty's ship, in a state of war." They will not ask who the ring leaders, they will pick you, you and you and they will be taken topside and hung. If that was a bluff, no one wanted to call it. The volunteers who worked in the galley were better fed than the rest of us. In those days, something as petty as that could have gone too far. A little later in the voyage there was a funeral on the promenade deck and a canvas body was tipped over the rail.
I was thinking about when I used to help the wireless section with their D.I.s when I was doing mine on the I.F.F. Every trade did a daily inspection on every aircraft and signed them off before they were flown. With the wireless it was just a matter of talking between two spits. If all was well, the reply was "receiving you loud and clear". With the vacuum tubes, [the Brits called them valves] needing several hundred volts, low current DC on their plates, or anodes, there was a motor, generator, in the bottom of the set. That added a lot of weight and the brushes had to be replaced, sometimes often. At one time there was a bad lot that didn't last very long, possibly having been sabotaged.
When we were close to the front we were warned to keep it short, thinking the enemy might home in on us. When we were at Salerno,where we could watch their airfield being bombed by our B25s and P38s, we simply blew into the mike and used hand signals.
I had a phone call today from Allan Stewart in Scotland, ex 43. He says he left 43 in Tunisia for pilot training in Canada. He had just got the letter I had sent him so we went over some old times -- going past Gibralter at night in darkness but the rock showing against the sky, the lights of Tangiers, a body in the water as we pulled into Algiers, the roman baths at Jemmapes, sleeping in a row on top of the wine vats at the winery after we were drowned out of our tents at Maison Blanche.
THE FIGHTING COCKS
'The Fighting Cocks' by Jimmy Beedle
Jimmy Beedle was on B flight 43, I was on A flight so when we became mobile I never saw much of him. I have been keeping in touch with 43 Sqdn. Association via e-mail and they send me their newsletters. I have also been in touch, for a few years now,with a Brit.who is writing about his grandfather, a Spitfire pilot. I have sent him quite a bit of text and pictures. When Malta needed much help he, his grandfather, flew a spit to Malta off an aircraft carrier. He now says that he and his wife are coming to a wedding in Edmonton sometime in the future and will look us up.
ADDITIONS TO BEEDLE'S 43 SQUADRON BOOK
Top of page 218 nearest miss - -
That night it was thought that we might be hit by paratroops. Jim Hillis and I were posted with our sten guns at the end of the runway near the admin. buildings. It was a calm night.By the ack ack over the harbor at Algiers we could see that it was being bombed. We heard a lone aircraft approaching from that direction. When it was close we heard a flapping sound, Jim said "that's a land mine". [ I have never found out whether a land mine was a sea mine or a bomb dropped by parachute, but they did more damage]. A new pad was being made in that spot so by moving a few rocks, we were at least below the surface before it hit.In the morning when our shift was over we went to see the damage.We picked up pieces of silk from the shute and some cords. I used some of it for wearing my ID discs around my neck, I have them in front of me now. The hospital was badly damaged, there had been casualties. Then the truck arrived to take us off the airfield for 24 hours to the winery where we slept. A and B flights took turns on and off the airfield.
Bottom of page 226 Lawrenson - -
When we moved into the winery after being flooded out in our tents, some of us slept on the concrete tops of the wine vats, in one long row, side by side, with our heads against the wall. We each had two blankets and a ground sheet. Lawrenson slept on one side of me.
Top of page 240 Thompson and Massie- -
When that happened, Jim Hillis and I were in our tent workshop nearby. Suddenly it was very noisy with bombs and ack ack. We were looking for Jim's helmet, one felt more comfortable wearing it when all that spent ack ack came back down, landing with a thud close by. I heard a strange noise and dropped to the only clear place on the ground, sticking my arm out and taking Jim down too. The raid was soon over and people were checking for damage. Someone said "there's a hole in your tent". I looked and saw a hole in the side wall, about 6 inches off the ground. I said "that must be an old one because Jim and I were lying just inside there". We looked and sure enough, a piece of shrapnel had gone through an empty packing case by the sidewall, crossed the cleared spot a second or two before Jim and I were lying there, through some more cases. We found it still in the tent, a rivet holding two pieces of bomb casing together.
Actually, it was a B17 Flying Fort and it landed earlier when we in A flight were sitting on an empty airstrip. Jim Hillis, Eric Boutell and Maybe Bottomlee Mason and I went To talk to some of the crew who were out of the aircraft. There was smoke and dust and noise coming from a spot farther down the shore from where we had landed.The air crew asked what that was and we replied that the Germans were shelling that spot. Boy, they said "we wouldn't want your Job". To which we all quickly replied, "We wouldn't want your job either"
After we arrived at Ravenna I was posted to 13 Sqdn.RAF, a bomber sqdn.south of Rimini. We then moved up to Forli. In March I received a message " you have 3 days to get to Naples to catch a ship, you are going home . A truck will be leaving in the morning to take you.~ Lloyd Snell May 11 2007
Some of the things I have seen while hunting, or just watching wildlife
Al Procter and I hunted Elk or moose, the season was open for both, in Duck Mts. in 1957. One day we came across what looked like a drag mark in the snow, coming down a low hill. After looking at it for a short time, Al said "that's an Elk slide, my dad used to talk about them, where they would slide down low hills on their rumps". We checked and found the tracks where they had run back up.
Years later I told a fellow hunter about it, he couldn't believe it so I started checking, someone must have written about them. From the local Wildlife branch I was forwarded to The Rocky Mtn.Elk Foundation in Alberta, then to the RMEF in Missoula Montana (this was before I had a computer). No one had ever heard about an Elk slide, most didn't even believe they would do that. Years later my son Russ and I hunted Elk in the archery season in Spruce woods. In two different places in the sand hills, I saw what looked like an Elk slide. If I hadn't seen the one in the snow I would not have noticed it but I checked and saw elk tracks in the sand, running back up. At the bottom was a small pile of sand that had been dragged down.
I asked Ron Minion at Heights Archery if he had ever seen one. He said yes, he had hunted beside one in Spruce Woods. He was the only other one that had ever seen one.
Account of a meteor sighting:
On Nov. 20/95 Todd and I were in position to hunt deer when it got lighter. At 7:10 A.M. we observed a meteor like I had never seen before. We estimated the light to be between one and two fingers wide at arm's length. We first saw it at 210 degrees and it disappeared into a cloud bank on the horizon at 245 degrees. It was quite low in the sky and descending. We saw it for over five seconds.
I phoned to several numbers at the U of M that day and left a message, but did not hear from them. We listened on radio and T.V. for any mention of it but heard nothing.
The next day I had a call from a 'Chuck Wood' from the U of North Dakota, Space Studies. Many people had seen it down there. Ours was the only sighting north of the border that was reported. Our information was useful for them to get a fix on it's flight path. By Nov. 24 they had received over 100 calls of sightings from all over N. Dakota, some from Montana, some from S. Dakota. Some saw it high in the sky, while one woman saw it through her husband's window as they were driving to work. They decided that if any of it had landed it would be in the vicinity of Estevan Sask. I called radio stations at Portage, Brandon, CKY Winnipeg, Altona and Winkler but none had received any calls concerning a sighting.
Nov. 24/95: Chuck may have wondered at me using degrees - -
In 1960 I was working at Canadian Aviation Electronics in Wpg. They were working with USAF, supplying Techs and doing overhauls for the early warning lines of that time. I was sent to work on a Pinetree line site called Puntzi Mtn., west of Wms. Lake. At that time it was run by USAF, in 1963 it was taken over by the RCAF and my job there ended.
On my daily rounds I would check the operators scopes, which were in degrees. I remember we were getting an echo off Mount Waddington, the highest one in the coast range. I have forgotten the degrees but it would have been about 240. One day when I was checking the scopes I heard a private pilot calling in, claiming he was lost. He said that he could see where two rivers joined, one of them was milky colored. I knew the spot where the Taseko joined the Chilko and went side by side for some distance before they mixed, Ken Moore had taken me fishing there. I told the operator to tell him to follow the river and he would come to the only road from Williams Lake to Bella Coola.
A video of a lecture by Paul McReady, the man who built the man-powered Gossamer Condor. The talk lasts 23 minutes, but it really is a really worthwhile listen.
William G. Hillman
Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
BILL & SUE-ON HILLMAN ECLECTIC STUDIO