copyright © Wartime Heritage Association 2012 - 2024 Website hosting courtesy of - a company
Wartime Heritage ASSOCIATION
Selected Stories of World War II from Wartime Heritage

Chinese Checkers

It was December 1940 when Merchant Seamen of the SS Empire Industry, in port for ten days, came into the Red Triangle Room of the YMCA in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. They held all the canteen ladies speechless with their stories and accent and when the radio operator played the piano, everyone stopped to listen and from then on, whenever he came in, a shout went up for him to play. The girls and women became so attached to these boys and men that the Sunday night committee packed Christmas boxes for thirty-five of them and collected hundreds of magazines. The day before they sailed Mae O’Brien, the hostess of the canteen, was asked to pay a visit to the ship. She took with her a game of Chinese Checkers as a gift for the ships company. The following morning the freighter left Yarmouth for Halifax where it waited for a convoy to cross the Atlantic. Mae O’Brien received four letters from ‘the boys’ while they waited in Halifax. It would be six months later in June of 1941, when she received a post card: “Dear Mrs. O’Brien: You will see from the address overleaf where the crew of the vessel who visited your club about the middle of December last, are now domiciled. I thought I would let you know and also thank you for all the kindness shown us while in your port, especially for the Christmas and New Year parcels we received, which we often think of now with longing ...” The note was written May 4th, 1941, from a German prisoner of war camp. The Empire Industry had been torpedoed on the crossing to Glasgow. A second card was to arrive from asking for a game of Chinese Checkers. Mae O’Brien sent a parcel including the requested game to these British prisoners of war. Read the full story at: toryempireindustry.htm
The Button In the years following the liberation of the Netherlands, a father shared the story of a single button with his ten year old son. The boy, Maarten, was watching as his mother was making clothes on the sewing machine when he saw a shiny button in the button box. “Mama,” he asked, “Where did this button come from?” “I don’t know,” she replied, “you should ask your dad” That night his father told him of the wartime event of April 22, 1945. “We lived in the Parish house where my father, your granddad, was the keeper. In the spring of 1945, I was eleven years old. We were forced to hide in the cellar because outside there was fighting between the Canadian liberators and the Germans. The Canadians brought their wounded to the kitchen of our house to care for them and your grandfather left the cellar to help them. After the war I found the button that belonged to a Canadian uniform jacket.” That night, two of the soldiers died from their wounds, Private James Jamieson of Toronto, Ontario, and Lance Corporal Edmond Levesque, the husband of Marie Elizabeth D’Eon of West Pubnico, Yarmouth Co., Nova Scotia. Read the full story at: _the_button.htm
Image depicting the boy and his father
Image depicting the Red Triangle Room
A Pint of Rum It was October 1939 and Phillip was leaving for military training and his uncle accompanied him to the train station. Phillip was eighteen, from Springhaven, Yarmouth Co., in Nova Scotia. Stories of his time at home often mentioned that he was a very good singer and a guitar player. His uncle told the story of his departure and of going with him to the train station to see him off. The uncle had purchased a pint of rum for Phillip, a little something to have during the journey. But, not wanting to make anyone aware of this, he attempted to slip it into Phillip’s pocket as the recruits were ready to board the train. Thinking he had successful slipped the pint into the pocket unknown to others, he let go of the bottle. The pint fell to the ground and smashed! Following basic training and service in Canada, Phillip was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Brigade, West Nova Scotia Regiment and was part of the allied advance through Italy. He was wounded in action on May 23 and died from those wounds the following day, May 24, 1944. The stories of Phillip Blanchard were among the first collected by Wartime Heritage and have been told throughout Nova Scotia and England over the years. Read the Phillip Blanchard story at: chard_phillip_joseph.htm
Image depicting Phillip and his uncle
This story was inspired by an actual event that occurred during Basic Training at No. 60 CIBTC in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, during World War II.
Kiss Me Through the Fence The Canadian Infantry Training Base was a place of discipline, and rules, but love had found its way to the edges of the camp. Davie had been given a note that told him to meet Annie at the camp fence. That night Annie stood on one side of a chain-link fence and Davie, a soldier with a heart as uncertain as the war itself, stood on the other. “Davie,” Annie’s voice trembled, “I enjoyed myself last night. We’ve had so many good times together. I think I’m in love for the first time in my life … and it’s such a wonderful feeling!” Davie shifted his weight, “Love is pretty serious,” he replied, his eyes darting around to ensure no prying eyes were about. “Kiss me…through the fence?” Annie whispered. Davie hesitated and then slowly he leaned in, their lips touching briefly. “One more?” Annie’s plea hung in the air. They kissed again. But reality tugged at Davie’s conscience. “If we get caught,” he murmured, “I’ll be confined for months.” “Just one more then?” Annie’s eyes pleaded. Davie nodded, his heart pounding. One last kiss. Their lips met once more, and then Annie turned to leave. Davie watched her go and then he turned to return to his barracks. A voice shattered the stillness of the night. “Did you leave the camp?” It was his buddy, Edward walking toward him with a scowl. “I’m not crazy!” Davie protested, relived it was not an officer. But Edward’s eyes narrowed. “We’re confined for ten days because of the measles. Where have you been?” Davie’s mind raced. “Annie arranged a meeting. She’s in love,” he blurted out. “Couldn’t live without me. I met her at the fence. She wanted a kiss.” Edward’s disbelief was obvious. “Through the fence?” Davie nodded. “Yeah, and one kiss wasn’t enough. She kept wanting one more!” “Buddy,” Edward shook his head, “you’re full of it.” But Davie now confident. “I swear it’s the truth,” he said. “I’m just…irresistible.” And so, in the quiet of that night, a kiss through the fence, became a memory, and a story retold many times.
Image depicting Davie and Annie
Invasion! There are many stories that can be told about events in Yarmouth County during World War II. Sometimes, with each telling a story is exaggerated and perhaps this is one of them. Among them, a peculiar incident unfolded at the Basic Training Camp in Yarmouth. The camp received an urgent call: the enemy had been sighted in the village of Comeau’s Hill. Mobilized into action, soldiers headed there with the RCAF from the Yarmouth airbase patrolling overhead. As the soldiers returned to their barracks, they swapped stories. Three huddled together, recounted the chaos. One spoke with wide-eyed intensity. “The way it all started, it was panic, I thought it was for real. Orders being shouted like never before. Move here, move there, search here, search there! And did you see the faces of the people? Imagine being invaded by the Canadian Army. Someone said the enemy was coming, but all they got was us! But we proved we could defend the place.” His buddy, grinning mischievously, interjected, “You mean clean blueberries off the bushes! I saw you two filling your face. I was crawling over this ridge, and I heard rustling in the bushes. Decided I would check it out, figured I found ‘em. So, over the ridge I go and instead of finding the enemy, here are you two stuffing your faces with blueberries!” With a sheepish reply, “Well, they were good, and we had a good feed … and it was good practice!” And so, in the annals of wartime history, the Battle of Comeau’s Hill became legendary—not for heroics, but for berry-picking prowess. The soldiers, with laughter echoing, proved that sometimes the smallest victories matter most.
Image depicting the soldiers
September 1939: The Freighter The afternoon sun cast a pale glow over Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Sarah sat at the kitchen table, her head held in her hands. The radio droned in the background, its voice a somber reminder of the world beyond. Harold, her husband, shuffled into the room with his lunch box and a newspaper. The radio’s static-filled voice continued. “Terrible, isn’t it?” Sarah whispered; her eyes fixed on the radio. “Every word, every threat, it scares me.” Harold grunted, reaching for the dial. He twisted it, silencing the broadcast. “If it scares you, why listen?” Sarah sighed. Harold settled into the chair across from her, the newspaper spread open. “Home early today,” she observed. “Supper’s not even started. Shall we have a cup of tea?” He set the paper down, weariness etched into his features. “We loaded as much lumber onto the freighter as we could. Pulled out of port half an hour ago. Sarah looked at Harold questioning, “You said this morning that it would take two more days. You couldn't have finished.” “We're not sure what was going on. Strange fellow that Captain.” Sarah leaned forward. “Strange how?” Harold’s voice dropped. “He's been frantic all day. He kept the crew aboard, steaming up the ship since midday. Insisted we load more lumber, worked through dinner. suddenly yells for the deckhands to cast off the lines, and the next thing we know the ship is pulling away with half the cargo still on the dock. “Doesn't sound very sensible to me,” Sarah exclaimed. “What was the rush? “Rumor has it, the captain received orders from Germany.” “Germany?” Sarah’s mind raced. “That's what the foreman said.” Harold continued, “Also heard the militia from Weymouth is moving down here to Yarmouth to guard that field where the new airport will be. “Out near Arcadia?” Sarah asked. “Yes,” Harold confirmed. “And this afternoon, I heard a plane fly over the town.” “It’s coming,” Sarah replied with a concerned look, “War. And no one can stop it.” The following day, Britain declared war on Germany.
Sarah and Harold are fictional characters; however, the story of the freighter is factual as is the reference to the Weymouth Militia. The scene of Sarah and Harold opened the Wartime Heritage (440 Production) stage performances of “Until We Meet Again” in May of 1997.
Ray and Jenny are fictional characters; however, the story of the periscopes is factual. The scene of Ray and Jenny was part of the Wartime Heritage (440 Production) stage performances of “Until We Meet Again” in May of 1997.
The Periscope The clouds hung over the calm sea. Jenny and Ray stood at the edge of the rocky coastline, peering out into the vast expanse of water. “Look way out there. What is it?” Jenny asked, squinting her eyes. “Probably a ship,” Ray responded, his hands shielding his eyes from the sun’s glare. “No, it’s something sticking out of the water,” Jenny insisted, pointing towards a small, cylindrical object that bobbed gently with the waves. “A submarine periscope,” Ray said, a hint of excitement in his voice. “Really?” Jenny’s eyes widened with curiosity. Ray nodded. “There’s supposed to be German Subs all along the coast. Maybe that’s what it is.” “Do you really think so?” Jenny pondered the possibility. “I wonder what it must be like to live under the water.” “Not too exciting if you ask me,” Ray shrugged. Jenny considered this for a moment. “Well, if it’s a submarine, shouldn’t we tell someone?” Ray shook his head. “Not much point. It would be long gone by the time anyone got around to checking it out.” Jenny bit her lip, the thrill of the unknown tugging at her. “Let’s just watch it for awhile.” They settled down on the rocks. The periscope remained a silent sentinel in the distance. During the Second World War, off the coast of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, periscopes were often seen by fisherman and citizens of the town, as German submarines patrolled along the Atlantic shoreline of Nova Scotia. 113 Squadron flew Lockheed Hudson aircraft on anti- submarine patrols from RCAF Station Yarmouth. After a year and a half at Yarmouth, 113 Squadron moved on to Sydney, Nova Scotia. The Hudson aircraft of 113 Squadron were later replaced with Ventura aircraft Detachments of five aircraft were stationed at Mont Joli, Quebec and Moncton, New Brunswick where they flew anti-submarine reconnaissance patrols over the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the shipping lanes off Halifax Nova Scotia. In July of 1942, S/L Small of 113 Squadron sank the first submarine in Eastern Air Command off Cape Sable
The Little Girl’s Secret Sylvia heard a single plane flying in low. She knew the plane was not Allied, but German, as she saw yellow paint. The aircraft turned around and came back firing its guns. “I rushed my brother in behind a concrete pillar, under the bathing station and hid my brother and myself. The sound was very loud, as the pilot emptied his guns into the pillar. We stayed hidden until the firing stopped.” Sylvia looked out with care and watched the plane fly out over the sea and the two went back to playing in the sand. She didn’t want to tell anyone what happened that Sunday morning in Bournemouth. “I thought we would get into trouble. Now at the age of 88, I thought it may be of interest.” Read the full story at: _little_girls_secret.htm
Image depicting Sarah and Harold
Image depicting the girl and her brother
Image depicting Jenny and Ray
The Silent Echo of the Mountain There seemed to be a change of course to the left, a sudden increase in engine speed, a tremendous roar. The aircraft fought its way upward from the heart of the valley The pilot’s knuckles whitened as he wrestled with the controls, desperate to overcome the looming mountain peak. Sparks of flame erupted from an engine, painting the night sky with fiery streaks. And then, an enormous explosion, a searing burst of light that illuminated the mountaintop. The night was no longer silent. It was marred by fire and continuous explosions that echoed through the valley. There would be no survivors. As dawn approached, partisans arrived at the crash site. The mountain was now a battlefield of twisted metal and scorched earth. They saw scattered wreckage, shattered wings, mangled fuselage, and the remnants of what was once an aircraft. The RAF circular identification painted on the aircraft remained un-marred, a testament to its origin. Twelve bodies, all victims of the horrific crash and fire, were laid out for burial. And there, at the edge of the wreckage, one crew member, remained untouched by the fire. A villager at the crash site recalled the “handsome blond boy who seemed to be sleeping.” The partisans worked tirelessly, digging a mass grave near the crash site. Two salvaged tubular containers became a simple cross, and marked their final resting place, a silent testament to the price of war. As the sun climbs higher, casting its light upon the mountain, the echoes of the explosion have faded, but the memory of the long past night lingers as a haunting whisper carried by the wind. A monument to remember the thirteen men and their sacrifice remains, forever a part of the mountain’s silent echo. In memory of the crew and SOE personnel of Halifax II BB412, 148 RAF Squadron. Read the full account at: _in_defence_of_freedom_HalifaxIIBB412.htm
Image depicting the Halifax II aircraft
Unsung Heroes of the Jungle As the plane descended, billowing smoke trailed behind it. Burmese villagers watched as the aircraft plummeted through the thick jungle canopy. The odds of any survivors seemed slim. Yet, against all probability, the plane crashed into a small clearing amidst the dense foliage. Blood trickled down the pilot’s forehead, and darkness closed in. The villagers rescued the still-living pilot from the wreckage and their thatched-roof village became his sanctuary. Japanese soldiers prowled the jungle, and the threat of discovery hung over them as a constant menace. But the villagers were resolute, they would shield the pilot from the enemy at all costs. As they tended to the wounded airman, he slowly regained his strength. However, he soon realized he was stranded behind enemy lines, with little hope of escape on his own. The villagers, undeterred by danger, convinced him they could protect him if the Japanese ever reached their village. Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. The villagers remained steadfast in their determination to protect the airman. Eventually, allied troops rescued the pilot, guiding him through enemy territory back to safety. He would forever attribute his survival to these unsung heroes of the jungle, ordinary people who defied the odds and showed extraordinary courage. Read the full story of Wing Commander Roger Henry Tupper, RCAF- Air Operation Over Burma at: tupper_operation_over_burma.htm
Image depicting Burmese villagers