Remembering the Telegraphist Air Gunners
 British East Camp Veteran [Leslie Hodges] returns to Yarmouth British East Camp Veteran Returns to Yarmouth August 30, 2011 (From The Vanguard, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia)  Article in The Vanguard (Yarmouth NS): By Eric Bourque novanewsnow.com Leslie   Hodges   was   just   a   teenager   during   the   Second   World   War    when   he left   his   native   England   and   wound   up   in   Yarmouth   and   was   stationed   at East Camp [at RCAF Station Yarmouth]. He arrived in 1944. He was 18. “When   I   came   here   I   was   a   trainee   air   gunner,”   Hodges,   now   85,   said during his first visit back to Yarmouth since the war. Asked   about   his   first   impressions   of   Yarmouth   when   he   got   here,   he   says what   stood   out   most   of   all   was   the   peacefulness   of   the   area,   a   much different situation from what it had been like back home. “It   was   quite   a   shock   for   us,   because   we   had   all   come   from   bombings   in   England   and   so   when   we   arrived   here,   it   was   like   a   new world,” he said. “Everything was quiet.” His   main   reason   for   wanting   to   return   to   Yarmouth   was   to   see   the   graves   of   four   friends   of   his   –   fellow   Englishmen   and   East Campers   –   who   were   killed   in   a   crash   involving   two   aircraft   [Ansons].   The   planes   reportedly   had   collided   while   returning   from   a training operation. Last   Wednesday,   two   days   after   his   arrival   for   a   week   long   visit   to   the   area,   Hodges   went   to   Yarmouth   Mountain   Cemetery   to view   the   grave   sites.   The   four   Albert   Brooks,   Henry   Taylor,   John   Bennett   and   Raymond   Stanier   –   were   around   the   same   age   as Hodges,   in   their   late   teens,   when   they   died   [Also   lost   in   the   crash   were   the   two   pilots;   Pilot   Officer   J.   N.   Richardson,   in Anson 11233, and Flying Officer G. Freese, in Anson 7146]. “They finished their course, they got their wings and they were just finishing when it all happened,” Hodges said. Still,   he   says   he   focuses   on   the   good   memories   he   had   of   Yarmouth   and   he   had   a   chance   to   reflect   on   them   during   his   visit   last week, including a stop at the Yarmouth County Museum to view some old wartime pictures in the museum’s archives. “I   found   the   photographs   of   my   friends   and   I   could   recognize   them   because   they’re   still   in   my   head   as   they   were   when   they were 18.” Discussing   what   it   was   like   to   see   those   photos,   he   said,   “You   think   of   the   happy   times.   You   do.   No   sadness…just   happy memories because we had good times together as a group”. His   recollections   of   his   days   as   a   young   man   in   Yarmouth   during   the   war   include   recreational   activities   like   basketball   and bowling. One of his earliest memories is of visiting a local café and trying T-bone steak for the first time. He   recalls   visiting   a   house   near   the   airfield,   although   he wasn’t able to find it this time. But   then   67   years   have   passed   since   he   first   set   foot   in Yarmouth    and    a    lot    can    change    –    and    has    changed. Indeed,   he   said   he   found   present-day   Yarmouth   a   much different looking place from the one he remembered. “It   was   a   country   village   to   me   (in   1944),   coming   from London,” he said. A   resident   of   Epsom   [in   Surrey],   part   of   the   Greater London   area,   Hodges   is   a   retired   jeweler   –   and   before that   was   a   silversmith   –   who   says   he   had   been   thinking   of coming back to Yarmouth for a long time. His   son,   Trevor,   helped   make   his   father’s   wish   come   true.   He   contacted   Yarmouth-area   resident   George   Egan,   president   of   the Wartime   Heritage Association,   and   the   two   took   care   of   the   details   of   the   trip.   Egan   offered   to   have   Hodges   stay   with   him   at   his home in Dayton and picked him up at the Halifax airport on Aug. 22. “I’ve enjoyed myself immensely,” Hodges said. “George has fed me and we’ve sat and chatted until one in the morning.” Initially,   Hodges   said   he   expected   to   be   on   his   own   in Yarmouth   having   to   find   what   he   was   looking   for   by   himself,   but   with   Egan as his host and guide, he said the visit turned out to be even better than anticipated. In other words, some things about Yarmouth apparently haven’t changed in 67 years. The   hospitality   Hodges   found   in   Yarmouth   this   time   apparently   was   similar   to   what   he   experienced   back   when   he   arrived   as   an 18-year-old. Recalling those days of long ago, he said, “We were immediately made welcome everywhere we went.”
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