Remembering the Telegraphist Air Gunners
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Memories of the First Canadian Christmas Telegraphist Air Gunner Len Weeks It was about the middle of December when I and thirty-eight others were selected to go to a newly opened TAG School in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia in Canada to undergo training for the next ten months (TAG ~ Telegraphist Air Gunners). We left the Clyde on the troopship HMS Andes on 19th December and arrived at Halifax, Nova Scotia on Christmas morning. The Canadian dockers were on Christmas holiday so we had to unload all kitbags etc. ourselves using the ship’s derricks, onto the quayside and this was a very slow process. At midday it was lunchtime and eventually because of the huge numbers of men involved, it was our turn to sit down to a meal of a lump of greasy pork, a couple of boiled potatoes and a spoonful of “greeny” stuff which could have started out as cabbage! Pudding was plum-duff and very runny custard. By 3 o’clock in the afternoon it became apparent to the authorities that our destination at East Camp, Yarmouth Air Station, was not ready for us so we had to march from the docks with our kitbags on our shoulders, frozen packed snow underfoot, for what seemed like hours, slipping, and sliding to a Knight of Columbus hostel in the city, arriving there just before dark. We were greeted by our Canadian hosts who were still providing for the resident Christmas diners, mostly service men and women who were unable to go home for the Christmas holiday because of sheer distances involved. (Canada is a very large country - some 3,000 miles east to west). It was agreed that we should settle into the dormitories, have a bath or shower, and rest up for a bit. At around 6 o’clock we had a Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings, similar to the other residents. What a contrast !! Two Christmas dinners in one day - one horrible, the other wonderful! It was then I first heard a Bing Crosby record on the Wurlitzer playing ‘White Christmas’ so every time I hear that tune, even now, my thoughts flash back to that time and place. It was two days later that we left by train for Yarmouth arriving about 5 o’clock and Canadian Air Force lorries took us the 3 miles or so to West Camp for a cooked meal and then to East Camp, our final home for the next ten months.
Memories of the First Canadian Christmas Telegraphist Air Gunner Len Weeks
Len Weeks
HMS Andes
Knight of Columbus hostel