Month: May 2015

Humour Hunt

Humour Hunt

The expression, a piece of cake, meaning anything easy to handle, originated in the Royal Air Force about 1938. We like an entertaining explanation of the expression’s origin sent in by Sidney Allinson of Scarborough, Ont. It seems that an instructor at a fighter training unit was demonstrating, on the ground, the correct method of releasing a 500-pound bomb from a Spitfire, when he inadvertently pressed the button and was blown, with several bystanders, to smithereens. The instructor’s name was said to be Sqdn. Ldr. Cake and his last words were reported as: “It is really quite simple, but you chaps had better watch carefully because I’m not going to show you again.” Thus any simple operation that went according to plan became known as “a piece of cake.” We’re open to other equal...
Humour Hunt

Humour Hunt

A contributor who wishes to remain anonymous has sent us a sequel to Hugo Saudino’s earlier story about somebody dressing up in the mess polar-bear skin at Fort Churchill to provide a sudden outdoors photo opportunity for visitors from the south. During a Halloween party at Fort Churchill, a huge polar bear was glaring at arriving guests from a nearby snowbank. “Oh, my God,” a startled woman exclaimed. “Don’t be silly,” said her husband, “It’s only Saudino again with his polar-bear act.” He made a rush at the bear with threatening gestures and shouted: “Buzz off, Hugo.” The bear retreated, and the couple entered the mess, doffed their parkas, and saw Saudino costumed as a half-naked caveman, standing under the mess bear pelt, sipping a gin and tonic.
Surrounded by the wolf pack
Navy

Surrounded by the wolf pack

The battle to protect convoy ON-127 taught Allied navy commanders some tough lessons The sinking of the German submarine U-756 by HMCS Morden on Sept. 1, 1942, remained utterly unknown at the time. The only good news to drift home from distant waters in the late summer of 1942 was HMCS Oakville’s sinking of U-94 in the Caribbean. While Oakville’s hero Hal Lawrence went off on his PR jaunt, the war at sea took a decidedly sharp—and negative—turn for Canada. September began badly and ended worse. In the first week, U-517 and U-165 attacked convoy QS-33 in the lower St. Lawrence River, sinking several ships and the armed escort HMCS Raccoon. Then, after sinking the corvette HMCS Charlottetown in broad daylight just off Gaspé, Que., this pair of U-boats ran amok in the northern Gulf of S...
Humour Hunt

Humour Hunt

Harry Lennox of Vancouver, who says at 86, he’s “still picking them up and putting them down,” has been a Legion padre for 57 years and is honorary chaplain of the British Columbia Regt. in whose 2nd Bn. he served in the Second World War. He says the following incident occurred in Witley Camp in the First World War while he was waiting to go to France as a signaller: A young soldier was doing time in the clink as prisoner No. 150. He cleaned huts all week. On Sunday, 150 was ordered, with the other prisoners, to fall in for church parade. The chaplain said: “We will start the service with 150, Art Thou Weary.” “You’re damn right I am,” called out 150. He was returned to the clink.    
Humour Hunt

Humour Hunt

Stan Knight of Bobcaygeon, Ont., sends us this story. The convoy had broken up and the merchant ships, considered out of the danger zone, were proceeding independently to their ports of destination. The first mate of an old tramp steamer, happy to be completing a safe voyage, took a couple of good belts of rum before going up to the bridge to relieve the captain and stand watch for the last time that trip. Unfortunately, the captain detected the smell of booze on the mate’s breath, dressed him down, and wrote in the log: “The mate was drunk today.” The mate, realizing such a report would damage chances of advancement, pleaded for a break but the captain was adamant: “Only the truth goes in this log.” When he finished his watch, the mate in his turn wrote in the log: “The ca...
The poet and the poppy
Memoirs, Military History, O Canada

The poet and the poppy

  A century ago, Canadian medical officer John McCrae saw “every horror that war had,” including the death of a close friend, and penned a poem that inspired countless acts of remembrance “A poet and a scientist and a soldier—a scholar, a gentleman, a Christian, a fine fellow, generous, unselfish. And over all this there was the charm, the esprit, the freshness of the bubbling personality of Jack McCrae.”  This tribute paid to Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae after his death in January 1918 highlights some of the many facets of the man whose famous poem, “In Flanders Fields,” was written a century ago. With the centenary of the Second Battle of Ypres, during which it was composed, comes the opportunity to honour McCrae and his life, work and legacy. McCrae was born i...

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