Many letters were sent home from Royal Canadian Navy sailors during World War II. On occasion a letter would be sent from the Commanding officer of a Canadian ship to the namesake community that supported the ship.
This letter by Wm. Harrison, CO of HMCS TRENTONIAN was written to the City of Trenton shortly after the Normandy invasion.
c/o GPO London
July 11th 1944
Dear Miss Farley
Thanks for your letter of the 1st of June which I just received. Also a parcel of records arrived today in very good condition. We have now got a gramophone or rather a radiogram which is connected up with five loud speakers in different parts of the ship, so everyone gets the benefit of either broadcast or records. So far we have had rather a scarcity of records and the same thing came over and over again, but now we shall have lots of variety. I must congratulate whoever chose the records. I have just been looking through them and all the sailors favorites are there. I can hear “Waltzing Matilda” now as I write. This evening we will broadcast them through the loudspeaker on the mast so the ships alongside will get the benefit. The Victrola has not yet turned up but it will probably arrive sometime.
We have just had a short spell in port and all the crew had two days leave which the majority chose to spend dodging “buzz bombs” in London. Previous to that nobody had been off the ship for 42 days, since 22nd of May, so the break did a lot of good.
As you probably know, we took part in the invasion of Normandy and although it wasn’t as exciting as we expected it to be, there was great deal of hard work attached to it and to subsequent operations which are not of course yet finished. The censors have very kindly told us that we can divulge the fact of being connected with the invasion and I think full advantage has been taken of the lifting of this restriction, so you have probably heard some highly coloured tales which would perhaps conflict with our rather monotonous recollections.
Our mail is still very scrappy some letters come in a couple of weeks and others take five or six weeks. However, I suppose we’re lucky to be getting so much. When the North African business was taking place, we didn’t get any mail in the Mediterranean for about three months. This has been a big improvement.
Please tell the Grade X pupils how much we appreciate the records. They are really very popular already although they haven’t all been tried yet. Thanking you all.
Yours very sincerely
[i] City of Quinte West Public Library, Hazel Farley Collection, Letter –WE Harrison to Hazel Farley 11 July 1944
This collection of letters have been gathered from the crew of HMCS TRENTONIAN and have been reproduced by Roger Litwiller in his book, White Ensign Flying, The Story of HMCS TRENTONIAN, published by Dundurn Publishing in 2014.