Just Proves What is Still Hidden Away

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Just Proves What is Still Hidden Away

Ed Storey
Ed Storey

September 24th, 2009, 2:05 am #1

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Monty Convoymagazine
Monty Convoymagazine

September 24th, 2009, 9:56 pm #2

Dusty attic gives up little-known chapter of Canada's war history

Nearly 300 letters detail life abroad in the Canadian Forestry Corps

By Richard Foot, Canwest News ServiceJune 22, 2009



Like many Second World War veterans, Pat Hennessy never talked much about his wartime service. But nearly four decades after his death, his own vivid memories -- and the story of a little-known chapter of Canada's war history -- have come to life in a rich cache of private letters discovered in a dusty New Brunswick attic.

Hennessy was one of 7,000 Canadian lumbermen who served in the Canadian Forestry Corps in the 1940s, felling trees in the Scottish highlands for the war effort. It wasn't heroic work but it was critical: the Allied armies needed huge quantities of wood for everything from ammunition crates and soldiers' coffins to building materials for factories and army living quarters.

Hennessy's family in Bathurst, N.B., had known for years about their grandfather's service as a cook in the Scottish lumber camps during the war.

But the old man never discussed his experiences in detail before he died in 1970. And anyway, his exploits paled beside those of other family members who had flown Lancaster bombers, or served as spies in Germany.

"He wasn't fighting the Nazis or landing on the shores of Normandy or flying Spitfires," said Melynda Jarratt, Hennessy's granddaughter. "We knew he was a cook in the Forestry Corps, which always seemed sort of lame compared to what my uncles had done."

All that changed last summer, when Jarratt's cousins found, while rummaging in the attic of the old Hennessy home, an extraordinary archive of nearly 300 letters written by Hennessy to his wife and children during the war. Lying in a dark corner of the attic was a large lump, covered by a soiled canvas tarp, apparently untouched for half a century.

"They pull it off and what do they find?" said Jarratt. "Handmade crates with latches on them, and old chests, holding something meant to be protected. They bring all this stuff downstairs and discover inside my grandfather's letters from Scotland -- hundreds and hundreds of them -- a treasure-trove of history."

Jarratt and her relatives pored over the letters, which for decades had been carefully stored by their grandmother Beatrice when she was alive.

Not only did they discovered a detailed archive of life in the Forestry Corps, they also found the poignant story of a serviceman, thrilled to be working for five years near the town of Beauly, in the far north of Scotland, but also deeply worried about his family in Canada and longing to see them again.

"There's one amazing letter where he just describes the scene around the cook house," said Jarratt. "He describes the birds and flowers in the most loving way for his wife, whom he knew would never have a chance to see it for herself.

In other letters -- every one of them opened by army censors -- he writes about the news of the deadly Canadian raid on Dieppe, the triumphant Normandy landings and the Battle of the Atlantic.

And in others he frets about how his wife and children are keeping up the family farm, and he pleads with his Beatrice -- in vain as it turned out -- not to allow his 18-year-old sons to enlist.

The war in Europe, he writes again and again, "is no place for a boy."

Jarratt, a Fredericton historian who has chronicled the story of Canada's war brides, is in the process of putting every one of Hennessy's letters on a website -- lettersfrombeauly.com -- and is looking for surviving veterans of the Forestry Corps, to gather their stories alongside her grandfathers', for a book about the service.

The letters will be donated to the New Brunswick Archives
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Gord Bennett
Gord Bennett

September 25th, 2009, 12:38 am #3

I'll admit that even with my reading glasses some of the article was difficult to read. Thanks again for your time and effort, monty.

It's refreshing to hear first hand accounts of life behind the lines and some of the unique challenges they faced in direct support of the war. The fighting troops tend to get a lot if not most of the publicity for performing their difficult roles, but in reality they wouldn't have been able to operate properly without the dedication of our unsung heros in the background.
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bob ferguson
bob ferguson

November 2nd, 2009, 2:27 am #4

I am also going though many items of a sister who just passed away. In the finding was a Christmas card - from No. 17 Company, Canadian Forestry Corps, Canadian Army Overseas - this included the whole unit and was taken in Scotland in 1941. My family home town of Canwood Saskatchewan contributed many members to this unit.
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Anonymous
Anonymous

November 2nd, 2009, 3:03 am #5



here is one of the image, email off line and i will send you a total of four
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Joined: October 31st, 2009, 3:52 am

November 2nd, 2009, 10:11 pm #6



this is the photo i am wondering about
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bob ferguson
bob ferguson

November 2nd, 2009, 11:24 pm #7

Sorry for the confusion in trying to post the pictures. This is a Christmas card that was sent to my Aunt in Canwood Saskatchewan. Presume that someone from that area was in the picture.








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Christopher Furlotte
Christopher Furlotte

November 3rd, 2009, 2:47 am #8

Nice Christmas card photo! Out of curiosity, was there any names on the back of the card ie, Soldiers name,rank,Regt#'s etc?

I had two great uncles that served in Scotland with the Canadian Forestry Corps while stationed there. Both married Scottish lasses and brought them home to Canada!

Later on, my Uncle Melvin transferred to The Toronto Scottish Regiment of Canada.



Chris
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Joined: October 31st, 2009, 3:52 am

November 4th, 2009, 4:29 pm #9

Unfortunately there is nothing on the back of the card, only the word Jack. This card was sent to my Aunt May Howat in Canwood Saskatchewan and I can only presume that Jack must have been from the area. She wrote to a number of people during the course of the war. I have a book of addresses that i will attempt to go though and see who Jack is.
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Christopher Furlotte
Christopher Furlotte

November 5th, 2009, 3:59 am #10

Mr Ferguson,
Thank you for providing the information on this Christmas card. I think my relatives might have served in either No. 4 or 5 Coy Canadian Forestry Corps in Scotland. I have a really neat book titled The 'Sawdust Fusiliers' "The Canadian Forestry Corps in the Scottish Highlands in World War Two." By Major(Ret'd) William C. Wonders,CD BA MA PH.D.,F.R.F.C.

I'll contact them to see if there's any information I can obtain from them? I thought to ask this of you, as you never know what might come up heritage wise!? I have a old photo of all my relatives that served in the Canadian Army(CFC and RCE)during the war. If I can get it scanned , I'll post it on this forum, perhaps!?


"Timber"

Chris
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