Saturday, January 31, 2015

Submarine Lecture in Ladner

This was the scene at the Ladner Yacht Club the evening of Friday January 30th. The Fraser Power and Sail Squadron held a graduation ceremony for recent boating course students. I was honoured to be asked to speak about "Submarines, Canada, and Terror on the Alert". Above, I'm being introduced by instructor Bob Juulsen.

It was a real pleasure to talk submarines to an appreciative and enthusiastic audience.

Many thanks to the Squadron for having me as a guest.

Photos courtesy Kathleen and Paul Vanderwood.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Philip Sherwood, Lifewriter, at Canadian Authors-Vancouver

Philip Sherwood presented to the Canadian Authors-Vancouver on January 14th. His presentation was dynamic and well-received, appealing to potential memoirists, biographers, autobiographers, and family historians.

Through his firm, Philip assists families, companies, and individuals to tell their own stories. His books have won many awards.

Among other subjects have been members of Philip's own family, including his father. Freddie Sherwood was a renowned RCNVR submariner, notably commanding the RN's HMS Spiteful during World War II.

Here is the cover of "It's Not the Ships...", Freddie Sherwood's own story of his war years. It's a good example of Philip's work.
(I posted about the book last year.)

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Tour of a Cold War O-Boat (4)

 We are continuing aft on board HMCS Ojibwa, as she rests in her permanent berth ashore in Port Burwell, Ontario. We have passed through the watertight door into the accommodation spaces. On the left is a shot of a couple of bunks and some lockers. My memory fails me as to whether this is in the crew's quarters, or the chiefs and petty officers mess. Can someone help with a comment?

And here, on the right, we have the rather palatial commanding officer's cabin as seen from the passageway that threads its way the length of the boat. The lucky captain has hardwood to sleep on as opposed to a canvas sling. Not sure that would make it more comfortable.

Other features include a miniscule desk, a couple of drawers, and gauges and instruments so the captain can monitor the boat's progress. The cabin is very handy to the control room, so he can be there within seconds in case of an emergency or other development.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Trooper of Canadian Cavalry 100 Years Ago

One hundred years ago in January 1915, the Canadian Mounted Brigade was training in the mud and slime of Salisbury Plain, preparing for a chance to charge German infantry.

They didn't get that chance for some time, as years of duty in trenches awaited them first.

This photo is of my dad, Tom Mackay, MM. It was probably taken on the training ground of Fort Osborne Barracks in Winnipeg, before embarking for the UK.

Note the sword, primary weapon of the cavalry of the day. The horse stands proudly, mane and tail clipped, ears up, alert. No doubt the result of many hours of grooming, stable duty, and army discipline for trooper and charger.

More about the Canadian cavalry, and Tom, in my novel Soldier of the Horse.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Tour of a Cold War O-Boat (3)

 Following up on our tour parts (1) and (2), we've now climbed the stairs and entered the forward torpedo room in HMCS Ojibwa. We're looking forward in the cavernous space. The spot of bright light near the centre of the photo is the top of the new access door through which we've entered. The size of the space can be gauged by the figure of retired Admiral Dan McNeil, who can just be made out in the lower right corner. The rear doors of the three port torpedo tubes are between him and the access door.
Also visible on the left are parts of the torpedo racks which would hold spare torpedoes to be loaded using hydraulic rams as required. Before loading, the tube rear doors would have to be opened--once it was confirmed that the bow caps were shut and no water was in the tubes. A very important step.

To the right is a closer look at the top four of the six forward torpedo tubes. The rear doors are all shut, as they would be at sea, whether there was a torpedo in the tube or not. Sometimes the tubes were empty, depending on what task the boat was on.
The myriad of pipes, valves, and controls allow firing of a torpedo and the subsequent draining down of the now flooded tube so it can be reloaded.
It was not unknown for a boat to carry beer in an empty tube.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Tour of a Cold War O-Boat (2)

Number 1 in this series of posts showed an unusual view of HMCS Ojibwa, the gorgeous museum piece in Port Burwell, Ontario.
(If pressed, I'll admit that "gorgeous" when referring to a submarine is all in the eyes of the beholder.)

At left is the Ojibwa as she appeared when the Cooking Ladies and I approached from the west and crossed the bridge into Port Burwell in 2013.

The boat was not then open to the public, but nearly so.

This shot of the port side of the boat shows the steps installed to allow tourists to access the newly-cut doorway into the forward torpedo room.

Looking like an earflap at the top of the stairs is the door, and above that is the port forward hydroplane. The hydroplanes, working in concert while controlled by the helmsman, determined the boat's depth and angle of dive.

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Tour of a Cold War O-Boat (1)

Here is an unusual view of an Oberon-class submarine. To be more precise, the image is of the former HMCS Ojibwa, taken at her new home in Port Burwell, on the shore of Lake Erie, a couple of hours' drive east of Windsor.

Ojibwa is a major attraction in a rural area of Ontario. If it seems like an odd place for a submarine, you might want to talk to retired admiral Dan McNeil, who spearheaded the effort to land the Cold War boat above the Lake Erie shoreline.

This is Dan, pictured on board Ojibwa just before she opened to the public in 2013. Not exactly Dan's working uniform when he was in the Royal Canadian Navy, but more more typical of the hands-on work asked of his crew--and himself--as they laboured to restore the boat.

Watch for an ongoing series of posts about the Ojibwa and the Port Burwell project. And go see Dan--and Ojibwa--if you're in the area!