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  #1  
Old 18-06-17, 05:29
Phil Bristow Phil Bristow is offline
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Default Searching for details about the Canadian base at Eastbourne

My wife and I will be visiting the UK this September trying to fill in some gaps in our family histories.
We plan to visit Eastbourne where my late father was seriously wounded in a German air raid the night of August 9-10, 1942.
Private John Robert Bristow (Bob), served with No 9 Canadian Field Ambulance RCAMC and was working in the Orderly Room when the air raid struck.
8 of 11 men in his company were killed. The other 3 were seriously wounded, including my father.
I would like to visit the site if it still exists.
- What records are there of the Canadian base in Eastbourne in 1942?
- Are there any traces of it left?
- Where would I go to find details of the raid?
- Are there perchance any others who remember that fateful period?
Like so many others, my father didn't talk much about the war. I only learned about his wartime experiences when I stumbled upon a long letter he wrote to a friend in 1994 detailing his history.
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Old 18-06-17, 06:41
David Dunlop David Dunlop is offline
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Hello Phil.

Interesting topic. It is my understanding a good portion of the Eastbourne area was evacuated during the war due to the extensive German bombing of the area. A large number of Canadian Troops were stationed there leading up to D-Day, but they may not necessarily have been in a single 'Camp' location. Rather, I think they may have been billeted throughout the area.

You might want to try contacting the Eastbourne Local History Society with the information about your Dad that you have and they might be able to help.

Good luck and keep us posted.


David
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  #3  
Old 18-06-17, 17:16
Darrell Zinck Darrell Zinck is offline
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Hi Phil

http://www.eastbournehistory.org.uk/

Good luck.

regards
darrell
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  #4  
Old 19-06-17, 04:50
Phil Bristow Phil Bristow is offline
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Thanks for your replies David & Darrell,
I'll follow through with the link to the Eastbourne Historic Society.
Dad mentioned being stationed at Nutfield Abbey in his letter.
He doesn't give the exact date of his deployment to Eastbourne, except that he was there when the raid occurred.
After my post yesterday, I discovered that a book was written in 2006 about Canadians in Eastbourne during WWII. That may be helpful as well.

I understand that Canadian military records are locked for 75 years after the war. That makes it 2020 before I can see my father's file and finally fill in the gaps he only refers to in his letter.

Phil
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  #5  
Old 19-06-17, 05:50
David Dunlop David Dunlop is offline
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Phil. The 75 year rule only applies to general public release of the records.

You can apply for a copy of your Father's Army Service Records at any time, for a fee, since you are his Son. They keep dinking around with the rules, so I would suggest having a copy of your Father's Death Certificate, in case you are asked, and his Service Number will speed up the search immensely. You should be able to find all the current requirements on line.

David
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  #6  
Old 19-06-17, 14:35
Phil Bristow Phil Bristow is offline
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Default WWII Military Service Records

Thank You for your good information David.
I've found the address on the Gov't of Canada website.
I've also found an updated copy of Canucks by the Sea through the excellent Eastbourne Historical Society.
I'll let you know how things turn out.
Phil
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  #7  
Old 20-06-17, 00:48
Lauren Child Lauren Child is offline
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Funnily enough I grew up in Eastbourne. Your best bet is to contact (and visit) the Redoubt fortress military museum on the seafront. The museum covers local military history from the napoleonic era through to modern day, so they should be able to help.

It's also a fantastic museum, and napoleonic era fortress, to visit.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastbourne_Redoubt

http://www.eastbournemuseums.co.uk

If you are in the area, Newhaven fort is a short drive and also well worth a visit.

http://www.newhavenfort.org.uk

Further away there's also Dover castle, including an underground hospital and the bunkers where the Dunkirk evacuation was planned and commanded.

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/v.../things-to-do/

Last edited by Lauren Child; 20-06-17 at 01:13.
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  #8  
Old 20-06-17, 11:20
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Tim Bell Tim Bell is offline
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Canadian HQ was at Sheffield Park... not that far away.

I have photos of the Canadians at Sheffield Park, Brighton and other places along that coast... no idea if any are Eastbourne though.

Tim
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  #9  
Old 22-06-17, 10:44
Lauren Child Lauren Child is offline
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The local paper (the Herald) has this more modern story:
http://www.eastbourneherald.co.uk/ne...-war-1-5821503

This indicates a date of August 11 1942 at 1am and either the newspaper may be able to look in the archives, or you may be able to find a copy of the original report in Eastbourne library.
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Old 22-06-17, 10:58
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Richard Farrant Richard Farrant is offline
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The Command HQ of 2nd Canadian Division, 1st Canadian Army, was located at Hawkhurst Court, Wisborough Green, near Billingshurst in West Sussex.
When taking my military vehicles down to Portsmouth over the years, I stop for a break on the village green there. Once, one of the locals came up and told me the story, explaining why the Canadian flag was flying on the green.
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  #11  
Old 23-06-17, 04:28
Phil Bristow Phil Bristow is offline
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Default Details about Canadians in Eastbourne in 1942

Thank You everyone for your helpful information.
We'll be staying a day in Deal where my mother's family came from and will visit Dover Castle.
Dad was with No 9 Canadian Field Ambulance RCAMC
He was assigned to HQ Company, but I don't know if that was in Canada, Nutfield Abbey or Eastbourne.
I'll follow up on Lauren's link to the newspaper report about the Aug 11/42 raid.
Looks like we'll be spending at least a day in Eastbourne.

Still no reply from the Historical Society about the book.
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  #12  
Old 23-06-17, 05:32
Phil Bristow Phil Bristow is offline
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Default It notes the very raid my father was wounded in!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lauren Child View Post
The local paper (the Herald) has this more modern story:
http://www.eastbourneherald.co.uk/ne...-war-1-5821503

This indicates a date of August 11 1942 at 1am and either the newspaper may be able to look in the archives, or you may be able to find a copy of the original report in Eastbourne library.
LAUREN,
I just found the article you refer to with a paragraph giving a detailed account of the Aug 11/42 raid. It ends with "...it is amazing that casualties were so light - apart from the eight Canadian soldiers killed in a shelter."
That is indeed the raid my father was in. He wrote that 8 of 11 men died when they jammed together in the dark at the steps leading down to the shelter. He was at the back of the group and seconds before the bomb hit, he got a strange feeling and dove against a shed 10-12 feet away. He miraculously survived with only a leg wound. It's moving to read the account so many years later.
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Old 08-08-17, 19:16
Phil Bristow Phil Bristow is offline
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Thank you for all your help. Last week, was amazing. I received a number of helpful replies from The Historical Society and especially from Nat Gonella and Michael Ockenden, who wrote, "Canucks by the Sea". We will have a rich and meaningful visit to Eastbourne on September 19, including a possible interview with The Herald and the Historical Society.
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  #14  
Old 09-08-17, 00:31
Lauren Child Lauren Child is offline
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From the same raid, in the book "Front Line Eastbourne". No mention of the Canadians, though civillian casualties in the same raid were Mrs. M. Taylor, Mrs W. E. Walker and Miss S. Boucher.

There's a photo of the burnt out St. Anne's church hit in the same raid with incendiaries, but alas I can't seem to upload it.

Last edited by Lauren Child; 09-08-17 at 00:40.
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  #15  
Old 09-08-17, 06:05
Phil Bristow Phil Bristow is offline
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Thanks Lauren,
Another book for me to check out. The Eastbournians (?) kept excellent records even during such painful times, as their city and friends were under attack.

Please let me know if you come across the names of the Canadian casualties that night. Dad had typed them on a small square of paper surrounded by photos and other war memorabilia that were framed over his desk for many years. Every Remembrance Day he added another poppy until the frame was just about encircled. Unfortunately, the paper is lost.
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Old 09-08-17, 18:07
Bruce MacMillan Bruce MacMillan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Bristow View Post
We'll be staying a day in Deal where my mother's family came from and will visit Dover Castle.
I live in Deal and it is a nice little town right on the English Channel. Lots of history here from the Romans (Caesar reportedly landed here) to WW2. Check out the old part of town.

I volunteer at Dover Castle so if you are interested let me know what day you might come and I can give you an informed tour.
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  #17  
Old 09-08-17, 21:03
Phil Bristow Phil Bristow is offline
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Default Visiting Deal, Sunday Sept 17.

Dear Bruce,
Thank you. My wife, Cheryl and I will be glad to take you up on your kind offer. We'll have quite a busy time in Deal. In the morning we'll attend St. George's Church, where my Great-Grandfather attended, and where my grandfather was baptized. My Great-Grandfather was a pilot on the English Channel and may have been one of the famous Deal boatmen, so we plan to visit the Maritime Museum as well.
Actually we'll be arriving from Canterbury Saturday afternoon and will leave for Eastbourne as early as possible Monday morning. What time suits you best, later Saturday afternoon, or mid-Sunday afternoon?
Phil.
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  #18  
Old 10-08-17, 15:06
Darrell Zinck Darrell Zinck is offline
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Hi Phil

Enjoy your trip.

As for the Canadians killed in that raid, a quick look at the Canadian Virtual War Memorial for 11 Aug '42 reveals 24 Canadians died that day.

http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/rememb...&submit=Search

9 of them are RCAMC and are buried in Brookwood. So possibly:

Cannon,
Carlington,
Cooke,
Gagnon,
Levesque,
Parker,
Wade,
Winters,
Worthylake.


Hope that is some small help.

regards
Darrell
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  #19  
Old 10-08-17, 16:31
Phil Bristow Phil Bristow is offline
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Default August 11, 1942 - Canadian Virtual War Memorial

Hi Darrell,
Thanks for your detailed research.
It's interesting that there are 9 names from the Medical Corps.
8 are noted in Dad's letter and the Eastbourne Herald.
Cannon, Carlington, Cooke, Levesque and Parker are specifically #9 Field Ambulance, so they were probably among those killed.

One of the other four was probably killed at the front.

Then again, there's a possibility that not all of the 8 were from the RCAMC.

It is sad to note that most of the others were RCAF.
Phil.
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  #20  
Old 11-08-17, 09:20
Bruce MacMillan Bruce MacMillan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Bristow View Post
What time suits you best, later Saturday afternoon, or mid-Sunday afternoon?
Phil.
PM sent

Bruce
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  #21  
Old 12-08-17, 01:36
Phil Bristow Phil Bristow is offline
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Default Visiting Deal Castle

Thank you for your offer Bruce.
Just to be certain when you say that you'll be at the fire command post on the cliff side of the castle are you referring to Deal or Dover Castle?
If it's Deal, we'll plan to visit Sunday afternoon.
We watched an interesting documentary on Dover Castle, just last week, but I'm not sure whether we'll get to Dover this trip. We'll be using public transport.

Looking forward to meeting you
Phil.
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  #22  
Old 14-08-17, 09:11
Bruce MacMillan Bruce MacMillan is offline
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Hi Phil,

I'm at Dover Castle so I guess we wont meet up. I thought in an earlier post you were going to Dover. Deal Castle is more of an artillery fort than a castle. You might want to look at Walmer Castle. It is only a mile away from Deal and has more to offer.

Anyway have a good trip and remember to drive on the left.
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  #23  
Old 14-08-17, 16:06
Phil Bristow Phil Bristow is offline
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Default Sorry we'll miss you.

Dear Bruce,
We'll hold Dover Castle in our thoughts and try to come over if we can.
It's a world famous site.
I visited Deal Castle in 2005, and I have to agree with you.

Part of what holds me back is that we are taking public transport.

Thank you for your offer.
Phil.
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