Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Answering Pendant's Travels In High Water Year: Schooner Days DXCVI (596)
Toronto Telegram (Toronto, ON), 26 Jun 1943
Full Text
Answering Pendant's Travels In High Water Year
Schooner Days DXCVI (596)

by C. H. J. Snider


IN the holy hush of a Sunday evening the church bells in Port Hope came sweetly to us across the mirroring lake.

Port Hope, with a corvette to her name in this war. Port Hope, with twenty tall schooners hailing therefrom sixty years ago. Port Hope, where lived Lieut. John Tucker Williams, R.N., in 1814 commander of H.M.S. Prince Regent (I), the first man-of-war built at Toronto. He advertised his candidature for Parliament later on with the conclusion, "My colors are Naval Blue" and Gen. Victor Williams is his grandson. We could not go to church in Port Hope. We were becalmed half a mile outside.

The best we could do was to hoist the red-and-white-barred answering pendant, but there was not enough wind to blow lit out. That is the flag we have carried up and down the lake for three seasons now, for the British War Victims' Fund. A sea captain gave it for that purpose, and it has helped the fund over the $2,000,000 mark. It was the international code flag his ship was flying in convoy when she was bombed and machine gunned by a Heinie. The second bar of red is riddled with the machine gun bullets, and although the edges have been carefully buttonhole stitched we have to proceed with caution in hoisting. On the third swoop the ship's after gun got the tail of the bomber, the deadly darning needle disintegrated in fragments that fell into the sea.

The captain, who had been on the wing of the open bridge through the three attacks, then came down and picked up a twenty-pound fin which one of the bombs had left on the deck. The rest of the barrage bounced overboard.

We have that bomb-vane also on board. It has been shown, along with the perforated flag, to many marine audiences, with results favorable to British War Victims. Prince Edward alone contributed $1,300 the first time of showing, $600 the next, and $1,100 the next. Grand people. British.

"It makes me think of two dear old souls at home, in East Anglia," said one of the afterguard, as our ship's clock answered the chimes of Port Hope. It was near the home of Broke of the Shannon. When the evening bells began to ring, one or the other was sure to appear in his Sunday best, tap respectfully at the front door, and say, 'We would take you and your family to church with us; and the little handmaiden'. Which included our young domestic."

Though, of course, none of us knew it, at that very moment three German raiders were bombing and machine gunning the little village where the speaker's sisters live. The bell of the tin church at the Ferry across the sea has rung its last chime, the Tunisian victory peal, for the church was knocked flat while Port Hope bells were calling in Canada.

One sister wrote:

"I happened to be looking out of a side window and saw two planes rushing along only 50 feet up, if that. I shouted to Eva to rush down out of bed. There was no time to get to the shelter so we huddled under the stairs and Lady with us. Then the noise came, and the din was awful, for the planes went over our roof only twenty feet up, and the house shook as though it would collapse.

"A bomb went through the roof next door to us and came out through the wall of the end house. Another absolutely wrecked a bungalow and two garages, in front of the end one, and the man and his wife were only saved by the brick chimney. One house at the end of the coast guard houses was completely demolished, six children buried in the wreckage and all dug out alive.

"A cannon shell had come through one side of the bay window in my bedroom and out the other, destroying my velvet curtains, so we had no blackout and couldn't use light in the room.

"We got our dressing station in the garage going. First the man and wife and their canary from their wrecked bungalow came in, for head cuts. Then four children, whose home was now just a crater. Then a mother and her three months old baby. We were busy all night and dressed many small injuries and sent four to hospital for treatment. We were full up, for the night, with children on and under the Morrison (a steel shelter shaped like a long table) and on the bed and stretchers, people on chairs and spare mattresses. I sent one child to the hospital at 4 a.m. because she complained of internal pains. It took the ambulance an hour to get her there because of unexploded bombs closing the main street.

"One bomb dropped down the other end of the village, bounded on the road, got up again and came to our end and exploded. In came our front door, out went the windows, bang went the lock off the kitchen door and the heavy garage door and small one beside it both blew off their hinges. Four houses were wrecked.

"The planes didn't come back. All three were shot down. There was a huge blaze where they fell in the Wrens camp.

"We had to work by candle light for the power went off when a bomb cut one water tank in halves. The little tin church is nearly blown out, but we had a service of thanksgiving outside it at 3.30. You will be glad to hear how wonderful the Women's Voluntary Service was, and that mobile canteen, given through The Toronto Telegram, came down and fed us in the midst of all the confusion. There was sandwiches and tea first, then we cooked tinned meats and green vegetables. They gave us sugar, tea, syrup and milk. The children thought the canteen more wonderful than the bombing planes. They were around it like flies around a jam jar."

Prince Edward County will be glad to hear that, too. The canteen may have been from the very pair presented through the British War Victims' Fund at the Cherry Valley mariners' service, when South Marysburg township alone gave enough money for two, in memory of Leading Seaman Cal Grimmon, Prince Edward's first bluejacket to give his life in the war.



The bullet-torn flag above is the International Code answering pendant of a British steamer which was was attacked by a German bomber and blew the attackers to kingdom-never-come with the after gun. The German dive-bombed the ship and machine-gunned her, dropping two bombs which bounced overboard and shooting holes through the red and white pendant which the ship was flying, acknowledging the convoy ordered to disperse. After the action the freighter captain picked just one of the crumpled bomb fins which had been driven into the deck. He gave it and the short-torn flag to help Telegram readers to help British War Victims. The crumpled fin or vane, painted black and yellow, looks like a piece of silk in the hands of Major R. S. Gamey's pretty daughter Mary (now the bride of Lieut. J. G. Andrews), who is holding it, but it is actually a ragged piece of steel weighing around twenty pounds.

Snider, C. H. J.
Item Type
Date of Publication
26 Jun 1943
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.9427050316566 Longitude: -78.2937865917969
Richard Palmer
Copyright Statement
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Answering Pendant's Travels In High Water Year: Schooner Days DXCVI (596)