Tag Archives: WWII

WWII Dockyard for Bay Bulls

Archival Moment

WWII Dockyard for Bay Bulls

Property of Martin O'Driscoll, Bay Bulls, 1942. Note the parish church in the background.

Property of Martin O’Driscoll, Bay Bulls, 1942. Note the parish church in the background.

Throughout WWII St. John’s had become the strategic naval hub for ships travelling across the Atlantic. With limited capacity in St. John’s harbour, repair facilities in the harbour quickly became overcrowded and a search began for another harbor.

A decision was soon made to construct a dockyard at Bay Bulls; the town was close to St. John’s and offered a deep water bay opening to the Atlantic. In Bay Bulls it was decided to build a dockyard that could accommodate smaller ships that required repair allowing the larger vessels to be serviced in St. John’s.

Construction demanded access to water front property.

In order to build the dockyard and supporting infracture the properties of local residents in Bay Bulls were expropriated by the Newfoundland Department of Public Utilities, Commission of Government, to provide sites for the installations under the Leased Lands Agreement and American Bases Act (1941).

The process of expropriation was documented and is now available at The Rooms Provincial Archives. This new online collection consists of 37 photographs relating to claims for remuneration for expropriated property in the community. The images illustrate houses, fences, shops, sheds, farms, farm animals, vehicles, buildings, and household items.

Some of the Bay Bulls families included in the process were: Coady, Gatheral, O’Driscoll, and Williams.

Construction of the WWII infracture in Bay Bulls began in July 1942; the first operation began in the spring of 1944. The construction included a marine railway with anchorage facilities, barracks, administration buildings and its own power supply in the form of a hydroelectric facility.

Recommended Archival Collection: Department of Public Works Newfoundland Board of Arbitration records Expropriations claims: Photographs: GN 4.3, Series (Bay Bulls) Click to view the Bay Bulls photographs: https://gencat1.eloquent-systems.com/webcat/request/Action?ClientSession=-526741c6:158b8fb21c3:-7f98&TemplateProcessID=6000_3355&PromptID=&ParamID=&CMD_(DetailRequest)[0]=&ProcessID=6000_3363(0)&KeyValues=KEY_38634

Recommended Exhibit: From This Place: Our Lives on Land and Sea Where:   Level 4, The Husky Energy Gallery, The Rooms: This exhibition showcases how the province’s peoples connected and are connected, and how different cultures shape this place. See in particular the exhibit cases “The Friendly Invasion.”

Stephenville, from a French farming village into a flourishing American air base.

Archival Moment

April 1941

Photo Credit: A 65. 6 (1943) Margaret Boulos (Basha) Retail Store Stephenville

Photo Credit: A 65. 6 (1943) Margaret Boulos (Basha) Retail Store Stephenville

In September 1940 as WWII raged, plans were being made to transform the quiet, largely French-speaking farming village of Stephenville, Newfoundland into a flourishing American air base.

The transformation was to impact the whole area but it would have a direct impact on more than 200 people, living on a small parcel of land, consisting of 865 acres. These people would be removed from their homes; their properties were slated for expropriation.

Under its Leased Bases Agreement with Britain, the United States had obtained rights to build the Stephenville air base in 1940. A board of American army and navy personnel arrived in Newfoundland on September 20, 1940 to scout for possible base sites. The Americans quickly realized that Stephenville would be an ideal location for an air base. It would eventually become the largest US military base outside of the continental USA.

In order to build the air base the properties of local residents were expropriated by the Newfoundland Department of Public Utilities, Commission of Government, to provide sites for American military bases and installations under the Leased Lands Agreement and American Bases Act (1941).

The process of expropriation was documented and is now available at The Rooms Provincial Archives. This new online collection consists of 265 photographs (b&w) relating to claims for remuneration for expropriated property in the community of Stephenville. The images illustrate houses, fences, shops, sheds, farms, farm animals, vehicles, buildings, and household items.

Recommended Archival Collection: Department of Public Works Newfoundland Board of Arbitration records Expropriations claims: Photographs: GN 4.3, Series (Stephenville) Click to view the Stephenville photographs: http://gencat.eloquent-systems.com/therooms_permalink.html?key=38234

Recommended Exhibit: From This Place: Our Lives on Land and Sea Where:   Level 4, The Husky Energy Gallery, The Rooms:  This exhibition showcases how the province’s peoples connected and are connected, and how different cultures shape this place. See in particular the exhibit cases “The Friendly Invasion.”

Recommended Reading: High, Steven. “From Outport to Base: The American Occupation of Stephenville, 1940-1945.” Newfoundland Studies 18.1 (2002): 84-113.

 

Newfoundland Woman Interned in German Prison Camp

November 16, 1941

Mr. and Mrs. Andrew B. Edwards of Lawn, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland wrote Cluny Macpherson, Assistant Commissioner of the Red Cross at St. John’s on 16 November 1941 informing the Red Cross that their daughter Marie Andrew Edwards, age 22 was interned in a German prisoner of War Camp in France. The Edward’s were aware that McPherson was the local representative of the International Red Cross.

Mary Andrew Edwards: was born in Lawn, Placentia Bay. She was the daughter of Andrew Edwards and Nora (Picco). She received her early education in Lawn and at age sixteen she went to work in St. Pierre et Miquelon.

After a few years in St. Pierre et Miquelon she felt the calling to religious life, this she confided to her parish priest who encouraged her to join the St. Joseph of Cluny Sisters, a teaching order of nuns at St. Pierre. Upon being accepted into the congregation at St. Pierre she took the name Sister Therese. She left St. Pierre et Miquelon in 1938 going to a convent in Paris.

After the Nazis victory over France in 1940, Sister Therese and four hundred nuns from different congregations were rounded up and sent to Prisoner of War Camps. She was in a particularly difficult position, as a Newfoundlander, she was carrying a British passport.

POW CAMP

During one period the commander of the POW camp, allowed the nuns to have Mass celebrated by priests and bishops who were also prisoners of war there. Sister Therese and two other sisters of the order were allowed to take Religious Vows, the ritual that officially made them nuns.

Near the end of the war the Swiss Red Cross investigated the camp, finding many of the prisoners were very ill. They encouraged the Germans to release the nuns to a healthier camp. This was done.

When Sister Edward’s was liberated she was sent to Africa for six years after which she was recalled to France. After a few months in France she was sent to New Caledonia.

After twenty three years there she was allowed home to visit parents and family members, after which she returned to the mission. She did this a few times in the ensuing years and at one time she and her sister Nora – who also joined the convent – came home together.

Mary Andrew Edwards died in 1997.

Nora Edwards at 99 years young is still active in her religious community. In March she celebrated her 77th anniversary as a member of the religious community.

Recommended Archival Collection: Search the Rooms  online database for descriptions of our archival records and view thousands of digital photographs. https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections

Recommended Archival Collection: Archives of the R.C. Archdiocese of St. John’s File 107-15-8

Recommended Book: Did you know that German’s were interred in camps in Newfoundland during WWII? Read: Gerhard P. Bassler. Vikings to U-Boats: The German Experience in Newfoundland and Labrador. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006.

Newfoundland and Cod Liver Oil

Archival Moment

September 20, 1943

Gerald S. Doyle was a major distributor of Cod Liver Oil in Newfoundland

During the final months and days of WWII governments throughout the world began to  realize that something would have to be done for the health of the children in war torn Europe.

The Pope’s delegate to Canada and Newfoundland  was aware that Newfoundland had a product with considerable medicinal value  that should be considered.

On 20 September 1943, church officials in Newfoundland were notified by the  Vatican that Rome:

“plans to secure a considerable quantity of cod-liver oil to be kept at its disposal so it can be distributed at the end of the war in those regions where the health conditions of poor children demand it.”

The letter went on the ask the local bishop in St. John’s   to

 “obtain information, if several thousand pounds of it  (cod liver oil) could be bought now  in Canada and Newfoundland.”

In Newfoundland, local businessman P.J. Lewis  was charged by Archbishop Roche of St. John’s with  finding the cod liver oil and looking at how it could be transported to the children in Europe.

Lewis had proven to be equal to the task that was assigned to him. He had managed to find six tons of cod liver oil that they were  “able to ship abroad that year, for the children of Europe.”

During World War II, the British Ministry of Food, concerned about the effect of a tightened food supply on health, provided free cod-liver oil for pregnant and breast-feeding women, children under five, and adults over forty.The British government, believing that the oil had produced the healthiest children England had ever seen, despite the bombings and the rationing, continued the program until 1971.

Cod Liver Oil is pressed from the fresh liver of the cod and purified. It is one of the best-known natural sources of vitamin D, and a rich source of vitamin A. It has been shown to prevent rickets. Because cod liver oil is more easily absorbed than other oils, it was originally  widely used as a nutrient and tonic.

Recommended Archival Collection:    Search the online database for descriptions of our archival records and to view thousands of digital photographs.  In the search bar type; Cod liver oil  –https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections

Recommended Video:   Information Video from the British Ministry of Information WWII   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4PgMIPQb7U

Recommended Song: Great Big Sea on their album The Hard and the Easyhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyocPX4k4y8

Cod liver oil from Newfoundland

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

July 30, 1946

COD LIVER OIL FOR THE CHILDREN OF EUROPE 

Cod Liver Oil from Newfoundland was served to the orphan children of Europe after WWII

On  (July 30, 1946) the generous financial response to a plea to assist the poor children of Europe in the wake of WWII  from the people of Canada and Newfoundland, that realized  approximately $150,000 in relief supplies was acknowledged.

In a Vatican State document entitled “Pleading for the Care of the World’s Destitute Children” one of the  first documents bringing to the attention of the world the desperate state of the children of Europe in the wake of the war it was written:

“Without home, without clothing, they shiver in the winter cold and die. And there are no fathers or mothers to warm and clothe them. Ailing, or even in the last stages of consumption, they are without the necessary medicines and medical care. We see them, too, passing before Our sorrowful gaze, wandering through the noisy city street, reduced to unemployment and moral corruption, or drifting as vagrants uncertainly about the cities, the towns, the countryside, while no one — alas-provides safe refuge for them against want, vice and crime.”

COD LIVER OIL FROM NEWFOUNDLAND

In addition to financial support, Newfoundlanders were also thanked for the six tons of cod liver oil that “they have been able to ship abroad this year (1946), for the children of Europe.”

Cod Liver Oil is pressed from the fresh liver of the cod and purified. It is one of the best-known natural sources of vitamin D, and a rich source of vitamin A. Because cod liver oil is more easily absorbed than other oils, it was formerly widely used as a nutrient and tonic.

Even before the end of WWII the realization that something would have to be done for the health of the children in war torn Europe was under discussion.  In Newfoundland a process was put in place to begin to secure a  considerable quantity of cod-liver oil so it could be distributed at the end of the war in those regions where the health conditions of  poor children demanded it. In Newfoundland, local businessman P.J. Lewis was charged with finding the cod liver oil and looking at how it could be transported to the  children in Europe.

Recommended Archival Collection: At The Rooms Provincial Archives see GN 38.3  this file consists of Despatches from Secretary, to  the Governor, 10-’44 includes  discussion about the possible production of dehydrated cod in Newfoundland; 74-’44 Newfoundland fish for the British Food Mission and  210-’44 Fish for relief purposes after the war.

Recommended Reading: Cod- The Ecological History of the North Atlantic Fisheries by George Rose, Breakwater Books, St. John’s, 2008.

Recommended Cookbook: Salt Cod Cuisine: The International Table by Edward A. Jones, Boulder Publications, Portugal Cove, NL . June 2013 The cultural and culinary tradition of salt cod is celebrated in this very special cookbook—and while it is focused on Newfoundland and Labrador, the recipes take us to the many countries that feature salt cod cuisine.

Listen to this variant of Cod-Liver Oil by Ryan’s Fancy with lyrics so you can sing along http://www.wtv-zone.com/phyrst/audio/nfld/25/oil2.htm

Recommended Museum: At the Rooms Provincial Museum visit the Elinor Gill Ratcliff Gallery and explore the ‘Rural Health and Medicine Exhibit.’  Find the bottle of cod liver oil!!

Celebrations in the streets: VE – Day

Archival Moment

May 8, 1945

The Daily News, May 1945.

The Daily News, May 1945.

At 10:30 a.m. on May 8, 1945 the siren atop the Newfoundland Hotel, St. John’s, began to wail. This was the same siren that had sounded over the city every Thursday morning since 1939, reminding citizens that we were at war. This time the siren was declaring that the country was at peace! It was the declaration of Victory in Europe Day – VE – Day.

Germany’s unconditional surrender to the Allied Forces on May 7, 1945, ended the Second World War in Europe.

In homes throughout Newfoundland and Labrador families gathered around their radios to listen to a broadcast from the Broadcasting Corporation of Newfoundland (BCN) located on the top floor of the old Newfoundland Hotel in St. John’s.

That morning, announcer Aubrey MacDonald, held a microphone outside the studio window to record and broadcast the noise from the celebrations below in the streets of St. John’s .

His radio audience heard him say:

“You are hearing the rejoicing, the unabated rejoicing of our people in St. John’s which has followed spontaneously the great announcement by Prime Minister, Mr. Winston Churchill, that the war in Europe has ceased in an Allied victory …..    Listen to the whistles, the steamers, the church bells, as our people greet them in great jubilation.

 The town is bedecked with bunting. Flags are flying. And just now, our people are releasing the pent-up emotions in a torrent of joyous emotion. The war in Europe is over!! Listen to our people show their feelings.

People of nearly every Allied country are taking part in this great celebration today in our city. Cars are scurrying to and from covered in bunting. Men, women, and children are celebrating in a great spirit of unabated joy. The jubilation continues. The celebration is on. There is an aura of complete, unadulterated relief in the spontaneous outburst and the feelings which have so long been pent up are now being released in a torrent of joy. But with all, the predominant note is one of thankfulness — thankfulness to the Almighty who in His divine mercy, has blessed our arms.

As we leave this scene here in St. John’s to which we have looked forward to the past six years we return to the non the less joyous expression of our feelings in the anthems and songs of the empire.

We begin with the national anthem of our own Newfoundland — Britain’s oldest colony — whose sons fought so well and so valiantly and whose patriotic people contributed so much in work and money and toil towards the winning of this long, arduous war.”

All Newfoundlanders stood by their radios to listen to the Ode.

Taking into account service in the Newfoundland Militia, the Forestry Unit and the merchant marine, more than 12,000 Newfoundlanders (the 1945 population, including Labrador, was 321,819) were at one time or another directly or indirectly involved in the war effort. About 1,000 military personnel from Newfoundland and Labrador were killed during the war.

Recommended Archival Collection: Celebration [of] termination war 1939-1945   GN 158.120:     File consists of memoranda and correspondence on celebrations of V.E. Day [Victory in Europe] in Newfoundland.

Recommended Exhibit: Here, We Made A Home: The Elinor Gill Ratcliffe Gallery – Level 4, The Rooms.

Listen:  Aubrey MacDonald VE-Day 1945 celebrations in St. John’s (excerpt) The Broadcasting Corporation of Newfoundland hung a microphone outside its St. John’s studios to records the celebrations. http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Local+Shows/Newfoundland/ID/2666363273/

Listen: Take some time to talk to someone in your family about their experience of World War II. Think about what you want to do with archival material that you hold that is related to the Second World War.

Censored letters and loyalty

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

September 6,  1941

Let’s Censor our conversation About the War.

During WWII all correspondence leaving Newfoundlandand Labrador was intercepted by an official censor from the Office of the Commissioner for Justice and Defence that was under the direction of L.E.  Emerson of the Newfoundland Department of Defence.

Most governments of the day, throughout the world, argued that censorship was necessary to prevent valuable information getting into enemy hands and to maintain high morale on the home front.

In order to meet these goals every letter leaving the province was read to insure that individuals were not wittingly or unwittingly giving information to the enemy.

On September 20, 1941 Commissioner Emerson was particularly  disturbed by the contents of a letter that the censor board had intercepted that was written by a young Irish born teacher  (Brother)  E.P. O’Farrell on staff at St. Patrick’s Hall School, St. John’s.  Emerson found the letter to be very suspect.  He described the views held by the young teacher,  O’Farrell,  to be “positively dangerous.”

The letter dated September 6, 1941 written by Brother O’Farrell to his parents in County Kerry, Ireland was considered dangerous on a number of grounds.

Brother O’Farrell in his letter applauded the fact that Ireland had declared itself neutral during the war.  Neutrality was overwhelmingly supported by the population of Ireland; a minority of Irish Republicans sided with Germany, believing that a German victory might bring about a United Ireland.

Moreover, in a war in which the United Kingdom was involved, neutrality was perceived as the clearest expression of Irish sovereignty, something the Irish Prime Minister Éamon de Valera fervently sought.

In his letter, the young teacher O’Farrell speculated that:

 “I don’t think (President) Roosevelt will succeed in getting the States to fight and that all Catholics and all the Bishops are determined to stay out of the war.”

The ‘neutral’ position taken by the Irish during the war, lead many to be suspicious of the Irish and their intentions.  Given that O’Farrell was Irish born and a teacher Emerson insisted his letter did “raise considerable alarm”.  He felt strongly also that:

 “teachers needed to maintain an atmosphere of loyalty and optimism in the schools.”

The letter never reached O’Farrell’s parents.

Recommended Archival Collection:  At the Provincial Archives Division at The Rooms see GN 38.3 ; Home Affairs and Education. This file consists of memorandum relating to the appointments to the censorship staff, modifications to the censorship process, Appointment of Chief Censor

Recommended Action: Explore old family correspondence and photographs is there any evidence that  this material was subject to censorship.?

Recommended Publication:  High, Steven. Occupied St. John’s: a Social History of a City at War 1939-1945. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2010.   336 pages, illustrated.