© Stephen H Garrity (2014)
In due course, I was posted to Ancienne Lorette, a Navigation training school, near Quebec City. While in Quebec, I went to visit Randy West, who had been with me at MacDonald College. Randy had enlisted in the RCAF and was serving on the west coast, his mother, Esther West, who I had met when she visited Randy at college, invited me and my friend Ross Forgrave to dinner. We readily accepted with pleasure. And so I met Randy's sister Reeny. During the meal, neither of us could keep our eyes off one another. It was love at first sight and before I was posted overseas, after only thirteen dates, we had become engaged. I had a pretty girl to come back to.
The earliest pictures I have with Reeny and her family. Her parents, Ted and Esther West, myself and Reeny.
Ted West, Randal's wife Irene, myself and Reeny.
This mugshot was taken on November 20th, when I received my commission. I then promptly boarded the train for Halifax.
Pilot Officer RCB Garrity: This picture was taken in Halifax when I had my new officer's uniform. It was common to colourize black and white pictures as this was done.
Course 55; No. 8 Observer School, Ancienne Lorette, Quebec. I am sitting third to the right, bottom row.
The RMS Queen Elizabeth had been converted into a troop ship. She was painted gray, and her high speed was her protection and could out pace any submarine or surface ship. However, with up to 18,000 men on board, it was no pleasure cruise!
On arrival in England, in December 1942, I was posted to a holding unit in Bournemouth, a beautiful seaside resort in southern England. There were many hotels to accommodate the thousands of airmen, awaiting posting for further training. Bournemouth had long been one of the favourite holiday towns in England. We were startled to find palm trees growing in the beautiful park. However, to our consternation, the Air Force in their infinite wisdom, thought we should experience army life and we were assigned a regiment.
The Essex Scottish Regiment was a Canadian unit stationed at Middleton, not far from Chichester. One of the regiments that had been decimated in the disastrous Dieppe raid and they were in the process of rebuilding. I was assigned to Company A, under the command of Capt. Alex Hayes. After a few days of lectures and demonstrations, we were sent out on maneuvers or off to the ranges, and once considered indoctrinated in the ways of the army, we were posted to their Battle School at Greenwood Park. We were not impressed! And when we were shown to our quarters, we wondered what on earth we had done to deserve such a fate. It was our first experience with English wartime housing, the Nissen hut, a rounded roof reaching to the ground, made of galvanized iron, 15 beds, one stove, no electricity. Somewhat spartan, and most un-air force-like. Of course, it was raining and everything was ankle deep in mud.
I was assigned to be a navigator. The navigator's task was to get the aircraft to the target and back again.
The navigational training in the RAF (RCAF) was the most advanced of any air force in the world and the standard of navigation the highest.
After another year of training: Advanced Training at Dunfries and Operational Training at Kinloss, both in Scotland, I was posted to 431 Squadron, based at Croft in Yorkshire.
We all learned to fly in the Tiger Moth, and then for navigation training, the Avro Anson. All training aircraft were painted yellow.
My kid brother, Neville, had joined the RCAF which was a surprise since he was so active as a Navy Cadet when he was younger. Here he is in Quebec City, with my fiancee Reeny.
Assigned to the Essex Scottish Regiment