Bill Hillman Presents
Forces: Land ~ Air ~ Sea ~ Home
Compiled by Bill Hillman
Wherein we share an eclectic assortment of items gleaned from the
Internet, media and contributing readers.
Please send your ideas and contributions to the
FLASH. . . Editor and Webmaster: Bill Hillman:

April 2009 Issue



We get letters. . .
Subject: Prince Robert
I found your info on this ship via internet.  I am currently doing up some photo albums from my father and mother who are both now deceased.  My dad served in the Canadian Navy from 1941 to 1966.    He has numerous photos of the navy ships, however not all of them have captions as to which one that they are.  He has this one picture of the Prince Robert dated 1942 “tied up at the dockyard Jetty” Jan 42.  “forward on main fleet, gun removed.”  My dad was also a Chief Petty Officer, sorry don’t recall the number.  We are very proud of our father, who spoke very little of his work that he did.  I too regret that while he was alive, that I didn’t ask more questions about his work that he did over the years.    His old photos have always been interesting to poke around and look at but now I am finding it quite fascinating as I am putting these albums together.
Cheers from one navy brat to another,
Jill Leuenberger
Subject: HMCS Prince Robert

Was just looking over some of the Robert history. I served two sessions aboard in the South and North Pacific.
My Website is
73  Alf MacDonald

Subject: HMCS Prince Robert
I just found your website on the HMCS Prince Robert. My father served aboard that ship as an AB in the 40s, I think in 1944 or '45. I'm talking to him on the IM as I write this. Trying to get him to talk about his time on the ship. He doesn’t talk about it much. Like you I have a lot of questions but few answers. My dad is 80 now and his memory isn't all that great. He forged his birth certificate to get into the war. He has told me he was on board when they took POW’s back from Hong Kong. He does remember that his captain at the time was Creary, who went on to be an Admiral. He remembers Creary as a good Captain who took the time to visit with the men.

Thank you for all the effort you went through to make that web site. I’m looking it over as I write this and speak to him. A part of him I don’t think I’ll ever know really. Bits and pieces … If I find out anything more substantial I will pass it on. My dads name is Dennis D. Shaw and he was part of the RCNVR. I'm proud of him. I wish I knew more.
Dennis D. Shaw

Subject: Weser Relic
Hope things are well with you.  I just received a call from Pat Patterson of the Vancouver Island Military Musuem  here in Nanaimo regarding the 6.35mm automatic pistol that my Dad got off the Weser.  Because it was becoming a hassle under our new gun laws to continue to possess a prohibited weapon, I donated it and a quantity of documents to the Museum.  They are now in the process of developing a new gun display in which they want to include this hand gun and the story of the taking of the Weser.  They will be using my old newspaper reports and excerpts from my Dad's diary amongst other available documentation.

The reason I'm contacting you is because Pat would like to use a good photo of the Prince Robert and perhaps the Weser in the display and you have many good ones.  Sooooo, my question is, would you be willing, or permitted under copyright law, to allow the V.I.M.M. to have a copy of one of your photos?
If not, can you tell us where one could be obtained?  Any help at all would be appreciated.
Here's V.I.M.M.'s URL

While I'm at it, thanks for keeping Dad's stuff up on the your website.  I occasionally hear from people who've been surfing your site and correspond once or twice a year with Sandy Sellers.
Kind regards,
Bob Anderson
Nanaimo, BC 

Subject: Photo of the Blackburn Shark
I was very interested in the photo of the Blackburn Shark in your Oct 2001 "Short Bursts" online newsletter.  (

I believe that the pilot in the photo is my Uncle Gerald McKenna. His flight log indicates that he flew Shark # 523 (indicated on the tail of the aircraft) on Sept  26th and 27th, 1942 with F/S Hankinson and F/S Moyles as shown in the photo. Gerald also flew with Sgt. Cousins (the photographer is Tommy Cousins) on 3 flights in March 1942. I've attached a scan of the relevant page of his flight log.

Gerald was killed in a crash in a Canso in Iceland on Dec. 19th, 1944. Do you have any more information about the photo?
Stefan McKenna

I am Bob Collins in Port Alberni BC. My father Albert (Bert) E Collins served on HMCS Prince Robert during the 1941 voyage to Hong Kong. My father has been dead for nearly 50 years but among his possesions I have a small note pad that he kept addresses in. On the back pages of that book there is a chronology of departure and arrival times.
It reads:
  •     Left Vancouver  10:00 A.M. Oct. 28, 1941.
  •     Arrived Honolulu 7:30 A.M. Nov. 2, 1941
  •     Left  Honolulu 5:30 P.M. Nov. 2, 1941
  •     Arrived Manilla 9:00 A.M. Nov. 14, 1941
  •     Left Manilla 4:00 P.M. Nov. 14, 1941
  •     Arrived Hong Kong 8:00 A.M. Nov. 16, 1941
  •     Left Hong Kong 4:00 P.M. Nov. 19, 1941
  •     Arrived Manilla 9:30 A.M. Nov. 21, 1941
  •     Left Manilla 4:00 P.M. Nov. 21, 1941
  •     Arrived Honolulu 12:00 Noon Dec. 3, 1941
  •     Left Honolulu 12:00 Noon Dec. 5, 1941
  •     Arrived Esquimalt 8:00 P.M. Dec. 10, 1941.
  • One of the stories I remember my father telling was being in Pearl Harbour and watching the full moon rise over Diamond Head. There was a full moon on Dec. 3, 1941. I noticed that there was mention made on the Hong Kong 1941 page of your website that the Robert passed through Honolulu on Dec. 3. According to my Dad's notes they were there for 2 days until the 5th.

    Hope this might be of some interest. Enjoyed all of the Robert info you have compiled.

    Bob Collins

    Greetings Bill,
    I went to As You Were  on Brockway  and was surprised to see, as reported, that he was 18 when Pearl Harbour was attacked.

    When teaching in Brandon, we became good friends of the Brockways and I was a member of his writing group. I remember him telling us that, when Pearl Harbour was attacked, he was not yet a teenager, and he, his cat, and his mother drove up into the hills and hid the car beside a fuel supply depot, thinking it would be a save place.

    One evening we were visiting the Brockways, and unknown to us, they had a pet skunk. We were socializing when we heard a thump, thump, on the stairs, and out walked this beautiful animal acting like he owned the place.

    Ed. Note: John was longtime editor of the RCAF Ex-Air Gunners publication: SHORT BURSTS. He ceased publication last year due to health concerns, but the many years' worth of back issues that we adapted to Webzines all available for perusal in our SHORT BURSTS ARCHIVE SECTION.

    Re: Mesothelioma Cancer Center
    Hi William,
    My name is Briana Huffer and I’m a representative for the Mesothelioma Cancer Center.  I came across your site while searching for naval resources and wanted to connect with you. As you may know, countless naval veterans are currently suffering from life-threatening illnesses resulting from exposure to asbestos on ships and boats built prior to 1980. Resulting diseases include mesothelioma cancer, asbestosis and lung cancer; these are often accompanied by several disabilities, such as oxygen dependence and limited mobility. Asbestos was used because of its fire resistant properties, but is now recognized as a very dangerous substance. I was hoping that because naval veterans and their family members visit your site, you might be willing to add our organization to your resources - promoting asbestos awareness and educating your users through our international, free public service.

    Our website is considered one of the Web's leading educational resources for individuals affected by asbestos exposure. We are very proud of our information on symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for those who have been affected. We recently received HON certification, an internet standard created by the Health On The Net Foundation. This is a Swiss based, leading nonprofit organization promoting and guiding the deployment of useful and reliable online medical and health information. Additionally, our site has employed a full staff of writers dedicated to research and content creation on asbestos exposure and accompanying diseases.

    Right now we are in the midst of a public outreach, attempting to educate people throughout the world on asbestos dangers. So far, the feedback and participation that we have received from naval websites has been tremendous, so I wanted to contact you to make sure you don’t miss this information. It is imperative to inform naval veterans and their families about potential asbestos exposure, as related diseases (such as mesothelioma cancer) can lie dormant for up to 50 years. Once symptoms manifest, the cancer is aggressive and fast acting. Please let me know if you are able to help and hopefully we can save some lives!

    Thanks Again,
    Briana Huffer
    International Awareness Coordinator
    Mesothelioma Cancer Center
    20 N. Orange Avenue
    Orlando, FL 32801 USA

    Permission to come aboard.
    Hello my name is Les Gould from Moose Jaw Saskatchewan and I am writing to say Thank you for your excellent information on my Uncle Harvey S Gould’s ship during WW2. As he is aging and we have been close for many moons he is confiding in me some of the stories from his young days in the Navy. My research brought me to this site and I wonder if there is further contact info to any of his old shipmates or acquaintances.

     I will talk to my Uncle Harvey and ask about him sharing memories.

    I will also pass along to him your note and web addresses, via snail mail as he does not have a computer yet. I think this correspondence will get him thinking about a laptop.

    Thank you and keep up the great work.
    Because of your efforts and people like you I get to enjoy freedom.

    Kindest Regards
    Les Gould
    Manager Reader Sales and Service
    Nanaimo Daily News

    Subject: HMCS Prince Robert Ships Chronometer
    I recently purchased a Victor Kullberg Chronometer # 8596; I have some documentation on this Chronometer which associates with the RCMP ship, the St Roche. On inspecting the back of the Chronometer there are two other names engraved, one is the HMS Prince Robert and the other is the HMCS Malaspina. Would you have any idea where I may find more information as to whether or not these ships could have used this Chronometer? I am a collector of Marine memorabilia and trying to find more information about pieces is a challenge and a most enjoyable pastime. I am retired, living in landlocked Calgary. Any information or further leads would be most appreciated.

     I hope that the photos are of some use to you or at least you enjoy looking at them. Should you ever find any further information concerning this chronometer I would appreciate hearing from you.

    Sincerely yours
    Malcolm Ellard


    The Golden Gavel Speech Contest is an annual event sponsored by the Golden Gavel Committee. The purpose of the contest is to encourage people to become involved in public speaking through friendly competition. The contest is open to any resident of Vancouver Island who is 17 years of age or older, whose training and experience in public speaking is limited to the 18 months immediately preceding the contest and who has not entered a Golden Gavel speech contest before. The Golden Gavel contest was first sponsored by the Union Toastmasters Club 331 – now known as Rise and Shine Toastmasters Club. The first competion was held in 1946. The Golden Gavel Committee, as an independent organization, is proud to carry on this tradition.

    The Golden Gavel trophy is, in itself, an historic object. Crafted immediately after the Second World War, the materials came from the ship, "Prince Robert", a decommissioned troop carrier. The craftsman, Harvey Phillips, used mahogany from one of the ship's cabins to form the case, or "casket". The gavel itself is turned from lignum vitae, the "wood of life". Being extremely hard, and containing an abundance of natural oils, this wood was used to form the steering bearing casings on ships. These materials have been beautifully crafted to form the Golden Gavel trophy, honoring past and present winners of this contest.

    To learn more about HMCS Prince Robert, please click here.

    Hi Bill
    Interesting piece of history.  I found lately a jacket patch for the HMCS GROU which is a wolf biting a submarine in half.  Do you have any history on that?

    I scanned this old patch, and very much hope it adds to your history, and brings a smile to somebodies face.
     Fred Pierce

    Wikipedia Entry

    "HMCS Prince David (F89) was one of three Canadian National Railway passenger liners (sister ships were HMCS Prince Henry and HMCS Prince Robert) that were converted for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), first to Armed Merchant Cruisers at the beginning of World War II, then Infantry Landing Ships (Medium) or Anti Aircraft Escort. For three years, they were the largest ships in the RCN.

    "In the early part of the war, as Armed Merchant Cruisers equipped with antique guns and very little armour, Prince David and her sisters were sent to hunt enemy submarines and surface ships, tasks better suited to warships. As the needs of the RCN changed, so were the 'Prince' ships able to adapt to new roles. Their flexibility offered the RCN greater scope and balance in its operations. They did not function as did the bulk of the Canadian fleet: no rushing back and forth across the ocean, cold and damp, chained to 50 degrees North. Prince David and her sisters, each with two separate employments, roamed most of the navigable world forming a little navy apart."

    Hello Mr. Hillman
     My name is Bryden-Coral Dunn and I am a Nursing Student in Thunder Bay Ontario. Currently I am on a Placement in a Home for the Aged.
    My reason for writting you is that through my studies I have the wonderful opportunity to meet WWII Veterans. I have recently met a gentleman, (who's name I can't disclose due to confidentiallity), who served on The HMCS Prince Robert when it was and Anti-aircraft cruiser as a gunner. He served for 4.5 years and was about 18 when he started. He also said his favorite place that they went was Jericho.

    What I am wondering is if you buy chance have a crewlist? I would like to to find a nice picture for him to have in his room because the walls are pretty bare.  Your site was one of the first that came up and has wonderful pictures and I think that any veteran would be proud of what you have done for your father. If you have any information or know of another way of tracking that down it would be much appreciated.

    Thank You

    Hi William
    My name is Dave Morgan and my Dad Jack served on the Prince Robert 43/44 I was visiting your wonderful site and reading about your Dad.
    I doing a small film about My Dad and Mom, WW2 and his naval service. I too have many photos I'm sure you would like to see. I was hoping to get accessand use of your photo's and info on the Robert that I'm not privy to.

    Like many vets my Dad only talked of the war in a certain way, about his comrades many who were friends for the rest of his life.

    I'd like to hear about your Mom and Dad, as I'm doing an oral history on film and using my parents, their letters, photo's, journals as a departure point
    to tell a larger story of love and friendship and uncertainty in the time of war.

    I'd love to talk to you and share resources and to hear from someone who shares my interest in this time. I hope to honor my Dads and others Dads service with my little film.

    I'd be more than happy to share my archives and put whatever ones you'd like on the website. I'll forward them when I've finished scanning them. I'll keep in touch. Thanks for your positive response and your kind offer of assistance.

    Thanks for yor website and having a read.
    Best wishes
    Dave Morgan

    I am reading the page the first time and is well presented.

    A small mis-print of the 8th paragraph "Canadian prisoners who had been held in Sham Shui prison for 45 months" The name should be "Sham Shui Po"  the Po is missing. That is the name of the area. I was living there.

    I found a picture posted at It is from Hong Kong after Janpan surrendered, the name plate is the train station near the Chinese border. Those soldier is the picture can be from the landing party from ROBERT. Can you check them up? Please let me know, if possible.

    The "Radio Tv HK" video history" at 2nd part 7:34/11:43

    According to  Mr. CHOW Ka Kin, Kelvin ????? (M.Phil. candidate) HKU School of Chinese. The landing party was lad by a Chinese Canadian naval officer "Willaim Law".

    Please check that he is right or wrong. Maybe he has never noticed your web site.


    A man was flying from Seattle to San Francisco. Unexpectedly, the plane was diverted to Sacramento along the way. The flight attendant explained that there would be a delay, and if the passengers wanted to get off the aircraft the plane would re-board in 50 minutes.

    Everybody got off the plane except one lady who was blind. The man had noticed her as he walked by and could tell the lady was blind because her Seeing Eye dog lay quietly underneath the seats in front of her throughout the entire flight.

    He could also tell she had flown this very flight before because the pilot approached her, and calling her by name, said, "Kathy, we are in Sacramento for almost an hour. Would you like to get off and stretch your legs?" The blind lady replied, "No thanks, but maybe my dog would like to stretch his legs."

    Picture this:
    All the people in the gate area came to a complete standstill when they looked up and saw the pilot walk off the plane with a Seeing Eye dog! The pilot was even wearing sunglasses. People scattered. They not only tried to change planes, but they were trying to change airlines!

    Tower: "Delta 351, you have traffic at 10 o'clock, 6 miles!"
    Delta 351: "Give us another hint! We have digital watches!"

    Tower: "TWA 2341, for noise abatement turn right 45 Degrees."
    TWA 2341: "Center, we are at 35,000 feet. How much noise can we make up here?"
    Tower: "Sir, have you ever heard the noise a 747 makes when it hits a 727?"

    From an unknown aircraft waiting in a very long takeoff queue: "I'm fucking bored!"
    Ground Traffic Control: "Last aircraft transmitting, identify yourself immediately!"
    Unknown aircraft: "I said I was fucking bored, not fucking stupid!"

    O'Hare Approach Control to a 747: "United 329 heavy, your traffic is a Fokker, one o'clock, three miles, Eastbound."
    United 329: "Approach, I've always wanted to say this..I've got the little Fokker in sight."

    A student became lost during a solo cross-country flight. While attempting to locate the aircraft on radar, ATC asked, "What was your last known position?"
    Student: "When I was number one for takeoff."

    A DC-10 had come in a little hot and thus had an exceedingly long roll out after touching down.
    San Jose Tower Noted:  "American 751, make a hard right turn at the end of the runway, if you are able. If you are not able, take the Guadeloupe exit off Highway 101, make a right at the lights and return to the airport."

    A Pan Am 727 flight, waiting for start clearance in Munich , overheard the following:
    Lufthansa (in German): " Ground, what is our start clearance time?"
    Ground (in English): "If you want an answer you must speak in English."
    Luft hansa (in English): "I am a German, flying a German airplane, in Germany . Why must I speak English?"
    Unknown voice from another plane (in a beautiful British accent): "Because you lost the bloody war!"

    Tower: "Eastern 702, cleared for takeoff, contact Departure on frequency 124.7"
    Eastern 702: "Tower, Eastern 702 switching to Departure. By the way,after we lifted off we saw some kind of dead animal on the far end of the runway."
    Tower: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff behind Eastern 702, contact Departure on frequency 124.7. Did you copy that report from Eastern 702?"
    BR Continental 635: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff, roger; and yes, we copied Eastern.. we've already notified our caterers."

    One day the pilot of a Cherokee 180 was told by the tower to hold short of the active runway while a DC-8 landed. The DC-8 landed, rolled out, turned around, and taxied back past the Cherokee Some quick-witted comedian in the DC-8 crew got on the radio and said, "What a cute little plane. Did you make it all by yourself?"
    The Cherokee pilot, not about to let the insult go by, came back with a real zinger: "I made it out of DC-8 parts. Another landing like yours and I'll have enough parts for another one."

    The German air controllers at Frankfurt Airport are renowned as a short-tempered lot. They not only expect one to know one's gate parking location, but how to get there without any assistance from them. So it was with some amusement that we (a Pan Am 747) listened to the following exchange between Frankfurt ground control and a British Airways 747, call sign Speedbird 206 .
    Speedbird 206: " Frankfurt , Speedbird 206! clear of active runway."
    Ground: "Speedbird 206. Taxi to gate Alpha One-Seven."
    The BA 747 pulled onto the main taxiway and slowed to a stop.
    Ground: "Speedbird, do you not know where you are going?"
    Speedbird 206: "Stand by, Ground, I'm looking up our gate location now."
    Ground (with quite arrogant impatience): "Speedbird 206, have you not been to Frankfurt before?"
    Speedbird 206 (coolly): "Yes, twice in 1944, but it was dark, -- And I didn't land."

    While taxiing at London 's Gatwick Airport , the crew of a US Air flight departing for Ft. Lauderdale made a wrong turn and came nose to nose with a United 727. An irate female ground controller lashed out at the US Air crew, screaming:

    "US Air 2771, where the hell are you going? I told you to turn right onto Charlie taxiway! You turned right on Delta! Stop right there. I know it's difficult for you to tell the difference between C and D, but get it right!"

    Continuing her rage to the embarrassed crew, she was now shouting hysterically: "God! Now you've screwed everything up! It 'll take forever to sort this out! You stay right there and don't move till I tell you to! You can expect progressive taxi instructions in about half an hour, and I want you to go exactly where I tell you, when I tell you, and how I tell you! You got that, US Air 2771?"

    "Yes, ma'am," the humbled crew responded.

    Naturally, the ground control communications frequency fell terribly silent after the verbal bashing of US Air 2771. Nobody wanted to chance engaging the irate ground controller in her current state of mind. Tension in every cockpit out around Gatwick was definitely running high. Just then an unknown pilot broke the silence and keyed his microphone, asking: "Wasn't I married to you once?"

    British Speed Trap
    Two British traffic patrol officers from North Berwick were involved in an unusual incident while checking for speeding motorists on the A-1 Great North Road. One of the officers used a hand-held radar device to check the speed of a vehicle approaching over the crest of a hill, and was surprised when the speed was recorded at over 300 mph. Their radar suddenly stopped working and the officers were not able to reset it.

    Just then a deafening roar over the treetops revealed that the radar had in fact latched on to a NATO Tornado fighter jet, which was engaged in a low-flying exercise over the Border district, approaching from the North Sea.

    Back at police headquarters, the chief constable fired off a stiff complaint to the RAF Liaison office. Back came the reply in true laconic RAF style:

    "Thank you for your message, which allows us to complete the file on this incident. You may be interested to know that the tactical computer in the Tornado had detected the presence of, and subsequently locked onto, your hostile radar equipment and automatically sent a jamming signal back to it.

    "Furthermore, an air-to-ground missile aboard the fully-armed aircraft had also automatically locked onto your equipment.

    "Fortunately, the pilot flying the Tornado recognized the situation for what it was, quickly responded to the missile systems alert status, and was able to override the automated defense system before the missile was launched and your hostile radar installation was destroyed. Good Day..."

    The Sack Lunches
     I put my carry-on in the luggage  compartment and sat down in my assigned seat..  It was  going to be a long flight. 'I'm glad I have a  good book to  read. Perhaps I will get a short nap,' I  thought.

     Just before take-off, a line of  soldiers came down the aisle and  filled all the vacant seats,  totally surrounding me.  I decided to start a  conversation.  'Where are you headed?' I asked the soldier seated nearest to me.  'Petawawa.  We'll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we're being deployed to Afghanistan

     After  flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for five dollars.  It would be  several hours before we reached the east, and I quickly  decided a lunch would help pass the  time.. As I reached for my wallet, I overheard  soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch.  'No,  that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch. Probably  wouldn't be worth five bucks.  I'll wait till we get to  base.'  His friend  agreed.

     I looked around at the other soldiers.   None were buying lunch.  I walked to the back of  the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty dollar bill.   'Take a lunch to all those soldiers.'  She grabbed  my arms and squeezed tightly.  Her eyes wet with tears,  she thanked me.  'My son was a soldier in Iraq; it's almost like you are doing it for him.'

     Picking up ten sacks,  she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated.   She stopped at my seat and asked, 'Which do you like best - beef or chicken?'  'Chicken,' I  replied, wondering why she asked.  She turned and went to the front of plane, returning a minute later with a dinner  plate from first class.  'This is your  thanks.' After we finished eating, I went again  to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room.  A  man stopped me.  'I saw what you did.  I want to be  part of it.  Here, take this.'  He handed me twenty-five dollars.

     Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down the aisle, looking  at the aisle numbers as he walked, I hoped he was not looking  for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane.  When he got to my row he stopped,  smiled, held out his hand, an said, 'I want to shake your  hand.'  Quickly unfastening my seatbelt I stood  and took the Captain's hand. With a booming voice he  said, 'I was a soldier and I was a military pilot. Once,  someone bought me a lunch.  It was an act of kindness I never forgot.'  I was embarrassed when applause was heard  from all of the passengers.

     Later I  walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of me  reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine.  He left  another twenty-five dollars in my  palm. When we landed  I gathered my  belongings and started to deplane. Waiting just inside  the airplane door was a man who stopped me, put something  in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word.  Another twenty-five  dollars!

     Upon entering the terminal, I saw the  soldiers gathering for their trip to the base.  I walked  over to them and handed them seventy-five dollars. 'It will  take you some time to reach the base. It will be about time for a sandwich.  God Bless You.'  Ten young  men left that flight feeling the love and respect of their fellow travelers.  As I walked briskly to my car, I  whispered a prayer for their safe return.  These soldiers  were giving their all for our country.  I could only give  them a couple of meals. It seemed so  little...

    Lufthansa A320 - Flight D-AIQP 
    experiences crosswind problems at Hamburg Airport
    Landing on the Hudson Animation

    HMCS Prince David Wikipedia Entry

     "Only God can forgive. It is up to me to arrange the meeting" ~ General Schwarzkopf

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