Dick Hunt's Blog

February 8, 2013

Near Misses and Nasty Bugs.

Filed under: Current — Tags: — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 2:52 pm

Near Misses and Nasty Bugs.
by Dick Hunt, February 8th, 2013.

When I was in the R.C.A.F in 1942-1943, off the coast of B.C. I spent quite a bit of time in a ‘Radio Shack on top of a small mountain. There were three shifts a day and the night shift started at midnight. It was a time of considerable activity in the Pacific northwest after the bombing of Hawaii in December 1941. We were on high alert and so there were security guards all over our station. As I approached the Radio Shack one night to start my shift, I expected to be hailed, “Halt, who goes there”, but was met with silence. I crept up to the building, peered through a crack in the blackout curtain and there was the guard inside, visiting with the man on duty. That was definitely a no-no. I tapped on the window and the chit chat stopped. I went around to another window and tapped. Silence. Finally I got around to the door and just as I approached it, it burst open and the guard plunged out, rifle at the ready, bayonet fixed …………and I was within a whisper of being transfixed. I never tried that trick again and neither did the guard!

On the same station, I was out in the Bay in the night, servicing radio equipment with a detail from the Marine Section, going from Flying Boat to Flying Boat and there was a strong wind blowing One of the big planes slipped it’s moorings and was moving rapidly toward a rocky shore. We radioed for help, hooked our motor dinghy onto it and tried to stop it. Just a short distance from the rocks, a Crash Boat came to our aid and we stopped it within feet of disaster. It was fully armed with bombs and depth charges, ready for a 12 hour swing out over the Pacific at dawn.

There were 600 Airmen and 200 security guards on our station and nothing by way of spare time activity. We had a library 0f 600 books and I volunteered as librarian part time. I read most of the books. I walked when off duty. There was a boardwalk across the swamps to a civilian store two miles away and on the way home one day I tried an experiment. I wondered if I could hide behind a small tree about six feet from the boardwalk and be invisible. The tree was about six inches thick. I hid there, ten feet away , in my blue uniform and although several men walked by and some even looked directly at the tree, not one of them spotted me. I was sure that if there were Japanese soldiers on the Island they could have done the same as I did. That was disconcerting!

In the year 1942, shortly before Easter, someone arranged for a small group of Airmen to have a 48 hour pass to go to Ocean Falls on the mainland for a break.We went on a fish boat, a 25 mile trip and were dropped off at the public dock. For sleeping accommodation we were offered a public bunkhouse with single cots and bedding, a few lights here and there. I was really glad of the lights, as while I was sizing up the beds I quickly noticed the bed bugs too. I spent the two nights there walking, reading, everything but sleeping. I so envied the people in their bug free homes, sitting at their meals or visiting or doing their homework or snoozing in their favourite chairs etc. Some of the visitors to the community did sleep a while in the bunkhouse but paid dearly for their decision. Bed bugs bite and the results are painful and lasting, according to the frequent reports from the media these days from the downtown Eastside. When I got back to Bella Bella, I really got back to sleeping in my bug free double decker bunk. Soaking it up.

1 Comment »

  1. Hi Dick, I read with interest your post regarding your time at RCAF Station Bella Bella, I wonder if you knew my father, Ted Colley, who was stationed at Bella Bella for part of the war. He was an NCO (corporal, I believe) and served on crash boats and on Jager, a range boat. He was also posted to Pat Bay at some point, before being sent to Bella Bella, I believe.
    My mother, Joan Horrobin, worked in the mill office at Ocean Falls. She and Dad were both Edmonton natives (although Dad grew up in Calgary), but it needed a war and both landing in Ocean Falls for them to meet. They married when the war ended, had three children and lived a long and happy life together. Both have passed away, Dad in 2002 and Mom in 2007. Dad always spoke fondly of his days in Bella Bella and enjoyed his years in the RCAF.

    Comment by Ted Colley — December 5, 2013 @ 9:57 pm


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