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ROME, Oct. 6, 1951 Two hundred and thirty-four officers
            And men from the Magnificent and Micmac made a pilgrimage
            To the Enternal City last week and were received by the Pope.
                        Rising at 5.30 am, in Naples the naval pilgrims were sped
            Northwards by electric train through the lush field of Southern Italy
            And through long tunnels penetrating the Appenine mountains. In Rome,
            Buses took the group to the Basilica of St. Peter. The Canadian Naval
            Men assisted at Mass in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, where each
            Pope lies in state after his death. Father James Noonan of Toronto, the
            Magnificent`s chaplin, celebrated the Mass.
                        Following lunch at the American Catholic Club in Rome, the
            Canadians boarded buses for Castel Gandolfo, the Pope`s summer residence.
                        Here the Canadians entered a courtyard to join an international
            Assemblage of pilgrims, about 2000 in all. Pius XII appeared on a balcony
            And the courtyard rocked with the volume of the shouted greetings. He spoke
            First in Italian to the many groups from all over Italy. Then he addressed the
            Visitors from France in their language.

            POPES MESSAGE

                        After speaking in English to a group of Royal Navy officers and men,
            The Pope said, “To the group of Canadian sailors from H.M.C.S. Magnificent
            And Micmac: Your vocation enables you to see a large part of the world. An
            Old proverb has it that he who travels far knows much. This should be true. It is
            not always so. May this thought be with you in all places at all times. All men
            form the one great human family. It should be your ambition to unite these more
            closely with the bonds of love and kindness. We also send our blessing to your
            dear ones at home with the prayer that God`s love and mercy may be with them
            always. We bless all religious articles you may have with you”
                        He then carried on to address various other groups at the audience. At the
            End he had spoken briefly in seven languages . An official of the Vatican staff
            Estimated that there had been visitors from 50 different countries at the one audience.
                        The Canadian Naval men owe a great deal to two friends in Rome. Msgr.
            Hugh O`Flaherty, an official in the Holy Office, arranged the audience and accompanied
            The Canadians to Castel Gandolfo. Father Thena MacEachen, a Cape Breton Islander
            Who has been in Rome for some years in the Franciscans of the Atonement,
            Journeyed to Naples from Rome to join the group and served ably as guide, interpreter
            and good companion to all.

 Battle Of St. Margarets Bay      
On a dark and rainy night in the merry month of May,
Two ships were laid at anchor in old St. Margarets Bay.
 Now one, she was a big ship with a thousand crew or more,
 But the other was a little ship, with seamanlike ten score.
 They'd sailed around together for many a peaceful year,
With the Big'un always out in front and the Small'un in the rear.
Now Big'un thought, "I'm very strong so Small'un I'll outsmart,
 Little dreaming Small'un would upset the applecart.
They painted up the Small'un and her cutter they did steal:.
Then back aboard the culprits fled to shoot the breeze and spiel,
 The deed was soon discovered and the battle had begun,
So all the brains were gathered to see what should be done
The Small'un's crew were mustered and in them was no fear,
They'd put the Small'un out it front and Big'un in the rear.
 Their ammo was some ancient eggs and slightly disused spuds,
Their sortie dress was dungarees and other hardy duds:
 Around the hour of midnight, when all should be asleep,
Two boats were deftly lowered and cross the Bay did creep
With the cutter as a decoy the .whaler made its way, Cozy to
the Big'un, a smoke float there to lay.
With the whaler undiscovered, the cutter made the attack.
Which caused the Big'un's crewmen to nip smartly from their sacks.
Spuds and eggs flew- through the air, to meet with angry shouts,
And someone from the flight deck cried, "Come on you (censored) louts.
Now this enraged the Small'uns so with smoke puffs they replied,
Just then the float was lighted-and the Big'un almost fried.
The smoke was something wicked but above the coughs and chokes
Someone was heard to holler, "Who's out front now with jokes "'
The moral of this story is: If your a big ship rate, Don`t fool around
with Small`un`s - or you`ll seal your smoky fate.
                Poem by a PO. HMCS Micmac DDE 214  (1951)



April 1951 I was bridge messenger in HMCS Magnificent, proceeding south in Caribbean Sea, at first light radar picked up drifting Dominican coastal ferry the Gilbert Jr. which had been drifting for several days, out of fuel, water & food. So-called engineer thought Captain had fueled vessel, so-called Captain thought engineer had fueled .Our escort, destroyer Micmac put crew, food & water aboard, found 12 female passengers as well as a number of chickens and two (horses??).Micmac took vessel in tow to nearest port Curacao. We then proceeded east along Venezuelan coast to Trinidad for R&R, rum ($1.00 a bottle) & coke.
Had been at sea for two weeks, time for a little run ashore.


Gilbert Jr.














Kandahar Cop


A Toronto cop in Kandahar

I spent nine months in Afghanistan, helping train police officers and patrolling with the military.

I’m not a churchgoing man, but I’ve never done more praying in my life By Brian Kenny

We arrived by military plane at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan on the night of November 17, 2009. For a large air base, it was dark and surreal. I’ve never seen so many bats. Light at night is the enemy’s friend, so the base was what we call light disciplined, meaning minimal illumination, and it was also really noisy and dusty. Everyone thinks Afghanistan is all sand, but it’s more like dust. We used to call it moon dust—you take a step and it billows up around your feet. It gets into everything. There’s also a pervasive smell, a combination of open sewage, diesel, and all the things they burn for fuel: cow manure, wood, plastics. It all floats up into the air. Afghanistan was nothing like the world I knew in Canada, but it would be my home for the next 273 days.

I’m a police officer, a staff sergeant at Toronto’s 32 Division. I joined the force in June of 1980, when I was 19. My wife, Terri, is with the RCMP, and we have two daughters, Taylor and Dylan. I volunteered to go to Afghanistan, along with 23 other officers from across Canada (11 from Toronto), under a program run by the International Police Operations Branch, part of the RCMP. The program has been active for 20 years. Our officers have worked in places like Bosnia, Kosovo and East Timor. We mentor, teach and try to help create a modern, disciplined police force. Kandahar was my second stint; I’d gone to Kosovo for nine months in 1999. I enjoy being with the military—the camaraderie, the atmosphere, the kibitzing. Plus, I’m a bit of an adrenalin junkie.

When we weren’t teaching, we were on patrol, either in Kandahar or in nearby villages. Working in Afghanistan is never routine. You’re always at the ready, always armed. I slept with my gun close to me. The only time I didn’t have it was when I was in the shower. But on patrol, I would feel excitement more than fear. The biggest rush came when we were out with the Quick Reactionary Force searching for hidden explosives. At first, in the carrier, you could hear a pin drop, but once out of the front gate, we’d start slagging each other, bolstering our bravado. The QRF only responds when they find explosives or when one goes off, so at the site, it gets quiet again and we become all eyes and ears, on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary.

Walking into a location with the potential for booby traps and ambushes is unlike anything else. I’m not a church¬going man, but I’ve never done more praying in my life. When you find an IED, the experts either blow it up or disable it. Our job was to set up a proper cordon, making sure all the surrounding buildings were empty and that Afghani officers didn’t interfere. It’s difficult. You’re mentoring them, teaching them to take over, but with an IED, you have to tell them that it’s best to leave it to people who are fully trained.

My second-last day in Kandahar will stay with me forever. We were at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar City, about 14 kilometres from the airfield. It was about 2:30 in the afternoon, and I was in my shorts in my bunk in the barracks, watching a movie on my laptop. My stuff was all packed, and some of it had already gone on ahead of me. The barracks are built out of big shipping containers, with one window, A/C in the wall and a door, and they’re stacked two high. No plumbing—you have to go out for that. Suddenly there was this huge explosion; the whole barracks shook, and dust rained down inside. Everything seemed to go into slow motion. When the place stopped moving, I crawled out of bed and checked for my helmet, flak vest, pistol and eye protection. I was on the second level, and there’s a kind of gangway you can walk out on.

I got dressed and went out on the gangway and met a buddy of mine, a police officer from Ottawa, and we started shouting down to the street, asking what had happened. We could see this big plume of smoke and dust 200 metres south of the main gate. Two guys from Corrections Canada came running by—civilians who were mentoring at Sarposa Prison. They yelled, “We just got hit.”

Thirteen Afghan trainees in a light-skinned vehicle—a van, really—had been struck by a directionary focused charge, which means a garbage can packed with explosives, steel ball bearings, nails and glass. A station wagon came up the street and stopped at the medical infirmary directly opposite us. My buddy said, “We’d better give them a hand.” The guy in the front passenger seat was covered in blood, but he could still walk, and we helped him into the infirmary. The guy in the back seat was unconscious, scorched and covered in blood. He was maybe in his 20s. My friend took his shoulders, and I took his legs. We carried him into the building and onto a stretcher. We cut off his clothing—he had deep lacerations on his legs, head, side. I was very calm. It’s amazing what you can do and still remain calm in the moment.

After the medics took over, my buddy and I went back outside. We were covered in blood. There was a stockpile of water there, and we tried to clean up. We kept opening bottle after bottle of water and taking turns squirting each other with Purell, and it took forever to get the blood off. I was just shaking my head. All I could think was, what an exclamation mark on our tour. I’d seen bodies and pieces of bodies, but this was as hands-on as I got with someone whose life was in the balance.

I never found out if the guy lived.

We left the next day. Since I’ve been home, I find I don’t get too rattled by things anymore. It’s just, there’s a job to be done, so let’s do it. I’d enlist in the program again in a heartbeat. Maybe not to Afghanistan, but the Congo, Sudan, Sierra Leone? For sure.—as told to Gerald Hannon

Staff Sergeant Brian Kenny is back at 32 Division, near Yonge and Sheppard.






© Toronto Police Pensioners Association 2015