Normandy Convoy, 1944

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The path of 15th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, from leaving England in July 1944 until the end of WWII in May 1945.

As I mentioned in a post a few days ago, it’s exactly 75 years ago this week that my father deployed to Normandy as a member of 15th Canadian Field Regiment RCA, a unit of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division. I wonder what it must have been like to be finally going into action. In July of 1944 Dad was 24. He had been in the army for three years and was a bombardier (corporal), “NCO i/c Signals” for A Troop, 17th Field Battery.

I wish I’d asked him. It’s too late for that, and he might not have wanted to answer. We’re left with official accounts. Here, slightly abridged and occasionally annotated, is Part 2 of war historian’s Robert Spencer’s excellent account of the regiment’s deployment for France. It covers the period from July 20 to 24, 1944. The troops with their 25-pounder howitzers, vehicles, and all their equipment were embarked on the Liberty ship Hannibal Hamlin and the merchantman Fort Biloxi at Tilbury Docks, downstream of London, awaiting the voyage to the beaches of Normandy. “Hurry up and wait,” goes the army saying, and for good reason. The men of 15th Field would be bottled up on those two ships for six days as their convoy marshalled and waited for orders to sail. Destroyers screened the convoy from attack by sea or air. The soldiers played cards, wrote letters, and helplessly watched air battles and explosions overhead.

THE SHIP

During the afternoon of the 20th July loading was completed and the ships moved out into the [Thames] river. Anchor was dropped off Southend, and again the regiment settled down to wait — this time for the convoy to marshall. Troops passed the afternoon making themselves as comfortable as possible, exploring the ship and watching the activity in the harbour. Card games and letter writing went on in secluded corners out of the wind. In the limited space of the forward hold of the Fort Biloxi, a volleyball net was stretched and a tournament organized.

Each evening the question would be asked, “Do we sail tonight?” But the master shook his head – high winds across the channel had delayed unloading and the convoy must wait its turn. The troops grew restless and impatient as the hours passed and the ships lay swinging on the tide. The nights were quiet except for the “doodlebugs” which passed low overhead on their way to London. Sometimes there would be the dull rumble of an explosion in the distance; one night the sky over the city was illuminated by the pink glow of a fire.

On the third evening a launch came alongside, bringing orders to the ships. At 1900 hours anchors were weighed and the ships nosed slowly down the river. The decks were jammed with troops who lined the rails to watch London slip away astern. The Fort Biloxi and the Hannibal Hamlin fitted into the line of grey ships filing slowly out of the harbour to where the escorting destroyer waited to lead the way through the minefield. As the sun sank behind the Kentish hills, the convoy steamed slowly down the Thames, past the AA towers, grotesque sentinels which guarded the Port of London, and out into the Estuary…

About midnight word of anti-aircraft fire ahead lured a number on deck. It was impossible to know the exact position but, from the high cliffs that could be seen through the greyish gloom off to the right, it was estimated that the convoy must be off Dover. Seaward were the ghostlike shapes of the ships, steaming in two lines. From the shore a siren was heard, followed a few minutes later by a dazzling orange flash and a loud report. A number flattened on the deck while the remainder sought cover around the gun turrets… As the convoy steamed slowly past, the big guns spoke again and again, but there was no reply from the German batteries at Gris Nez.

Soon heavy anti-aircraft fire – distinguishable only as tiny pinpoints of light at a great height – was observed ahead and to starboard… Away off to the left the flying bombs [V1 rockets or “doodlebugs”] could be seen shortly after they left their launching sites on the French coast, simply appearing as tiny red lights which grew brighter as they approached. Sometimes a great flash of light and an explosion out to sea revealed that a watching plane had dived out of the sky to score a kill… heavy anti-aircraft guns opened fire, their starlike bursts marking a path like the trail of sparks from the grindstone. Closer to the shore, the light AA opened up, lighting the sky with brilliant streaks of orange tracer… The convoy steamed on, the lines of grey clad ships illuminated by the gun flashes. Rounding Dungeness the firework display was left behind and the sky was quiet. Only a series of dim flashes from the French coast told that the RAF was again pounding the launching sites.

Dawn [of July 23rd] found the convoy off the Hampshire coast with the Isle of Wight looming up on the left side. The coast of Sussex, Beachy Head, Seaford, Brighton, had all been left behind during the hours of darkness. In the early morning light the convoy steamed slowly past Portsmouth, past Gosport, through the submarine net at Spithead into the Solent. By mid-morning, the convoy was slipping at a snail’s pace through the maze of ships to drop anchor off Cowes…

The convoy lay at anchor in the Solent for the remainder of the day. There was little excitement and nothing to do except watch the ships which dotted the water on all sides. Ships were of all sorts and sizes, ranging from MTBs to cruisers, from tiny LCAs to large LSTs, from small coasters to large transports.

Early next morning (July 24), the convoy slipped quietly away from this mass of idle shipping and turned eastward into the grey morning sky. Before most the troops were awake the Solent was left behind and the English coast was disappearing astern. All morning the convoy of twelve ships moved slowly over the calm sea. The sun broke through the morning mist, heralding a spell of fine weather which materially assisted operations in the beachhead. Destroyers — seemingly too few — skirted the convoy. Overhead planes roared on their way to missions inland, and huge flying boats on anti-submarine patrol circled over the calm sea.

All ranks crowded the forward decks, seeking the first glimpse of land. About noon, marker buoys, planted during the preparations for the landing, were sighted. Land could now not be far off – compo boxes and other wreckage drifted by, and the body of a soldier, complete with steel helmet, web and small pack perfectly fitted, floated amongst the wreckage.

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Deploying to a War Zone, 1944

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A Liberty Ship similar to the “Horrible Hannibal”, a.k.a. the Hannibal Hamlin

This month we are remembering the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and for good reason—it was truly an extraordinary accomplishment.  This year also marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day, also an extraordinary achievement on a similar, massive scale. Ten years ago I visited Normandy and did some preparatory research ahead of the trip. My father was a veteran of the Normandy campaign, and today I have his copy of his regiment’s war history. When I was a kid the book stood on the family bookshelf and I don’t remember Dad ever looking at it, let alone talking about his experience. I only ever looked at the book’s pictures—but before my trip I got it down and read the section that describes his unit’s deployment to France.

Dad was a member of the 15th Canadian Field Regiment, a field artillery unit. He joined up in early 1941, trained in Canada and embarked for England in the summer of 1942. 15th Field was part of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, which was held in reserve after D-Day while the Allies established their beachhead. By July there were two Canadian infantry divisions engaged in the hard fighting inland of the beaches. Casualties were heavy. The 4th Armoured would reinforce their numbers and provide some heavy mechanized oomph, but it had never been in action. I wondered what it must have been like for all those men deploying for the first time—for my father and his comrades-in-arms. In July, 1944, Dad was 24.

The regimental history was published in Holland in 1945. I’m sure word came down from HQ to prepare a history while the unit awaited demobilization at the war’s end. That’s how the army works, and Captain Robert A. Spencer got the assignment. He was a fortunate pick. After the war, he went on to be an esteemed academic and historian. When I read his account of the regiment’s deployment, I was impressed with his description of the day-to-day context, the massive logistical challenges, the small cog in a big wheel bureaucracy of a military organization, and the essential humanity of those affected.

Here, slightly abridged and occasionally annotated, the text scanned from a JPEG (thanks, Google), is Part 1 of Robert Spencer’s account of the 15th Canadian Field Regiment’s deployment to France. It covers July 15 through 20, the move from the regiment’s camp in the English countryside towards its embarkation point at Tilbury Docks, London. The voyage, on which I will post in coming days (I’ll follow the calendar according to their movements), is quite striking.

PREPARE TO MOVE

On Saturday, July 15th, the CO had read the movement order to the battery commanders, and that afternoon the officers were briefed. Time of departure was early Tuesday morning, the 18th July. The weekend was spent in last-minute preparations. The equipment which had been dewaterproofed was once again carefully prepared for a four foot wade. Stores and kit were packed in the pattern that had become familiar as a result of frequent loading trials… the troops were at liberty to spend their last evenings in the manner to which they had become accustomed – visiting friends in local villages or in neighbourhood pubs, the Sheffield Arms or the King’s Head.

[July 17] From Monday morning, the regiment was confined to barracks while last minute arrangements were made. Drivers were briefed as to their destination the following day. Officers made a final check of vehicles to see that details were all correct. By nightfall all was set and the vehicles were lined up ready to move off early the next morning. The only cause for excitement during the night was a V 1 which landed just outside the camp across from the Sheffield Arms. Fortunately, there were no casualties or damage save broken windows. Troops remarked that they would be glad to get to war and be away from the dangers of England…

[July 18] At 0730 hours, the long column moved northward along the familiar route; past the Sheffield Arms, Wych Cross and Ashdown Forest training area; through East Grinstead and under the newly concentrated balloon barrage, which had been moved south from London to counter the attack by flying bombs; through the battered suburbs of London which, having survived the blitz, were now facing another more insidious attack from the skies; across London Bridge and into the heart of the City, finally emerging on the broad Roman road on the north side of the Thames Estuary, heading eastward towards Tilbury…

By early afternoon the marshalling area was reached. The vehicles were checked in by Movement Control and given a craft serial number, before joining the hundreds of vehicles that occupied standings at the side of the highway. Under directions issued from the loud hailer, each vehicle moved down the line, found its proper standing and backed in… Engines had hardly stopped when REME personnel came to enquire if there were any mechanical troubles…

As soon as waterproofing was completed troops were instructed by the loud hailer to move off to camp, where aided by large numbers of signs they found tents and messes… During the evening special supplies were issued: – the emergency ration consisting of high calorie tinned chocolate; two twenty-four hour ration packs; cigarettes; chocolate; water sterilizing kits; and vomit bags. There was a continual stream of announcements over the loud hailer. Captain Pobst and Sergeant Young were called for and proceeded to exchange £1 per person into French francs — invasion money which was guaranteed by the Allies. Drivers were warned to be ready to leave for the docks early the next morning, and a show was announced for the evening entertainment.

The following day was spent quietly in camp, while at the docks vehicles were being stowed away and officers in charge of ships were allotting quarters. In the evening senior officers were called to camp HQ for orders – departure was scheduled for 0700 hours on the 20th.

Next morning, following an early breakfast, blankets were turned in, the roll was checked and troops marched to the waiting TCVs which bore them to the docks.  On the way through Tilbury women rushed at the convoy and handed troops sandwiches, buns, and newspapers. Good, kind-looking people knowing very well where the convoy was bound lined the route, shouting and waving…

On reaching the dockside they were marched on board and assigned to their quarters. The vehicle party was already settled, and the last vehicles were being loaded. The regiment was divided between two merchantmen – the Fort Biloxi built in Burrard Docks, Vancouver, and the Hannibal Hamlin, a Liberty ship, better known as the “Horrible Hannibal”. Troops were quartered in the holds, some sleeping on paliasses, others in hammocks which they eyed with some misgiving…

Mulberries, Gooseberries, Pluto and Jerry Cans: Some thoughts on D-Day

RCN - Beach Commando W, Juno Beach

Tomorrow is the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.  At midnight on June 5, 1944, there were no Allied soldiers in Normandy. Twenty-four hours later, 150,000 British, American and Canadian soldiers had been landed from the air and by sea. It was a monumental feat.

To deliver ground forces across the English Channel the Allies amassed a flotilla of 2,500 ships, 3,000 landing craft, and a fleet 500 naval vessels to protect them. Amid utmost secrecy, five separate assault forces, one for each of the designated landing beaches, assembled in twelve different ports along the English coast. The mind boggles with the details, the decisions that had to be made, the plans that had to intermesh, the sheer numbers that had to be juggled.

It wasn’t enough to deliver thousands of soldiers to the beaches. They had to be fed, resupplied and reinforced or they would be pushed back into the sea. Everything they needed for the fight had to be brought ashore across the beaches, behind the assault troops, who would still be contesting the ground. And as the fighting units pushed inland, ammunition, reinforcements and food had to be delivered to them to sustain the attack, along with fuel, plenty of it—for the Allied army was a modern mechanized force. Initially their plan was to land gas on the beach in drums, decant it there into five gallon jerry cans, and rush it up to the units at the front. American forces alone needed fifteen million jerry cans for this purpose.

Consider the humble jerry can (or, as it was known in army speak, CAN, GASOLINE, MILITARY; STEEL; 5-GALLON) as an item of inventory, what we call an SKU today. The supply system necessary to support the Allied invasion included 700,000 separate SKUs.  Imagine the management challenges this posed, in the days before computers, barcodes, and digital databases. And in June, 1944, every single item had to be hauled across the beaches in a warzone.

By the night of June 11 (D+5), it was clear to the Allies that their initial assault was a success. By then, they had landed more than 325,000 troops, 54,000 vehicles and 100,000 tons of supplies. But continued success was not guaranteed. The fighting, only a few miles inland, was intense, and the Allies were paying dearly for every yard they gained. They had incurred thousands of casualties. Most worrisome, back on the beaches, the initial arrangements were falling apart; chaos and congestion reigned. On Omaha and Utah, the two American beachheads, only a third of the planned tonnage of ammunition and supplies had been landed by D+5. Supply, not battlefield prowess, was shaping up to be the decisive factor in the Battle of Normandy.

None of the D-Day planners had underestimated the challenges of landing an entire army and its supplies across open beaches. That had always been an interim solution until a port could be secured. “All I can say” one British naval officer concluded during the planning phase, “is if we can’t capture a port we must take one with us.” And that’s exactly what they decided to do.

They made plans to build two artificial harbours—one off Omaha Beach in the US sector, one at Arromanches near the British beachhead. The breakwater for each ‘Mulberry’, as they were code-named, would enclose an area of two square miles, within which transport and troop ships could manoeuvre, berth and offload their cargoes onto a network of sheltered wharves and jetties, all of which had to float, rising and falling with the twenty foot tides on the Normandy coast. Ten miles of connecting roadways—also floating—would link the wharves to shore.

So went the theory. It looked good on the drawing-board. The problem was it had never been tried, and it would require a tremendous engineering and manufacturing effort; each Mulberry would require more than 600,000 tons of concrete, formed into individual concrete caissons code-named ‘Phoenixes’. Each Phoenix was to be two hundred feet long, fifty wide and sixty high. Placed end to end, they would be more than two miles long. They would need to be manufactured in England and towed across the channel to Normandy after the invasion. They would need to be hidden from the Germans during production and during the crossing to France.

In the autumn of 1943, the plan was still in the design phase. Concrete and steel reinforcement needed to be procured, dry docks made available, and skilled workers found—welders, scaffolders, carpenters. In January 1944—just five months before the invasion—work had barely begun. Initially, twenty thousand workers were mobilized, but progress was too slow, and 45,000 were eventually dedicated to the task at more than 400 civilian contractors. That in itself is remarkable, for in the middle of a war, and with all the other preparations underway for the invasion, this was far from the only priority. And no one except the planners knew what all this effort was for. As the caissons were completed they were sunk in rivers and estuaries to hide them from German spies and aerial surveillance. When it came time to refloat them, on the eve of the invasion, many were mired in mud and difficult to salvage. Some were lost.

The first Mulberry components were towed across to Normandy on D+1. Assembly was swift—there was no time to be lost, with men dying a few miles inland, and the narrow bridgehead at risk of imminent German counterattack. By D+12, all the Phoenixes were in place and both harbours were in use, although the floating piers were not quite finished. Gaps in the breakwater were filled by ‘Gooseberries’, ship hulks scuttled for this purpose. A floating outer breakwater, comprised of fabricated steel structures called Bombardons, was anchored outside the inner breakwater. All five landing beaches were also protected by Gooseberry breakwaters as well, to facilitate continued direct beach landings. These efforts were paying off:  landings continued across the beaches, and on the Mulberries, as they ramped up capacity. Sheltered within a Mulberry, an LST (Landing Ship Tank in military parlance) could off-load its entire cargo of 60 armoured vehicles in under 30 minutes; tanks rolled ashore under their own power and rumbled directly for the front. By June 16 (D+10), the Allies had landed 557,000 men, 81,000 vehicles, and 183,000 tons of supplies. They had built up a seven day supply of rations and gasoline, but more was offshore, unable yet to land. On the two American beaches, Omaha and Utah, only two-thirds of the expected vehicles and supplies had been landed. With the aid of the Omaha Mulberry, they were only 25 per cent behind on D+12. But on June 19 (D+13), disaster struck. A three day storm, the worst in 40 years, destroyed the Omaha Mulberry, and damaged the one at Arromanches. Omaha’s was deemed irreparable, and from then until mid-August, when the Port of Cherbourg was opened, American forces had to be supplied over the beaches. But the availability of the surviving Mulberry at Arromanches was a great boon to the Allied cause. Over ten months, 2.5 million men, a half million vehicles, and four million tons of supplies were landed at Port Winston, as the Arromanches Mulberry was called.

This is just one example of the Allies’ ingenuity and initiative in the face of necessity. There are many more. Consider Operation PLUTO, as in ‘Pipe-Lines Under The Ocean’. To deliver fuel to its fighting forces, the Allies planned, developed the technology for, and laid a three inch pipeline from the Isle of Wight to Cherbourg. It was fed by a thousand mile network in England, built at night in utter secrecy, to transport gasoline from where it was landed and stored in the west of England to Southampton. The under-Channel pipeline itself was constructed of continuous thirty mile lengths of three-inch pipe, wound onto and laid from floating drums, each the weight of a destroyer. Such a project had never been attempted before. The technology did not exist when the project was dreamed up in 1942. The Cherbourg line had a capacity of 1 million gallons a day. As their armies fought up the French coast, the Allies laid a second line of similar capacity between Kent and the Pas de Calais. Then they extended both towards the front as it advanced towards Germany.

The German army was a superb military machine, every bit a match for the Allies on a unit-to-unit basis. The Allied soldiers fought bravely and tenaciously. The cost in human terms was great. The cost would have been much greater—indeed, the outcome uncertain—without the Allies’ clear superiority over the Germans in materiel and logistics. Once this advantage could be brought to bear, the outcome of the battle, and the war, was inevitable. Planning had to be meticulous, and execution was fraught with difficulty, but both proved successful. Combined with the grit of the fighting troops, the Allied logistical effort succeeded in liberating Normandy in just over two months. The war in Europe ended eleven months after the invasion began.

On the eve of D-Day General Dwight Eisenhower issued a statement to the troops. “Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force: You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you…I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory.”

Those soldiers, sailors, and airmen delivered.  We must honour their achievement and remember what WE can achieve when we set our minds to a task and commit to achieving it.

 

A Good Time Was Had By All

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This month I participated in the “Bright Lit, Big City” reading series at Hirut on the Danforth. There was a full house present to hear a wonderful group of writers reading from their work and talking about writing.

Pictured from left to right at the Q&A after the readings:

Writer/comedian and host, Carolyn Bennett, whose TV credits include This Hour Has 22 MinutesCBC COMICS and Chilly Beach. Carolyn won the TIFF Studio Screenwriting Intensive Jury Prize in 2013 for her comedy The Mac and Watson Springtime Reeferendum Show. She wrote, produced and performed her solo show Double Down Helix at the 2018 Kingston Storefront Fringe Festival. She currently co-produces and performs at Hirut Hoot, a monthly stand-up showcase. Her debut novel Please Stand By is coming this fall.

Mary Shaver, author of the bestseller The Naked Nun. Mary is a poet, artist, and former Roman Catholic nun. She is a member of the Art Tour Collective.

Michelle Winters is a writer, painter, and translator. Her work has been published in THIS MagazineTaddle CreekDragnet, and Matrix. She was nominated for the Journey Prize in 2011, and her debut novel, I Am A Truck, was shortlisted for the 2017 Giller Prize.

That’s me in the middle (to quote author Donald Jack, creator of one of my favourite literary-comedic characters, Bartholomew Bandy). I read from my novel Poplar Lake.

Victoria Hetherington, author of Mooncalves. Victoria is a visual artist, poet and novelist. Her fiction has been reviewed and cited in the LA Review of BooksThe GuardianPublisher’s Weekly, and Ploughshares. Mooncalves is her debut novel.

Barry Kennedy, author of Through the DeadfallThe Hindmost, and Rock Varnish. Barry is a former fighter pilot turned actor and stand-up comedian. He’s appeared in more than 30 movies and TV productions and has headlined at clubs across Canada and the US. He is the host of Discovery Channel’s Out in the Cold.

The evening was great fun and the readings were fantastic. It was wonderful to meet each of these writers and compare experiences. I was delighted to discover that I’d shared an agent with one of them, a publisher with two, and literary bruises with every single one.

A Reviewer’s Take on Poplar Lake

Poplar Lake - NON 2018 edition

Poet and scholar Bill Robertson recently reviewed Poplar Lake for the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, a PostMedia newspaper.

Robertson describes Poplar Lake (the novel) as ambitious in scope, and Poplar Lake (the town) as an archetype of prairie settlements. He places the book squarely in its contemporary context. “After years of living in the shadow of an edifice called Canadian Literature, in which its many settler novels featured no First Nations people, as if the land was simply empty and hard-working immigrants were given a stake in it by a beneficent government, writers such as Thompson have woken to a new day. In the light of the Truth and Reconciliation hearings, these writers want to include First Nations people in their narrative, and Thompson does.”

He goes on to say: “Thompson’s got everything here to make a great Canadian novel, and he goes a long way to writing just that.”

Robertson has criticisms of Poplar Lake, particularly on its narrative style (mea culpa – my call entirely, and I own it proudly), but said in summary of it: “I enjoyed reading the book, and it kept me with it.”

About Poplar Lake:

Poplar Lake’s publisher NON describes the book as “a darkly satiric novel about families and relationships and the day-to-day lies that sustain them, a tragicomedy rich with yearning, heartbreak, and love.”  Terry Fallis, two-time winner of Canada’s Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, has said of it, “In Poplar Lake, Ron Thompson has written a captivating story, rich with humour and heart. I didn’t want it to end.”

Poplar Lake is available on-line and in select bookstores, Chapters-Indigo, and McNally Robinson locations. See Poplar Lake’s publisher page here.  Bill Robertson’s full review in the Star-Phoenix can be found here.

Brexit Madness

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After an inexplicable defeat today in the House of Commons, where she was seeking more time to do she-knew-not-what, British Prime Minister Teresa May recalled Neville Chamberlain to service as her lead negotiator on Brexit. Deceased these 79 years, Chamberlain was considered by Mrs May as her last hope to avoid a disastrous No Deal Brexit. He was immediately dispatched to Brussels for negotiations with the EU, whose position has been firm and clear for weeks. Mr Chamberlain was photographed on his return, brandishing a piece of paper. It may have been his resignation.

 

New Year Update

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This screenshot is from Aladin, an e-commerce retailer in South Korea. No, it is not announcing a Korean edition of Poplar Lake, just promoting the original North American one, which retails to residents of Seoul for just 27,050 won — but wait! (it says) Act now, and receive an 18% discount!…

Plus ça change, when it comes to marketing. In all seriousness, I was surprised to experience on a personal level the global reach of digital commerce. I know virtual distribution in the ROK won’t move many (if any) books. Publisher NON relies on more traditional distribution methods and markets and an actual physical presence in bookstores. Poplar Lake is in the Chapters/Indigo chain in Canada, for example, although not in every outlet. It’s difficult to get shelf space for the books of small presses and little-known authors. All you need, people tell me helpfully, is an endorsement from Oprah. Alas, that hasn’t yet happened, and until it does you’ll have to ask your bookseller to order Poplar Lake in if it’s not in stock. On the Not-Quite-Oprah front, we are anticipating a fresh newspaper review shortly — I will post a link to it when it emerges. Until then, every mention of Poplar Lake anywhere helps spread the word. You can help by rating, reviewing or commenting on the book on Amazon, Goodreads, other book-oriented sites, Facebook, Twitter, other social media, or your own blog. Most importantly, tell your friends, your relatives, your neighbours, your colleagues, your book-club pals, what you think of it.

I have not posted here for ages because I’m busy writing again. I’m in the throes of revising a story I wrote more than a decade ago. It’s an historical tale set in the Pacific northwest in the late eighteenth century, when European mariners first came into contact with the indigenous inhabitants of what is now British Columbia.  Until 2018 I had not looked at the manuscript for several years (my agent was circulating it, unsuccessfully, while I was working on what became A Person of Letters and Poplar Lake), and when I took it up again I decided to take a completely different approach. I’ve reframed the story, changed the perspective, chosen a different narrative voice, rethought the characters. It’s a complete rewrite. I’ll have more to say on the project in a future post.

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About Poplar Lake:  Publisher NON calls the novel “a darkly satiric novel about families and relationships and the day-to-day lies that sustain them, a tragicomedy rich with yearning, heartbreak, and love.”  Terry Fallis, two-time winner of Canada’s Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, has said of it, “In Poplar Lake, Ron Thompson has written a captivating story, rich with humour and heart. I didn’t want it to end.”  See Poplar Lake’s publisher page here.