I went home that weekend with the intention of getting some of the family history
down. Sandra was a wonderful help to me. The "he" referred to in these notes
is David Angus Pratt (my father)
So what are these questions he prodded several times. Feeling very sheepish...
so my wonderful
stepmother finally prodded me into talking. Did I know why he had enlisted?
And off we went. I
listened. He talked. Amazing.
At 17 he had taken an extra year of school to get biology. He had been unable
to take that at
Keith Grammar School and so had gone to Aberdeen. He was going to be conscripted
anyway and as a Veteran he would be assured of a place in Veterinary College.
So down he went for his
medical and off he went to the Gordon Highlanders.
As he finished Basic training the Agyle and Sutherland Highlanders returned from
a tour of duty in Palestine and needed soldiers with some of his expertise. So
over he went. A week or two later he was on his way to Hong Kong to guard the
island nation against the Chinese invasion. Memories of guarding the airport and
five hours of continually streams of Chinese women carrying nightsoil to the waste
almost jogging with bamboo poles...balancing two pails...and guard duty at CFHQ
Forces Head Quarters. with pick axe handles...didn't want soldiers shooting up
morning reveille played by a couple of trumpeters echoing across the bay.
Sounded like twenty
trumpeters on every ship on the bay and there were hundreds. clear morning ...junks
sampans and destroyers.
Then he moved inland to the border on the penninsula..shooting people trying to
cross the border
(Judging by the tear in his eye I think there was more that happened here)
The Highlanders had a
unique six spotted sporran (the decoration for the front of a kilt) when they
arrived in Hong Kong
they were deliberately marched through town because twenty years earlier they
had been brought
in to stamp out crime and drug trade...they had been brutal and efficient. Crime
a nose dive after their march through. Father returned spending most of the trip
in the ships
hospital with dysentery almost immediately on his return. Came down with malaria
about two months after he came back. And hasn't been in a hospital since.
Then the big mistake highlanders were sent to Korea...told to take a hill that
the americans were
told to bomb. 40% dead 20 % wounded. Many of his mates.(again the tear)
Then came the pictures...dogs barney and boco. and reminiscing about coming to
Canada ...landing in Regina. Meeting and old classmate. setting out in a Ford
Galaxy running into a
snow storm returning to Regina and getting stuck in the Aquarelle valley my brother
Disjointing to hear the stories told of Ann (my mother) I found it took
a minute or two to realize
this was mom. The next day they took the bus...it's a seven hour drive now
I wonder what it was
then ...lonesome tale of landing in Nipawin late and making their way to a hotel.
The expected house wasn't waiting. Rented to someone else. Wonderful tale of buying
vehicle...An International Travelall which I remember as the vehicle of my childhood.
$3400...Iwent and found the bill of sale...the letters and telegram around his
acceptance. transfers of
money. opening and account of the Bank of Montreal...that will be fine young man
go and buy the
vehicle and we will pay for it and work out the details of the required loan and
be in touch.
carrying on up the story road. Perhaps the most interesting part of the morning
happened when the
photos and old papers started to make an appearance. The papers themselves
have many stories.
but it was two old church bulletins that I have asked for copies of that were
the gold that I had
come seeking. J W Jarvis. John William Jarvis. Jack...my grandfather on
my mothers side. The
first one was a series of eulogies delivered at his funeral. He died as I had
recalled out with a
group of his "boys" Covenanters (which is going to take more research) There were
clues...the travels of Mr. Penny. My uncle as part of his eulogy related
how over the course of
several years the journey by Mr. Penny entertained my mother and him. This
bent old copper lead
a merry and exciting life as it traveled to all sorts of exotic places.
Including at least one trip
down the drain.(fertile imagination non?) Regaling his boys, the church,
and his banker friends
with stories was one of the common threads in all the eulogies.
The second bulletin was even more interesting (at least to me) synchronicity
...I could hear the
wheels of the universe meshing as I read it. It was a manuscript that my
grandmother had found
at his bedside. Have I ever told you about work I do with strategic planning?
trying to get people
to envision the future that they wish to create in their workplace. That's what
this was a
description of how the church would be if it were a perfect place (which as he
points out in the
first paragraph it isn't because he is there.) It is so close to stuff that
I have written in a
completely different context.
That then is where the story telling comes from almost undoubtedly. Deputy Chief
the First Provincial Bank.
Other tidbits and then a final poetic connection
The letter my grandfather wrote to my father allowing him to marry my mother.
Flyers from something called the SNA ...Scottish National Assembly pranks
that someone spent
two years in jail for..no explanation.
and some quotes in his grad memories that I need to double check.
and at the end of the day I got most pleasant surprise. I was handed two
books of poetry. written
by an aunt.
This from the program at my Fathers convocation program.. I do not cough for my
amusement--Shaw He stamps his feet, whistles and shouts obscenities at the most
Yup and his tie is crooked in the foto.
and it wasn't SNA it was SRA and the names on one of the flyers dated 1953
were Robert Watt,
Owen Gillan, Callum McAlistair, and Raymond Forbes. they were touted as patriots
high court. 27th of November...and the flyer was produced by the Edinburgh Area
191 Gilmore Place, Edinburgh
Another connection and thing to pay attention to: Thomas Hogg or Hog (Scottish
Jailed for his beliefs ...Sandra will copy the family tree stuff ...there are
de finetely comments about
the gift of oratory...one from a learned side of the family and one from a market
side of the
family ...eloquent without resorting to vulgarity..
it should be interesting chasing some parts of this down ...there was a funny
inheritance I remember
from my childhood ...Gascoigne...here was an explanation of that that bears examiing...and
there is the Mace brothers (whom Maceville , New Zealand is named) cricketers
one of the brothers was my grandmothers father. As near as I can tell. Jarvis
Gervaux...my mind reels...did I really feel that this would be simple...no doubt
there are stories
and who knows where it will lead ....a long letter to my mother from TB Hunter