December 26, 1942
Mom & Dad's wedding day.
Throughout their years of marriage they used to love to tease each other. Dad would say that Mom was a "mad Russian". Mom would return the chide by saying that one day he would find out that he was of Russian decent too, and then she would have the last laugh. Both would chuckle with Dad trying to get in the last word saying, "That'll be the day!" Of course it never was the last word as Mom would say, "Just you wait and see ;-)" Well, Dad, I had my Y-DNA tested and a cousin has his family's genealogy going back to, guess who? Yup, a Russian principality king's daughter. So I would say that Mom had the last laugh ;-) lol...sorry about that, Dad :-)
Dad is wearing his Royal Canadian Navy uniform. He crossed the Atlantic on convoy duty, but didn't like to talk about it. Once when he did loosen up he mentioned that during a German U-boat attack he could hear the cries for help from drowning men whose ship had been torpedoed, but they couldn't turn their lights on and stop to rescue them as it would have put their ship and men at risk. He never forgot that. Another time they depth-charged a German U-boat but couldn't claim it as it was night time. They could see the oil and debris field in the moonlight but had to keep going as the U-boats were traveling in packs then. To return for souvenirs and confirmation would have been too risky. As they set out for Halifax from Londonderry a storm arose. They went full steam ahead for 3 days, but the storm was so bad that they could still see the lights in Ireland.
On his return to Canada he was posted to the cypher department and was one of two men who set the shipboard cipher machines on the Allied ships as they gathered at Halifax to form convoys. Later he was tapped to be one of the small group of 8 RCN men who were responsible for capturing the advanced German Enigma cypher machine - the 4-rotor model which appeared in 1942. In the 1970's a made-for-TV mini-series was shown about this endeavor - A Man Called Intrepid. Warner Brothers has the film, but I've never been able to get a copy from them. Interestingly, at the end of the mini-series they showed a picture of the cypher machine. That's when I learned about Dad's participation in the mission. He blurted out that that wasn't the right model. It was the old one. "We captured..." He then went on to give the model number and describe the 4-rotor operation. I was stunned. He explained that as they were sworn to secrecy he had never talked about it; however, as it was on TV it wasn't much of a secret anymore.
Years later I was to learn that we had distant relatives in Germany, the von Johnston family branch, who fought, of course, for Germany in both World Wars. It gives one a whole new perspective on life when one realizes that we fought against each other and that some of us on both sides died in that fighting...