Cecil Akrigg, February 18, 2010.Historica Canada
Cecil Akrigg walking down Hastings street in Vancouver, British Colombia, 1940.Cecil Akrigg
Photo taken by Cecil Akrigg of his 420 Squadron group in Constantine, Algeria, April 1945.Cecil Akrigg
Cecil Akrigg and his army comrades at the old immigration building in downtown Vancouver, British Colombia, November 15, 1939.Cecil Akrigg
"We were able to watch the Eighth Army in pursuit of the Afrika Korps, up to the Cape in Tunisia, where they were expected to be evacuated but could not be and were taken as prisoners"
We were two years in England and Scotland on coastal radar, everywhere from Torquay, Brixham in the south [of England] to 10 miles north of Aberdeen, up in Scotland. Then I was trained on more highly mobile units. We were trained firstly in England on that, then shipped overseas as part of Operation Torch for the [British-American] invasion of North Africa, from the Atlantic side of things. That Operation Torch meant we were in Algeria and Tunisia. When that was finished, they sent us on a Victory ship up to Corsica and we were in Corsica. Then about four days before D-Day [the invasion of Normandy], we were sent back to North Africa, re-outfitted, sent across Italy to the Yugoslav [Croatian] island of Vis, assigned to radar operation in conjunction with partisan forces and that was the conclusion of my overseas service. Returned to Canada back in Vancouver by VE-Day [Victory in Europe] and then sent up the coast of British Columbia here for a three-month service on coastal radar here. Then returned to Jericho Beach and discharged three days after VJ-Day [Victory in Japan].
Firstly, we were for harbour defense type of things. There were some German air attacks that were being made on North Africa. We were part of the campaign and Tunisia was at the time - the [British] Eighth Army from Egypt, it was in hot pursuit of the [German] Afrika Korps and we were able to watch the Eighth Army in pursuit of the Afrika Korps, up to the Cape in Tunisia, where they were expected to be evacuated but could not be and were taken as prisoners. So we were sitting on the sideline, watching that operation as it swept past, up the coast of Tunis. When that campaign was done, of course, that’s when they sent us on up to Corsica.
[Reuniting with friend Steve Muir, also a veteran] was a real surprise because he and I had been in the Saturday night army [militia] here in Vancouver and after the first six months or so, Steve managed to get a transfer from the depot operation here in Vancouver and get himself more actively engaged and be sent over onto active service in Europe and with the training in England. Hadn’t seen him since the middle of 1940 I guess was when we parted. I was still held here in Vancouver until I made the breakout myself and managed to get into the air force.