John Peddle

Reprinted with permission from the book Hodge’s Cove by Eric Stringer, 2011

 Name:   PEDDLE, John

Service #:   2334

Branch of Service:   Newfoundland Overseas Forestry Unit

Marital Status when enlisted:   June 1940 – May 1942

Medals awarded: None

Other noteworthy information:   Mom said that Uncle Jack wasn’t right sure just what kind of information I was looking for.  So when I arrived home from work and was told of Uncle Jack’s call, I decided I’d get my supper, then go to his house for a chat. What follows here then reflects the gist of pertinent information gathered from our conversation.

“Rumor had it that there was to be an official come to Clarenville to interview prospective candidates for duty in Scotland. A number of others from Hodge’s Cove including Eldred Stringer (my father), Max Peddle, George and his brother Caleb Churchill, and my brother Leonard, we all decided we’d go to see if we could get on.

“After being given a medical examination by Dr. Cross and found fit, we were signed on by H. M. Ebsary.

“In June of 1940, along with others from other parts of Newfoundland, we traveled by train to Botwood (after a three-day stop at Bishop’s Falls).

“We embarked on board the White Star Liner H.M.S. Antonio and arrived in Liverpool on July 14, 1940. From there, we traveled by train to our assigned camps.

“I, being one of the oldest (auth. Note: and probably appearing more mature than the others), was sent to a camp at Fairburn which was about eighteen miles north of Inverness, Scotland. There I was assigned as one of eight sub-foremen, under the leadership of superintendent Bill Beaton of Badger, Newfoundland. Hodge’s Covers in my crew were my brother Len, as well as George and Cale Churchill, Graham Peddle and Eldred Stringer.

“Our initial assignment there was to cut one million poles, similar to telephone poles, that were to be no less than six inches in diameter at the top. These huge Scotch pines, many of which had been planted by long-established estate owners for prospective purposes, were to be used for “barricades on beaches and in open spaces in the country, to impede enemy landings from the sea or air”. Primarily, however, the wood products were used as pit props in mines in Britain.

“Considering that some of the best woodsmen our province has produced have come from this Sou’ West Arm, it may come as somewhat of a surprise to learn that these ‘boys’ from Hodge’s Cove, and their co-workers as well, were no great shakes at the beginning. In fact, the contract that they had signed, which would have paid them two dollars a day, had to be rewritten … they just didn’t work very hard, or get much work done. That changed when the contract had the loggers to be paid on the basis of running feet of logs produced.”

Several other notes of interest indicates that Uncle Jack was an advanced age of thirty-four years of age when he signed up, almost father-age to most of his buddies there. A small village named Muir of Ord was where they would usually go on weekends (it had two pubs). The worst part of the whole experience was the grub …. Not that there was a shortage of it; rather, despite valiant efforts to recruit one from those among them, neither could claim to be much of a cook. In fact, so desperate the whole affair got that the government department had to arrange to have someone go around to the various camps providing cooking in-service to trainees.

Even though Uncle Jack and the others had signed up for the duration of the war, he was granted early leave and was, as he termed “repatriated home”

From They Also Served, by Curran, Tom; Jesperson Press, 1987

upon the death of his wife’s son Willis.

He arrived back in Newfoundland on board the H.M.S. Batory in May 1942.

(written by author with Uncle John’s corroboration)