Elize (Thomas) Ryerson
and Wilson Heath Ryerson
Some of Wilson's jobs required him to be seperated from his family. One of the most recent was the construction of the Wyman Dam in Bingham, Maine. Wilson is remembered as a brilliant man and among the many skills he taught his sons was the skill of problem solving. Wilson would present situations and there would be long silences as his sons worked out a solution. Through their father they learned many crafts and could build or repair nearly anything.
|Central Street Property. On this |
property they had an apple
orchard.(Now 249 Central Street,
|Washington Street. |
Ryerson Poultry Farm
(now 1797 Washington Street;
|The Ryerson Henhouse|
Ryerson Poulty Farm
It is unknown to me exactly how that farewell conversation went but to Frank’s everlasting regret his final words with his brother ended in a quarrel. There was no chance to resolve their issues because Len was quickly off to report for duty in Ottawa, Canada.
Off to the War.... (December 1941)
Fully aware of the danger or not, Len was now on his way to Ottawa, Canada. When he arrived in Ottawa he was met by an RAF representative and likely treated to high quality hotel accommodations and daily pay. Perhaps he had time to tour the city and take photos but soon he was on a train headed toward Halifax where his journey to the war would intensify.
View Len's trip Autumn 1941 in a larger map
|The Letitia. Image courtesy of Nova|
Scotia Archives andRecords
Management, Halifax, NS
|A convoy. |
'Image courtesy of Nova Scotia
Archives and Records Management,
Traveling on the Letitia with Len were several other Americans, ten of whom would later become pilots in 133 Squadron with him. A trip across the Atlantic Ocean in 1941 was a hazardous venture and the Letitia would be part of a 40 ship convoy - Canadian Troop Convoy 16. The convoy was escorted by United States destroyers Ericcson, Ingraham, and Ludlow and departed on December15th. Light cruiser Nashville had been doing neutrality patrols in the central Atlantic but once Pearl Harbor was bombed she headed north and joined this convoy. On the 16th of December the convoy was joined by battleship Arkansas and destroyers Livermore, Eberle, and Hamilton. It must have been quite a site as Len and his companions scanned the ocean. But despite the presence of so many ships they knew safe passage was not a certainty as they heading into the thick of the Battle for the Atlantic where Wolf Packs of German U-Boats likely patrolled.
On the Letitia with Len was Irvin Miller who later recalled that “the crossing was rough. I remember tables and chairs being tied up in a corner so they wouldn’t slide around the deck.” He recalled hitting “hellish weather,” and referred to the ship as a small and crowded. James Goodson who traveled to England a few weeks later on another troop convoy recalled, “my memory of the crossing was one of fear of being torpedoed of course, but much more the terrible overcrowding. Trying to sleep in bunks three high surrounded by snoring, sweating bodies was a nightmare... As one desperate character put it, ‘with any luck we’ll get torpedoed.’ "
As Len’s convoy progressed eastward through the Atlantic they approached trouble. What was happening ahead of them was that Convoy HG 76 had left Gibraltar heading for England and was quickly attacked by a German Wolf Pack. A multi-day battle ensued and didn’t end until December 23. Len’s convoy was forced to turn north toward Iceland to avoid it. As they neared Iceland the US escorts departed to return to Canada and from December 22nd the convoy was escorted by destroyers Blyskawica (Polish), Havelock (British), Newport (British), and Sherwood (British) for the final leg of the trip. They spent Christmas on the high seas far away from home and family but on December 26, 1941 they arrived safely in Liverpool, England.