"Dad, Well Done"

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About the author:
Doug Harrison from Norwich, Ontario was born September 6, 1920 and joined the Navy in 1941. He has much to say about his four years in the Combined Operations with the Merchant Marine.

"Dad, Well Done"

The Naval Memoirs of Leading Seaman Coxswain Gordon Douglas Harrison

Authored by Gordon Douglas Harrison, Gordon Arthur Harrison


My dad, G. D. (Doug) Harrison (Sept. 6, 1920 - Feb. 6, 2003) contributed to the Norwich Gazette, his hometown weekly, for many years, and one day in the fall of 2011, while I looked for a particular article he had written (I needed a pithy quote for a Remembrance Day article of my own), I found a worn brown folder longing for attention. Though I knew it wasn't what I was looking for, I opened it.

Instead of a single quote about what motivated Dad to join the Merchant Marine, I found 46 hand-written pages - over 35 years old - that summarized, as well as he could remember (and he had a sharp mind up to his death), his involvement in World War 2. Accompanying the notes was a neatly typed 21-page version of his familiar scrawl. I tipped my hat to my youngest sister, Jane Harrison for her efforts, then set the folder aside. I wasn't quite ready to dig into it. I had a deadline hanging - like a sharp Navy dirk - over my head.

A month later I decided to turn his memoirs into this small book, and realized soon after I began typing that I had started the task about nine years too late. The person I needed to talk to for more details, wanted to talk to about certain events, ask questions of or discuss a fine point with, is nine years dead and gone. Now that I want to ask, "Tell me where you were when ships were loading for Dieppe," and am ready to hear the answer with some sense of appreciation, my dad inhabits another sphere.

Many others will undoubtedly understand the hard lesson learned as I typed. I'm certain I'm but one son in a long line of sons and daughters who waited too long to sit down with their parents to ask for the good, honest stories we're now wanting to hear. Such is life, my dad would say.

Fortunately, I have his hand-written memoirs, his contributions to two books assembled by foresightful members of Canadian Combined Operations and numerous articles he wrote and later clipped from the Norwich Gazette about his 'Navy Days'. I share much of his work here.

Gordon A. Harrison, age 62, January 2012

Publication Date:
1468157345 / 9781468157345
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
6" x 9"
Black and White
Related Categories:
History / Military / World War II

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