Monthly Archives: November 2012

June 25, 1944

Preamble:  I found a journal that Dad used to write in.  I guess it’s okay if I read and repeat now… I’m not sure where he began his stories.  I’ll just repeat from the first page.  These entries are now “history”.  Fascinating to read about his experiences and feelings.  Hope you enjoy.  I shall publish excerpts from his diary from time to time.


June 25, 1944

“Left Brantford at 12:00 arrived Toronto 1:30.  Picked up airman going to Christie Street who had been washed out as a pilot – had been in navy prior to this and survived one torpedoing.  Left for New Lowell 3:30 and got home via Barrie 5:30. Went to YPS  and played crocinole. Rather boring evening.  Sure wish I was back with Paula. ”


June 26, 1944

“Slept till noon.  Went to Creemore but saw very few people I knew.  Dropped in at Mumberson’s on the way back and got all the news of Bob who is away overseas.  Federation of Agriculture meeting here tonight – Dad is President.  Would have liked to go out but stayed and met everyone.  Very pleasant surprise today – letter from Paula.  Mailed an answer tonight.”

The Ultimate Board Game

Haven’t seen this game for years!


Categories: Dad's WWII Diary, Duff History | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

10 000 and counting: Thank-you

A toast to life!

Mom and Dad toasting at their 40th anniversary

Yesterday was Remembrance Day and to honour my Dad, Flight Lieutenant WJ Duff, I tried to promote readers to check out Dad’s WWII stories.  I made an appeal to have 1, 000 “reads”.  He never thought anyone would be interested in his stories.

Yet, yesterday, with the help of fellow bloggers, Dad’s stories reached 2, 000 of you and that brought his total reads to over 10 000:  my goal.

A million thank-yous to all of you who helped me to remember Dad and his efforts to establish peace.  What an honour it would have been for Dad to see this kind of response.

Although my heart remains heavy as it has only been since June that he has, “moved to a better address”, I know that he is a peace and thankful for his remembrance.

Today happens to also be the day – two years today – when Mom, Paula Duff (ne Malloff) passed away very unexpectedly.  It was very difficult on Dad to lose his bride of 61 years but he was a trooper.  He remembered her every morning when he got up out of bed – every meal at the dining room table – every glass of wine – every celebration – every night as he lay down to rest.  And so did the rest of us.  She was with us as Dad remembered her to intensely.  It seems that our memory of Dad remembering her is now imprinted firmly into my mind.

Mom.  Paula.  Wife.  Daughter.  Nurse.  Aunt.  Teacher.  She was beautiful.

Today – we will remember Mom.

We will, as my daughter Katya advised me, remember her for her warmth and security, for her caring friendship and the memories that will live on in our hearts.  She is in pain no longer.  She will cook and sew to her hearts content.  I think there is quite a bit of “Nana” in my daughter.

So – here’s to all of our Moms and Dads who we hold dear in our hearts.  And here’s to one day when we will all meet again.   TTFN

Categories: Family and Friends, Mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

At the Royal Military College in Kingston

This photo was taken during our cousin’s graduation at the Royal Military College (RMC) in Kingston on the day that Dad was re-acquainted with Leonard Birchall.

Mom was always very proud of Dad and it was her who spiffed him up, medals and all, to look so handsome.

Standing Proud

This photo was taken at a Kent Duff’s graduation.

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There’ll be bluebirds over….

…the white cliffs of Dover.  This was the song that greeted Dad on the phone each time Jack MacArthy phoned him.  Check it out:

Jack and Dad, Flight Lieutenant William James Duff, went back a long way. I wish that I had payed more attention to details about him when Dad talked about him – as now I simply don’t have the answers.

What I do know is that when my son, Ben, and I introduced ourselves to Jack at the George Duff Memorial Legion in New Lowell today – Jack greeted us with a very wide smile.  “Oh, my.  I’m so glad that you spoke to me.  I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad.  He was a very good man.  And your Mom, Paula, she was very beautiful.  I ran into she and your Dad many times in Barrie when my wife Helen and Paula were having their blood work done. “, said Jack.

“My Dad remembered you always, Jack, so fondly.  I always knew when you had called because Dad was sure to tell me.  But, what I don’t know is what song it was that you used to sing to him.”

And Jack began to sing, “There’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover”.

How wonderful it was to hear that song.  Jack’s chest was literally covered with medals of honour.  He is 93.  He looked great.  What a spirit.  What a voice.

Jack MacArthy, of New Lowell, introduced me to his family and he to mine.  It was clear that Ben, my son, was not of the “Duff” blood as he towers over all of us and Jack noted this difference.  “How proud he was of all of you.  He spoke so often of you and your family, Stacey, that I know all about them. ”  Jack commented.

It was an honour to be there in New Lowell today.  It was a necessary.  We were representing not only Dad, but his Dad – George Hunt Duff – after whom the New Lowell legion was named.  Their photos hung in prominent places both in the Legion and in our hearts.

To Dad and Grandpa – we salute you and thank-you for your contributions to family and country.  In peace may you rest, may we never forget.


Categories: Duff History, New Lowell | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

I always thought this one was pretty cute. What a rebel!

High Flight

I attended flight school in St. Catharines  (EFTS)  Elementary Training School  before I went overseas.  I was 3/4 through my course when I became quite ill.  I didn’t know what I had, so I went to see the Medical Officer (MO).   He tested for mumps.  Imagine!  The test for mumps at that time was simply putting something sour in my mouth.  I could tell right away something was wrong because  it smarted.  The MO said to me, “Son, you have the mumps.”.  I was in my early 20s at that time.

I was given a bed in the hospital to get better.. I was the only one in the entire hospital.  I received very good care.

Once I had recovered, I had to make up for what I had missed.  I was most upset that this put me back enough that I was not able to graduate with my buddies with whom I had studied…

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10 000

When I first began this blog with my Dad, he was shocked that people were interested in his stories.

When he recorded 30 hits he said, “Why would anyone be interested in my life?”.

I said, “Dad, you stories are interesting and very historical if nothing else. ”

He said, “Hmm.  Well I just don’t see it.”

Now, although he is gone, his blog, “High Flight” is nearing 10 000 hits.  He would be over the moon.

I wonder if you, the readers, would be able to fulfill a request?

Could Dad get 10 000 hits to honour his memory and contributions for Remembrance Day tomorrow?

Some of his first stories (some hundred posts ago) contain “his” stories in “his” words – about his WWII experiences.

Would you please take time to read his thoughts – in memory and honour of Bill Duff?

On his behalf, thank-you for caring.


Categories: Duff History, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Thanks for remembering…

This is a conversation I would imagine having with my Dad, Flight Lieutenant William James Duff,  at this time of the year:  Remembrance Day.

Dad (Bill):  Stacey, I want you to thank Ryan, the young man who gave you the model Catalina Flying Boat for me.

Stacey:  I already did Dad.  It was so amazing that her took the time and effort to not only find, but purchase, and bring that model airplane to my school.  Was it the right model?

Dad:  Yes.  Although, of course the model is much smaller than the life- version.  It was a big aircraft and could fly for miles without refueling.  That’s one of the reasons it was so favored overseas because of the distance it could travel.

Stacey:  What’s it like now, Dad?  Do you mark this day in Heaven?

Dad:  Well, it’s a little different here, Stace.

Stacey:  I guess if I asked you in what way, you wouldn’t be able to tell me?

Dad:  Not exactly.  All I can tell is that there is no pain, no more tears, no more mourning for the friends I lost.

Stacey:  I always remember growing up that Remembrance Day was the one time EVER I saw you cry.  I really didn’t understand it at the time.

Dad:  How could you?  No one can really imagine what it was like.  You had to be there.  It wasn’t all bad, though, Stacey.  We had the opportunity to travel to some wonderful places and meet some really good people.  The guys I was with in India  – we became very close.  The war brought a lot of people together in some very unlikely circumstances.  I always felt so fortunate that I was able to learn how to fly a plane.  I was in love with the idea of flying ever since I was a kid and a plane crashed in a field in New Lowell.  I think it was there that my interest in flying – not crashing (grin) – peaked.

Stacey:  It’s strange, Dad, that you are able to take good from such a terrible time.

Dad:  What are you going to do, Stacey?  You need to see the positive in everything.  No sense in complaining about things.  This is a very sad time for me and for so many families – don’t get me wrong.  But we all did what we felt we had to do and we all felt that we were doing something that was “right” and “good”.  I don’t know whether or not it was the right thing – even to this day.

Stacey:  You mean there are still no answers, Dad.

Dad:  Oh, there are answers, but we can still hold differences of opinions… we just don’t need war to solve the difference here, Stacey.

Stacey:  Good to talk to you again, Dad.  I’m not going to lay a wreath tomorrow – but I am going to the George Duff Memorial for you and Grandpa.   Anything you want me to say or do?

Dad:  No.  Just being there is enough.  And, Stacey, thanks for remembering.

Stacey:  I love you, Dad.

Dad:  Love you to, Stace.


Categories: Duff History, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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