Historian to loan candid snapshots to base museum

Historian to loan candid snapshots to base museum

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

In two weeks, Canadian naval historian Roger Litwiller will share his collection of 1,800 images with the CFB Esquimalt community.

He is loaning his collection to the CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum, and conducting a lecture on naval history at the museum Sept. 18.

He began amassing unofficial candid photos of life in the navy when he was researching for his first book White Ensign Flying – The Story of HMCS Trentonian.

“They really are intriguing pictures and accurately capture a day-in-the-life of a sailor,” says Litwiller. “That is also the focus of my writing. I have always enjoyed sitting down with our veterans and hearing their stories of what life was like on board an RCN ship.”

A favourite set of images is that of a mock wedding on board Trentonian in the days leading up to the Battle of Normandy in the Second World War. The light-hearted photo was taken on the gundeck, below the ship’s bridge. It shows a sailor posing as a Justice of the Peace and two sailors being married, one playing the part of the bride and wearing a mop for a wig.

“It was a fun way for them to blow off steam and share a laugh in trying times. In multiple images that were captured of this event you can see the sailors were clearly laughing and grinning,” said Litwiller. “The stunt clearly worked because when the corvette reached port the entire ship’s company was given [shore] leave.”

Litwiller’s images are not original but rather scanned high-resolution images borrowed from veterans he interviews. He meticulously records as much information about each photo from the veteran before scanning and returning them.

He has shared his collection with other Canadian naval museums and the CFB Esquimalt museum is the last to receive the images.

The lecture is Sept. 18 in the museum’s Delamere Room from 10:30 to noon.

For more information about Litwiller and his photography and writing visit his website: www.rogerlitwiller.com

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