WHITTON and RITCH -Surname Studies and people from the Island of GRAEMSAY, Orkney

Thomas Walter Simmonds

Thomas Walter Simmonds

Male 1918 - 2009  (90 years)

Personal Information    |    Notes    |    All

  • Name Thomas Walter Simmonds 
    Born 27 Dec 1918  Vancouver, BC, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 28 Sep 2009  Vancouver, BC, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I1603  My Relatives
    Last Modified 22 Jun 2020 

    Father Thomas Richard Simmonds,   b. 24 Nov 1886, Knaresborough, Yorkshire - West Riding, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 Jan 1954, North Vancouver, BC Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 67 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Mother Lilian Potter,   b. 27 Sep 1886, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Jan 1981, North Vancouver, BC Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 94 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Family ID F884  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Brenda Stuart Linklater,   b. 13 Aug 1917, c Graemsay 11/11/1917 Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Jun 1999, Cedarview Lodge, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 81 years) 
    Married 8 Jan 1942  St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall Orkney Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. Living
     2. Donald Stuart Simmonds,   b. 28 Nov 1945, Stromness Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 2 Jul 2013, Maple Ridge, BC Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 67 years)  [natural]
    Last Modified 22 Jun 2020 
    Family ID F432  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • In the Airforce in WW2 came to Orkney from Canada

      in 1994 Walter and Brenda visited Mary Linklater in Glasgow

      from Walter 2007
      Sailing was a real favourite for me in my earlier years -built a couple of boats but my 26 foot sailboat gave me much pleasure as we havean excellent coastline for boating. I never got to sail in the Orkney's - I did get out with my Father-in -law for the lobsters also with George fishing off the Old Man of Hoy. My Father-in-Law wondered what kind of a person had married his daughter when I told him I had borrowed a row boat and gone into the Gloop on a fogy evening when I couldn't see the shore most of the time when I was CO of the Radar Station in Deerness. Len Wilson is quite a sailor and has sent me several photos of the boats he has built and sailed. I have sailed out of Ullapool around the Summer Islands when visiting George Linklater - . But all that is past and now it's memories and my computer.
      Thanks again -Walter

      Walter is a member of the West Vancouver Senior's Activity Center Computer Club

      address 2008 T.W.Simmonds --304-2020 Cedar Village Cresent - North Vancouver - B.C. V7J-3P5

      Mr.T.W. (Walter) Simmonds -- Experience in Radio etc.

      I remember my Dad bringing home a Fada 3-tube (valve) radio with lots of batteries, A, B and C carbon batteries - hooking the unit up to the wire clothes line for an antenna - turned it on just as the only local Vancouver station was signing off. That was 1925. Somewhat later I acquired a crystal set for delivering a paper route for 2 weeks. When I was about 11 or 12 I was given a bunch of wire coils from an old ship’s spark radio transmitter.

      Those were depression years-no money-but with junk I build a 1 tube electric radio, using a discarded type 227 tube (valve), ford spark coil (converted to a power transformer), baking soda in glass jars to rectify B supply - tuning coil wound on a round salt carton - and it worked. By finding old discarded battery radios for parts I built several radios - then a transceiver from plans in a radio magazine. Also one for a friend, although it was illegal and we caused radio interference in the neighborhood, but we had fun. At 15 I passed my Amateur Radio Operator license, having built a more elaborate short wave receiver and a transmitter, so with
      Morse Code I contacted other Hams (Amateur Operators) throughout the world.
      I started to work in a Grocery Store because I could drive but I also did some radio service work.

      War broke out and all Amateur Licenses were suspended. In early 1940 I started getting letters from all military services because of my having been a 'Ham' -
      so, one Wednesday afternoon - stores closed for half day then - I went over to the RCAF recruiting to see what the score was. I was sent for a trade test and on returning to the recruiting desk I was told, "You've passed your test and had your medical.” - I said, “I haven't had a medical” - I was told I had walked there and back. This is the truth, strange as it may sound, and they wanted me to leave on the
      Saturday night train for Toronto, for 2 weeks training, and then overseas. I was now in the Air Force as a direct entry. I spent a little over a month in Toronto then overseas to Britain. Britain was in desperate need of radio mechanics for what later was known as radar. That name was not used then and we were sworn to secrecy not to talk or tell what we were involved in.

      On arriving in England I was attached to the RAF and spent almost the next 4 years with them. First a short course to learn about the various types of equipment then I was posted off to the Orkney Islands to a primitive radar station called Crustan, not far from Birsay. This station was controlled by a Sgt. Felton who hated colonials plus having a real mean streak making my life and others miserable, even to the extent that I caused a near fatal electrical shock. Fortunately he was posted away and I fared very well in the RAF getting rapid promotion through the ranks, becoming NCO/i.c. for long periods as there were no Officers available in those early years.

      The need for secrecy over we can now describe the equipment used. This was a CHL (chain Low) unit using normal tubes (valves) on the 3 meter wavelength, to detect low flying aircraft. Originally we had separate gantries mounting the antennas for both the transmitter and receiver and the synchronizing of them was a problem and that often created trouble. Later we used an open 300 ohm feeder from the transmitter hut to the receiver hut using a single antenna array and spark gap switching - much better. We had two Lister diesel generators for power. Next we got a completely new building and although the equipment was much the same we now had PPI (plan position indication) instead of one line CRT for viewing. Also we got a new power plant with Blackstone diesel generators.

      In the early spring of 1941, on a visit to the Church of Scotland canteen in Stromness, I met Brenda Linklater and after many bicycle trips to Stromness, usually with the wind blowing against me in both directions, we were married in St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall on Jan. 8th 1942. We had 58 years together until she passed on in June of 1999.

      After some 2 years at Crustan I was posted down to East Anglia to complete the installation of a 10 centimeter radar in Orford Castle, not for the RAF but for the Royal Artillery. This used a Magnetron (very Secret) in the transmitter to produce the 10cm RF, also wave guides to a parabolic dish. I spent a few Months there and had several bombings and other unpleasant happenings.

      I had been recommended for a Commission so I had to go to a place south of London for an interview. Then I was posted back to Scotland to a station south of Wick which had both CHL and 10 cm. A couple of weeks later I was off to a refresher course at Yatesbury – My WO.1 came though –too late to cancel my acceptance of officer status and I was off to RAF college. Receiving my commission as an officer, I was posted back to Orkney and became in Command of RAF Deerness. On February 20th 1944 I got a call that Brenda had given birth to our daughter Sheila in Stromness. Petrol was so controlled that I couldn’t even dare use even the small amount I would need for a motorbike I was offered by a Mr. Work, so I bicycled all the way into Stromness.

      In September ‘45 I was posted back to Canada to install the first 10 cm .Radar on the west coast of Vancouver Island. I stayed on as CO. and in January of 1946 my wife Brenda and daughter Sheila joined me. We stayed in a log cabin there until I was up for discharge in Sept of 46.

      After several applications to stay in radio and electronics I had an offer with a furniture company and soon became a manager. We handled furniture, appliances, radio, TV later, plus clothing and dry goods. It was Family owned business and we had 7 stores until the ‘50s when they sold out to Great Universal Stores with great promises which didn’t work out. All they were really interested in was a tax loss for other interests in eastern Canada. So, after 8 years I left and went with 2 different companies opening and managing stores dealing with home electronics.

      In the ‘50s I built a small cabin cruiser and later I had a 26 foot sail boat which I enjoyed but Brenda only liked cruising in calm water which you don’t do in sail.
      She always remembered the rough boat trips from Graemsay to Stromness as she was growing up.

      In 1974 Due to overwork my doctor suggested I take an extended time off, so I gave the Company 6 months notice, trained a replacement, and Brenda and I took off in our trailer (caravan) and canoe for 3 months then flew to Scotland to visit family . We headed down south in our trailer and spent the winter on the desert in Arizona and continued to do the same every winter - home in summer to take care of the garden. We lived in the house that we had bought and re-modeled right after the war for 45 years. Eventually we sold it and bought and moved into a condominium where I still live alone as Brenda passed on in 1999. I used my electronic knowledge to building an elaborate model rail setup which took up the spare bedroom but as age caught up to me I had to part with it. Now the computer is my main hobby.

      End of story.