August 22, 1943 – Merton’s War Diary

Aug. 22
Slept ashore for first time in sleeping bags on the rocks.

I can remember as a kid missing out on Cub Scout camping trips for one reason or another but to make up for it, Dad and I would ‘camp’ in the slightly wooded back yard.  There was a slight hill and the sleeping bags would slowly slide down the plastic tarp we would place on the ground to keep the moisture out.  We didn’t have a tent and it was just open air.

View on Scoresby Sund, East Greenland – by Hannes Grobe, AWI[1]  Interestingly, the metadata for this photograph shows that it was captured on August 25th, 2007 so we are looking at the same time of year as the diary entry.

Later in life, Sue and I would go camping on some of our reenactment trips.  I used to enjoy the experience a lot and we had many convenience items such as air mattresses hidden away in our very non-authentic tents.  Sleeping on ‘the rocks’ sounds like it would be the opposite of fun.  Well, it just so happened that one night in July (possibly August,) while on a camping trip in Wahnapitae Ontario, Sue and I learned just how uncomfortable the air mattress could be when a cold front came in.  Like a Thermos, the air mattress retained all of the cold air and ‘insulated’ us from any warmth the ground could offer.  The remainder of the weekend we ended up in a hotel with the hopes of warming our bones.  I do hope for my Grandfather’s sake, the rocks and bag provided some form of comfort.

In 1943 and 1944, my Grandfather, Merton Young, traveled to Greenland while working for the Merritt-Chapman & Scott Company. He wrote a brief diary of his journey and this is a piece of that story.

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