Ron Graham relates his story about the creation of this Arctic Club document.
While en route to Murmansk, December 1944, I was approached by P.O. Tel. Bert Best with a copy of a similar Certificate borrowed from someone who had previously crossed the A.C. (Arctic Circle). Bert, knowing I had some minor expertise in scroll work suggested I prepare one for our Captain, Lt. Cdr. Shaw to be presented to him the next day when we crossed the A.C.
Because of the limited time available and because of the amount of detail in the certificate, I declined the honour. Bert pointed out that he outranked me, and suggested I would be well advised to reconsider, to ensure my surviving the trip. My ace in the hole was that I did not have the proper paper, inks, or pens, necessary to do justice to such a project. His response was to produce a beautiful sheet of chart paper, and the necessary pens and inks which he had wheedled out of the Navigator's Yeoman in anticipation of my arguments.
I was now reminded that I should begin at once since it was now 1800 hours and it would be needed by 0800 hours the following day. I had only recently been appointed as the Dayman Sig, and not required to stand watches. I was escorted to the Signal Office, my domain, and told to get on with it.
I was given a bully beef sandwich and a cocoa periodically during the night. To ensure the completion deadline there are some changes in the form but not enough to call it an original production.
It was duly presented to the Captain at the precise time of crossing the A.C. by Lt. Taylor, the 1St.Lt., and by P.O.Tel. Bert Best, who modestly took credit for the idea. A very weary and bleary eyed Sig. witnessed this presentation from the wing of the bridge.
At our reunion in Winnipeg, while having a private chat with the Captain he mentioned having had this "beautiful" certificate hanging on the wall of his den at home. I enquired about it and after his description informed him how it came into being. He never knew until then that I had been coerced into drawing it. We had a good laugh about it, and I pointed out I was still trying to track Mr. Best down.
The subsequent presentation to the
crew members at a following reunion was made on certificates copied from
that original, or so I have been
advised. Makes a good story anyway . . .
Ron Graham (submitted May 11, 2003)