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Autobiography of Henry O. Little, Sr.


I still didn't see much prospect of getting started in Winnipeg so my mother and I took a CPR train to Montreal at 6PM on September 15, 1936. Where we boarded a ship called the Dutchess of York and spent two days sailing down the St. Lawrence. It was quite eerie to be sitting on the deck and your view on each side was the farms with cattle and farm buildings until you got to where the St. Lawrence got wider. It was dark by the time we reached Quebec City. The next day the Gulf was so wide that you would think that you were out at sea.

It seemed strange to be traveling on the decks of a 20,000 ton ocean liner for two days with nothing on each side but Quebec farmland as we cruised down the St. Lawrence River. On Sunday the 17th at 1:00 P.M., on entering the dining salon for lunch, we could see through a porthole that the ocean on either side was going sightly up and down indicating that they had just passed through the strait of Belle Isle north of Newfoundland into the Atlantic Ocean at the 52nd parallel of latitude. It had taken us 49 hours (Allowing one hour for a time zone difference) to travel that distance from Montreal. At that time we were already more than halfway to Great Britain and we had only just then entered the Atlantic Ocean! On the nineteenth, two days later early in the morning (say at seven o'clock) we were anchored in the Clyde near Glasgow, at a place called Greenick. There being no docks at Greenick, they loaded and unloaded the freight by the use of small ships called lighters.

When you look at a map it seems a long way across but the Atlantic is actually quite narrow in the north. It is the route that commercial jet aircraft take when you fly from Kennedy Airport in New York at say 8:30 in the evening. By eleven o'clock you look down to your left and there is the lights of Halifax because you are still flying over land. However, they then turn east just before they reach Goose Bay Airport in Labrador and cross the ocean to Heathrow outside of London. It was also the route that Harry Hawker, who the British credit with being the first man to cross the Atlantic, used on his historic flight. His little open cockpit plane was so iced up that he had to land beside a freighter within sight of Ireland. Also Lindberg flew the same route. Nobody when they go from New York to Europe go straight across the Atlantic. They all take the northern loop which is really much shorter.

In the after noon we sailed across the Irish Sea to Belfast. We Anchored in Belfast Harbor in the afternoon of September 21st. There were no docks big enough here either to we had to exchange passengers and freight from small vessels. We took on a bit of freight there and towords evening we headed south through the Irish Sea and we arrived in Liverpool on the morning of September 22nd.

At the Liverpool landing stage early in the morning to meet us was my mother's sister Jesse, her daughter Gladys and her husband, whose name was McDonald. Also there were my mother's two brothers from Manchester, John and Bob and a half brother named Charley who lived across the river in Wallasley, one of the bedroom suburbs of Liverpool. Believe it or not, at that time seven of my grandfather's children were still alive 90 years after he had been married. Four of them were from my grandmother who had died in 1891. After that he had married a Scotch gal by the name of Polly Mckechern who had previously been married for 20 years and had had no children. After she married my grandfather, they had four children, two sons and two daughters. The youngest one, Fred, had died just the year before.


My mothers's parents were married in 1845 and when we docked at the Liverpool landing stage on the morning of September the 22nd just 90 years later, three of their sons and a daughter were there to meet me while other daughters were living elsewhere in Great Britain (Alice Danby was in London and Edith Parkes was in the Isle of Mann). In other words, seven of my grandfather's children, including my mother, were still around 90 years after my grandparents had been married. Those children who descended from my grandmother were uncle John, uncle Bob, aunt Jessie, and my mother. Those who descended from my step-grandmother were aunt Alice, aunt Edith, and uncle Charlie.

At the time of their marriage, the textile industry was in full swing. Liverpool was a very busy port. Now it is a depressed area with 28% unemployment. The cotton and woolen mills having nearly all closed down due to labor unions which are killing England just as they are the United States.


My cousins in Liverpool introduced me to Dr. Bernard Chavasse, that's a French name, his ancestors were Huguenots. He was considered to be the leading eye doctor for the north of England, also considered the most brilliant medical student that there ever had been in England. His anscestors were French Huegonots. I spent that afternoon with Dr. Chavasse in his little car while he visited clinics and hospitals. He suggested that to learn about eyes you're better to go to London since they did not have the proper facilities in Liverpool.

While in Liverpool we stayed in Sawduff Hotel in Wallasey near where uncle Charlie lived. One afternoon, I was walking around town there with his daughter Pauline and she stopped to talk to another girl. When I asked her who was her friend she said "I don't know, she just me cousin". Any way, I found out from Uncle Charlie later that this friend was a grand daughter of Uncle John, that is my eldest uncle, my grandmother's oldest son. He was a Herculean sort of fellow, very strong, and he married Emily Marie Mappin, who was also from a Huguenot family and in eight years they had eight children, seven of them boys. Those eight children all married and had many descendants for four or five generations. This young lady whom we had met in the street was descended from cousin Sydney. I said to this young lady, "I must have a lot of cousins in Birkenhead" where she lived, and she answered "rather". Those eight children all married and they had many decendants for four or five generations. I have never been able to get into contact with any of these numerous cousins. In 1985 Jimmy Reynolds was driving us up to Hargate. In Wallasey we were able to locate uncle Charlie's home, but since he had left this world we just had his wife. His daughter Pauline was there. She had two sons in their forties. I asked her about this young lady we had encountered in 1936 when we were out for a walk and she had no recollection of it. What I believe is that some of the family had come to the conclusion that my grandfather was not the father of this second batch of children so that uncle Charlie was not really my uncle. But this made no difference to me. It was interesting, they had a very nice home and they called it "the Orchard". At the back of their house with the flag stones to walk on was a little apple tree about five feet high. That is why they called the place the Orchard.

While we were in the Liverpool area, we got out the telephone book. The listings included the bedroom cities south of the Mersey. When we came to Birkenhead, where uncle John had lived there were four pages of Reynolds. Its only a small suburb. It is unusual to have four pages of the same name even in a big city. It stands to reason, therefore, that some of those Reynolds' must have been descendants of uncle John. I am still trying to find out something about them.


On the 30th of September, 1936, my mother and I took a fast train to London, a distance of two hundred and forty miles on the LMS line with one stop at Crew. We made it in exactly three hours to Houston Station in London. In that huge old fashioned station with the glass roof, the taxis could drive right along side of the train, so you had no trouble transferring your luggage. I asked the taxi driver if he could take us to somewhere Moorfields Eye Hospital. He had never heard of the place so he asked the taxi driver behind him in the ramp if he knew anything about it. He said that he had never heard of it but he knew where "Moorgate" was. "Well", I said, "take me there, maybe that's near it". The taxi ride turned out to be a sight seeing tour of London. I think he drove us all over the place knowing that we were strangers. We finally got to a place called Charter House Square, which is right in the east near St Bartholemuel's Hospital. The taxi driver said that he thought that this was near Moorgate. There are wonderful sycamore trees growing in this square.

They say that perhaps a contributing factor was that at the time of the black death they chucked 50,000 bodies into a big pit there as they hadn't time to dig graves. There was a small hotel there. The land lady said that she knew there was a Moorfields Hospital nearby. They had a suite for my mother, but for me they gave me the porter's bedroom and he would be back in couple of days so I wouldn't be able to stay long. I told my mother that these temporary arrangements would have to do and that we would find another place to stay the next day.

We left our baggage at this little hotel and had the taxi driver find his way, through inquiries, to Moorefield's Eye Hospital were we arrive just before they were closing at 5 o'clock. After I had arranged to join a class of about 75 people for a course in opthalmology from Sir John Parsons, at that time England's leading ophtalmologist. After we had registered and were ready to go back to the little hotel, for the life of me, I could not remember that name Charter House. So I had the clerk rattle of the name of a number squares and when he said "Charter House" I said "that is it". We went back and got our luggage and then had something to eat at a small restarurant.

After we ate, we took a tram car (a double decked street car), which had a terminal nearby. I had obtained an advertizment from the Daily Telegraph. All that I could make out was that there was an apartment located at 577 Camden Road off Hollaway NR. NGS. HD. I didn't know what that meant but I just told the tram car conductor that I wanted to go to 577 Camden Road. He said "Well where is it?" I said "well here is the ad". So he gets it out and says "well why didn't you say so". You see what it meant was that it was off Hallaway Road near the Nags Head. In England you never tell a person what direction it is or where you are going, just give the name of the nearest pub. Well, on Halloway Road there is a big neon horses neck sticking out and that's the pub called Nag's Head. However, he said that that would be "thrupence", that is, three pennies. As we were going along Halloway Road, there were not many people in the tram car but when we get near he says "here it is, there's the Nags Head". We got off and had to walk a few hundred yards to 577 Camden Road where we saw the house and we talked to the owner. We took a flat on the second floor. We stayed there during the winter until 1937. It was within walking distance of Moorefields Eye Hospital, the first eye hospital ever built in the world. It is still considered the most prestigious and progressive.


On the morning of October the 1st I began a six month course in ophthalmology at Moorfields Hospital, history's first eye hospital, under Sir John Parsons, England's leading ophthalmologist. Six months later in April, I took and exam for a degree called the DMOS in Examination Hall in Queen's Square. I finished at five o'clock in the afternoon so I took the tram car back to Camden Road. In the evening, at about eight o'clock while I was having supper with my mother, someone came climbing up the stairs and it was the postman with the results of my examination. I had just finished the final quiz just three hours previously. This was an example of how rapidly the London Postal Service can deliver mail.

There were 75 other students in the program. The students were allowed to attend the outpatient clinic where they treated from 800 to 1200 eye patients each morning Monday through Saterday. By giving the hospital $250 (fifty pounds) for keeps you had the privilage of being in the hospital and being in the clinics. There were four surgeons and you could be in there rooms. Each surgeon had a room where about eighty patients could crowd in. You were able to see a lot of interesting eye cases because all of these patients are sent their by doctors and 1200 patients is a lot of patients. We were just there for the mornings and in the afternoons I attended the Central London Eye, Ear, Nose, and Troat clinic on Judd Street. At that time, I didn't think that I was just going to be an ophthalmologist, I figured that I was going to be an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist. So, a group of us went to the clinic every afternoon. One fellow owned a car, I think he was an Englishman, and a big black fellow from Oklahoma and a pretty little chinese woman named Wong. All together there five of us who went each afternoon to the Judd Street Nose and throught Hospital. I did learn quite a bit about nose and throat.

At Moorfields Eye Hospital, the patients come through from the back someplace and the first person that the meet is a "sifter". Like sifting floor, the sifter sorted the patients out. Each surgeon had a couple of sifters. Dr. Harold Riddly was the registrar who managed the outpatient and saw to it that things ran smoothly (this was the same Dr. Riddly who first did a lens implant following a catarac operation later on in 1949). One morning he said "I say Little, would you like to be a sifter?" I said "well yes, what does it involve?" "Well" he said, "we give you two quid each morning (that's ten dollars) and you sift the patients, that is, you decide what they want. Now each patient comes along and goes past the high desk that you are standing at and if they need a test for glasses, you give them a yellow card. If he has to see the third house surgeon you give them a red card. An if he needs to see the trachoma department you gave him a very dark red card. And if it seems serious, a blue card for the head surgeon, Dr. Foster Moore. Dr. Moore was also the chief ophthalmologist at St. Bartholomew's Hospital. He was considered to be London's leading eye doctor.

I finished my six month course of lectures from Dr. Sir John Parsons on the first of April.


Every morning I did sifting. One weekend the third house surgeon wanted to take the weekend off so Harold Riddly came to me and said "say Little, would you take care of the casualty department, the house surgeon isn't going to be there". The third house surgeon was in charge of the casualty department at that time headed by Dr. Zaporkin who was a half moslem from India. Occasionally, when he took off a weekend, they had me take charge.

Actually, it was quite a busy place with fourteen nurses assisting me. On a large table with a water proof top perhaps a dozen patients could sit around it hot bathing their eyes. Different jobs were assigned to those fourteen nurses. A lot of patients went through the casualty department. In fact, there were three benchs with about dozen people on each and they kept sneaking along each bench until the next one came to the doctor in charge, which happened to be me that weekend. So I had a little experience in treating eyes.

Through this job they got to know me around Moorfields, all the result of Harold making me a sifter. After two or three months I was visiting the Royal Westminster Hospital in the West End where they asked me to become a house surgeon beginning on May 1, 1937. I heartily agreed. When told that I would have to have my license to practice in England, they referred me to the British Medical Association Office in Tavistock Square. There the man in charge said, "show me your certificate". Upon seeing that I was a graduate of Manitoba Medical College, he said, "that will cost you 25 guineas please." I wrote a check and on handing him the license he remarked "that was easy", to which the man replied, "my dear young fellow, you will not always find it that easy". Asking why that was, the man said, "your from Manitoba". I asked "so what?", to which the man replied, "didn't you know that Manitoba is the only Medical institution west of the Atlantic Ocean that we accept doctors from?"


My six months course of lectures by Sir John Parsons ended on the first of April. Before beginning my 18 month service as a resident house surgeon in the Royal Westminster branch of Moorfield Eye Hospital my mother and I arranged to go visit my cousins in Ireland, in what used to be called Kingstown before 1921 and what is now called Dun Laoghaire about ten miles south of Dublin (the town is actually the port for that city).

We took the train from London to Hollyhead in Wales and then took the steam packet to Dun Laoghaire where we visited our cousins on my grandfather's side for two weeks. My cousin Ethel was a widow. Her husband, a captain of the Irish Lights, had been lost at sea. The Irish Lights were responsible for caring for all of the light houses around the stormy rough coast of all of Ireland. They had two daughters, Noreen, 21 years old, and Doreen, about 18, both very pleasant blond young ladies. During this visit we frequently went into Dublin in a 7 horsepower Ford owned by cousin Ethel's boyfriend. We all crowded into that little car to go dancing nearly every evening in Dublin. The people there really enjoyed dancing. We also made trips in Mr. Irish's car to different places around the city which were all very beautiful. We went to Lord Powercor's estate and paid a shilling. He is the man who operates the Irish Sweepstakes. We also went to a place called Bray. Wherever we went the people were very pleasant and it was beautiful scenery.

While we were visiting Ethel, my mother and I took a trip up to north to Belfast were my father's people had originated. We visited Uncle Harry who was my Aunt Jessie's husband (Aunt Jessie was my mother's sister) and their daughter Marie Kincaide. Also, Harry Hembry Jr. was Jessie's son. It is common knowledge that Ireland produces linen, so Harry Kincaide, Marie's husband, invited me to visit one of the smaller mills in Belfast called the Blackstaff (where they make 90% of the world's linen is made). They had about 1000 employees, mostly women, making the linen. It was interesting to see how bales of flax, very rough looking hay actually, go through the process which is a long trip and ends up as the finest linen napkins and table cloths. I had been under the impression that they made linen in Ireland because the climate there was so suitable for growing flax. Harry informed me, however, that all of the linen grown in Ireland would keep their mill going any one day until eleven o'clock in the morning. I said "where do you get your flax from?" "Oh" he said, "Russia, and also from Europe". "But", he said, "the best flax in the world can be grown in Manitoba where you come from". "Well", I said, "could I go back to Canada and make linen?" "Of course you can", he said, "but you would have to take those thousand girls with you that know how to make it". The linen fibers go through many processes before the rough bale of flax becomes a luxury table cloth. In one of these rooms everything has to be soaking wet. In their bare feet, the women wear burlap dresses and rush around changing looms or something like that and the process goes on. In a fairly advanced stage of the process, the spans of linen fibers is nothing but an inch wide white band that looks like a bit of tape which is slowly moving. In one room eleven machines, each worth over $100,000, just look like a black box about a foot each way and four or five feet high. A frail looking Irish girl was taking care of them, but she had to be smart. She had to notice if anything was going wrong in one of those eleven machines. The white band that looked like a bit of tape was actually thousands of fine linen fibers passing through.

In about 1920 when Ireland obtained "home rule", that is, it broke off from being part of the British Empire, the northern six counties, called Ulster, remained loyal to the United Kingdom. The population of Ulster is estimated to be about one million protestants, mostly Presbyterian, and a half a million catholics. The Irish Republican Army is a group actually outlawed by the republican government in Dublin, yet they have been trying for the last eight or ten years to force the British to give up Ulster and let it join the rest of Ireland through terror and murder. The British government maintains 17,000 troops in Ulster for to restore peace and to protect the half million catholics who might be slaughtered if the Presbyterians were left to take care of things themselves. The IRA does not appear to be making much headway, but they still continue their murdering and bombing in Presbyterian areas.

The climate in Ulster is a lot cooler than it is in the south of Ireland. The southern coast of Ireland is almost semi-tropical. Palm trees grow there. The fact is, however, that the industrial six counties of Ulster have several times the wealth of the twenty six counties of the south. This is one factor that is bothering the IRA. They think that if they could get Ulster to be part of the south they would have much more prosperity. In that case, however, the industries in the north would probably move out.

Harlan and Wolf of Belfast was for many years the world's largest ship building yard where they built the Titanic and the Olympic. During the last war they produced four aircraft carriers. Belfast also has the world's largest rope making factory and many other industries. In a previous chapter we told how Ulster became presbyterian during Cromwell's time in the 1650's.


We returned by train to my cousins in Dun Laoghaire before continuing on back to London and to begin being a house surgeon in the Royal Westminster Eye Hospital on May 1, 1937 for an 18 month course ending on the 31st of October, 1938. I didn't realize at the time that becoming a house surgeon in a hospital like that was quite an honor. They had the whole world to choose from and they pick you because they think that you are capable but also because they think that you are better class.

When I arrived in London on October 1, 1936 the British Pound was worth $5.06 in Canadian money. The British had pretty much recovered economically from the enormous spending of the first world war eighteen years previously.

As a house surgeon at the Royal Westminster Hospital, I was on duty every day from nine in the morning until nine at night with every third weekend off. As a result, I didn't have much time for "getting around". One interesting type of social event would be a reception at a place like the Colonial Office in Whitehall where they would have an immense table with every kind of food and drink on it and all that you could consume. What interested me most was that I received so many invitations to take a week or so off and be invited to one of their palatial homes. It is so different in this country. When I was in New York for six years, for example, I had practically no invitations to private homes.

The Royal Westminster branch of Moorfield Eye Hospital is located in the center of London across Oxford Street from the British Museum. For the first six months as third house surgeon, I received $50.00 per month and my keep. There was plenty to be done around the hospital. In the afternoon, 300 outpatients were treated 6 days a week.

In the hospital we treated about three hundred patients each day in the out-patient clinic. We also did surgery. In the mornings we did our rounds. It was interesting how qualified the nurses are their in that I was able to see up to fifty odd patients in a morning without the slightest difficulty, not having to go to the floor office to do any writing because the nurses are trained so that if you tell them to do something they always remember it. As a result, the nurses took care of all the details.

A new profession was developed at the Royal Westminster Hospital call orthoptics, that is, straightening crooked eyes. It all began because of a young wing commander named Livingston, from Vancouver, B.C. As a pilot in the Royal Air Force during the First World War. He had noticed that some pilots had difficulty in landing. They couldn't seem to judge distance. He figured that there was something wrong with their "3-D", that is their distance judging. He worked on it and studied it along with a young lady by the name of Mary Maddox whose father had developed the "Maddox rod" and "Maddox wing", a pioneer in binocular vision checking. In 1929 Wing Commander Livingston and Mary Maddox opened an Orthoptic training center in the Westminster. The profession calls cross-eyed people, that is strabidimus, a muscle problem. There is actually nothing wrong with the eye muscles, the difficulty is that the very complicated binocular vision center in the brain has been unable to function because of a gross refractive error. With the machines that Wing Commander Livingston devised and by other means, they found that they were able to straighten grossly cross-eyed children through trainings. Just operating and making the eyes look straighter does not restore binocular vision. The vision in the eye that was crooked remains deficient and is called amblyopia.

Twenty two years later, in 1959, at an eye meeting in Roanoke, Virginia, air marshall Sir Phillip Clairmont Livingston noticed the name "Hudson" stuck on my lapel. Quite excitedly he informed me that his folks came from Germantown, a village a few miles south of Hudson. In 1666 the Dutch government gave the British control of the settlements in New York's Hudson valley in exchange for part of the Dutch East Indies. Being accustomed to large estates in England, the British government created a number of large manors, mostly on the east bank of the river. The 180,000 acre Livingston manor extended from 12 miles along the shore of the Hudson easterly to 22 miles bordering the state of Massachusetts. 110 years later the Phillip branch of the family remaining loyal to the British fled to Canada where air marshall Sir Phillip Clairmont Livingston grew up in Vancouver. In general it appears that eye doctors are not too enthusiastic about orthoptics. In the first place it doesn't make them any money and they don't like handing their patients over to an orthoptist who is not a doctor. There is a lot to be said, however, in their favor.

Dr. Kieth Lyle, at the Westminster, was the leading exponent of orthoptics and wrote a good sized book on the subject. I was with him a lot and we used to have to do surgery on eye muscles, mostly on patients aged six and a half to eleven. Younger than that, children do not have the intelligence to work at orthoptics and after age eleven, the program does not work. We got so that we could do operations quite rapidly. We had an anesthetic called evipal which was given intravenously. The patients remained asleep for about seven or eight minutes so we had to get the surgery done fairly rapidly. I became able to do a splint operation, that is, operating on cross eyes, in five minutes. I became fairly proficient at it, and later, while I was practicing in New York, they house surgeon who followed me, John Pockly from Australia, told me that the consensus of opinion around the Westminster was that I was the best natural born surgeon that they could remember having around the place.

In my final six months at the Westminster, I became the private house surgeon to Sir Richard Cruise who was surgeon oculist Queen Mary. He was quite a smooth cataract surgeon. All of his patients did very well post operatively, although he had never done an iridectomy which nearly all surgeons perform.

As house surgeon in the Royal Westminster Eye Hospital, I did not have a great deal of free time to enjoy the social activities of that great city. People visiting there for a short time are actually not too familiar with the vast social activities taking place and many people, especially Americans, do not agree with Britain's class distinction. I was not informed when I became a house surgeon at Westminster that I was definitely upper class even though with my income as a senior house surgeon, I did not think that he could afford 16 quid ($80.00) to attend parties at the Dorchester, rather ritzy affairs.


Being interested in participating in the social life of London, I had my cousin Reggie Marsden (who was in the textile business) arrange to have me meet a representative of a large men's clothing manufacturer at their fitting rooms in Soho Square. I was able to order a custom made tuxedo made out of the very best materials for 5 pounds, that is, a little over $25.00, and tails that had to be worn with a white tie for six pounds (that is $30.00). At present you would not be able to purchase either of them for over $1,000 a piece.

One did not go out in the evening without wearing a tuxedo or tails. Short of funds as I was, I was unable to become involved in the extensive social life of London. Dancing at the Dorchester in Park Lane was the thing to do. Even in those low cost days, however, taking a girl out for a dinner and dance at the Dorchester would cost you sixteen quid, that is eighty dollars or more. I realize, upon looking back, that I shouldn't have been quite so miserly. It was not until one of the girls from the Westminster Eye Hospital came to work for me in Hudson that I was informed that I was considered to be one of London's ten most eligible bachelors. I might possibly have married a duchess or something like that thus eliminating my need for earning a living. Aside from cousins, I took a girl out only once in the twenty seven months that I was in London. She was a beautiful girl, her father was an ophthalmologist in Guilford, a place somewhat resembling Scarsdale outside of New York, the geographical center of wealth in the country. Her brother was on the all-star English Rugby team. In London, she lived with a group of the orthoptic girls from the Westminster in Queens Square in a house that was originally the home of Lord Clive of India. The group had arranged for a party to go skiing at St Mauritz in Switzerland. By boarding a train at Waterloo Station, going to Dover, then on a ferry across to Calaise, and across France to Switzerland. From there, you would take a vertical railway up the mountain to St Mauritz which is next to a place called Tontrizino, where the party was going to stay. You would stay for two weeks, and be fed the best of food. They would supply you with skis, show you how to ski, and then drag you up the mountain and then you would take all afternoon to come down again. You would take the ventricular railway after two weeks and then back to Dover and Waterloo Station. The whole two weeks cost $100.00. Well like a damn fool I decided that it would be more important to write this exam that I was taking working towards my DMS degree. I failed the exam anyway and I missed having the time of my life. John Pockley from Australia, who I gave my ticket to, married the heiress and had three children (she eventually left him in Australia and came back to London). The strange thing to me about this episode was that from that day on, my mind had an absolute blank as far as Rosemary was concerned. I never thought of her at all. My brother came back from his trip to the Falkland Islands and we had a lot of fun together and went on a fishing trip to Scotland. It never occurred to me that I should have followed up with Rosemary.

The gathering at Lord Clive's home was in February of 1938 and with my mother, we sailed for New York on December 15, 1938 arriving on December 22, 1938. I obtained my licence to practice in this state by writing twelve three hour papers about everything that I had learned in medical college thirteen years before. I was on the staff of the Manhattan Eye and Ear and St Luke's Hospital. After five and a half year, in the spring of 1944, Jane and I were married. It appears that it might be prophetic that it is, as they say, there is a destiny which shapes our ends, rough hue them as ye may. We had seven children in the first twelve and three quarter years of our marriage demonstrating during their thirty six years of college that they have a remarkable concentration of brains. some unseen power must have made my mind go blank regarding Rosemary for nearly a whole year before leaving England. She wrote me once while I was in New York just before the war began. she was living in Toronto but she rushed home just before hostilities began. She married a doctor. She has a family and sent me a card this last Christmas.


Johnny Evans was a young doctor working in the out patient clinic who had an old sail boat, about twenty feet long, called a cat boat. He invited my brother and I to go for an overnight sail with him. He kept his boat near Greenwich. It was a very calm evening, so we had to use his little auxiliary motor to make headway. We sailed down the Thames and had no difficulty. It was pitch dark by the time we got near the English Channel. There are extensive mud flats when the tide was low but this evening when we arrive, the tide was apparently fairly high. In the pitch dark, Johnny says "we'll throw out the hook here". Now I don't know how he could tell but he really was anchoring in small river that ran into the Thames. There we slept the night. We awoke to a bright sunny morning in this little river and right opposite was a building which apparently was a pub. It was on the edge of what they call Canby Island. Several hundred years ago the Dutch had built a dike around this area which is below sea level. They kept it dry by opening the drains when the tide was low. We went up and had some breakfast at the pub. While we were eating, Johnny gave a shout and I said "what's the matter?" He said "its turning". I said "what's the matter with that?" He had noticed that tide was turning and we had to hurry and finish because we didn't want to go back up to London against the tide. There wasn't a ship in sight but by the time we got started you would think all the ships in the world were there. There were ships from Japan, Russia, and every place else. One of the features was the "sailing barges". They were just an ordinary barge but each had a huge red sail. They could travel fairly rapidly, in fact, they could travel faster than our little boat could. The rules of the sea are, however, that a sailboat always has the right of way. So with our little boat we sailed out into the traffic. At one point we sailed into the path of an oncoming Japanese ship. You could see them waving their fists and shouting but we couldn't hear a thing but they had to throw it into reverse and let us pass. Johnny had a lot of fortitude and didn't scare easily. A couple of years later Johnny died at Dunkirk during the war. He was a great fellow.


Mr. Frances, a stockbroker in his seventies, had settled his estate with his children and left himself about a million dollars which he thought that he would be able to live on. My brother Bob had met him on the Queen Mary as he came to England from Canada. Mr. Frances invited the both of us to go salmon fishing in Scotland during my vacation in the summer of 1938. The train, called The Flying Scot, leaves King's Cross Station on the L.N.E.R. at exactly ten o'clock in the morning and arrives at Waverly Steps in Edinburgh at exactly five o'clock. The distance between the rails on almost all railroads is something like four feet eight and two thirds inches (this is the so called "standard gage"). That was the gage of the Rocket, the name of first locomotive invented by George Stevenson and driven over the actual road bed that we were passing in The Flying Scot rather slowly because the land in that area is fairly uneven because of the ancient mines collapsing and effecting the level of the roadbed. They served a very reasonable priced lunch on that smooth running and very silent rubber suspended train. For a shilling, at four o'clock, we had afternoon tea. They served as much sandwiches and cake as anyone could eat.

Arriving in Edinburgh we had perhaps two hours or more to wait before we caught the train Inverness to the north. We wandered up the hill towards Edinburgh Castle. Half way up this thousand foot high hill, they had burrowed a tunnel like a ground hog hole into the solid red granite. In this cavern they had carved of the names of all the young men killed in the First World War. It was rather a sickening sight to think that 250,000 men out of the one million boys who had volunteered from Scotland's total population of five and a half million gave a mighty good account of themselves. The Germans called them the ladies from hell. In their kilts, they couldn't they were human. Continuing up the hill to Edinburgh Castle, we landed in the midst of a gang from Hollywood that was making a movie about Mary Queen of Scots. Somehow I lost track of my brother. I looked around and finally I saw him. The leading lady in this movie was a luscious blond. She was sitting in a beige colored convertible Cadillac and there was my brother Bob leaning with his elbow on the side of the car giving this woman the old Canadian line. Of course there were many people in a circle and a bunch of cops trying to keep them back from getting too close to the blond actress for her autographs.

In Edinburgh in this northern latitude it was still broad daylight at seven o'clock as we made our way down to the station to take our train to Inverness where we changed trains and continued on up north to Rogart. That is where Edney, Mr. Frances' valet, picked us up and drove us seventeen miles to the "Shooting Box" at Ben Armine. "Box" is really not an appropriate name, it was really a fine old stone house situated on 20,000 acres of what they called "deer forest". Now there wasn't a single tree on the place, but in ancient time times there must have been, perhaps in Roman times, because the peat there is about ten feet thick. Mr. Frances rented the place for $35.00 a day, but that was only the beginning. He had to pay salaries of the staff, that is the valet's wife who worked in the dining room, Mrs. Adams was the cook, and her helper. In the kitchen they didn't have a cook stove or an electric range. Instead, they had a big fire place with a peat burning fire, which has never gone out since before the battle of Waterloo because the Duke of Wellington used to come to this shooting box and it was the favorite hunting area for the future King Edward VIII and his brother George IV. Running through it was Brora River, which is the best salmon river in Scotland, so they told us. The Duke of Sutherland at that time owned a great deal of the north of Scotland and the next shooting box was rented by a gentleman by the name of J.P Morgan. The name of that shooting box was Ben Claybrick ("Ben" means mountain).

During the hunting season, Dunrobin Castle, facing the North Sea, is the residence during the hunting season of the Duke. It was quite a large building dating back to before the days of William the Conqueror. Visitors to the castle are not allowed to take photographs because even snapshots of the priceless paintings in the castle might be marketable. On one floor, the entire floor is covered by a Sutherland tartan, sort of a blue colored thing. They must have woven it right there on the floor. The castle has a very large living room facing the east and it has three sort of conversational alcoves with priceless tapestries on the walls behind them. There is a dining room with a very long and highly polished table for state occasions. In a little room to one side is a dining room where the Sutherland family may eat. Facing east towards the North Sea the side of the hill is beautifully landscaped with about three terraces. Down at the bottom is a dock where the Duke's private little boat is, it was like an ocean liner about three hundred feet long. To the west, at the back of the house, they have created a hedge of maple trees about forty feet high and extending for about a quarter of a mile. The space between the hedges on each side is very white small crushed stone. On the left side there is an opening in the hedge through which one could see the Duke's brightly painted train and engine which was red with the word's "Duke of Sutherland" painted in gold letters on the side. The Duke could take his own train the 700 miles to London any time that he felt like it.

In his study, the Duke had a wooden panel about a foot square showing his family tree. It had himself at the center and radiating in all direction were his ancestors. One was Henry Stuart who was the husband of Mary Queen of Scots (later becoming Lord Darnley) and the father of James VI of Scotland and James I of England, the first of the Stuart Kings. Members of the nobility were among his various ancestors.

While we were there, the Duke sold Sutton Place to an oil man named Getty. It was the first large country mansion built truly as a home, not part fortress with a moat about it. It is in Guildford near London.

Bob and I were invariably accompanied by a gilly who carried all the equipment, including something to eat and cider. He also fixed the worms on the hooks for us. All we had to do was to sit and hold the line and fish. In catching salmon you have to wait quite a while before you get a bite. Salmon always put up a good fight. It usually took fifteen or twenty minutes to tire the fish down. After the fish was tired and near the edge of the pool, the gilly would get him out with the gaff.

One Thursday morning the itinerary said that we were going salmon fishing and it was raining (I mean it was really raining). I said to Jock our gilly, "you're not going fishing today are you" and he said "why not". So I said "it's raining like the devil" and he said "its a wee bick o' mist". So we went fishing. I never got so soaking wet in my life.

On another occasion, I felt a little nibble on the end of my line and I gave it a jerk and caught a twelve pound salmon by a fin. Jock McKay, in great excitement, screamed "you can no fowl em, you can no fowl em". "Why" I said, "what's the difference?" "Aye, you don't fowl em". It took a long time to tire him out but we finally had him gaffed. So it appears that I had discovered something. He always said that there were plenty of fish in the pool and he was right because they were down deep and down there in layers apparently. I caught him on the fins because I let the hook go down fairly deep so I let it go deep again and caught another one by the fins. Jock nearly had a fit. He never took us to the salmon pool again.

One was able to develop a fairly hardy appetite in that cool northern climate. Our dinner took quite a while to prepare and it invariable had freshly caught salmon just as a sort of an appetizer and the roast beef and whatever else there was. Of course there was always a different kind of wine. You never ate a meal there without wine. After dinner one evening, it must have been about eleven o'clock but still broad daylight, we went around to the front of the old stone house facing the west, the gillies, actually four of them, were sitting there on the grass beside the house. Old Jock Mckay, the head gilly, was saying "aye, he's a royal, we'll save him for the Duke". Another gilly said, "he's nay a royal", and Jock says "yeah, he's a royal, here take the glass". Each of these fellows carried a $300.00 telescope and they could have that thing up and in focus in a split second. The other gilly looked up a and says "aye, he's a royal, we'll save him for the Duke". I said, "what the sam hell are you guys looking at?" He answered "aye there is a fine stag on the face", the side of a hill is never called a hill, it is called a "face". "He's a royal". I said "what does that mean?" He answered "he's got ten pints (i.e. points), we'll save him for the duke". I kept looking (I had pretty good eyesight at that time), and I couldn't see anything over there. He said "here, take the glass". After trying to get it focus on the right spot, I finally see this big bull moose looking at us from beside this big rock. It demonstrated to me what fabulous eyesight those highlanders have. They, of course, had been gillys for generations and had been watching stags all their lives. On their 20,000 acres of land they estimated that they had 600 does and 400 stags, that is a 1,000 head of deer. They got so that they knew almost every one of them.

One afternoon, Edney drove us, along with Mr. Frances, into Rogart, seventeen miles away, the village where we had landed. We had lunch at an inn. When we had finished eating, Mr. Frances went to a phone and sat there mumbling something into it. After that we went out and looked at the village. What was interesting to me was that the an elderly couple had a weaving mill where they wove woolen cloth. They got wool from the various sheep herders and they mixed their different colors (black, brown, white, etc.) and that was the color that the cloth came out at. For power, they had an old fashioned water wheel. The water came from a little brook which was carried down to the wheel by a homemade plank runway. They could make you a piece of cloth and you could take it down to another village and have it made into plus fours, like the gillies were wearing. It was woven so tight that one could actually sit in water and not get wet.

I mentioned earlier that Mr. Frances had settled his estate with his children and left himself just a million dollars to live on and he did pretty well. That day in Rogart where we had lunch he had used the telephone. A few days later he said "damn it Bob, when I made that telephone call I earned $10,000, what can we do with it. He was always trying to get rid of his money. Another time he bet on a horse named Epigram in the Derby or the Grand National. And one time Epigram won some money. So for sometime after that, when he bought Bob anything, Bob would say "you should pay for that" and he would say "It's alright, you just say `Epigram'". He spent Epigram's money several times over.

They also had grouse on the shooting box. Mr. Frances rented a couple of bird dogs for $275.00 just for the two weeks. On our return to the city we took a train from Inverness to Glasgow. We arrived at about ten o'clock at night. On the way we had met a young Scotch lad wearing his quilts. He said he was going over to Ireland to visit his sweet heart. We were a little bit late arriving and to get from the Inverness train we had to hurry to the LNS train to London. It was true that on a Saturday night Glasgow was just going round and round because it was very crowded. If it hadn't been for that young lad going to see his sweet heart and his bright colored kilts which we could see as he was running we would have missed that train. The LMS train goes non-stop from Glasgow to London also in six hours.


In September of 1938 I was still a house surgeon at Westminster. The Munich negotiations had collapsed and we were expecting Hitler to start bombing. A number of us in the hospital gathered in a room on the second floor overlooking Oxford Street actually disappointed that Hitler hadn't started the show.

I completed my training as a house surgeon on October 31, 1938. On that day I had lunch with a young eye doctor named Phillips. That evening he called me and said "I say Little, are you going stay in this country or are you going back to America?" I said that it was great to be free. He then said "I know, but what are you going to do?" I replied "I don't know and I don't care". "Well", he said, "they want an eye doctor in the war office, are you interested?" "Well I don't know anything about it". He says "go and see Colonel Frost in Whitehall, its near Old Scotland Yard". So the next morning at ten o'clock I went to see the colonel. The sergeant introduced me and I said "they tell me that you are looking for an ophthalmologist here". "Is that so", he said hardly looked up. "Well that's funny", I said, "they told me that you are looking for an eye doctor". "Is that so". "I had lunch the other day with a young eye doctor named Phillips". At that he said "oh pardon me, do you know Phillips? I'm so sorry, won't you sit over there (they-ah)". "And" I said "what will I do?" He shot back "You'll find out". I didn't find out until a few days later. The War Office had made me the chief ophthalmologist for the whole British Army, the British Navy, and the Royal Air Force. At that time, the Empire had a billion people. It extended all the way from Sydney Austrailia to Singapoor to Saskatoon or to Soho Square in London. Officers and men came to me from as far away as Singapore and Australia and we had a beautiful set up for ophthalmology in the Great Millbank Military Hospital.

As a result, on November the 1st, 1938, the war office made me the ophthalmologist for the whole British Empire. This was about the biggest job that the British government could offer an eye doctor and no one ever turns it down so they bothered to ask me if I wanted it. Morefield's Eye Hospital, the world's most progressive, must have told them that this man Little was alright and that he was the best eye man available.

In my new job I spent the mornings in a small building in the War Office working with a group of physicians doing physicals on young public school boys applying for admission to Sandhurst, the British military college for training to be officers in the British Army and Air Force. Now "public school" in England does not mean that it is free. The public schools belong to a very exclusive group of people in the aristocracy.

All officers in the British Military are automatically made aristocrats when they are made officers. I checked the eyes of these young men just before I turned them over to Col. Frost who spoke to them for just a few minutes and was able to decide whether they had the guts or the personality to be British Officer. One morning, the last patient that I say a noon was a very handsome young, in fact, I feel that he was the most handsome young fellow that I had ever seen. His name was John Younger. He gave his address as Twin Pines, Scotland. I said "is that a village?" and he said "no, that's the name of our home". I said "will that address find you?", "oh, yes", he says. He went to get back into his clothes and when he had left I mentioned to Col. Frost that this fellow had just gave his address as Twin Pines, Scotland. He said to me "don't you know who he is? He's John Younger and his family has the biggest distillery in Scotland". A year or two later I read in the list of casulties that Major John Younger lost his life defending Tobruk in North Africa.

After lunch I did consulting work in Millbank Military Hospital situated on the embankment just west of the Tate Art Gallery not far along the embankment from Westminster Abby. I was able to walk through the Tate on the way to the Millbank Hospital but I never had the time to stop and look at the world famous paintings.

In Millbank there is a small room called the "Trophy Room". On the wall, stuck on with a piece of tape, was a short bamboo swagger stick that officers carry when they are in their "pinkies", that is their fancy dress. Under the stick was a faded yellow card stating that this stick belonged to Major Chevasse who was last seen in no man's land during the First World War looking for the body of his brother. In a previous chapter I mentioned Dr. Bernard Chevasse who was considered to be the leading eye doctor of Northern England. So two of his brothers were killed during the First World War (a third brother was also killed during the war). There actually were four boys in the family, two sets of twins. That's where England was paying the price. Those were three men, Bernard Chevasse, considered to be the most brilliant medical student that they had ever had in Britain, and his two brothers were also killed in the First World War. The surviving twin later became the bishop of Liverpool. Liverpool cathedral is considered to be the world's largest protestant cathedral.

Millbank is a military hospital where doctors are trained to me medical officers in the armed forces. For certain hours every day while in Millbank, all of the staff was required to wear gas masks to get used to wearing them. Actually, the war was only another eight or nine months from starting.

Col. Frost was actually a remarkable person and soon was a great friend. On Armistice Day, November the 11th, Veteran's day to us, Col. Frost, with some of the doctors went on the roof of the small building in Whitehall, directly opposite the Cenetaff, a limestone monument in the center of the street in remembrance of the two million British who died in the First World War. When the siren was heard at 11:00 the silence was so complete that when a 21 gun salute was in progress at Windsor, 20 miles away, the numerous pigeons in Tafalgar Square, a block up the street, flew thinking that they were getting shot at. No one in the street took a single step. Colonel Frost, the chief of the group, drew our attention to some kind of movement in Tafalgar Square. Soon a black Rolls Royce came down Whitehall and stopped at the Cenetaff. A young soldier in a dark blue uniform stepped out of the front door of the car carrying a black laurel wreath which he presented to a tall gentleman from the rear seat. The man wore a blue navy great coat with no insignia on it. He walked a few paces to be opposite the Cenetaff, as a member of the Masonic Order made a sharp right hand turn. On reaching the Cenetaff, he placed the black wreath at its base and removed his hat for just a few seconds, bowed his head as if in prayer and then returned to the back seat of the Rolls Royce, probably the only person that took a step in Britain during those two minutes. It was King George the sixth, ruler of about half the world's population including a half a billion people in India. I was greatly impressed by such a simple ceremony.

One day soon after I started working as chief ophthalmologist for the British Empire a meek young fellow came to me from an office there and asked "is your name Little? Well how much money do you make?" I said "I don't know". He said, "you don't know? Well how long are you going to stay here?" "Well, I'll try it for six weeks to see how it goes". That son of a gun wrote down six weeks. About six weeks later a Major Monroe came along from the middle east and says "move over Little, I'm it". So I lost my job. I was at loose ends and didn't think that I could start up a practice in London without any money. What I didn't know and I didn't realize that I was considered to be one of the top ophthalmologists in the British Empire. So I decided to head back to Saskatchewan or Winnipeg.

I sailed with my mother on the Empress of Britain. The ship was about the size of the Titanic and was considered to be the most luxurious ever built. It was owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway. She was sunk by a U-Boat less than a year later, killing 300 children being evacuated to the United States because of the war.