Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest We Forget

On November 11th of each year, we are asked to pause and remember those who gave their lives for our country. Many families from coast to coast have lost loved ones while engaged in military combat. During the Second World War, the National Hockey League was not immune from their own being struck down while in service.

Dudley Garrett
Dudley "Red" Garrett was born in Toronto, Ontario on July 24, 1924. As an amateur, he played defence for the Toronto Shamrocks (1940-41), and the Toronto Marlboros of the OHA (1941-42). Also, in '41-42 he played for the Toronto Red Indian Chiefs in the Toronto Independent Hockey League.
At the beginning of the 1942-43 season, Garrett was a prospect in the Toronto Maple Leafs system. Sensing a need for more experience on their defensive core, the Leafs swung a trade with the New York Rangers.

The Leafs gave up Garrett and forward Hank Goldup for defenceman Walter "Babe" Pratt. He was a veteran of  7 seasons with New York, and won a Stanley Cup in 1939-40.

Commenting on the trade, Hap Day stated "I know Garrett is a mighty fine defence prospect. But it is immediate urgency that impels us to deal like this."

November 1942

Coach Day's assessment of the situation was accurate. Pratt posted 37 points (12 goals/25 assists) in 40 games after being dealt to Toronto. In New York, Red Garrett appeared in 23 NHL games during the 1942-43 season. He collected 2 points, a goal and an assist, and spent 18 minutes in the penalty box. Also, in 1942-43, Garrett skated in 6 games for the Providence Reds of the AHL.

Like many young men across the nation, Red Garrett answered the call to duty, and entered the Navy during the '42-43 season. While in the service, he played on several military teams - Sydney Navy, Toronto Navy, and Cornwallis Navy.

On November 24, 1944 Dudley Garrett was killed while serving his country in World War II. His military assignment found him on the HMCS Shawinigan.

November 1944

One of Garrett's teammates on the New York Rangers was forward Joe Bell. He was born in Manitoba and was a Junior star for the Portage Terriers. In 1942-43, he gained a roster position with the Rangers, and was the youngest member of the Bell-Bend-Gooden line. He participated in 15 games scoring 2 goals and adding 5 assists. Like Garrett, he entered the Royal Canadian Navy during the '42-43 season. His military hockey clubs included the Winnipeg Navy, Cornwallis Navy and St. John's Navy

Joe Bell 1942
 Following his tour of duty, Joe Bell played for the New Haven Ramblers and Hershey Bears of the AHL in 1945-46. His 46 goals goals earned him another opportunity in the NHL with New York. In 1946-47, Bell played in 47 games with the Rangers (6 Goals/4 Assists). He rounded out his career playing in the AHL, USHL, PCHL, and WHL. His final season was with the Seattle Bombers of the WHL in 1952-53.

It was in Seattle that I first corresponded with Joe Bell in 2006. Joe was kind enough to write me about his career, military service, and his teammate Dudley "Red" Garrett.

The following is Joe Bell in his own words...

"We are from Portage la Prairie, Manitoba where we won the Memorial Cup in 1941-42 defeating the powerful Oshawa Generals for the Canadian Championship. The pro's drafted most of our team, but Hitler was on the loose and we all ended up in the service. I was in the Canadian Navy for 3 years (1942-45) serving on the HMCS Barrie and HMCS Kapuskasing, escorting convoys across the North Atlantic from St. John's, Newfoundland to Derry, Northern Ireland. I was in the radar branch which was new at the time."

On Red Garrett, the hockey player...

"Dudley "Red" Garrett was a teammate of mine and roomed together in the fall of 1942. We were "rookies" with the New York Rangers. Red had a tremendous future in the NHL - talent galore, big, tough and a great skater who could carry that puck end to end. He could write his own contract today with 30 NHL teams."

On military service...

"Red served on the HMCS Shawinigan and I served on the HMCS Barrie. Our job was escorting convoys across the North Atlantic to Great Britain. Usually 5 navy escort ships would protect up to 50 merchant ships. Shawinigan was sent on special assignment and torpedoed with zero survivors. Because it was one of 5 escort ships in our group and for morale reasons were never officially told what happened."

And we leave the last word to Mr. Bell...

"God Bless you and your mates, Red."

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