Monthly Archives: November 2014

Kelowna Daily Courier remembers Rufus

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I wonder why the Courier didn’t use a picture of Rufus in uniform – you’d think that would be more suitable for the occasion.

I think Dorothy Brotherton’s point is that Rufus, a Great War vet, was a war casualty because of who is suspected of having killed him.

I see – we remember other Canadians killed by the Nazis, so why not Rufus?

That’s right – he was possibly the first Canadian casualty of World War II

Do you think he would agree?

Probably not! In spite of what he’d seen and heard in Germany in the weeks before meeting Hitler, he was still looking for an acceptable explanation for what the Nazis were doing. Goering and Goebbels didn’t yet seem sinister to him.

Rufus was too nice a guy, that was his trouble. I’m going to the ceremony tomorrow and I’m going to remember him especially, along with all the others.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Read Dorothy Brotherton’s articles in the Westside Weekly

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here is the first article. Dorothy Brotherton, whose remit, I imagine, was to  produce a remembrance-related piece, manages to turn that into a pretty decent review of Rufus. And here’s the second one, advertising and all.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Well, I think she’s done you and Rufus proud – you should be grateful.

I am indeed. Thank you Dorothy, this is exactly what Rufus needs to reach the 32,000 residents of West Kelowna.

Rufus appears in ‘Staff Picks’ window at Mosaic Books, Kelowna; and will be featured in the Westside Weekly on Thursday, November 6.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There he is, right in the middle near the bottom. I bet he’s happy to be there.

He’s keeping company with some bright lights, for sure –  I see Paul Theroux, Bill Bryson and Stephen King. Oh, and Tolkien too – and Mike McCardell,  and J.D. Salinger,  of all people. So, yes, I’m sure he would be pleased – he was never one to under-rate himself! Let’s hope it does the trick and that Mosaic sells some books.

So what kind of coverage will the Westside Weekly be giving him? Have they interviewed you.

Not exactly – I spoke to Dave Trifunov, the editor, but he was only wanting me to send him a few pictures from the book  – here’s one of them.

J102ND~2

Rufus in the army during the war?

Yes – that’s him, to the right of grumpy old General Loomis (centre). Rufus was Loomis’s Staff Captain ‘Q’ in 2nd Brigade. However the reporter writing the article has a copy of the book, apparently, and I directed them to this website. I think he may be fitting Rufus into Remembrance Day coverage.

They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity when you’re trying to sell books – so as long as he makes a bit of a splash it will all be good, I’m sure. There are a whole lot of people in West Kelowna and they all get the Westside Weekly delivered.

So we’ll just have to wait and see – look, Rufus isn’t worried!

Cartoon of Rufus with pram, 1913

Westside Weekly will run a story on Rufus, Thursday, 6 November.

Did you have an interview?

No – the first I heard of it was an email from Granville Island. They asked me to provide the Westside Weekly editor, Dave Trifunov, with  pictures from the book – and to get a new picture taken, wearing a plain shirt or sweater.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I see you managed to do that, anyway. Did Val take it?

She did a pretty good job, I thought – made me look fairly normal! And I sent Dave these pictures, so we’ll have to see whether the Westside Weekly uses them

N 14  Aviators Rufus, T.V. Scudamore at Jericho 1926J 10  2nd Bde HQ staff at Etrun, June 1918. Loomis centre, Sandy McMillan behind him, Rufus to his left

Why did you choose these pictures?

To illustrate what he was and what he liked to do. The picture on the left shows him with his chum Scudamore in 1926 – they were about to fly from Jericho naval air station to Victoria in an open cockpit. And the other is the 2nd Brigade staff in 1918; General Loomis is the one scowling in the middle, and Rufus is to the right of him. There were two more pictures:

N 14 - with Bishop Adams of the Cariboo, 1927 N 14 - Walter Miller, Rufus at Williams Lake rodeo 1925

On the left, Rufus is with Bishop Adams of Cariboo in 1927 – the bishop, a friend, was driving round his diocese and Rufus caught a ride with him. The picture at the right is in William’s Lake 1925, where Rufus was reporting on the stampede

They’re good pictures and I hope the Westside Weekly uses them

Well, pick up the Westside Weekly on Thursday and we’ll find out.

3 November 1933 Rufus visited Lichtenburg concentration camp (pages 263-4, ‘Rufus’)

How do you know about his visit to the concentration camp?

Because Rufus tells us about it in his diary. Have a look:

Friday  November  3                                                                                                                                           “Left (Berlin) at 9am from Ministry of Interior to go to Lichtenburg concentration camp (in Prettin castle) near Leipzig – 100 miles.

Gen Faubisch, Swedish journalist, German church missionary (YMCA), young Norwegian on European tour with Ford car, German preacher from Brazil, a Red Cross man and Puifhé. Not home till 9pm. Tea at Wittenburg (where Luther nailed up his 95 Theses!). Very tired. Wrote dispatch in UP office at night.”

So the picture is of Lichtenburg Castle, and it was a concentration camp? Funny, I’ve always imagined concentration camps being barbed wire compounds with rows of huts for prisoners.

Most people do, because that’s what places like Auschwitz were like later on . But Lichtenburg was the first, opened in June 1933.

Rufus doesn’t say anything in his diary about his group talking to Herr Ebert – how did you know about that?

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-83285-0029, Friedrich Ebert.jpg

Because it was in that story he filed from the UP office, which then appeared in all the Southam newspapers in Canada – including the Province. Basically, Ebert, son of the first President of the Weimar Republic, had been brutally beaten by Nazi guards. The press got hold of the story and it ‘went viral’, or the 1933 equivalent. I think the Nazis wanted Rufus and the Swedish journalist to be able to report that Ebert was okay.

And did they?

Rufus certainly did, but he added that it was “strange that this was the first occasion any journalist was allowed to see him since the reported outrage.”

Anybody reading that would realise Rufus didn’t buy the Nazi claim that they treated their prisoners well.

Quite right. And just to make the point, Rufus then told a story that, in his words, “savoured of barbarous bullying” – of a prisoner being made to shout out, three times, in front of everybody: “I was a murderer – I stabbed a Nazi leader in the back.”

It’s hard to imagine how the Nazis thought people might believe them. The story reeks of menace – and Rufus, of course, wouldn’t live long enough to hear the really terrible stories about concentration camps. He was just reporting things as they seemed to him.

Which leads one to wonder whether the Gestapo was reading what Rufus was writing for Southam. Obviously somebody was.