Upcoming talk explores ‘heartbeat’ of Atlantic battle

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    Ted Barris delivers a talk. Submitted.

    Ted Barris’ latest book, Battle of the Atlantic: Gauntlet to Victory spans six years of Canadian wartime history along the vital lifeline of supplies headed from Canada to England. 

    It begins, however, with a Haliburton connection. Barris features the letters of Alix Masheter (nee Mackay) who moved from Haliburton to England, and details the preparations for war in letters to family back home. 

    Through her letters, Barris said he realized the convoys that Canadians helped protect were “supplying England with the means to survive.” 

    The celebrated Second World War writer is coming to Haliburton to discuss his 20th book Sept. 14 at the Haliburton Fish Hatchery. 

    “It is overlooked, in a way because it’s almost too big to tell,” Barris said of the battle of the Atlantic.

    For over five years allied convoys travelling to Britain faced German warships and submarines, which nearly “strangled” the effort. “It was distilled down to the fact the legacy of the battle isn’t so much the big picture stuff, it’s the witnesses, it’s the people whose voices are in the books,” he said. 

    He said getting close to “the heartbeats of people who witness” is a common thread in his work. For example, Barris digs into the story of Norville Everrett Small. 

    The Canadian helped the allied forces conquer U-boats by camouflaging the bottom of planes and piloting their crafts higher in the sky to evade detection. He died during an experimental flight, which was aimed at decreasing the weight in his aircraft to enhance how long it could fly, and give protection to convoys making the crossing.

     “He was giving his all to essentially give boats greater protection,” Barris said.

    The author and journalist has long been known for distilling Canadian history into novels focused on human stories. He was awared a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, along with a 2014 Libris Award recognizing his book The Great Escape: A Canadian Story. 

    “When you dig deep enough, you find Canadian stories that most people have overlooked,” he said. Barris’ talk is scheduled for Sept. 14 at 7:00 pm. Admission is $15. Reservations can be made by calling Yours Outdoors at 705-457-
    0459.