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Gordon Mumford

Former Radio Inspector for Industry Canada in British Columbia

Was RETO (Regional Emergency Telecommunications Officer) in BC

He retired in 1990

Author of the books listed below

 
 
 

Born in the London suburb of Chingford in 1925, J. Gordon Mumford was fourteen when the war began in 1939. Too young to serve in the armed forces, from 1942-1947 he was a radio officer in the British Merchant Navy, serving in the major war theatres. These wartime experiences led to his war memoir The Black Pit... and Beyond, written in the style of an adventure novel.

 

Mumford's interest in writing began in the early 1960s when he was an instructor/technical writer on aid projects in developing African countries and wrote course manuals and newsletters.

 

From 1949-58, he was an Assistant Engineer for the East African Posts and Telecommunications Administration, working in the field on the radio repeater survey routes throughout Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda using VHF radio-repeaters. This work took him to remote areas where he sometimes had to make his own paths and roads to install equipment, leading to two later manuscripts called White Man's Drum, about coping with the African bush, and Drums of Rebellion, about the Mau Mau revolt and violence in Kenya.

 

Mumford immigrated to Canada in 1958, and studied at the University of Western Ontario and OCE. After qualifying as a secondary school teacher in 1960, he taught under various international aid projects from 1961-80 in Kenya, Nigeria, and other developing countries (CIDA, UNESCO, etc.).

 

He took a year's leave (1964-65)to complete the technologist program at Mohawk College in Ontario. After he came to BC in 1980, he worked for Communications Canada (1981-90) as a Radio Inspector and as Emergency Planning Liaison Officer (between the federal and provincial governments).

 

Mumford has published various articles and been a member of the West End Writers Club, Burnaby Writing Society, Canadian Authors Association and Federation of BC Writers. He is also a member of the CMNVA (Canadian Merchant Navy Veterans Association) and VNVA (Vancouver Naval Veterans Association). His Zebra Publishing House imprint has additional African memoirs in the planning stages.
 

BOOKS

 

 

The Black Pit... and Beyond (Burnstown, ON: General Store Publishing House, 2000)

The Sampan Girl (Burnstown, ON: General Store Publishing House, 2001)

 

 

White Man's Drum: Tales of the East African Bundu (New Westminster: Zebra Publishing House, 2004)

Drums of Rebellion: Kenya in Chaos (New Westminster: Zebra Publishing House, 2005)

Source: ABC Bookworld

 

 

Born in Chingford (Essex) in 1925, Gordon Mumford lived in a farmhouse in Epping Forest. He attended St. Mary’s Primary School and St. Egbert’s College in Chingford.


He was fourteen when WW II started in September 1939. His education came to an abrupt end because schools in the London area were evacuated to the country, and his education came to an abrupt end. Gordon was an air cadet, and the RAF arranged for the cadets to serve on various airfields. His unit was taken to North Weald every day to load machine guns. The threat of attack by enemy aircraft in early 1940 put a stop to that.


His father found him a “safe” job as an apprentice at a small arms factory in Enfield. Gordon quit within three months, when he found a position as an office boy in nearby London.

 

He was too young to join the armed forces, but he knew that the Merchant Navy took apprentices as young as fifteen. During his lunch break, he visited the shipping offices, looking for an opening as an apprentice cadet or deck officer. When he got papers from Andrew Weir & Company, his mother refused to sign. She did agree, however to to let him train as a marine radio officer. In September 1941, he entered the Holloway Radio College in London to study for the Special Radio Operator Certificate.

 

Wartime Merchant Navy

Shortly after he qualified, his father died unexpectedly in August, and his employer helped Gordon get a position with Siemens. Within a few weeks he was at sea as a junior Radio Officer. During the war, he served in the major war theatres. His first ship, the Soborg was a collier, and sailed Iceland to bunker ships for the Murmansk convoys. His next ship,Scottish Heather, was an toiler. On December 27, the ship was torpedoed whilst refueling an escort ship the North Atlantic, and the crew took to the lifeboats. He served eighteen months on the Empire Harmony, a heavy duty lift ship that unloaded war materiel in the bombed-out docks in the Mediterranean and North Africa. He was transferred to the Empire Path in November 1944. On the return voyage, the ship was sunk in the Scheldt Estuary by a mine on Christmas Eve.


At nineteen he was promoted to Chief Radio Officer on the MV Luling, another tanker, taking troops to the beachhead landings in the Pacific. In the clean-up operations after the Japanese surrendered, the Luling was a supply ship to minesweepers. The ship was handed over to the Chinese nationalists as part of the Marshall Plan. Repatriated to England at the end of 1946, he made two voyages on the Adolph S. Ochs, to New Brunswick and to Argentina, before he left the sea in September 1947.

 

African Adventures

Like many other young men returning home at the end of the Second World War, Gordon missed the sense of excitement and danger. Restless and unable to settle down, he joined the Colonial Service in 1949. He was employed as an Assistant Engineer in field radio communications for the East Africa Posts & Telecommunications Administration, headquartered in Kenya. Working in the remote deserts of the NFD (Northern Frontier District), he installed and maintained radio networks. In 1951 he transferred to a new VHF telecommunications project, and was involved in the field survey safaris and construction of the network. Living under canvas for months at a time, life on safari ranged from the heat of remote deserts, to the cold of East Africa’s highest mountains, and the rains and heat of the game plains.


The VHF radio telecommunications project brought modern long distance telecommunications worldwide in the 1950s. This technology was the basis for broadband and other technologies used today. The prototpe was first installed in Kenya.


 

Teaching Experience

In 1958, Gordon migrated to Canada and studied at the University of Western Ontario, the University of Toronto (OCE), and Mohawk College (Hamilton, Ontario). He qualified as an electronics instructor, and returned to Africa where he taught both students and trained instructors. He worked on various international aid projects (including British aid, CIDA, and UNESCO) in Kenya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Indonesia. During his time abroad, Gordon was actively involved in tennis, and served on many committees, including tennis committees in Kenya and Nigeria. In Kenya, he was a member of the KLTA, and organized many national and international events, as well as school events. He was also involved in amateur radio, on radio control points for motor rallies and the world-renowned East African Safari, the Aquarist Society, and electronics organizations.

When he and his family returned to Canada in 1980, they settled in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland. In 1981, Gordon completed an oversea contract and joined the Pacific Region offices of Communications Canada in Vancouver. He worked in radio communications and served as the federal emergency planning liaison officer.

 

Writing Background     Gordon Mumford’s interest and experience in writing began in the early 1960s when he was an instructor/technical writer on aid projects in developing African countries. In addition to writing course manuals, he produced a newsletter for the Amateur Radio Society of Kenya. Since then, he has taken many writing courses and workshops, including a creative writing course at UBC, and has had articles published in newspapers and periodicals.

 

After his retirement in 1990, Gordon began writing full time, and has since written several creative non-fiction books. He has two books, The Black Pit … and Beyond and The Sampan Girl, are based on his wartime experiences in the Merchant Navy, and are published by General Store Publishing House. He has also written three books based on his African Adventures. White Man’s Drum and Drums of Rebellion are self-published, as is Dangerous Waters, a book of short stories about his seafaring adventures. A third book on Africa, Destiny: In Fate’s Footsteps has been completed, while two more books, Tales of the NFD and Nigerian Odyssey, are in progress.

 

Gordon’s non-fiction writing has won awards from the Seattle-based Pacific Northwest Writers’ Conference (PNWC), whose Literary Contests attract some 600 entrants annually. Currently, he is a professional member of the Canadian Authors Association (national) and belongs to their Vancouver Branch. He is a member of the Federation of B.C. Writers,  World Poetry, and the Burnaby Writers’ Society. Gordon also belongs to the Vancouver Naval Veterans Association (VNVA), the Burma Star Association, and the Radio Officers Association (ROA).

 

He and his wife Barbara now live in New Westminster, near Vancouver, B.C. They have two sons. David is a professional engineer engaged in research, while Gregory is an Egyptologist, with “digs” in the Delta and Sinai.

 

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