Monday, July 21, 2014

Beam Me Up Scotty

Vancouver has its fair share of celebrities emerge from our rain sodden shores. Today I am going to tell you about Jimmy Doohan, best known as Montgomery "Scotty" Scott on the original Star Trek.

James Montgomery "Jimmy" Doohan was born on March 3, 1920 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. His father was a pharmacist, veterinarian and dentist who reportedly invented an early form of high-octane gasoline. Sadly, the elder Doohan was also an alcoholic as recounted in Jimmy's 1996 autobiography. Mrs. Doohan was a homemaker.

At some time, the Doohans moved to Sarnia, Ontario where James attended high school at the Sarnia Collegiate Institute and Technical School. He excelled in math and science.

In 1938, Doohan joined the 102nd Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corp. When World War II started, he joined the Royal Canadian Artillery. He was commissioned a lieutenant in the 13th Field Artillery Regiment of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and went for training in London in 1940.

James' first combat was the invasion of Normandy at Juno Beach on D-Day. Doohan shot two snipers then led his men to higher ground through a field of anti-tank mines. There, they took defensive positions for the night.

While Doohan was crossing between command posts at 11:30 that night, he was shot by a nervous Canadian sentry. Six rounds from a Bren gun hit the lieutenant - four in his leg, one in the chest and one through his right middle finger. The bullet to the chest was stopped by a silver cigarette case given to Doohan by his brother and his right middle finger had to be amputated. He was careful to conceal the missing digit during his acting career.

James trained as a pilot. He and 11 other Canadian artillery officers graduated from Air Observation Pilot Force 40. He flew a Taylorcraft Auster Mark V aircraft for 666 (AOP) Squadron, RCAF as a Royal Canadian Artillery officer in support of 1st Army Group Royal Canadian Artillery. All three Canadian (AOP) RCAF Squadrons were manned by Artillery Officer - pilots. They were accompanied by non-commissioned RCA and RCAF personnel acting as observers.

Doohan was never actually a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force but he was once labelled as the 'craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Force. A story tells of Jimmy slaloming a plane - variously cited as a Hurricane of a jet trainer - between mountainside telegraph poles to prove it could be done. The actual feat was performed in a Mark IV Auster on Salsbury Plain north of RAF Andover in the late spring of 1945.

I want to thank Wikipedia for the information. 

Wednesday, I will tell you more about James Doohan and look at his acting career. I hope to see you then.

I hope you find the beauty around you.