Living to tell his story

THIS week marks 75 years since the end of World War II. Some men left their homes in the Caribbean to fight in Europe on behalf of the British Empire, others looked to neighbouring islands for jobs. For such ones, Trinidad represented a land of opportunity.

During the war days two American bases were set up in Trinidad, one in Chaguaramas, the other in Wallerfield. Trinidad was also an important source of aviation fuel for fighter planes, fuel was also supplied to the British Navy ships. According to Beverley A Steele who researched and wrote about the experiences of Grenadians during the war, many Grenadians were lured by the prospect of jobs on the American bases and boarded schooners bound for Trinidad, braving the dangerous open seas that were frequented by submarines. Among them was my grandfather Ralph Elms who left Grenada in 1941. By the height of the war he was already in his early 20s. Elms was born in 1918 to a Scottish mother and British father. It was the year that the first world war ended and the Spanish influenza began. Elms’ first few months were uncertain, as a newborn he had fallen seriously ill with scarlet fever and the doctors were sure that he would not survive; but to their surprise, he did. He grew up with his parents and siblings in Mt Moritz where his father had two acres of land close to the sea, as a young man Elms spent many nights at the water’s edge. His father was big into agriculture.

“But agriculture and I were total enemies,” Elms said years ago while recalling his childhood days.

Off to the unknown

Feeling hemmed in, Elms decided to take his chances elsewhere, that ‘elsewhere’ happened to be Trinidad. One can only imagine him onboard either The Enterprise or the May I Pick amongst dozens of Grenadian men watching the familiar landscape of their homeland fade into the distance as they ventured off into the unknown. As war raged on in Europe, Elms got a job with the English contingent for aircrafts at the Air Force base in Wallerfield which was used as an aircraft maintenance and supply facility. His job was to help refuel the allies’ fighter planes before they flew off on missions.

“I was well treated by the soldiers,” he once said of those days.

The war ended on September 2, 1945, and by that time, Elms was already married and had started a family. Once it was safe to do so, he obtained a pass by Harriman & Company on Chacon Street in Port of Spain to take a trip down the islands which had been occupied by the Americans during the war days, along with Scotland Bay and Carenage.

At that time, vestiges of the war were still clear and present. Elms recalled that there were two powerful anti-aircraft guns stationed on Monos, one above the house which he eventually built and a second one which overlooked the Second Boca. There was also a road on which the Americans drove their vehicles that led from Biche Cayenne to the top of the hill by the first anti-aircraft gun. It was a long rotating gun and the soldiers had dug a trench around it in order to use the gun at any angle, two soldiers were needed to manoeuvre it.

After the war, Elms went on to manage a cocoa estate in Gran Couva, he later returned to Monos where he remains to this day—75 years after the war ended.

The island has changed much since the war days. Once occupied by foreign soldiers, it has since become a popular holiday hotspot and Biche Cayenne which was once used as a drop-off location for soldiers was, up until the pandemic, frequented by boat loads of excursionists who often left their garbage strewn on the bay.

As for grandpa, at the age of 101, he has long outlived his generation and is the oldest living resident on Monos island. His body and mind, once active and agile, have been lost to time and have faded away like many of the machines, artillery and bunkers once used by soldiers when the world went to war.


Kevin Beharry has always been one to think outside box.

Beharry, head of music production/DJ unit System 32, is perhaps best known as the producer of the immensely popular Carnival 2020 smash hit Knock About Riddim.

Doesn’t ring a bell? Remember Viking Ding Dong’s (Andre Houlder) epic dive off the International Soca Monarch stage into a scampering audience? Yeah, that riddim—The same that featured Ding Dong’s “Outside”, Mical Teja’s “Birthday” and Sekon Sta’s (Nesta Boxhill) “Waste Man”.

A true self-examination heart and soul.

That’s how gospel artiste Positive (Joel Murray) describes the music of his new album Heartwired.

Positive said the 15-track offering, his fourth studio release, is an open challenge for all people to find balance in aligning their individual lives with the will of their respective God.

Music to soothe worried minds and temper growing anxieties.

In the face of the global Covid-19 pandemic that’s exactly the effect veteran crooner Kelwyn Hutcheon hopes his latest eight-track LP will have on every ear it reaches.

The 86-year-old Hutcheon recently released the self-titled Kelwyn Hutcheon Sings in the Key of Love. He hopes the record has the same calming effect on listeners as he experienced during its creation.

Gloria Alcazar made San Jose Serenaders into a superstar band.

So says the legendary band’s co-founder Lennox Flores.

Flores started San Jose with his brother Wayne in 1959. Back then they were one of many parang bands on the island exclusively fronted by male lead singers.

Master artist LeRoy Clarke was on November 11 visited by the Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell at his Cascade home, museum and art gallery, Legacy House.

Clarke celebrated his 82nd birthday on November 7. On that day Minister Mitchell called Clarke to wish him happy birthday and promised to visit.

MOVIEGOERS in Central Trinidad will have to find alternative options as the owner of MovieTowne, Chaguanas, announced that the entertainment facility would permanently close its doors.