By SHAWNA RICHLER
Harold Radford enlisted in 1918 and very nearly ended up in France. But he was also his regiment's best baseball player, and his commanding officer needed him for a big game. So Mr. Radford's records were "misplaced," and "he couldn't be shipped out," explains his son, James. "Who knows what would have happened if he'd gone east instead of west. I might not be here."
He went west because after the big game (no one remembers who won), Mr. Radford's records reap-peared in time for the regiment's next assignment, a peacekeeping mission to Vladivostok.
Getting there was an arduous trip. He first rode the train to Victoria, and shortly before before boarding a broken-down ship to Russia, he and a Russian naval officer took afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel. "He still talks about that," his son says.
The sea trip took 21 days, and took him to a desolate city of about 40,000 where he spent the fall and winter, working as the company clerk. He amused him-self by collecting photographs and, skating on the ice. When the mission ended in 1919, he returned to Halifax and his old job at a local hardware company. Because of his proximity to the great explosion of Dec. 6, 1917, he had seen more violence on the Halifax waterfront than he ever saw in the military.
"He enjoyed the experience," his son says. "But he never travel-led much after that. If anyone ever mentioned Vladivostok, he'd talk about it forever."
He has eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, and he talks to them about the war and about history in general. "Some-times," James Radford says, "I lis-ten and I learn things about him."