Speaker Bio:
Percival J Smith

Speaks:

English

Speaking Topics:

Navy, Military History, Remembrance

I was born on the island of Ceylon where I grew up as a boy and had the earlier part of my education there. My father was a Colonial Civil Servant and  after marriage eventually settled there. Ceylon was a very peaceful and beautiful island and the thought of it being spoiled by war was out of the question. But things change and in 1939 when war broke out it became a very different place. With the influx of service personnel from various allied countries to guard the country the atmosphere of the island changed as well.

I was sixteen when war broke out and could not wait to join up “and do my bit “as they say. However, on the advice of my father I finished my high school education . As I grew up loving the sea, watching the marine traffic on the horizon and imagining what it would be like to sail around the world, I enlisted with the British merchant navy in September 1942 and spent four years wandering around the world, time spent in carrying war equipment to far away places, sailed the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans and eventually discharged in the fall of 1946 with the rank of Chief Steward.

A few years after the war I landed on the shores of Canada as an immigrant which is where I spent the rest of my life. Eventually I joined the Royal Canadian Legion  and have been a member for over forty years and a Life member. I have served in various capacities including two terms as Vice President, a number of years on the executive and several years as Sergeant At Arms. I still serve on the executive and involved with the cadet movements.

My service to veterans has had me involved with various veterans organizations including affiliations with the Royal British Legion, Royal Naval Association, Royal Canadian Vaval Association and the Merchant Navy Association. Community involvement includes service with Rotary International, Kiwanis, The Canadian Club and Probus Canada.

My war service  took me to various theatres of war including a voyage to Murmansk, two trips across the Atlantic, various other trips with as Fleet auxiliary with the Royal Navy and eventually at wars end with the Third British and Allied fleets that took part in the liberation of Burma, Malaya and Singapore where I was discharged.. The vile weather was the greatest enemy of all. It was impossible to maintain any sort of convoy at all and the big ships had to slow down in order to keep pace with the smaller vessels which straggled far behind. Many seamen lost their lives being washed overboard with no chance of survival.

 

The Memory Project includes a community of over 1,500 veterans and Canadian Forces members who are committed to sharing their stories of service.

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