Veteran Stories:
Leo J Beaupre

Navy

  • Mr. Beaupre in Portage-la-Prairie, Manitoba, on May 27th, 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"My mother told my sisters to go warn our father that a sailor was coming to the house."

Transcript

I went to the recruiting centre [HMCS Chippawa, in Winnipeg] which was on Ellice Avenue in those days. I joined the Navy. On September 4 [1941]…They gave me two pairs of boots, new underwear, I had a winter jacket. It was a lot more than I had ever had. On September 4, they put me on a train and I left for training in Halifax [at HMCS Cornwallis]. While I was there, I took a STE [Shore Training Establishment] course in, the first engineering course. When that course was finished, I boarded [HMCS] Montreal, a frigate. We made several trips to Europe on the Montreal. We were on the "Triangle Run" [Boston –Halifax – Saint John’s] as part of the convoys.

We picked up survivors, since our group had sunk a German submarine at Land’s End [England], at the lower end of the English Channel. We had picked up 19 survivors in December, 1944, on December 19, 1944. On December 22, we took them to Plymouth. The survivors stayed with us for two days. They were all very nice. We put them in a mess hall that was open on both ends, with guards stationed at each exit. The young McGuire, who was in charge of guarding, well, apparently he fell asleep overnight. His rifle almost fell. One of the prisoners motioned to the other guard who placed the rifle in his hands and told him to do his job better. The guy woke up!

Those who stayed at home sacrificed so much. My mother, my second mother, was the communication centre for all of us. We would write home and she would write back to every one of us each month.

We picked up a guy in Scotland, at [HMCS] Niobe. He was coming back to Canada and we were only going as far as Newfoundland -then we would come back with another convoy – and on the last shift before transferring him to another ship on its way to Halifax, he was working with me. I said to him, "So you're going back to Canada?" It had been a while since we had been there. I asked him where he came from. He told me that he was from Alberta but that he had to make a stop in Manitoba, that his father lived in Manitoba, in a small village 45 miles south-west of Winnipeg -a village called La Broquerie. [That was my hometown, but]I had never seen that guy before, despite being in the Navy... Right away, I wrote him a letter to take to my father. He knew La Broquerie very well. His father went often, since he was a commissioner for the municipality.

My mother told me the rest of the story. She saw him approach and since the sidewalk was far from the house, you had time to see the people coming. My mother told my sisters to go warn our father that a sailor was coming to the house. My father was in the barn. He came through the back of the house, while the visitor arrived at the front door. "Are you Mr. Beaupré?" "Yes." "Mr. Joe Beaupré?" "Yes." My father fainted, he lost consciousness. My father was so worried, since almost all of his children were in the service. To think that he fainted just seeing another sailor.

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