Veteran Stories:
Gerald Bowen

Navy

  • The Memory Project, Historica Canada
  • Gerald Bowen aboard one of the ships on which he served during his service the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve, 1943.

    Gerald Bowen
  • Mr. Bowen in his sailor's uniform in 1945. During his time in the Navy, Mr. Bowen served on the North Atlantic, the English Channel, the North Sea and the Irish Sea.

    Gerald Bowen
  • Mr. Bowen in 1995. After a brief stint in the public service after WWII, Mr. Bowen re-enlisted in the Army and served in Cyprus and Korea, where he was mentioned in dispatches. He retired from the military as a Major in 1975.

    Gerald Bowen
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"It was demanding, because the North Atlantic is a very cool body of water, and we would sail from Newfoundland over to England somewhere"

Transcript

My name is Gerry Bowen and I live in Ottawa, and I enlisted in September of 1942. I joined the RCNVR – the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve – and subsequently served in the North Atlantic, the English Channel, the North Sea, Irish Sea, and the Caribbean, and then in 1945 I was discharged from the Navy. I took a took a civilian job here in Ottawa for a while, but I found it was just a bit extreme doing the same thing every day so I walked down the street and I joined the Army. I served in the Army in Korea, Cypress, Israel, Lebanon, and after thirty-two years I was retired. During my time in the Navy, it was a very demanding job. I was on board a frigate and we did a lot of convoy work, as well as what we called a 'Striking Force' – we actually went looking for German U-boats. It was demanding, because the North Atlantic is a very cool body of water, and we would sail from Newfoundland over to England somewhere. We would have large convoys of ships, and our priority in life in those days was to get those merchant ships to England. Without the supplies – military, food, etc. – England could not have carried on the war the way she did. So it was a very important aspect, both our life at sail and to keep the U-boats away from these convoys. We had an exciting fight with one off Lizard's Head in the English Channel in January of '45. We chased this object all over the English Channel and depth-bombed it. We never got any credit for it, though, because we didn't bring up any of the debris. However, I have subsequently learned that the Germans reported one of their U-boats missing in that area about that time, so I'm assuming that we actually sunk it. When you were up in the North Sea, you were very close to the occupied countries. You underwent such things as attack by enemy aircraft, etc. When the war ended, I was discharged from the Navy, and I went to the Army. When Korea commenced, I was commissioned.
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