Veteran Stories:
James Dowell

Navy

  • When the Dowell family set a Canadian record for Navy enlistment, the Windsor Star ran this article about Mrs. Dowell and her five sailor sons.

    James Dowell
  • James Dowell's brother Charlie sailed on the HMCS St. Croix. The ship was sunk on September 20, 1943 and the Dowell family received this letter of condolence.

    James Dowell
  • The Windsor Star took this photo of local sailors serving on the Motor Launch 119, a ship with a crew of 18 built in the Owen Sound area, Ontario. This ship was used for coastal patrol. To have three sailors from the same city was unusual.

    The Windsor Star
  • Mr. Dowell also served on the HMCS Iroquois. This is the original crest of the HMCS Iroquois. When the number of the ship was changed for the Korean War, a new crest was designed, making this one very rare.

    James Dowell
  • Thanks to the HMCS Iroquois website, a man from England was able to get in touch with Mr. Dowell. The two have corresponded and Mr. Dowell received this postcard from Quai du Canada, the name commemorating the landing of the HMCS Iroquois.

    James Dowell
Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"We were up and down the coast of Norway on many occasions, escorting aircraft carriers that were sending their aircraft off to try and sink the German Battleship Tirpitz"

Transcript

My name is James Dowell. I joined the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve in Windsor, Ontario, in October 1942. I was a signalman in the Navy; a visual signalman. That is a person who sends Morse code on a lamp during the day. We'd hoist the flag, giving speed signals and change of course by hoisting flags up the mast. We also did a little bit of semaphore. So that's the visual signals. The course was taken at St. Hyacinth's, Quebec – it was a six month course – and on the eve that we had graduated and were heading for Halifax, I got word that my oldest brother Charles, that his ship had been sunk on September 22nd, 1943. This was quite a shock to me when I was en route to pick up a ship in Halifax. My first ship was the Motor Launch, No. 119. I left the Motor Launch after about six or seven months, and I joined the HMCS Iroquois. It was a tribal class Destroyer. The pennant number was G89. The interesting part about being on the Iroquois was that we saw "a fair amount of action," mostly in the Bay of Biscay area. We had some conflict with the enemy, who were sending ships and trying to get ships back from Brest and get them back to Germany, and we were in conflict with them during the month of August 1944. It was quite an active time. We also served in the North Atlantic, way up in northern Scotland, and we spent much time going out of the traditional Navy base, name Scapa Floe. We were up and down the coast of Norway on many occasions, escorting aircraft carriers that were sending their aircraft off to try and sink the German Battleship Tirpitz. It was holed up in a Norwegian Fjord, and it took many, many months of aircraft bombing to put this particular ship out of order. A couple of days after the war had ended, we escorted the Crown Prince Olaf from ..., Scotland, and the Crown Prince was going back to Norway. He had been in exile all during the war in England, and we received tremendous recognition when we went ashore. We were greeted by all those lovely Danish women, and we were hugged and kissed, and it was quite exciting.
Follow us