Veteran Stories:
Donald J. Daly

Navy

  • Lt. Donald J. Daly pictured in his Naval uniform, September 1945.

  • This certificate documents Donald J. Daly's discharge from the Navy on September 29, 1945.

  • Picture of a Bangor class minesweeper.

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"Immediately, I recognized the distinctive noise of a German submarine snorkeling."

Transcript

My name is Donald James Daly. And I went into the Navy when I graduated from Queen's in May of 1943. So I was off in the services and didn't get to my own graduation. I was posted to three different ships. On each of them I ended up as the anti-submarine officer. As an anti-submarine person you would be supervising the readings down a deck below you and would be scanning the water undersea with an electronic instrument that sent out a signal. And if it encountered a metal object then it would come back and that would give you the direction of the contact and also the range. That was a pretty key task because there were a number of submarines off the east coast. Matter of fact, there were about a hundred ships sunk off the east coast, during the war, and there were either three or four naval vessels that were sunk. So there was lots of action. There were subs that went up as far, practically, as Quebec City, so they were into the St. Lawrence and all along the east coast. And Halifax was the main staging area for the convoys, who were then being escorted from Halifax across to the UK. So they were taking munitions, troops, supplies and so on. And they would get a group together and then a Canadian group would take it halfway over and then a British group would take over and take it the rest of the way. The British had better equipment than we did and they were far more successful. But, I was the longest period on a Bangor mine sweeper. This is not quite as large as a Corvette and had a total crew of about seventy-five with five officers. The one episode that was particularly important was an encounter with a submarine in February 1945. To give you a bit of background on it, we had gone into Halifax for a major re-fit. It's a bit like a major tune-up on a car. So, the crew could go off for leave and visit their families and so on. And the engineering officer wanted to test the engines. Make sure everything was all right before we headed off. We were slated to go down to Bermuda for training. We expected to be out only for about an hour and a half. And we didn't have the full crew on board because we weren't slated to sail for another day or two and some were still off on leave. But, we hadn't been very far out of Halifax Harbour when my reading said I had got a contact and I immediately went over to listen. Immediately, I recognized the distinctive noise of a German submarine snorkeling. And this is a small circular tube that they can point up, just above the surface, and intake fresh air. But they would be pretty well invisible. You couldn't contact them by radar which is the one that you'd use for surface contacts. But we did get the contact in the distinctive noise of the snorkeling. So I immediately alerted the Captain. He rang action stations and we dropped a couple of depth charges, which would have shaken them up. But as we passed beyond them I heard the distinctive noise of a torpedo being fired. And it went up, just about six feet away, but missed us. That was a dangerous period on the east coast, but not widely known at all. The newspapers carried some of the stories but they didn't, for security purposes, carry all of the stories, so a lot of people didn't know it. And our own particular episode was never referred to in the papers.
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