Veteran Stories:
Thomas Augustus “Gus” Corbett

Merchant Navy

  • Thomas Corbett's 1939-45 War Medal.

    Thomas Corbett
  • Thomas Corbett, St. John's, Newfoundland, August 10, 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"I was a fireman on it, that’s what the job was. Lots of hard work doing it. I wasn’t used to that though, I was only 19. Coals around your neck all the time, and that burned the hair off you."

Transcript

I’ll tell you what happened, I ran off on me father. I was never married and I lived with me father, the two of us. And he was gone down to the store. When he was gone, meself and another fellow took off. And we knew the captain on it [the SS Meigle, a merchant ship], the second mate … the second chief. We took our suitcase and took off from Bay Roberts [Newfoundland] and joined there, signed on her. I would have stayed in longer than that, but my father was left home by himself, you know, and he was up in his 70s. So when we come back, I signed off again. Well, I was a fireman on it, that’s what the job was. Lots of hard work doing it. I wasn’t used to that though, I was only 19. Coals around your neck all the time, and that burned the hair off you. She hauled anything, the old Meigle hauled everything. I says, cattle. A couple of trips down south too, but I wasn’t on her then. ’Twas hard work but I liked that. I don’t know. It was all strange, I was never used to that kind of work, but when you get onto it... I know there was one fellow got on and she had no radiation and he didn’t know, she held over in Halifax and he paid his way home. No, I didn’t like to go and leave him there by himself. I mean, he took care of himself the best he could. I took pity on him.
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