Veteran Stories:
Harold William McKiel

Navy

  • The HMCS Giffard in port during the war.

    Harold McKiel
  • The crew of the HMCS Montreal taken during the war.

    Harold McKiel
  • Harold McKiel's medals: 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal; War Medal (1939-45).

    Harold McKiel
  • Harold McKiel in uniform during the war.

    Harold McKiel
  • Harold McKiel, 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"And that scared me; I was on that side of the ship, looking down at the water coming at me."

Transcript

We were, first night out, I was on duty on the bridge, being the signalman. All of a sudden, the ocean is kind of phosphorous sometimes. And anyway, all of a sudden I saw these two things coming at the ship and I hollered “torpedo on the starboard side!” Just as I said it, both of them that way, went around in a circle and then went onto the bow of the ship. They were dolphins or porpoise I should say, porpoises. I got called down for that. But it was good, you know. And then the one time we were coming into Halifax harbour and we hit a rogue wave and it turned us on our side to almost 40 degrees. And that scared me; I was on that side of the ship, looking down at the water coming at me. When I was on the [HMCS] Montreal, we had a merchant captain onboard, in command. And anyway, the ships would come out of Halifax harbour and they’d form up into lines, so many yards apart and all this kind of stuff. And anyways, then the slowest fellows were at the tail end and faster ones are in the front. And they formed up and then we started out. Well anyway, in the process when we were forming up, one time we were going slow ahead, and this freighter started towards us. And the captain, instead of putting full ahead, to get away from it, he put the ship in reverse and we almost got rammed. That was pretty close. That was something to remember. And then of course, the middle ship in the convoy was the commodore and he looked after the rest of them. He’d give out weather reports in the daytime and suspected submarines and all this kind of stuff. And he gave, he’d give us the course and speed for the day.
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