"I said, I didn’t break ship, Sir. He said, yes, you did. I said, no Sir, I didn’t. He said, you’re going to argue with me? I said, yes Sir."
One day, a car drove up in front of the barrack door. I saw it was a high-ranking officer. So being a petty officer of the day is what we called it then, I piped him aboard and this was the start of my stories, of all that I have. And then going to Halifax, I got in at three o’clock in the morning and at eight o’clock in the morning, I was on a boat and headed out. I was on a Bangor minesweeper and I was sent on to do coastal, well, I would imagine it was protection work.
On the way out at eight o’clock, it was necessary for the Bangor sweepers to sweep the channel for mines and submarines and the likes of it. And these out paravanes [a defensive device made of wire used to cut and deflect mines moored in the path of the vessel]. So I was on the quarterdeck on the port side and the starboard paravane fouled. So I went over, I was onboard there as a leading hand. When I went over the side, I fastened a double bowline around me and I had two men with the ropes around the stanchions and I said, now, as I tell you what to do, do that. And I unfouled the paravane so that it would work.
And when I’d come inboard, the captain called me to the bridge. He said, I have to charge you. I said, for what? He said, for breaking ship. I said, I didn’t break ship, Sir. He said, yes, you did. I said, no Sir, I didn’t. He said, you’re going to argue with me? I said, yes Sir. I said, both my feet were on the deck, I had a bowline around me and two people attending me, so that I wouldn’t fall. I said, I unfouled the paravane, came back aboard and now I’m going to be charged. I says, you can’t do it! Why? I said, because I didn’t touch the water; to break ship, I have to touch water. I said, I didn’t touch water. I was on the ship.
So his name was Lieutenant-Commander Stanley and he said, well, I’ve just had a lesson in KR and AI [King’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions]. He said, I never knew that before. Well, I said, yes, I said, because when you’re painting ship in the harbour, and you go over the side, and anybody is skylarking on the thing and somebody falls overboard, that’s breaking ship. And so I didn’t do it.