"he said, "did you shoot down our balloons?" I says, "heavens, no." He says, "where is the skipper of this boat?" I says, "he’s sound asleep down below.""
I was actually 18 and I heard about the [RCAF] Galt Aircraft School; and I thought that would be a great thing to go to. So I put an application in, unknown to the family, and I got the call, so away I went to Galt.
And we were supposed to be there six months and I think we were only there about four; and they, I guess, they were short of wireless operators, so they shipped us down to Toronto to the [RCAF] Manning Depot and we were only there one day and then we went to [No. 3 Training Command] Montreal. And we took the course, took about five months, I guess.
From there, I come back to Toronto as an instructor for the pilots. When the aircraft were flying, if they’re on patrol, they didn’t send any signals. But if we had, if they were to change, go on another course, we would send that out. It was all coded first before it was sent out.
And on the west coast, I would send a position out every six hours on the boat to let them know where we were, so that they could track us as we went up if anything went wrong.
The first boat [Huron (M-235), Mr. McNaughton served in the RCAF Marine Section] I was on, I never really got out of the harbour. Well, we did, we ran from Jericho Beach [British Columbia] down to the harbour every day to get it up on the waves and have it repaired. And it was a high speed motor launch. Now, the second one was an air force supply vessel. And it was one of the boats which was confiscated from the Japanese out there when Japan got into the war. And we sailed from Vancouver and we made various stops on the way up to drop off supplies; and then we would go to [RCAF Station] Prince Rupert, we’d pick up another load and we’d go across to the [No. 1 Coast Watch Unit RCAF] Queen Charlotte Islands. We had bases over there too.
When we left, I’d send a signal stating that we had left and the time. And then, I think it was every six hours, I’d have to send in a position of where we were at that particular time, so that they could track us going up. Then navy was sending up balloons, you see. And then when they’d get so high where they’d, it was an anti-aircraft factory, and they’d open fire on them. So the skipper says to me, we’ll just mount these two machine guns, he says, right up on the top deck. He said, we’ll just mount them. He said, the nets when it goes up, he says, we’ll pop it down. [laughs]
And so sure enough, the balloon went up and I guess it got maybe to 200 feet or so, and we both came in on it with tracer bullets on it; and we both come in on it, and down went the balloon. Well, the officer come up and he said, (the skipper disappeared so I was the only guy outside), he said, "did you shoot down our balloons?" I says, "heavens, no." He says, "where is the skipper of this boat?" I says, "he’s sound asleep down below." [laughs] He went away shaking his head.
Well, strangely enough, after the war, I worked for the Board of Education and I was in a collegiate there; and they said we were getting a new principal. So I went around to meet the new principal and that’s who it was. [laughs] I should have went in the navy really because I thoroughly enjoyed being at sea.