Veteran Stories:
Donald Andrew Knecht

Navy

  • Donald Knecht in Olds, Alberta on June 29, 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"You weren’t thinking too much because you were sitting mostly with your mouth open. Because first time I saw big water was the Bay of Fundy"

Transcript

War came out and I was 18, joined up. And I didn’t think I liked walking and I didn’t have the education for the Air Force, so I joined the Navy. You weren’t thinking too much because you were sitting mostly with your mouth open. Because first time I saw big water was the Bay of Fundy. And it was a big ship I thought then, but it turned out it was just a little thing. And it stood on beam-ends, going across the Fundy. Never got seasick, a lot of the boys did. I just lay down and went to sleep. Because it was, it got boring after a while. The train rides were the worst; five days and five nights. Going down, we were on a CN [Canadian National train], first section out of Edmonton. And they put a carload of Navy types at the back end of the train. And then they told us, you wait until we call you for meals. So we did but in the meantime, we’d checked our meal tickets with the regular passengers. They were the same thing. So we got the leftovers for the first meal. Guess what? When they called for the next meal, we were first in line. And they tried to run us off and we said, no way, this is a meal ticket and it’s the same as this gentleman. Of course, the civvies [civilians] backed us up because they were upset with the railroaders trying to do; it was money again but if you didn’t holler, you didn’t get anything. But we had a good trip down. We joined up in Calgary and it wasn’t too long after that that VE-Day [Victory in Europe, May 8, 1945] came along, big celebration. Had a lot of fun. And I’m not going to tell you what I did and all that. And then they shipped some of us up to Edmonton. And we were up there for a couple months and then I went to [HMCS] Cornwallis [Nova Scotia]. And we were there until Christmastime I guess it was. Yeah, I got home for Christmas. They shipped us back to Esquimalt [British Columbia] and as it worked out, as each one of us came to the main distribution center, you had five days leave and you went home for five days. Well, I landed here [Mayton, Alberta] and I had five days leave. And I landed here Christmas Eve, worked out great. I had a terrible time convincing them that it was me phoning from Olds to come in and pick me up. So I told them I was at Richards’, which is Joyce’s [Mrs. Knecht’s] maiden name. Well then, they believed me. So brothers came over to Richards’ and picked me up. Mother was real happy. Yeah. The whole brood was in the nest again. Everybody got along. You had to get along. There was no ifs, ands or buts because the first guy that threw the first punch, well, he was the one that got punishment. So you kept your cool, got along with everybody. Because like you say, we were in close quarters and you’d live, ate, slept and lived there, in that one block. I came off the farm, a small farm boy, I learned an awful lot real quick: how to get along with people, communicate; all that good stuff. Because I had a Grade 11 education. Nowadays, that doesn’t count for anything. But a lot of it, you learned to cope. You had to think for yourself, because mom and dad weren’t there.
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