Veteran Stories:
Raymond “Ray” Doucette

Navy

  • Raymond Doucette's identification card that he needed to show before leaving or boarding the ship, 1943.

    Raymond Doucette
  • Crew of the HMCS Battleford, 1943-45.

    Raymond Doucette
  • Copy of the poem, The Silent Navy, that Raymond Doucette carried with him throughout the war, dated from 1943.

    Raymond Doucette
  • Icing on the deck of the HMCS Battleford, 1944.

    Raymond Doucette
  • During the war Raymond Doucette served aboard the HMCS Battleford. Pictured here is the ship's emblem from 1944.

    Raymond Doucette
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"They could set them at 50 feet or 100 feet or 200 feet or so on and so forth. And if they set them at 50 feet, it just shook that corvette like you wouldn’t believe."

Transcript

I had a friend that was in the navy. I decided, well, I’ll join the navy too. So I went into Calgary here, joined the navy and found out that he had been discharged because of his health. Well, that didn’t matter, I mean, I thought I was going to be with him but it didn’t work out that way. And then I got some training in Calgary and then went to Vancouver Island. Spent I guess about a month there. And then to Halifax. And I was only there just a short while and I was put onboard the [HMCS] Battleford, a corvette. I worked for Esso. The work I did was maintenance work in gas plants. So I was exposed to boilers and this sort of thing. So that seemed the natural way to go, to be with something that I understood. So stoker seemed to be the way to go. On duty, I was down in the stokehold watching the boilers and maintaining the steam pressure so that the ship could travel at whatever speeds they wanted to travel at. And other times I was in the engine room, looking after the engines. The engine, I should say. Some were on duty, some were off duty and some had just come off duty and so they were in getting some sleep. But the stokehold group were a little older than the average seaman-type guys. We were a little quieter I guess in that respect. It was crowded in the stokehold. I mean, we were right in the bow of the ship, crowded conditions, so we had to have the hammocks; you couldn’t have bunks or anything like that in there. We threw a lot of depth charges because of the sound effects that they were getting and never ever really proved that we had depth-charged a submarine or anything like that but I never saw proof that we had sunk a submarine. It was depending on the depth of the depth charge was set to explode. They could set them at 50 feet or 100 feet or 200 feet or so on and so forth. And if they set them at 50 feet, it just shook that corvette like you wouldn’t believe. And in the stokehold, it quite often broke the gauge glasses on the boilers, so we couldn’t tell how much water was in the boiler. And the only way we could tell was to go around behind the boiler and take a piece of chalk and draw a line on the back end of the boiler and the steam, it would turn brown, the water would stay white. So that was the way we could tell what we had for water in the boiler until we got the gauge glasses replaced. I was in New York when war came to an end [on May 8, 1945]. And that was really something. I mean, the people there, it was just unbelievable how they gathered and hugged you and kissed you and were so tickled that it was over and everything. And you’d go into a bar and there’d be nine people standing deep, you’d hand somebody some money and tell them what you want, they’d hand the money in and go to the bar and pretty soon there would be a drink come back. But it wasn’t what you ordered but you took it anyway. Yeah, it was really really amazing. And then we get back to Halifax and they had torn the city apart. Made an awful mess there which was really too bad. I don’t know. I’m glad I wasn’t there when they did that.
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