HMCS Lasalle, the River Class frigate that Elved Edwards served in from 1944-1945.Elved Edwards
Burial at sea from HMCS Lasalle, 1945.Elved Edwards
The ship's company of HMCS Lasalle, 1945.Elved Edwards
Officers and ratings from HMCS Lasalle, 1945.Elved Edwards
Elved Edwards in Chilliwack, British Columbia, October 19, 2010.Historica Canada
"So after that, I had a bit of a feeling that that we were dropping depth charges [anti-submarine weapons] on human beings like myself."
Growing up in Winnipeg, I chummed around with my friend from school. We went to work and got jobs after high school; and I guess the war was on, and I think it was more of an exciting thing to do. And we’d have thought, most of us thought the navy would be the best spot to go, I think because a lot of our parents, my father and uncles of course were in the First World War. As I recall, they didn’t speak much about it, but there was a lot of mud and one thing or another; and tramping through various areas that weren’t comfortable. So I thought the navy would be a better spot. At least you’d have a bed or a hammock at night anyways.
Well, I was sent from HMCS Chippawa in Winnipeg to [HMCS] Cornwallis, Nova Scotia for further training. And I signed up to be an ASDIC [Anti-Submarine Detection Investigation Committee] operator. After our training, we were sent to Halifax. We spent two or three days in Halifax and that’s when I was posted aboard the HMCS Lasalle, which is a brand new frigate, just came down from Davie Shipyards in Montreal. To be very truthful, we were just green. I was green as grass; and I wasn’t the only one that was just a real rookie.
The conditions on the ship were at times not very good. It was a frigate [anti-submarine escort vessel]; it was a ship that’s 300 feet long. It was certainly a step above a corvette [lightly armed escort vessel], as far as accommodations were. But we slept in hammocks and you had to stow the hammock. If you weren’t in the hammock, you had to stow it; you couldn’t just leave it up all day. So very often if we came off watch at 4:00 in the morning from 12:00 to 4:00 we’ll say, you had to sling your hammock up in mess deck for four hours or whatever it is, because after 8:00, it was breakfast and, of course, you could be eating your breakfast here, making some sort of a breakfast and the hammock is above you here and of course, this big foot comes out and he’s getting out, puts you right down on the table beside where you’re eating. So that’s the conditions it was. But as a young person, it didn’t really bother me too much.
We were a part of EG 27, Escort Group 27. We escorted convoys up to, I guess it would be close to Iceland; and that’s when we turned around and came back, and the EG 28 went out from Londonderry and they took the convoys from there. So it wasn’t very pleasant. You could see, not very often, but there were times where you could see a freighter burning in the distance, being torpedoed. And, of course, there was nobody running over to try and pick up survivors. That was something that attacking a submarine was a prime usage, that was really what they were doing. Being on the range quarter, being the last one to have contact with the, whenever the contacts were made. We did pick up some survivors from a U-boat one time and they were on our ship for five or six days. When you look at them, they weren’t any different than you and I. When you saw them come aboard, they had been in a lifeboat for a while. It wasn’t as if they came aboard and all said, Heil Hitler and they were all dressed up like Nazi warriors. They just looked like the rest of us and they went and they were in the tiller flats [tight space below the quarterdeck] for four or five days. So after that, I had a bit of a feeling that that we were dropping depth charges [anti-submarine weapons] on human beings like myself. That had a bit of a, a bit of a sense of responsibility there, but you just can’t back off or anything like that. Of course, we weren’t able to do that.