Veteran Stories:
Wilfred H. “Willy” Mott

Navy

  • This photo of Wilfred Mott, 17, was taken in Kingston, ON in 1943, shortly after he joined the RCNVR.

    Wilfred Mott
  • Part of the badge awarded after completion of DEMS training. It was worn on the left sleeve.

    Wilfred Mott
  • Part of the badge awarded after completion of DEMS training. It was worn on the left sleeve.

    Wilfred Mott
  • A picture of the DEMS crest.

    Wilfred Mott
  • The only picture Wilfred Mott, centre, has from his time in the South Pacific on the Parkdale Park. February, 1944.

    Wilfred Mott
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"You seen all this stuff, what the other places are like. We’ve got it pretty good here in Canada. It’s worth fighting for."

Transcript

A DEMS [Defensively Equipped Merchant Ship] Gunner is, they were trained naval gunners and we had four inch armament and we had Oerlikons onboard, plus Browning .5s. And a lot of the Merchant Navy personnel had a certain amount of training, they had a short course in training and so they would have probably two naval gunners on the, let’s see, on the four inch and the rest would be half the ammunition and that or the other positions on the gun and they were trained. And of course, we had gun drill on the ship quite often, every couple weeks or so. And these were merchant seamen, they had it allocated to that job, they were to help if we were attacked. Defensively equipped merchant ship, that’s what it’s called.

There was 2,600 of us, that’s all that was in the whole service, out of 100, they around 100,000 [total personnel] in the navy, all during the war. There was only 2,600 of us. So we were different.

On the Ontariolite [an Imperial Oil Tanker], we were on the stern. I mean, the merchant seamen were on the bridge and forward, and then the gunners were looking, watch the stern. I mean, watch all angles, but you were looking for anything you could see, I mean, that’s what it was there. But the last trip, we lost - we were five tankers, we left New York, we were five tankers in convoy - and I don’t know where we left the convoy, the five all left together, we were one of the slower ones, we were only doing eight knots.

Anyway, I think at 10:00 that night, they [German U-boats] got the SOS, the fastest boat, they got him. At 2:00 in the morning, they got another one. But they didn’t get us or the other two. They took a lot of chances I guess. I don’t know what we did. If we got any real typhoon or something like that, I don’t know what would have happened.

We listened to when they dropped the first bomb and we heard that, we had an intercom on the ship and Sparks, the wireless operator, he had us tuned in and they dropped the second one and then they were asking for their broadcast that, 24 hours a day, the terms of surrender. And we were quite elated, so that was it, it was getting over with. We didn’t do anything. I guess the captain gave us a a pint of beer a piece, I think he gave us a pint of beer a piece. That’s what he gave us, yeah. That was it; that was our celebration.

We got back in November 1945 and we had volunteered for the Pacific. We had already been there and that’s when they were giving us all 30 days leave, so everybody, we all put in for it naturally. And they sent us all back, everybody else that hadn’t come from New York, they all got their leave. They all got their leave and we had to go back. So when we come back, we ended up, I had 58 days accumulated leave so consequently, I didn’t get discharged until the 22nd of January of 1946.

Well, they leave me with what I wanted to do, what I wanted to do for my life, go to sea. Like that, and it was, see the value, you see these countries for the, you seen all this stuff, what the other places are like. We’ve got it pretty good here in Canada. It’s worth fighting for.

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