"My mother was in town, so I got her on the phone and told her that I was home, and afterwards, [she] immediately went to the bathroom and threw up. She was so excited."
I proceeded to go to England where I had agreed to study aeronautical engineering at a college of aeronautical engineering in London, England. That was in 1939. I was studying aeronautical engineering for three years and then the [British] admiralty decided they wanted some experienced engineers for the navy. I’m in uniform, of course now, and I got [to] Thurso in Scotland. I wasn’t the only one, but they transported us across to the Orkneys, which are the islands north of Scotland. And over to the capital, which is Kirkwall.
After a while, I got, I suppose, tired of it and I wanted a transfer. So I applied for a transfer and the next thing I knew, I was sent to Shropshire in England, the county of Shropshire, as a night fighter squadron. But apparently the night fighter idea didn’t materialize and so I was sent further. They sent me over to HMS [Royal Naval Air Station] Machrihanish and I was there for maybe a couple of days when they sent me over to HMS [Royal Naval Air Station] Maydown in Londonderry, [Northern] Ireland.
When I got to Northern Ireland, I was in, I’m not sure the squadron number, but I believe it was [No.] 836 [Naval Air Squadron], but anyhow, is that Maydown. And we had to look after what they called MAC ships. They were merchant aircraft carriers. They were actually merchant ships that had a flat deck put on them for the aircraft to land; and they were merchant aircraft carriers. So I was on a couple of them, but we did mechanical work on shore and then flew the aircraft out to the ship to go across the Atlantic. That’s where the personal story comes in in that I did do that, went across in a convoy, across the Atlantic in 1944.
We landed in Halifax. It was a gift from my CO, my commanding officer. He said, I’m sending you to your home country, Newfoundland, because he knew I’d been away for a while. So we landed at Halifax. And then I got an aircraft they called at that time, the Ganderberry [Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar, passenger and military transport] and flew me into St. John’s via Gander. That was a long time ago. And I remember it very distinctly because my parents were living in a country house at Hogan’s Pond. My father was talking to a man on the wharf when I came down. And I’m in full dress uniform, navy uniform, which he’d never seen before, [because] I joined up over in England. When I came down on the wharf, this other man, a well known man here in town, he’s dead now unfortunately, he introduced me to my father. He said, you know this man. Yeah, and I remember, I’m in uniform. And he said, no, I’m afraid I don’t. So this man turned around and he said, that’s your son. And he nearly collapsed. But it was worse than that. My mother was in town, so I got her on the phone and told her that I was home, and afterwards, [she] immediately went to the bathroom and threw up. She was so excited.