Veteran Stories:
Svend Hansen

Navy

  • Svend Hansen with his father shortly after he enlisted in the Navy at HMCS Tecumseth in Calgary. 1942.

  • Mr. Hansen (bottom row, third from left) and the crew of the corvette, HMCS Hepatica, in November 1943. This was the first ship on which Mr. Hansen served. He later served on the frigate, HMCS Penetang.

  • Mr. Hansen worked in communications and received this message on May 7, 1945 that VE-Day was the following day. The next message said: "Splice the main brace," which meant to double the crew's rum ration in celebration of victory.

  • On May 11, 1945, the German Submarine U190 surrendered to the HMCS Penetang.

  • Mr. Hansen (far left) and friends took a trip to Banff, Alberta, in the summer of 1945. They were home on leave after volunteering to serve in the Pacific, but VJ-Day was announced before they reported to their new ships.

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"All messages that came out in the Navy during the war to the ships at sea were in code, so all messages had to be decoded and put into plain language, and written up and sent up the appropriate authorities."

Transcript

My name is Svend Hansen, and at the particular time I was joining the Navy, I was living in Calgary, and I had moved to Calgary to finish my high school. I finished my high school in 1942, and in the fall of '42, friends that I was associating with were joining the services, and one of them in particular had joined the Navy. So in the latter part of 1942 I went down to HMCS Tecumseth in Calgary and I joined the Navy, and specifically it was the Royal Canadian Volunteer Reserve, which was affectionately called the RCNVR. After a short basic training and stay in Calgary, getting uniforms and that, I moved on to Saint-Hyacinthe's, Quebec, where the Canadian Navy had a signal training school, and within the Navy there were three divisions of communications. One was called the Signalmen, who were the ones that operated up on the bridge with the officers and did the signaling, light transmission. There was the Wireless Operator, which was the telegraph operator. And there were the Coders, who… all messages that came out in the Navy during the war to the ships at sea were in code, so all messages had to be decoded and put into plain language, and written up and sent up the appropriate authorities. That is what I took my training in, and after a very intensive training in Saint-Hyacinthe I was finished and went on to Halifax, and shortly after I was drafted aboard HMCS Hepatica, which was a Corvette – a Flower Class Corvette. In fact, it was one of the original ten Corvettes that Canada bought at the start of the war from Great Britain. I went aboard there as a coder, and there were two other sailors also that were coders. We had three coders aboard, as we had three wireless operators, as we had three signalmen, and that was the way the shift operation went. I spent considerable time on the Hepatica, and all of the service was in the North Atlantic, and Hepatica was on what was affectionately called the 'Triangle Run', where we ran from Halifax to St. John's, Newfoundland, to New York City or Boston, and moving convoys both east and west. That was my time of the Hepatica, and nothing really eventful happened in terms of torpedoings, or sinkings, or enemy action for whatever reason. There was certainly action in convoys ahead of us and behind us, but not specifically in ours.
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