Veteran Stories:
William Albert White


  • Chief Petty Officer's Cap.

    William White
  • William White in his Naval Dress Uniform. Location and date unknown.

    William White
  • William White, location and date unknown.

    William White
  • William White, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"Well, not bragging, but we were better cooks because we had the quality food. I said it was quality food made us better cooks."


I liked to cook. I made good pastry. My pies were good, without bragging. I learned from a good man. His name was Norman Dodds. He was my first [senior rank] and he wouldn’t let me go to sea. He kept in Admiralty House for about four years.

I skipped basic training. Can’t be spared, can’t be spared. Old Norm, he had friends in high places and can’t spare him, can’t spare him. I guess I was indispensable, and didn’t know it. [laughs] My galley wasn’t half the size of this room. I could touch all four walls standing in the centre. I was an officers’ cook and then everything changed. It went permanent ship’s company, everybody ate alike. We had a soup or juice, a main course, a potato, two vegetables, a dessert and a savoury, which was a cheese dish. Savoury dish was just like toast with cheese and a bit of bacon chopped in it, whatever. As long as it had cheese in it, it was called a savoury. The airmen, they were ill fed, we might say. And they didn’t have as good a cooks as the Canadian navy did. And if we came alongside, they used to come over for a good meal because, well, not bragging, but we were better cooks because we had the quality food. I said it was quality food made us better cooks.

We were back aft and the stern of the ship used to wave like a tail up and down, flip flop. I never lost too many meals, but it was too rough; and I used to go forward to the main galley and get enough to feed, I fed 12 officers. And this one time when I was coming back, a wave come across the midships [middle of the ship] and that food is still going, I was still holding on. I never let anybody know I couldn’t swim. I used to get somebody to take my tests for me. I cheated.

I like rum and coke, well mixed. I could never take it straight. Some could take their, (noise), throw it back. I could not do that. I had to, I was a sissy when it comes to that; I had it well mixed with coke. I didn’t drink all my rum. I saved it in a bottle, which was against the rules. I used to take it home and enjoy it at home. Two and half ounces in a cup or a glass, whatever you took up, the coxswain [crew member in charge of the ship] used to pour it in and over your glass; and he always give you overflow, it was called spillers. You got more than two and a half ounces. As a petty officer, I didn’t have to drink it there. I could drink it in my mess. Seamen used to have to take a drink, God bless her, the Queen, God bless her, and down it. Tear the throat out of you.

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