Veteran Stories:
Anthony Griffin

Navy

  • Anthony Griffin on the bridge of the HMCS Pictou, first convoy, early 1941.

  • On board with the HMCS Pictou in action while they attack a German submarine U-Boat, 1941.

  • Christmas Day tradition onboard the HMCS Pictou, when the Captain and the youngest sailor on ship exchange uniforms, 1942.

  • Crew of the HMCS Toronto, circa 1943.

  • The Griffin family crest adorns the gun shield of the corvette H.M.C.S. Pictou with Captain 'Tony' Griffin, 1942.

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"I want to say that I love the Navy. And those years of dedication and fraternity and constant humour are etched forever in my memory."

Transcript

Anthony Griffin, Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve. When war broke out, I joined the Navy. There was never any doubt about the righteousness of the cause. We all joined up. I went to sea in a Corvette named HMCS Pictou. And, shortly after several trans-Atlantic crossings, I was appointed as captain of the ship. Life at sea, you might want to know, in these small vessels, involved a great deal of discomfort and in the winter gales of the North Atlantic, this was extreme. But there was a very strong paternal spirit and we made the best of uncomfortable conditions.

The enemy, the U-Boats, were unseen. You never knew when they... an attack was coming and the convoys we escorted to and from the UK, numbered 50 to a 100 ships and sometimes the carnage of ships in a big attack was just unbelievable. The U-Boat arm of the German Navy was highly trained and it was absolutely deadly. They were faster than we were on the surface, so that if they did come to the surface and you chased them, you had a very small chance of overtaking them. Our losses of merchant ships in the early years were catastrophic. But gradually, we overcame our disadvantages and in the end, the losses of U-Boats became unsustainable. I would have to pay a very warm tribute to the gallantry of our enemy. Their conditions of service were, in wintertime particularly, quite unspeakable. Serving in a U-Boat was basically of course, tremendously uncomfortable. But in winter conditions and pursuing their objectives, one really could hardly understand how they could survive it.

Finally, I want to say that I love the Navy. And those years of dedication and fraternity and constant humour are etched forever in my memory.

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