Veteran Stories:
Peter Kovac

Navy

  • Peter Kovac's enlistment photo in 1942. He served six hundred and sixty-six days on the HMCS Skeena and saw lots of action.

  • Peter Kovac in his survivor's gear. He lost his uniform when the HMCS Skeena went down in a huge storm off the coast of Reykjavik, Iceland. Fifteen soldiers lost their lives when the ship went down.

  • A recent photo of Peter Kovac with his war medals and Legion medals.

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"On the way to Norway we hit the biggest storm. I think there were waves about seventy feet high."

Transcript

My name is Peter Kovac. I live in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I joined the navy in the first part of '42. I joined in Port Arthur here. I think I took training here for about five weeks then I was transferred down to Halifax. I took a bit a bit of training down there for about a month. Then I got drafted on a Destroyer – HMCS Skeena – and I served on her for close to two years. I had six hundred and sixty-six days of sea time on the water. I was on convoy duty on C3. We took about eight convoys across. There were two destroyers and maybe six corvettes. Then we got transferred and four of us Destroyers – the Skeena, the Qu'Appelle, St. Laurent – we were transferred to the English Channel in the first part of 1943 to clean up the submarine force.

We were in Brest, France, before D-Day. I think there were four of us Destroyers who went in through the gates. The spies cut the wires through there. We came out with a few casualties – maybe fifteen people that got their arms shot off and stuff like that.

They didn't need us in the English Channel anymore so they transferred us down to Norway, which was still occupied by the Germans. On the way to Norway we hit the biggest storm. I think there were waves about seventy feet high. We got orders to anchor for the storm to blow over. The waves came and picked us up and hit us across to the shore. The rocks were about twenty feet high – all sharp. We got a call to abandon ship. I didn't abandon ship, but there were fifteen of us lost and buried off of Iceland. This was October the 25th 1944 when the Skeena got sunk in Iceland.

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