"They lost nearly all the crew. I had a good friend on there."
We were far enough out that we didn’t see much on the beach. The Utah Beach was about a mile out and we were sweeping out from that limit towards the land. So really, all you were worried about was whether there was a roll of toilet paper on the bridge.
The Americans lost two minesweepers there, [USS] YMS [Yard Mine Sweeper] - 350 and one other, which I can’t remember the name. But we lost one at Cherbourg. It was what we call a big Mickey Mouse, MMS [Motor Minesweeper: wooden vessel to thwart magnetic mines]was short for Mickey Mouse. These were the 1000 class and it struck a mine because you used to put a sweep down in front of you, it was on an A-frame and it was what we called a bucket sweep. It was like a bucket, but it used to put down over the forecastle and they had like a repeater inside knocking the drum, which exploded any mines that were laid in that type because they had mines that were acoustic and double L [longitudinal] sweeping. They were put down for ships going over them. They were laid down and for ships going over it, once they would click and they would sit for a number of clicks, then they would explode. So you could go over them, but the [HMS MMS-] 1019 put the bucket down, but the bucket hit a mine, up she went. They lost nearly all the crew. I had a good friend on there.
From Normandy, I was drafted back to base, but unfortunately, they didn’t send me back to my base. They sent me back to the Fleet Air Arm base and there, they didn’t know what part of England Lowestoft was in, so they sent me back to Canada. And they had no record of it. As far as the naval records show, I was on vacation. I managed to clear that point up as I was sent to the Fleet Air Arm base. They probably thought I was Canadian or some such stupid idea. They sent me back to the base in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, where they taught pilots and air gunners signaling. Now, my records show a blank, which I have recently put right. Now, I’m hoping that because I was a signalman TO [training officer] there, I think it was only about six pence a day or a couple of cents, but it’s, the main point is that I was never paid for my rating until I left the service. And it irks me because, as I say, it would come in handy now.