Veteran Stories:
Edward McCormack

Navy

  • HMS Duke of York on a trip to the United States, December 1941.

  • Greetings from the Queen Mother to the crew of the HMS Duke of York, on the event of their reunion in 1992.

  • King George VI aboard the HMS Duke of York.

  • Prime Minister Winston Churchill coming aboard on his way to a visit in the United States, 1941.

  • The launching of the HMS Duke of York.

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"It's a strange world. I come out of the action and all without a scratch. This kid's sitting at home, minding her own business and loses both legs, you know?"

Transcript

My name is Edward McCormack. My rank was Leading Seaman radar and I served in World War II. Before I... I actually got involved with the Navy, I was with Newsreels for quite a few months in London, at the time of the blitz. Then we were taken in to the armoury. Given... (laughter) We were given captain's rank and war correspondent flashes on our shoulders, which lasted about two or three days for me. Then I was grabbed by the Navy once again because I had registered for them. From there on... that was submarines, first of all, for submarine training and practical operation. Then I was put on to Service Navy and the battleship... it's one of the last ones that was built during the war, HMS Duke of York. For quite awhile there was nothing doing, apart from the first trip we ever did, which was taking Churchill across to the United States to visit President Roosevelt. I used to run the motion pictures on board and he (laughter) would frequently fall asleep half way through and then he would come, personally, to the back to the cross passage where we had the projectors lined up. And say, "Listen, I fell asleep at such and such a point. Could you rewind it and start it back from there again?" We finally got our action in the... the Bogen Bay, 1943 when we encountered the German battleship, Scharnhorst. And fortunately, put her under. After that, we picked the survivors up. And I was in charge of looking after the prisoners. They were a very nice... very nice fellows. And one... (laughter) one chap was actually a Canadian. Apparently he left Canada when he was 11 years old. He came from the Toronto area, from the area where I live right now, in West Hill. Back in the UK, I was doing deputizing work for theatre organists. I was in one just outside Liverpool somewhere. The manager came and he had a little tyke with him. And he said, "You don't mind her sitting on the seat with you, do you?" I said, "No, no. Leave her there." And that time I was playing "Some Day My Prince Will Come" and this little girl was really caught up with it and she asked me if I would do it again. So I played it again. Then I was going down at the end of the session. And I said, "Now, do you want to come down into the basement with me when the organ goes down?" "I'll go down with you." So I go down, got off the organ there and leading my way up, she's following me. Got to the stairs to come upstairs and she said, "I can't get upstairs." I said, "Why, dear?" I said, "Come on. Maybe your prince will come. Maybe your prince is in the theatre now. You've got to hurry to see him." You... she said, "Well, I can't." Then I realized she had irons on both legs as she'd been caught in the... one of the air raids. It's a strange world. I come out of the action and all the thing without a scratch. This kid's sitting at home, minding her own business and loses both legs, you know?
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