Veteran Stories:
Ray Mecoy

Navy

  • Ray Mecoy leaving Toronto on his first draft to Halifax. His first train trip and heart wrenching farewell into the unknown

  • "A New Life" for Ray Mecoy, pictured as a new recruit outside of the home of a friend in Toronto. September 1942.

  • Crew of the HMCS Fort William setting out minesweeping gear, 1944/45.

  • Crew members of the minesweeper HMCS Fort William on deck in the English Channel, 1944/45

  • News of the birth of Mecoy's daughter while minesweeping in the English Channel off of the coast of France. October 1944

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"In England, we commenced mine sweeping and we did extensive work"

Transcript

Raymond Mecoy. I joined up August the 26th, 1942 and I was discharged November the 1st, 1945. The main area of service was aboard HMCS Fort William which was a Bangor mine sweeper. I joined the Fort William as a stoker in April of '43. The main duty of the stoker was divided into two parts. There's the engine room part of it and the boiler room where the steam is made. Now, when I first went aboard I was in the boiler room and the ship was fired by oil so there was no shovelling of coal or anything like that. After serving in the boiler room for, maybe, a year or so, I was assigned to the engine room. Now, in the engine room, the ship was propelled by two steam engines and these were what you call a reciprocating type of engine and they required a lot of maintenance when they're running. The principle part of a stoker in the engine room was oiling and making sure that the bearings and everything were kept cool by constant oiling. And another duty of stoker in the engine room was running the evaporator which was a distilling outfit that took sea water and we made distilled water and this was to top up the reserve fuel tanks for the boilers and also to provide drinking and washing facilities aboard the ship. In January-February of '44, in preparation for the battle coming up in Europe, the Navy decided to send 16 Bangor mine sweepers to England. We left Halifax early March of '44 and arrived in England about a week and a half after that. In England, we commenced mine sweeping and we did extensive work. We put out a huge float and these are trailed behind the ship and they go out sort of at an angle and they have wires attached to them that are dragged through the water. The mines were anchored below the surface with chains and as the wire came along it would catch the chain, drag the mine along and the action of the wire and the mine being dragged along the cable would cut through the chain and the mine would float to the surface so they could be observed by other ships. And then when we had the chance, we used the guns on the ship and we fired at them and put holes in them and they would fill with water and sink. And if you happened to also hit one of the detonators they would explode. So that's how they got rid of the mines.
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