Veteran Stories:
Albert James “Jim” McCall

Navy

  • Unidentified naval ratings manning a two-pounder anti-aircraft gun aboard an unidentified River-class destroyer of the Royal Canadian Navy which is escorting a convoy at sea, 1940.

    Source: "Faces of War", Library and Archives Canada.
    http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/faces/001048-119.01-e.php?&mikan_nbr=3566993&&PHPSESSID=g9pj346e7ok84uo81i8r6o17v4

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"We dropped every depth charge [anti-submarine weapon] we had on the corvette and all we got was some garbage coming up. They did that all the time, the Germans, just to make you want to quit."

Transcript

Once I finished basic at Winnipeg, we went to HMCS Naden and I took an ASDIC [Anti-Submarine Detection Investigation Committee], anti-submarine course. When I finished that, I went directly to the east coast. From the east coast, I didn’t even hardly get stopped and they sent me back to Montreal to pick up the corvette [lightly armed escort vessel], HMCS Dundas, which was just about finished refit. So when it was finished refit, we did our evolutions in St. Margaret’s Bay [Nova Scotia] and then we started on the triangle run, which was New York, Boston, Halifax or whatever, one of those. A Newfie [run], you went up and you went out across, ships came out, the escorts came out from Newfoundland, picked the convoy up that we had, we picked the empty convoy up and took them down to New York or Boston, or whatever. We kept doing that for some time, for over a year, I guess. And then we ended up getting a call, there was a cable repair ship. So it was [being] repaired and the cable had been cut so we circled it for, I can’t remember exactly, whether it was ten days or what. But we circled it, circled it. There was supposed to be a British trawler come and relieve us, but it came out and took a look, and it went back. It didn’t like the idea, I guess, of going around, sitting there like a sitting duck. So then when we finished there, we were running pretty low on food, so we went over and met a convoy; and in the sea boat, not like they have now, motors on them, it was all arm-strong [human-powered], and the waves were a mile high. We went over, and got potatoes and some meat. And then we picked up our old triangle run that we went in for a refit in 1944. We come home and a friend of mine, he got married and I was his best man; and then when we home for Pacific leave, he was my best man. So that’s how, I’ve been married 65 years now. We had, well, two for each watch. And one would run the range, you know, recorder and you’d run the set. I was a senior operator on the, even though I was that young, on the Dundas for action stations. Well, we have one episode where we coming in after with the empty ships, coming in just not far off Halifax, and I picked up a ping. So we followed it for, I guess, an hour, over an hour. We dropped every depth charge [anti-submarine weapon] we had on the corvette and all we got was some garbage coming up. They did that all the time, the Germans, just to make you want to quit. But we run out of everything, so and then the sub disappeared. You couldn’t get a ping or nothing. So when we come back into Halifax, everybody’s waiting on the jetty, thinking we’re going to be pulling in a submarine or something. But we didn’t. But we got credit with a probable [kill: presumed destruction of an enemy vessel]. They give you a probable if you don’t get survivors or the sub itself. We didn’t lose a ship. Never lost a ship.
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