Veteran Stories:
Lorne Power

Army

  • Survivors of the HMCS Clayoquot in a navy hospital in Halifax. L-R. Front: Ronald Kenny, Gordon Stevenson, George White, Cliff McPhail. Back: Len Barkley, Ronald Hope, Lorne Powe.

  • Lorne Power, age 18, 1942

  • Badge of the HMCS Clayoquot, 1941.

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"The Canadian Navy played a great part in the war by providing convoy escort duty for the many, many convoys of freighters and oil tankers that kept Europe alive during the war"

Transcript

My name is Lorne Power. During the war I served in the Canadian Navy. The Canadian Navy played a great part in the war by providing convoy escort duty for the many, many convoys of freighters and oil tankers that kept Europe alive during the war. Mostly I served on, what we call, the Triangle Run, where loaded ships from Halifax and New York, Boston and Sidney were escorted to what was known as the mid-ocean meeting ground just east of St. John's, Newfoundland. From that point another escort would take them over to the various points in Europe. And some, of course, went on to, what we call, the Murmansk Run which helped the Soviet military keep up their part of the war. There was, most always, some enemy U-boat action on these trips. I have a map that shows the number of ships sunk by enemy action along the Eastern Seaboard and it also shows the number of U-boats that our Navy was able to sink. And many people are surprised by the large number of enemy U-boats that we sank on this side of the ocean. One of my more dramatic stories has to do with a ship that I was serving on that was torpedoed late in the war when most of us were believing that the war would end almost any day. And this happened on Christmas Eve of 1944. We were just off Halifax supposedly waiting to make up a convoy when we were suddenly awakened by a large explosion and it didn't take long to realize we had been hit by, what is known as, an [G7es] acoustic torpedo. Prior to the acoustic torpedo, torpedoes needed to be aimed very carefully in order to strike their intended target. But, the acoustic torpedo was rigged so that it was attracted to the vibrations caused by a ship's propeller and therefore it would come up under the stern of the ship and that's what it did to us. It broke off the stern part of our ship and that wreckage of the ship came down on the rest of the ship trapping some of our officers in their ward room. And those poor folks went down, totally alive, and quite conscious of what was taking place. Fortunately, most of us were able to get off the ship and were rescued and spent the Christmas Day and a few days in hospital in Halifax. Some general comments about the Canadian Navy. When war broke out in 1939, the Canadian Navy consisted of, roughly, a thousand people. By the time the Second World War ended the Navy comprised about a hundred thousand people including a large number of female Navy personnel known as WRENS. And they served a great purpose in backing up the fellows that went to sea and doing a lot of that kind of internal work. Many people, including Winston Churchill, have stated that the war could not have been ended successfully if it had not been for the work that the Canadian Navy did getting these shiploads of supplies to the other side.
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