Veteran Stories:
George D. Richmond

Navy

  • German steel helmet. George Richmond picked it up in Ostende, Belgium as a souvenir

  • Silver-plated copper Government-issue pint rum measure. Part of George Richmond's duties aboard ship was to issue rum rations to sailors.

  • George Richmond's Naval pay book. This was his official identification for pay purposes.

  • Left to right: 1939-1945 Star, The Atlantic Star, The Burma Star, The Defence Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal, The War Medal 1939-1945

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"The U-boats were certainly not the only enemy – the sea herself was fearsome"

Transcript

I'm George Richmond and I'm from Thunder Bay, Ontario. I joined the Navy here in Port Arthur when I was seventeen years old. After three months' basic training in Winnipeg, I was drafted out to Esquimalt, the naval base on the west coast, where I picked up my first Corvette. I was on the west coast doing anti-submarine patrol there. I was soon transferred to a second Corvette, the [HMCS] Quesnel, which I sailed on for about sixteen months. We were also on anti-submarine patrol and convoy escort on the west coast. We were one of five Corvettes that were transferred to Halifax in July 1942 for convoy escort work in the North Atlantic, and that brought about one of the poorest times of my life. The winter of 1942/43 in the North Atlantic was horrendous. They say that there were one hundred ships lost in the storms and the gales that prevailed during that time. The U-boats were certainly not the only enemy – the sea herself was fearsome. The little hundred and ninety foot Corvettes were not designed to carry any more than sixty-five men but actually carried ninety, with no expansion of the living conditions. In a storm they would roll and toss like a bucking bronco. Winston Churchill called them the 'Cheap and Nasties', and that they were. They said they would roll on wet grass. The waves used to come crashing over the bow and flood our open decks, smashing lifeboats and tearing loose equipment, and somehow getting down the vents into the living quarters. Into our clothes, our gear, our food – it'd get tossed around and end up on the deck like a lumpy soup. Ninety percent of the crew would be seasick, and you can add that to the cocktail on the floor. The closest land, we used to say, was two miles away, straight down. After fourteen months on the ship I joined a thousand other naval types and volunteered for combined operations. We found ourselves on a troop ship bound for England. We were assigned to repair and man three flotillas of infantry landing craft for the invasion of France. Altogether, they transported about forty-five hundred Canadian troops to the beaches on D-Day. When temporary docks were put in place, the smaller craft were not used as much and they began disbanding the landing craft flotillas.
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