Veteran Stories:
Geoffrey Smith

Navy

  • Geoffrey "Jock" Smith (right) as Ordinary Seaman

  • Geoffrey Smith at age 19 while at sea aboard the HMCS Arrowhead. This photo and Mr. Smith's story also appeared in the book "The Battle of the St. Lawrence," by Nathan M. Greenfield.

  • Lt. Geoffrey Smith, R.C.N.V.R., and Joy Dunham, Canadian Women's Army Corps, on their wedding day in Halifax on June 3, 1944. This photo appeared on the cover of Joy and Geoffrey's 60th Wedding anniversary invitation

  • The HMCS Arrowhead, on which Geoffrey Smith served

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"Also, we were then sent to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where we participated in attacks on U-boats which had penetrated the Gulf"

Transcript

My name is Geoffrey W. Smith. My nickname is 'Jock.' I started off in the [Royal Canadian] Navy in 1941 as an Ordinary Seaman, and was discharged in 1945 as a Sub-Lieutenant. October of that year we departed Toronto for Halifax. In November/December of '41 I was sent to Montreal to pick up a new construction ship – HMCS Vegreville – and crew her to Halifax, which I did. In January/February, I took part in an anti-submarine course and became a qualified anti-submarine detector with ASDIC [Anti-Submarine Detection Investigation Committee] Rating. I was sent to HMCS Arrowhead, one of the original Flower Class Corvettes, as an ASDIC Rating and took part as an ASDIC Rating in the new command of the Londonderry runs. Also, we were then sent to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where we participated in attacks on U-boats which had penetrated the Gulf. In September, we took part in what called the 'Triangle Run.' The convoys from the US – Boston, New York, Newport – ports to Newfoundland to join up with the ocean convoys. In January '42, I was promoted to Probationary Sub-Lieutenant and went to King's College. In March 1942, I graduated from King's College as a Sub-Lieutenant, and I was appointed to the staff of Admiral Murray, Commander-in-Chief of the North-West Atlantic Escort Defence Office in Halifax. In 1944, I was appointed Lieutenant in charge of the Port Defence Office in Halifax, and during my stay in the office we had a good many scary events – one including the fire, which broke out on an ammunition ship in Bedford Basin. Another time when a U-boat penetrated the inner defenses of Halifax Harbour. In May 1945, I was hospitalized and sent home to Toronto where I was discharged and turned over to DVA [Defence Vetting Association], where I ended up spending a month in hospital for a problem I contracted in Gaspé, Nova Scotia, called 'toxoplasmosis,' which is a tropical parasite of the blood. I got it from inadvertently drinking some – what I thought was spring water turned out to be overflow from a septic tank. This happened on a July day in Halifax where we were reloading depth charges, and we'd just taken a little stroll in the country to get away from the ship for an hour or so. In the process we saw this lovely stream of water coming over the rocks, and being a hot July day I took a drink of it. Ended up being hospitalized for four months. In post-war, I've been an active member of the Naval Officer's Association of Canada. I've written a book called 'Naval Talk With Jock,' which contains some sixty stories of happenings that took place while I was in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, mid-ocean, and western approaches. Also covers some of my post-war activities in the NOAC
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