Veteran Stories:
Walter Weston

Navy

  • Top left: Pilot Officer 1st class. Bottom left: Good Conduct Badge, 13 years and over. Top right: Shipright's badge

  • Walter Weston's Medals (L to R): 1939-1945 Star; Atlantic Star; Defence Medal; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal; War Medal 1939-1945; Canadian Forces Decoration.

  • Weston (left) and Johnny Lonsdale flanking a 20mm cannon, 1944. Weston served on a number of different convoy ships throughout his career with the Royal Canadian Navy

  • Pictured here, second from left, back row. Weston was drafted to Halifax from the RCNVR, London Division, in September, 1940. The HMCS Stadacona was later named the HMCS Prevost

  • Weston served on the HMCS La Malbaie from 1943 to 1944. The vessel was attached to Canadian convoy escort group "C-3"

Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"hey'd send us into the Denmark Straits as far as the Arctic Circle, calling us the Great Northern Patrol, just in case the Germans were coming through there"

Transcript

My name is Walter Weston, and I joined the RCNVR [Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve], London Division, in 1940. It was mid-summer, and I finally took on active service in September of '40. And then I was drafted to Halifax. And I decided to go through the... into the torpedo branch, so I became a torpedoman. And just after we finished those classes in the barracks, the barracks burned to the ground - I had no place to go - so I was drafted to a Royal Navy Cruiser - HMS Voltaire. And we'd run convoys from Halifax to Iceland, and drop the convoy off. And the Royal Navy would send a couple ships out from Liverpool to take them the rest of the way into Great Britain. And then they'd send us into the Denmark Straits as far as the Arctic Circle, calling us the Great Northern Patrol, just in case the Germans were coming through there. And this was in '40-'41.

After serving on the [HMS] Voltaire, I came home on leave to London here for two weeks, and then the Voltaire sailed for Freetown, West Africa. On the way, she'd run into a German armed merchant cruiser called the Thor, T-H-O-R, and the Thor had put the Voltaire under. In an hour she was gone. And there were probably about 400 of a crew, but there were 197 survivors. And most of the men were taken into Malag North, which is up near Hamburg on the Elbe River. And they spent the rest of the war there as prisoners of war. So I was lucky to miss that one.

Anyway, when I came back off the Voltaire and back off holidays, I was drafted to a standard coaster, which was a wooden minesweeper. And it wasn't much of a warship either. We had no guns or nothing. But we used to do minesweeping out of Halifax. Then I got off of that old packet, and I was drafted to the HMCS Standard - a Bangor class minesweeper. And we'd run convoys from St. John's. We were taking the iron ore ships from Wabana, which is in Newfoundland, over to Sidney steel mills. And we'd also run smaller convoys on the North Atlantic. Not across the North Atlantic, but around that area.

I was drafted to a corvette - HMCS La Malbaie. And I served on the C3 group with three other corvettes and two destroyers running convoys from St. John's Newfoundland to Londonderry Island. They used to call it the "Newfie-Derry Run."

We did drop a lot of depth charges, we had some good com action. We never got a claim for any U-boats. I can remember... I have some pictures of us taking on depth charges at sea, which is kind of a tricky business. Those things way about 350 pounds. And they bring them across on a wire, and it takes 3 or 4 men... seamen to get a hold of them, because they're round like a drum. And you have to get a hold of them to get them lashed down, you know, in the bad weather. And of course, the North Atlantic's always bad weather (laughing). You never get good weather in the North Atlantic. I think that's the worst sea in the world to sail in.

Follow us