Veteran Stories:
Alec Frederick Gabany

Navy

  • "Going to meet the convoy off Newfoundland."

    Alec Gabany
  • Life at sea aboard the H.M.C.S. Royal Mount ; Alec Gabany in the bottom right photo.

    Alec Gabany
  • Alec Gabany, 1944.

    Alec Gabany
  • Alec Gabany, 1944.

    Alec Gabany
  • H.M.C.S. Cornwallis Class 115. Alec Gabany front row, seated furthest to the right.

    Alec Gabany
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"My time that I spent in the military service, joyous, I accept it as, even any hardships that we had, I accepted as a fact."

Transcript

My decision was that I lived in an adopted country of which I was fond of because of the benefits of living here, versus living in Central Europe, who were still suffering from the ravages of World War I. This was my adopted country and I remained loyal to it, from then until the present day. Well, my brother went in the Air force so I figured, well, that’s fine, that was his choice. Then I thought, well, the Army, alright, fine, I’m compelled to go in that because eventually, my name would come up on the roster and I’ll be invited to join. And so I decided, well, great. I had spent about three and a half or four months on the Great Lakes and I loved it. I loved the water, so that’s what propelled me in that, the direction of joining the Navy. Plus of course, my patriotism. In Bermuda, of course, we trained for about a week to ten days by playing hide and go seek with a captured Italian submarine, which gave us the expertise to hunt for submerged vessels. We went from Newfoundland, that was our main function, ammunition ship in Newfoundland and pick up a convoy and go to Londonderry, Ireland. Or we called it Derry. That was quite an experience. There was 40 or 50 ships or so approximately in the convoy and so you shepherded, them, along with approximately five to seven other warships. Ireland was also Europe. It just reminded me of my younger days. And when you see kids coming aboard ship with a bag of fresh bread, and they would trade it off for a pack of cigarettes, Players cigarettes. But these kids, the younger fellow there, I’m not kidding you, he had shorts on and there was about two inches of snow outside, barefooted. His legs were red up to his knees, that I could see. But they were a jolly pair of kids and they did a little Irish jig, they sang a little bit and then you threw in some little bit of cash in their and hat and they were happy and we had a change. We got into Halifax [Nova Scotia] on the day before VE Day [Victory in Europe Day, May 8, 1945]. And we tied up there and then we were there for the big VE Day celebration which was not very rosy. And I thought it was terrible that anybody would do such damage to a city [during the Halifax VE Day riots, May 7-8, 1945]. However, fortunately, we were only there about a day and a half or two and we had to go to Sydney, Nova Scotia, where we had gone in for a refit, because I had signed up to got the Pacific War theatre of war. And so we were in the process of refitting and alongside us were tied up two German submarines that had just surrendered and escorted in. That in itself was quite a sight to see. That way, you could study their intricacies, both above deck and below deck, all the innards. The Japanese war ended [in August, 1945] and then we were assigned to go back to Halifax and wait out your discharge time. Before we came to Canada, I used to play with my two cousins. One was about 17 days younger than myself and I can well remember him and his brother and I often thought, I wonder if one of those guys is aboard that submarine. Because the Germans took various allied [submarines] and, their allies that is, and put them wherever they could serve in the war of endeavour. And you often thought: ‘Well, they’re shooting at me and I’m shooting at them. Well, that’s great, there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s either he or myself and that’s the way the politicians set it up.’ But that, you look back in history and that’s basically what it’s all about. Do you like it? No. No, but those are the facts of life. Of course, the two cousins that I’d fretted about had perished on the Russian front. So they didn’t even get to see the war end. My time that I spent in the military service, joyous, I accept it as, even any hardships that we had, I accepted as a fact. It has taught me in life to accept the things I get and to accept the things that I can’t do nothing about. It has left me with a very good outlook on life whereby I am happy with my plate.
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