Veteran Stories:
Donald McIntosh

Navy

  • Press release nameing the survivors of the HMCS Regina, from the Prairie provinces, returning to Canada on board the Queen Mary with PM Winston Churchill and his staff on board.

    "I feel honoured and priveleged to be one of the survivors who were the only passengers on the Queen Mary, other than PM Churchill and his staff. I saw Churchill every afternoon strolling on the promenade deck. I personally shook hands and chatted with Admiral Cunningham (First Lord of the Admiralty)."

    Don McIntosh
  • Survivors from the Prairies, of the Royal Canadian/corvette H.M.C.S. Regina, as they reached Canada on home for survivors' leave. Donald McIntosh is in the front row, first on the right.

  • HMCS Regina K234, corvette.
    "I was a crew member on August 8, 1944, when HMCS REgina was torpedoed and sunk by a German Submarine in the Bristol Channel, U.K."

    Don McIntosh
  • Don McIntosh, Engine Room Artificer (ERA 4/C)
    "This is the top rank I attained in the Navy."

    Don McIntosh
  • Don McIntosh at Pier 21, Halifax, Nova Scotia. 2006
    "I left from Pier 21 on the Empress of Scotland for service overseas during WWII. My visit to PIer 21 in 2006 was a very pleasant experience. As a WWII veteran, I was treated royally by the manager of research of the museum and other staff members of the Pier 21 Society."

    Don McIntosh
Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"I felt a rumble, like an explosion or something in the water. I grabbed my lifejacket I guess and I ran up onto the quarter deck. We looked back at the convoy and we could see one of the ships was sinking down from the front of the bow."

Transcript

My name is Donald McIntosh. I was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, December the 29th, 1922. That makes me 86 right now. I was on a Corvette and it’s a single screw engine. In other words, one propeller on it. It’s a boiler room where you generate the steam to run the engine and if I would open the throttle on the engines that would go and the engines would turn over and the number of revolutions that they wanted from the Bridge.

When you’re at sea, you’re on that throttle and answering any commands from the Bridge. They want so many revolutions, you give them that many revolutions on the engines. The engines were four cylinder engines and the water [steam] pressure going to those engines would be 300 pounds.

All the different sections have their own mess. Like the Stoker’s Mess, the Seaman’s Mess, the officers of course have their quarters. And the chiefs and POs have their mess. And they sleep and eat in that very, very confined quarters, you know. However, everybody gets along good and there’s a great deal of comradeship there, which is exemplified itself all around through the years, we’ve kept in touch, so all these 60 odd years, you know.

And they, we have what we call watches, that’s when you go on duty. In the engine room, we have two, four-hour watches in 24 hours. The watch I was on was, say, from 4 o'clock in the morning until 8 o'clock in the morning and then I’d be off 4 o’clock in the afternoon until 8 o'clock in the evening. That would be my two watches. That was 7 days a week. There was no days off. There was no days off except when you go in to harbour for water [boiler] clean or something like that, you get a few days off. And then it’s back again.

I had one particularly good pal. He was an engine room artificer from Canmore, Alberta. And his name was Joe Hellis. And Joe was on duty when the ship was torpedoed and of course, he died. Everybody in the engine room and boiler room died, nobody made it out. But Joe was a particularly good friend of mine.

I felt a rumble, like an explosion or something in the water. I grabbed my lifejacket I guess and I ran up onto the quarter deck. We looked back at the convoy and we could see one of the ships was sinking down from the front of the bow. We went back. I guess the intent was to take the survivors off the ship. And this was a 10,000 tonne liberty freighter. So we went back there and we were standing on the Quarterdeck of our ship, watching the …the ship was called the Ezra Weston and it was a United States liberty freighter. And it was going down slowly by the bow. And there was a deck cargo of trucks, cars and everything and as the angle increased, the vehicles were rolling off into the, the water. It was quite a sight to see. So, in a few minutes, we saw a lifeboat coming from the Ezra Weston and it had the entire crew of the Ezra Weston on it. And they were rowing towards us. And we were standing still, waiting for them to come, and all of a sudden, this tremendous explosion. Un, unbelievable.

We were later told by these fellows sitting in their rowboat, would sit and watch this, debris flew in the air and by the time it came down about 30 seconds, there was no sign of our ship at all. It just blew up. I was just on the Quarterdeck and I remember the explosion, great white sheet, and that’s all I remembered until I was in the water. So I must have been blown off the ship, I didn’t go off myself. Way down in the water, I really thought this is it, but all of a sudden, I popped up to the surface and I very fortunately had my lifejacket on, because I can’t swim a stroke, never could.

We couldn’t comprehend the magnitude of what had happened really, this tremendous bomb and we didn’t think too much of it when they dropped the first one but then a day or so later, we heard that they’d dropped the second and Japan had thrown in the towel. We were sort of glad it was over because it became obvious, if we would have went to the Pacific, there would be tremendous casualties, I guess that’s what influenced President Truman when they weighed the, the casualties that would be on both sides, the best thing would be to end it the way he did. And which I say God Bless Harry Truman. I think he made the right decision. In fact, I think a lot of us agreed that maybe some of us wouldn’t be here if Harry Truman hadn’t dropped the bomb.

Follow us