Veteran Stories:
Forbes Brown

Navy

  • A photograph of HMCS Sioux, a destroyer which served in the Royal Canadian Navy.

    Forbes Brown
  • A photograph of a building in a Russian port taken in 1944. In the foreground is one of HMCS Sioux's deck guns. Sioux escorted convoys to Russia on what was known as the Murmansk Run.

    Forbes Brown
  • An enemy aircraft (likely a Focke-Wulf 190 fighter) makes a low pass over Allied vessels.

    Forbes Brown
  • A pair of photographs showing HMS Swift sinking after striking a mine off the shore of Normandy, France shortly after D-Day.

    Forbes Brown
  • Convoy vessels ferrying cargo to Russia on what was known as the Murmansk Run.

    Forbes Brown
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"It was a great mystery to us at the time when we went into Oran, we could see these stacks sticking up out of there and bits and pieces of ships and you didn’t know what it was all about. But it was the French fleet that the British sunk because they wouldn’t join the Allies."

Transcript

SC107, which was one of the heaviliest [sic] raided convoys of the Second World War. We had 19 ships torpedoed and 16 didn’t make it, three were dispatched to Iceland for repairs and so on and so forth. And then we arrived in Liverpool [England] and we spent about a month in Liverpool and getting additional 20mm cannons aboard. We had seven additional 20mm cannons. Not knowing, we were issued great coats with fur lines and this sort of stuff. And then we were detailed off to the Mediterranean to assist in the landings in North Africa [in November 1942]. It was a great mystery to us at the time when we went into Oran, we could see these stacks sticking up out of there and bits and pieces of ships and you didn’t know what it was all about. But it was the French fleet that the British sunk because they wouldn’t join the Allies. And that was in March, they came back in March of 1943. The first trip into Bone [Harbour], we were there about 15 minutes or so, rather humourous, everybody wanted to go swimming. So we all got decked out with this one chap, a fellow by the name of Bob Bocock. He had dentures across the front and we were in swimming and all of a sudden, Stukas [German dive bombers] showed up. And of course, he opened his mouth and dropped his plate. But he had a lifejacket on because he couldn’t swim. And his teeth are sitting in the bottom Bone Harbour. And on the fifth of June [1944], we had gone out to escort the minesweepers. The HMS Campenfeld and ourselves, escorted the minesweepers into Juno Beach. And on the morning of the sixth of course, we were able to go through, the minesweepers would make a channel for us and we were their support if anybody, E-boats [small German attack craft] or anything, came out to attack. [Note: The following section details Mr. Brown’s experiences in Northern Russia as part of a series of convoys known collectively as the Murmansk Run] I was a postman, I was the ship’s official photographer, I had a lot of little jobs. And I could pretty well go ashore any time to get mail or something like that. I was ashore one day and I was talking to one of the Russians. We played hockey up there as a matter of fact. And we had no gear except I had skates and we had some hockey sticks. And we played but the Russian stick had a blade and then it went up to the handle as well, part of the blade went up the handle. And we played with a ball, like a tennis ball. And it was interesting. The ice rink was probably a city block and the only person who could speak English and Russian was a woman. So she acted as referee. But they didn’t play any body contact at all but we did. And of course, the snow was all up in the side, no sidewalls or anything, and the snow’s up on the side and we’d get the Russians near this bank of snow and we’d bump them into the snow.
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