On the Bangor minesweeper, we had a three inch gun up in the forward deck and I think it was a World War I gun and back aft, in what we called the bandstand, we had twin machine guns, Lewis guns, and they were from World War I. So if we ever met a well armed Japanese submarine, we wouldn’t have stood a chance.
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I was one of the fortunate ones, I think there were six of us that went out to Royal Roads [a military college in British Columbia] and that was, we went on active service May 1941. We commissioned a minesweeper, a Bangor-class minesweeper up in Prince Rupert, HMCS Kelowna and when Pearl Harbor happened, we were minesweeping the shipping channels and anti-submarine work and escorting the few ships up to Alaska and it was pretty miserable weather up there at that time. And we anticipated that there might be a big flare up of submarine warfare but the only thing that happened, one submarine torpedoed a ship out in Juan de Fuca Strait and it didn’t sink her and she was towed in and she didn’t sink. And then a submarine, maybe it was the same submarine, shelled Estevan lighthouse and that was about it. But when I stop and think about it, the way our armament and everything else was pretty antiquated. On the Bangor minesweeper, we had a three inch gun up in the forward deck and I think it was a World War I gun and back aft, in what we called the bandstand, we had twin machine guns, Lewis guns, and they were from World War I. So if we ever met a well armed Japanese submarine, we wouldn’t have stood a chance.
And incidentally, when Pearl Harbor did happen, when I was still in the examination service, we got involved in rounding up the Japanese fishing boats. And of course, they took all their boats away from them and even if they were Canadian citizens. And we had to board these and look at their, they had a white card you were born in Canada, yellow card you were an alien, born in Japan. It wasn’t very nice duty to see fellow citizens sent to camps in the Rockies somewhere. And their livelihood taken away from them.
It was latter part of 1942 I wanted to get to the east coast where things were happening. So I applied for a specialist course in anti-submarine work and I got transferred. But I didn’t really want to specialize. And when I got to Halifax, I had that changed and they appointed me to a new construction Fairmile sub-chaser. Now these Fairmiles were, I think they were 112 or 115 feet long and weighed approximately 100 tons. And there were six ships to a flotilla. And they’re all young officers like myself in their early 20s and so I went up to Midland, Ontario, where the Q-097 was being built and the skipper was Llewellyn Petley-Jones, a heck of a damn good officer. And I was on that ship for I guess almost a year. And that’s when I finally got tired of getting battered, I wanted a bigger ship, so I applied to get to a corvette and lo and behold, I was appointed to HMCS Sackville, which is now our naval memorial trust [in Halifax, Nova Scotia]. And I joined her down in Galveston, Texas, where she was being refitted and like a lot of the ships in east coast shipyards getting ready for the invasion.
The latter part of the war, when I joined there, I was anti-submarine officer, ASDIC [sonar] control they called it. And then we cracked a boiler when we were overseas, that was due to the original construction. And we came back to Canada and the captain and our first lieutenant, they went to a new frigate and I took over as executive officer, first lieutenant.