Peter Cox is seen here on the right while out to sea during the war.
Peter Cox (left), poses with his brother soon after joining the Navy.
Peter Cox (left), poses with his shipmates while underway on the HMCS Matan.
Peter Cox on board the HMCS Matan while underway.
Peter Cox during the war.
"I can remember to this day, the whole submarine came up out of the water, half of it, at an angle of about like that, about 45 degrees, and then went back down again. I thought, well geez, that’s the end of that submarine."
But they were a very seaworthy ship. I don’t recollect of any corvette [patrol and convoy lightly armoured escort vehicle] and there was a 100 and some odd of them built, any of them ever capsizing or being the worst hit [vessel] in a storm of any sort, they always came through. But mind you, I was pretty uncomfortable.
It’s something that you got used to in time. I was never ever seasick on corvettes. Mind you, I’d been on a destroyer before and they’re motion was entirely different than a corvette. Because a corvette, being short, tended to go up over the seas rather than through them, which a destroyer [large well-armed escort vehicle], in many cases didn’t always go through them, but they had a tendency to go through them more than a corvette did.
We rigged what we called lifelines, which was a line that ran from the stern up until the after bulkhead of the forecastle [upper deck]. It was set up there and then there was lanyards fitted on that that slid along this lifeline. If you were going along the upper deck and it was really dicey, you grabbed onto one of these lanyards and held onto that as you walked out. It went down with you.
I went through as what they called anti-aircraft gunner. This is not a surface gunner, anti-aircraft were firing at... In fact, our class that went over was the first class of anti-aircraft ratings [enlisted sailors] that were trained for the Canadian navy. That would be in 1940. So we were trained on 0.5s [ 0.5 inch Vickers machine gun], the eight barrel pom-poms [quick firing 2-pounder anti-aircraft gun], the four barrel pom-poms, we’d fire a two pound shot. But it’s amazing, no matter how tired you were, if that action station bell rang, you woke up. I guess it was just built into you that you had to go.
We sighted a submarine on the surface, but she got inside our turning circle [ship’s turning radius]. We couldn’t turn fast enough to get her into position to open fire … what they were going to do initially, we were going to try and ram it. And it took them that long to get around, to get pointed at it. It was submerging at the time, so we were altering really all the time. She just went under as we crossed over her. You could see the streaming bubbles of that on the surface as we crossed over it, but we must have just missed her. And this is when they dropped a shallow pattern and, I can remember to this day, the whole submarine came up out of the water, half of it, at an angle of about like that, about 45 degrees, and then went back down again. I thought, well geez, that’s the end of that submarine.