"One of the funny things about it is that on Christmas, they used the naval tradition, and I being the youngest guy on board, I was Captain for the day."
I was born in Regina and I went to Saskatoon, and I went to school for first year university. While there, I was in the Reserve, because I joined the UNTD – University Naval Training Division. I didn't bother going further in school; I wanted full time. I was barely eighteen.
At Unicorn in Saskatoon, after some more training there we had a train trip down to Cornwallis in Nova Scotia, then went to Stadacona in Halifax. My training in Halifax was to be a torpedoman, which is a bit of a joke because we really didn't have too many of them. Instead, we were put in charge of the depth charges. It ended up that I now have ear plugs because of it. I should have got them earlier.
The ship I went on was the Brandon. It was sitting down at Liverpool, Nova Scotia, being redone – boiler, engine and everything else. When it was all fixed up we went down to Bermuda, because at that time in the war, what was happening was that Canadian ships were going down to practice up on the equipment with some of us new guys that were there. One of the funny things about it is that on Christmas, they used the naval tradition, and I being the youngest guy on board, I was Captain for the day.
While I was there, there was an Italian sub that was being used for us to practice… not charging, but following in the water. So I went through an Italian sub. I'll tell you, I'm glad I was never on those.
On the way back up, I got an infection in my leg so I was yanked off and stuck in hospital in St. John's, Newfie, and when I came out, the ship had gone. At that time, they weren't even getting a lot of people in the forces because they had enough bodies, but I was lucky and I guess I came in under the wire.
I went on the Fennel, which is a Corvette also. It was a British Corvette. I had one trip over to Londonderry in Ireland, and back. Back into Newfie, but thank gosh got out of there again. I went on a Frigate called the Eastview. That's a suburb of Ottawa. I had two trips over and back to Liverpool. When the war ended in Europe, we came down to Liverpool to pick up the ships in the convoy. We had to wait a day because the British merchant sailors, I think most or all of them were drunk, celebrating the end of the war.
As far as I'm concerned, war is a horrid thing. There's no glory, no glamour. War matured a lot of us, especially those who went in fairly young. Coming out of it, I feel like brothers to the other services. Not just Navy, but Navy, Army, Air Force.