Veteran Stories:
Kenneth Hermann

Navy

  • HMCS Orangeville. Note camouflaged pattern painted on the ship's hull.

  • HMS Hedingham Castle underway to sea upon the ship's completion. This ship was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy and commissioned as HMCS Orangeville.

    Imperial War Museum. Ministry of Defence Foxhill Collection of Ship Photographs, 1945-1975, Catalogue No. FL 8982.
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"Anyway, they just turned the 4.7s on the town and said, “Look, we’re going in now one way or the other.” "

Transcript

Well, to verify if you’ve got a submarine, what you’re doing is you’re, electrically, you were charging what they called an oscillator, which really created – it seems to me we called it piezoelectricity at the time.  And in doing that, it sent out... well, if you were to take like a rock and throw it into the water, you can always remember the little circles that would be going out.  Those are actually sound rings, and you can pick those sounds up because, you send out this signal, and that’s how it goes out and if it doesn’t hit anything, it just goes out and it’s gone.  But if it does contact something, it’s coming back towards you again, and you used what we used to call a chronoscope, which was like a timewatch but it’s measuring the sound itself, and if a sound comes back, then you just click it and you look and you know exactly how far away this object is that you’ve contacted.  And, of course if it would just - didn’t have something to more or less send out a controlled beam, rather than like the rock in the water with a big circle, you got certain vibrations in going out at a speed that would put it into a narrow range.

We had a number of depth charges.  We had them, with what we called throwers that throw the, out from the ship, and then we had some about amidships and some that would go over the stern.  So we carried probably 30 or 40 depth charges at the time and the idea was that you put settings on there, some to explode at 50 feet deep, some to explode at 100 feet, and then you’d put other ones going out the side, on both sides, the purpose being, you’d get the submarines somewhere in the middle of the pattern that you’ve got and then having these explode pretty well at the same time.  And, that was a procedure in itself that – like we set the patterns and that but we had others that were to, their duty to carry it out, and you had to go to beat hell to get over, because when they exploded they’d lift the whole end up of your ship.

We were out halfway across the Atlantic, with a convoy.  The war had ended and all they said on that was “hostilities have ceased, proceed with caution.”  I can see that so well, that actual message that had come in to all ships at sea.  So, in standard proceedings to where we were going, whether it was over to England or wherever it was, we were closer to Canada, so they choose to turn around and head back.  And we did that.  We headed back and of course we were hearing at the time about all that, the problems [rioting] and stuff in Halifax, and Sydney, and all over.  Just terrible, terrible things.  But, you know, the merchants had treated you terribly.  They were – you’d have money sent there and when you’re supposed to go back, the money should be there where you get new uniform or something.  But, they cheated us, and that, and so there was good reason for a lot of it, but not really.  Everybody went wild there.

But anyway, we pulled into Liverpool, Nova Scotia. All these riots were going on, and everything, and we thought we’d be able to get ashore and join in the debauchery or whatever it was.  But they said, “No, you can’t go ashore,” so we had to anchor out in the bay at Liverpool there, and the people onshore said we couldn’t have shore leave – we couldn’t, we just had to stay there.  But one of the ships, I forget which one, maybe the [HMCS] Swansea or...it was one of them. Anyway, they just turned the 4.7[-inch gun]s on the town and said, “Look, we’re going in now one way or the other.”  In normal times, you’d be not only court martialed, you’d be done away with for stuff like that, it’s basically a mutiny, but everything was different, you know, and so they changed their mind and we went ashore and it was quite a time.

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