Photo of two sailor friends - Bill Pleasants and John Gilbert, taken in Guelph, Ontario, in 1942.Shirley Gilbert
"The invasion was very exciting and also quite interesting, the types of ships we saw and the amount of action that was going on. "
We did take part in the [D-Day] invasion, we were connected to the US Army or Navy, whatever, and, of course, the invasion was very exciting and also quite interesting, the types of ships we saw and the amount of action that was going, which kept us alert. Nothing really came our way, but there was certainly a lot of heavy stuff going over our heads. Well, we were – we had the minesweepers* in towards the – France on a marked channel, and then we – once we had reached the end of our run, we circled around, out of the way, and let the other ships we were sweeping for go ahead. It was very exciting, very noisy, and I can’t say we enjoyed it, but we didn’t feel it too oppressive. We happened to have to be in barracks in Halifax, and the news came through [that the war was over in Europe]. Well, a lot of the sailors got a little wild and went downtown, and started smashing things, especially the liquor store where they stole cases of booze, and myself and several other people went downtown. Somebody had broken a big hole in the fence, so we walked through and walked downtown, saw them still after the booze and then went up to the hill, where a lot of partying was going on, and then we decided, better get back to barracks before we get into trouble. So that’s what we did.
*Minesweepers were ships that cleared underwater mines planted by enemy vessels in harbours and coastlines, creating safe passage for Allied naval ships.