Veteran Stories:
Stirling Albert “Squares” Squarebriggs

Navy

  • HMCS Louisbourg, a steam-powered corvette. Sailed in the Atlantic Ocean.

    Stirling Albert Squarebriggs
  • HMCS Three Rivers, a diesel-powered frigitte, which served as a minesweeper. Mr. Squarebriggs served on this ship twice during World War Two.

    Stirling Albert Squarebriggs
  • Crewmates on the HMCS Louisbourg, a corvette, deicing the top of the ship in the North Atlantic. Photograph was taken by Mr. Squarebriggs shortly before the invasion of Italy.

    Stirling Albert Squarebriggs
  • Stirling Albert Squarebriggs in uniform in the 1940s.

    Stirling Albert Squarebriggs
  • Stirling Albert Squarebriggs's medals.

    Stirling Albert Squarebriggs
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"And of course, I was all ready for him, I said, first of March 1924. Well, he said, he figured that out and he said, okay, you’re 17, so you’re okay."

Transcript

The dates that they have for my service doesn’t add up to 47 months. They have me down at 31st of January, 1942. And I know I was discharged on the 30th of November, 1945. Now, they have me down, that’s 47 months. Now, if you figure that out, you’ll find that it’s not 47 months. Now, my right date of enlistment is in December 1941. And my discharge form says 1942, 31st of January, 1942. I decided, I had grade nine out of Mount Herbert, finished grade nine and I was ready for grade 10 in Charlottetown when I came in, but somehow I didn’t stay in school. I wanted to get into the navy. I was five foot 11 and a half, I remember that, and I weighed 124 pounds. And I said to my father, I want to join the navy. Now, I said, if I go up there, they’re going to ask me for a birth certificate. And then my birth certificate’s going to say, March 1st, 1926. Now, I have to tell them that I was born March 1st, 1924 in order to get in the navy. So I want you to come up with me on pretense that you’re going to join the navy. And he said, why would I want to join the navy? But I said, you can’t say anything to me, dad, because you were in the First World War at 16. So he says, okay. Are you sure that’s, he says, are you sure that’s what you want to do? I said, yes, dad, that’s exactly what I want to do. So he says, okay, let’s go up, let’s go to the navy barracks. So we went up to the navy barracks and we were met by the officer of the watch and HMCS Queen Charlotte it was at the time. And the officer of the watch said, who do you want to see and we said, we want to see the recruitment officer. So a recruitment officer came out and he said, what can I do for you fellows? And we said, we want to join the navy. He said, both of you? Yeah. So he said, okay, come on in and we’ll have a chat. We went in and we sat down and he looked at dad and he said, how old are you, sir? My father says, I’m 45. And he turned right around to me and he said, what year were you born? And of course, I was all ready for him, I said, first of March 1924. Well, he said, he figured that out and he said, okay, you’re 17, so you’re okay. We’ll take you but we won’t take your father. Well, that’s what we wanted in the first place. So dad winked at me and went home. And we went up to the North Sea and into the Bay of Biscay, and we went into the Murmansk area and it was icebergs everywhere. And it was very very cold and the port we went into was a place called Archangel and it’s a part of Siberia. So we took our convoy in there, lost a couple of ships on the way with the submarines, German subs. And then when we went into Archangel, we were hit with German planes. And the Germans were right outside the gates of course of Archangel [Arkhangelsk, Russia]. And we deposited our convoy and we left. We were able to get some oil from the ships that we were delivering and we burned diesel oil anyway. Oh, there was one ship though that was diesel oil and we were able to oil up and we couldn’t get much supplies because of the shortage of food in Russia. So anyway, we turned around then and we came back and took some empty ships back with us on a convoy of return. And that, I never went back, that was my last trip there. We went to hardtack, okay, it’s a biscuit. A hardtack is very very very tough and it was round. And you had to open a tin to get them, tin can, great big tin, probably a foot square. And probably maybe a foot and a half in height. And the biscuits would all be in there. And they’d be dished out and you could do whatever you’d like with them, we didn’t have much water because we were diesel, couldn’t make water like the steam ships would, like steam vessels, steam warships. And we didn’t have any milk except in tin cans, canned milk. So you could soften them up that way if you wanted to. And sort of make a sops out of it.
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