Veteran Stories:
William Black

Navy

  • The dry dock at Sasebo, Japan, 1954.

    Kenneth Snider
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"The Japanese were excellent. We got along well. Their pay was unbelievably low. They probably got about ten dollars a month pay. Some of these people were, perhaps, ex-commanders during the war, engineers with degrees working in the dockyard."

Transcript

We did, on another occasion, in Okinawa,* manage to sink our motorboat. It was a Liberty boat. The boat was going in at night. There was two lights, lighting up the inlet. The person in charge of the boat managed to run up into the rocks. Then he backed off and he managed to get alongside and tie it up with the head rope and the stern rope. Then an American landing craft, a small landing craft, came alongside and the wash managed to sink our motorboat. Newton was our - Lieutenant Commander Newton - was our ship's diver, scuba diver. So he went over, I think, with the PO [Petty Officer] hardhat diver and they had a look at it. They got it raised and got it back onboard. The Japanese rebuilt it when we got back to Sasebo [Japan].

The Japanese did marvelous work in overhauling our turbo-generators and whatever they did. They had probably inadequate tools and materials but they did a marvelous job. They were certainly artisans in what they did. And they did it faster without all the equipment than what we experienced back in Canada.

The Japanese were excellent. We got along well. Their pay was unbelievably low. They probably got about ten dollars a month pay. Some of these people were, perhaps, ex-commanders during the [Second World] War, engineers with degrees working in the dockyard. So it took a long time for them to get back up to speed but they did, of course.

In Sasebo itself, some of the grading docks, the jetties, they had, it was remarkable. They had mini-submarines. You know, the miniature, I think they were called Kaiten, the suicide submarines. One of the dockyards, if you walk along the tracks, walking in to town, which we didn’t normally do that. But we’d take a walk along the jetty and there’s 30 or 40 of these miniature submarines all at the bottom of the dock. And I didn’t realize it at the time, the kind of submarine they were. They were one-man submarine with a warhead on the front end, a Kamikaze** I guess. I think they were called Kaiten.

It was very a desolate, derelict, ill-kept city, Sasebo south. They had raw sewage running through the streets. Smelly old place but it was home for us for almost a year.

*Ryukyu Islands, Japan

**Reference to suicide attacks by Japanese aviators during the Second World War

 

Interview with William Black - FCWM Oral History Project

Accession Number CWM 20020121-153

George Metcalf Archival Collection

© Canadian War Museum

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