Veteran Stories:
Douglas Cooper

Navy

  • Front side of Passenger Receipt from Toronto Terminals Railway Company

    Douglas Cooper
  • Back side of Passengers Receipt from the Toronto Terminals Railway Company

    Douglas Cooper
  • Front side of ticket to British Columbia from Canadian Pacific

    Douglas Cooper
  • Back side of ticket to British Columbia from Canadian Pacific

    Douglas Cooper
  • Meal ticket issued by the Department of Defense

    Douglas Cooper
  • Certificate issued to Mr. Douglas Cooper, honourary Texan

    Douglas Cooper
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"Other times they would go into a bay that they had scouted out earlier and be doing a real good clip and then hard a port or starboard whatever and then open up with a gun. Star shells first and then when they burst and lit the shore up, well, then the rest of them would fire at the trains."

Transcript

I was living in Oakville [Ontario] and I had a pal that was about a year older than myself and there were several people thought that military training would do him a lot of good.  So they more or less talked him into it and he said, well, he’d join the navy.  And, of course the first time he came home on leave I had a look at him and saw the change in him and so on and I thought, “Boy, that looks like a good life for me.”  So I went down to Toronto [Ontario] and joined up.

Sasebo, Japan was where we used to tie up.  And the docks in Sasebo were all steel and hollow.  Like, when you tied up, when you walked off the gangplank you could hear a hollow sound. And of course, we were inquisitive and found out that it was during the war the Japanese would have a ship’s crew living in that particular jetty, floating jetty.  And when a destroyer or a ship pulled in to get ammunition and food and maybe work done to it or whatever, the crew would come off the ship and the ones in the floating jetty would walk on board.  And they’d switch the crew and they were gone again.  It was amazing to see generations of families living on one boat that had never been on shore.  Oh, golly, when you pulled into some of those harbours you could, you’d just see thousands of them just lined up, you know, and they could, you could smell the harbour before you even got close.

Well, a stoker’s job, I done watches down on in the boiler rooms.  We used to pull, as I said, pull fires, you’d have rings across the front of the boiler and we had to put new tips in and take the tips out and clean them and just depends what amount of speed they wanted, what size of tips we put into these rings.  Large fans on the side of the boiler that would, when the ship’s moving there was no, the air wasn’t brought in by forced or by fan, it was just through movement.  Like, you’re doing say 10 knots, well, then you had some breeze, the big scoops up on the upper deck would pick up breeze and bring it down into the boiler room which is the bottom of the ship.  And then there was a fan that distributed it in the boiler room.  But you’d watch, you’d look in through the front of the boiler and you’d see that the oil that you had just turned, put a new tip on and turned the oil on and it burnt, it was, you couldn’t see the oil.  It would just flame right from the tip of the sprayer.  So the faster they wanted to go, the larger tips we had to put on.

You do two hours on then you’re off and then you do four on and then you, you know, you’d get in your hammock and then you’re called out to do, they’re going fire the guns towards the shore.  They had information that the Chinese were coming across the mainland there.  They were boarding trains so they were going to ship them out and we were off sitting very quietly out in a small bay somewhere.  And then it’s three o’clock in the morning.  Maybe you just came off at midnight, you know, or two o’clock whatever, they’d ring the horn and somebody would come along real silent-like and shake all the hammocks.  We slept in hammocks at that time.  Shake all the hammocks and get everybody up and you went to your battle stations and pumped ammunition for a couple of hours while they fired on these trains that were moving troops and so on.

At different times we would stay out maybe three, four miles off but close enough where those on the upper deck were listening they could hear.  They could pick up the action.  And then other times they would go into a bay that they had scouted out earlier and be doing a real good clip and then hard a port or starboard whatever and then open up with a gun.  Star shells first and then when they burst and lit the shore up, well, then the rest of them would fire at the trains and those that were running around.

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