Veteran Stories:
John Pavey


  • John David Pavey (on left) with his brother, prior to evacuation to Skipton, March 26, 1941.

    John H. Pavey
  • John H. Pavey parading downtown Douglas, Isle of Mann. late 1944.

    John H. Pavey
  • John H. Pavey (on right) with a friend on the deck of a ship, October 1945.

    John H. Pavey
  • HMS Birmingham entered in Malmo, Sweden, October 1945.

    John H. Pavey
  • John H. Pavey's Certificate of Service, April 26, 1944.

    John H. Pavey
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"These troops were members of the, Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal and they were all very couth and they were very friendly, to the point that they would invite me to visit their mess hall for some meals."


My name is John Pavey. I was born in Brighton, England, on September 12th, 1927. Following the Battle of Britain, we then had the German bombers going over night after night and we would, as a family, generally in the early days, leave our beds and go down to the kitchen and we would sleep under the kitchen table, which was a very sturdy table and therefore, assumed to be quite safe. There was only a few times when the bombs got close to us but there was nothing too serious.

During those years, we had what was then called the wireless. We didn’t have the means of communication that we have today. But the wireless was our main source of news and we would gather as a family around that wireless or radio and listen to [British Prime Minister Winston] Churchill particularly, when Churchill would speak and listen very carefully to the news. It was whilst we were listening to the news that I would be hearing of the number of ships that were being sunk, the number of men that were being lost, both in the Royal Navy and in the merchant marine. And I suppose in a way, those messages, that news, sort of sunk right into me and like a lot of young people at that time in life, we too wanted to enlist. But early on, we were too young to enlist.

There was a threat of invasion in 1941 and my younger brother, David and I were evacuated to Skipton in Yorkshire for about six months. And at that time, my mother sort of felt that the threat had eased and therefore, we should return home to the south coast. So when we returned home, being anxious to get some pocket money, like a lot of young people in those days, we would take delivery routes, paper routes, delivering anything to make a dollar, or a penny. And we had a news agent across the road and they had quite a few Canadian customers. You see, the south coast of England and Brighton in particular was sort of inundated with Canadian troops. And they were billeted very close to us. And they were many of my customers.

So here we see the beginning of an education for a young guy as to Canada. These troops were members of the, Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal and they were all very couth and they were very friendly, to the point that they would invite me to visit their mess hall for some meals and of course, to enjoy home movies that they would show which showed the life that they knew in Canada. So here was an impression on an impressionable young fellow, for Canada. And I was delivering papers to these troops when the Dieppe raid took place in August 1942.

Being young, the only opportunity for enlisting was to enlist as a Boy Seaman at [age] 16-and-a-half. And I went to London and I signed up and had to get my parents of course to co-sign to join the Royal Navy as a Boy Seaman at 16-and-a-half, which was April 1944. I trained at HMS St. George, which was on, at Douglas Isle of Man, and I heard of the invasion of Europe over the PA system that we had. I completed my training in mid-1945 and joined HMS Birmingham, a light cruiser, which was in Portsmouth. And was onboard that ship when VJ-Day [Victory in Japan] was announced. Later, I joined HMS Theseus, a light league carrier and did a tour to the Far East, which included Australia, New Zealand, Ceylon as we knew it then [now Sri Lanka], and Hong Kong, before returning home.

After I returned home, which would be about, I think it’s June of 1948, the job situation in the UK was pretty grim. They were scarce and there were no opportunities for a young fellow like myself. So I went to London again and visited Canada House. And was encouraged from them to come to Canada and I came by plane in August 1948. Here I was, almost 21, and here I was, landing up in Canada, Toronto, and this is where I have been ever since.

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