Veteran Stories:
Robert George Kyle

Navy

  • Robert Kyle and Marie. Extracted from self-published book Prairie Boy Goes to War (2007).

    Robert Kyle
  • HMCS Qu'Appelle. Extracted from Robert Kyle's self-published book Prairie Boy Goes to War (2007).

    Robert Kyle
  • Robert Kyle in Moncton, New Brunswick, November 23, 2009.

    Historica Canada
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"We also fired our torpedo tubes at them on our first run and when we come back, there was two of them on fire. We eventually sank three of them, one disappeared."

Transcript

By the news, you could tell that there was war coming and I always knew that I would be the only one in my family that went. My older brother wouldn’t pass a medical and my younger brothers were too young. So that’s what happened. On the farm, we had a hired man. His name was Klaus Windberg and he was an ex-sailor on the wooden ships. And he told me stories of where he went and things that happened; and that influenced me in joining the navy when I was an adult. Well, when I first went to sea, I was impressed with the vastness of the oceans and how rough they can get. The first ship I joined was HMS Persian in Toronto, a Canadian-built minesweeper. There was always lots to do. They tried to keep you busy cleaning. But there was no painting to do on a brand new ship because it was already done, and provisioning ship. We sailed across Lake Ontario up the St. Lawrence to Montreal, Quebec, Halifax and across to St. John’s, Newfoundland. And we delivered it to Edinburgh, Scotland. We were drafted to a River class destroyer in Hull, England, HMCS Qu’Appelle. We nicknamed it the “Q Apple.” Spent a lot of time on lookout at sea. Our area was the Atlantic Ocean and the English Channel, and Iceland. Well, we were always on submarine watch. We saw them surface in the English Channel. One time we were out, we went to the coast of France, the harbour of Brest and we intercepted four German M class minesweepers [Minensuchboot]. We had the senior captain onboard; we were first in line when we attacked the four minesweepers. A destroyer carries 4.7 guns and, and Oerlikon [anti-aircraft] guns, and also torpedo tubes. We were better armed than them. I was a crew member on a 6-pounder gun, one deck below the bridge. We went past the four minesweepers and as we were faster than them, we went ahead far enough so that we could turn about and come back by using the port guns. We also fired our torpedo tubes at them on our first run and when we come back, there was two of them on fire. We eventually sank three of them, one disappeared. On the return fire from the German ships, there’s a tracer, every third bullet is a tracer. And the bullets skip on the water, just like you throw a stone and it skips. But the skips by a bullet is about a quarter of a mile, but you can see them coming towards you.
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