Veteran Stories:
Edwin Sydney Badger

Navy

  • Edwin Badger receiving his Distinguished Service Medal in 1944, for his role in sinking a German U-Boat.

    Edwin Sydney Badger
  • Edwin Badger's identification photo from the HMCS Bittersweet.

    Edwin Sydney Badger
  • A page from the "Cornwallis Commandments", a rule book for new recruits used in 1942.

    Edwin Sydney Badger
  • Edwin Badger in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1941.

    Edwin Sydney Badger
  • Edwin Badger's Medals: 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal; War Medal (1939-45); and the Distinguished Service Medal he was awarded for his role in sinking a German U-Boat.

    Edwin Sydney Badger
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"“Man the Oerlikons, Man the ruddy Oerlikon!”"

Transcript

What ASDIC [sonar submarine detection system, name derived from Anti-Submarine Detection Investigation Committee] is, you had an oscillator in a dome on the bottom of the ship, and that was electrified and that sent out a sound wave. And if you got a submarine, you got a ping back, you know. Once you got the contact, then you would – actually, you’d have to classify it, that’s the first thing, because there was so many other things like there could be another ship but it could be a whale, it could be a tide, it could be anything. And so that’s what I was, part of my classification was to be able to determine that and report to the officer of the watch and the old man, who would be up by then, that it was a submarine.

The navy was starting these, they weren’t really convoy duties, they were a group of, they called it striking forces, a group of maybe six or eight ships who sort of roamed the North Atlantic, going to the aid of any convoy that was in trouble or things like that. That’s the way I finished the war. We did get a submarine at one time. It was a long job, took us 30 hours. And I was on the set for 30 hours. I was tired and sleepy and angry by the time it was finished.

About 10 o’clock on a Sunday morning, we had just had, everybody who wasn’t on watch – you’ve got to remember, you’ve got to have a watch on all the time, and that’s a lot of the ship, you know, and there’s people down in the engine room, stokers and then the lookouts and gunnery men. So we had what they called a church service on the afterdeck. And they’d fall out the Roman Catholics and I was a Roman Catholic, so I’d take the Roman Catholics around on the starboard side. I was a senior rating and have them say Our Father and a Hail Mary and dismiss them and just as I went to dismiss them, you heard the ping. So I said, dismiss and I went up to the set with the operators and stayed there for 30 hours. But he was cagey, this guy. We never got a chance to talk to the captain and the prisoners we had were pretty much Free French [Free French Forces, or Forces françaises libres; French fighters who continued to fight after France’s surrender on 25 June 1940]. And they were very happy to be taken aboard.

It [an enemy submarine U-744] surfaced alongside the [HMCS] Chilliwack and they shot the captain and I don’t know how they did it but their story is that the officer of the watch saw it coming and told the gunners, “man the Orlicans, man the ruddy Orlican.” And of course, he, I won’t say panicked but, you know, the first thing is kill these bastards, as the story goes. So that was that and we had a heck of a job sinking that there like submarine and in the long run, we had to call on the [HMS] Icarus, which was a part of our group, she had to torpedo the submarine, give it a bit of its own. But all of us, we took 11 survivors, and [HMCS] Chilliwack had survivors.

My brother, who joined the navy before me, when we were, when I was aboard the [HMCS] Chicoutimi and we were working from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Reykjavik, Iceland, Les, my brother, he was aboard the [HMCS] Spikenard, was in the convoy ahead and we were in the following convoy and we suddenly got the news that the [HMCS] Spikenard had been sunk with all hands. And I didn’t know Les, Les had gone to the hospital, my brother. He wasn’t aboard and I didn’t know that until I got back to Halifax and I went up to see his fiancée at the time, and he welcomed me at the door and he said, you’re just in time for my wedding, do you want to be the best man. It was sort of a funny situation but that’s the way it went anyway. It was war, it was war.

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