"Someone thought that a noisemaker could be towed behind our ships, and would act as the deterrent to the Germans' acoustic torpedo"
I’m a mechanical engineer, I graduated of the University of Toronto 1943. I joined the Navy. That was through York, that’s Toronto, and we went to boot camp out at Niagara Falls. And then I was shipped overseas to the Royal Navy, and I spent one year with the Royal Navy… in the Mediterranean to support the American war effort in that theatre. I spent a year there and returned to Canada for that service. So I became a Lieutenant E, that’s Engineering in the Royal Navy and also the Canadian Navy.
I got married and was going back to the Royal Canadian Navy to take additional training when I got a call from Ottawa to ask me, would I like to take on a research project for the Canadian Navy. I came to Halifax and on the way into Halifax, I got a phone call from Doug Darling who was a classmate of mine at the University of Toronto. And of course, he and I were, for four years, were real chums, you know, two guys from out of Toronto going to University of Toronto, Engineering. We were pretty close together and he called me and said, “Well, we need somebody in Ottawa to work on the CAT [Canadian Anti-acoustic Torpedo] gear and they can’t get it working, would you like to do it?” And I said, “God Doug, I’m a seasick Admiral, I don’t like the sea, but I want to take up that task.” And so I got appointed to that task, and I worked on it for less than a year.
During the latter years of World War II, the Germans developed an acoustic torpedo [G7es or Zaunkönig T-5, which the Allies called GNATs – German Naval Acoustic Torpedoes], which when launched, could follow the noise of the enemy’s propellers. We had no defense against this device. We were losing the sea war at an unprecedented rate and the senior officers in Ottawa were worried about this situation and what to do about it. Someone, not recorded, thought that a noisemaker could be towed behind our ships, and would act as the deterrent to the Germans' acoustic torpedo. And I got the job of designing the CAT gear Mark 3, which worked.
Some of the original devices were so big, they were five or six feet long, and they took about four or five guys to throw these overboard. So when I designed them, I made them 23 to 30 inches long, so they were only 80 pounds, so one guy could throw the CAT gear with its tail attached to the ship over the stern, rope would tether out and the CAT gear would be towed behind the ship about 600 feet. The German torpedo will now seek out our torpedo, our CAT gear, the minute it hit, it would be destroyed. If the German’s torpedo wasn’t going in the right direction, and it was in the, taking the necessary steps to go in our direction, we just turned ours off without dragging it inboard on the ship. So my device turned the CAT gear on and off tactically. So when the German torpedo was coming towards our ship, we would throw the CAT gear out the stern, about 600 feet back, it would turn on and it would make a buzzing noise and it would attract their torpedo. If that happened, everything went our way, then their torpedo eventually exhausted its fuel and blew itself up and sank to the bottom of the sea. When cease was declared, I declared my innocence and I went home. Somebody else took over. Of course, it was designed by that time, it worked and they had bought 80 of them I think.
I was representing my Canada, my Canadian identity I guess you would say that. And then I had a lot of relatives over in England and when I was over there, between leaves on English ships, I went to my relatives and saw them for the first time, and they put me up and gave me a glass of milk, which I didn’t have at sea and I had a bath and had soap and water and oh. The relatives were really good at entertaining us and it was nice to see them and know them. So I saw, and I saw a lot of England. And that was one of the good points.