Veteran Stories:
Murray T. “Curly” Copot

Navy

  • Crest of HMCS Alberni.

    Murray T. Copot
  • Crew of HMCS Ontario, November 1945.

    Murray T. Copot
  • Murray T. Copot in Malta, June 1945.

    Murray T. Copot
  • Portrait of Murray T. Copot, June 1945.

    Murray T. Copot
  • Hockey Puck from the Murray Copot Arena, Calgary, Alberta. Mr. Copot became involved with amateur hockey in order to forget about the war, which he did not speak about for decades afterwards. His work on behalf of amateur hockey was rewarded by having an arena named after him.

    Murray T. Copot
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"...it was about that time that I said, my mother can’t get a telegram because it would kill her."

Transcript

At the time that I signed up, Myroslaw, that was my first name and I changed it to Murray T. Copot. Actually, I joined up in 1941 and I was on the reserve list and I went on active service in 1942, March of 1942 - someplace around there. I joined up at HMCS Chippewa in Winnipeg. After serving some time at Chippewa, doing some guard duty and learning how to be a naval person because Winnipeg is in the middle of the country and there’s no ocean except Lake Winnipeg was the biggest piece of water that I could see, I went to HMCS York. And that was in Toronto. And after Toronto, went to Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, for my course. And I was in Saint-Hyacinthe for a few months and then I went to Halifax and the next thing I know, I’m heading down to the HMCS corvette Alberni, after I went to the Signal Distributing Office and it was raining in Halifax, what else is new? I got onto the Alberni and that night, we took off with a small convoy to Cape Breton and it was kind of rough and I got seasick and because everybody mentioned that I was going to get seasick. So I got seasick but that was the only time that I did get seasick after spending a couple of years on the corvette Alberni.

From then on, we were on the Triangle Run, that was between St. John’s, Newfoundland, Halifax, Boston, New York, that we called the Triangle Run. We took convoys to a certain point in the Atlantic Ocean and then we picked up other convoys coming back. Then after the convoy duty in the North Atlantic, we went overseas in, I think it was probably about March of 1944, and we took some convoys in the English Channel. And then we were preparing for D-Day. We were not too sure about what was going to happen and on June the 5th, I can still remember our Captain Ian Bell, he was a great great captain, plus he was a great person. And he came aboard and said, we’re not going today, that was June the 5th and probably go tomorrow if it stops raining. And the waves were pretty high. So anyway, June the 6th, we helped take over the Mulberry dock - that was the dock that the tanks and stuff could go ashore. And we got there I would say about 9:30 in the morning and that was one day I wanted to forget. And there was three days that I wanted to forget was June the 6th, 1944, at 9:30 in the morning on Juno Beach and August the 21st 1944 when the ship was torpedoed, and in September of 1945, when we picked up the prisoners of war from Hong Kong. And I think those were the three outstanding, well, I wouldn’t say outstanding, but those were the three days that I really wanted to forget.

On our off-hours, we’d be playing bridge and sometimes the alarm would go off that we had spotted or we had maybe some submarines. So I don’t know how we did it but we’d put our cards down, grab our boots and jackets and stuff and get up there. And then after the all clear was, we went down and we started to play bridge again as if nothing happened in the last couple of hours. And sometimes we had cockroach races on the mess deck table, especially on July the 1st, it was our holiday and sometimes, we’d make a dollar or two or lose a dollar or two on our cockroach.

But anyway, when the ship was going down, it got caught in a, whatever, going down, I did, when I got, I guess I must have got hit in the head or something but all at once, I sort of woke up and it was kind of dark, underwater and I wasn’t too sure whether I was going up or down. But all at once, it started to get brighter, so at that time, I said, well, I’m going the right way, my mother can’t get a telegram because it would kill her, so I popped up and when I saw the bow of the ship going down, I broke all records in the water to get away from getting sucked down again. But my mother and dad at that time were in Fraserwood, Manitoba, in Canada and it was quarter to 12:00, Greenwich Mean Time and she woke up at quarter to 4:00 Winnipeg time and she woke my dad up and said, something’s happening to our son. So they got down and started praying and it was about that time that I said, my mother can’t get a telegram because it would kill her. So there’s something in prayers also.

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