Frank Reneau

Home Town: Kingsville, Ontario Conflict: World War II Branch: Navy

  • Photo of Frank Reneau from his book. He was 18 year old, 1943.
  • Newspaper Article, September 1942. Frank Reneau is pictured on top right.
  • HMCS Haida, the ship Frank Reneau was on during the war, 2002.
Photo of Frank Reneau from his book. He was 18 year old, 1943. Frank Reneau
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And to be cold and hungry and sleepy and tired. And you had a job to do. And you done it because you were so damn young and stupid.

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I loved being on the water. I put 22 years in Lake Erie as a fisherman and a skipper. And two years in the navy. And I mean, bad seas, seas you wouldn’t believe. They’re humungous. And I just love the water. I feel free and I feel good and I breathe good. So you never see much. As far as action was concerned, I never seen much. I was down in this housing that you couldn’t see nothing. It was all closed and protected, so you wouldn’t get hurt. Because without the men there, the guns are no good to you.

When it was your turn to go and get the meal at the cookhouse, you were the one that had to go and bring it down to the boys. And then the next day, it’d be somebody else do that. That was your job for the day, bringing the meals down so they could eat. And we used to have four meals a day. We used to have breakfast, we had dinner, we had supper, we called it supper. Then we had Kai. And Kai was chocolate milk, hot chocolate milk and a piece of stinky old cheese. And was it good. I liked it anyway.

It sways with the ship, the ship sways. The hammocks sway. And you’d close your eyes and you’d say, I’m in mother’s arms. And it just seemed like you were in your mother’s arms. Put you right to sleep. Easiest sleep I ever had. But then when they come to wake you up, they pounded the hammocks, make sure you were awake. With a club heavier than that, and they, wham, wham, wham.

When we were off the coast of Russia, escorting convoys in, and submarines all around us. And the night was cold, naturally it was, so the Arctic circle. Because the Murmansk Run is over the Arctic circle. And to be cold and hungry and sleepy and tired. And you had a job to do. And you done it because you were so damn young and stupid.

No, I mean, you had to be young and tough to be able to do it because the nights were frigid. You think it's cold here, hah! You don’t know what cold is. You dare lick your lips or shed a tear, you’d get an ice ball right in your face from the tear. No, it was very, very cold. But the navy was, to me was good, it was exciting, it was warm, it was, your buddies were close to you. And you respected their job and they respected yours. Very, we called it a pusser navy [slang for purser or purser issue, which is anything supplied by the navy]. That meant that everything had to be just right - pusser.