Veteran Stories:
Clarence “Peter” Sweeney

Navy

  • Photo of HMCS Nene crew, 2007.

    Clarence Peter Sweeney
  • Crew of HMCS Nene, circa 1944.

    Clarence Peter Sweeney
  • Statement of Service of Clarence Peter Sweeney.

    Clarence Peter Sweeney
  • Picture of HMCS Nene, 1943.

    Clarence Peter Sweeney
  • Mr. Sweeney, in January 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"Now, all I know about that is that meant that we went out looking for trouble. We went out looking for submarines. And we chased them all over the Atlantic."

Transcript

When I first went aboard the ship, the first problem I had to contend with was chronic seasickness. It got so bad that the captain called me into his quarters and he said, “Well Peter, either you get over seasickness or I’m going to have to put you ashore.” Well, I figured if he put me ashore, that would blackball me for any sort of service duty of anything except in the barracks. And that didn’t appeal to me. So I started drawing food from the galley and eating until I was sick, then drawing it again, and I kept that up until I wasn’t sick. So I got over my seasickness. You would go into the boiler room and there would be a leading seaman who would be in charge of the boiler room. And you would work for him. So on our ship, there was two boilers, so that meant there were two people doing that and the watches varied. Some were four on, four off, others were on longer, eight hours on and eight hours off. They varied, depending upon whatever the officers decided. We had to take turns doing such things as looking after what we called being a messman for the leading officers. You each had to take turns doing that. When there was action stations, and you weren’t on duty, then your job was to pass ammunition. And that’s what we would do. Because off duty would have nothing basically to do. And on action stations, everybody has something to do. They claim that that’s why I’ve lost my hearing, is because the navy provided the gunmen with hearing protection, but they didn’t supply any hearing protection for us guys that were passing ammunition. So they say that that’s why I lost my hearing. We did convoy duty where we, what we called a Murmansk Run. Murmansk is in Russia, okay. Well, there were two major convoys went to Murmansk, Russia. And we were on both of them. Our ship was on striking force. Now, all I know about that is that meant that we went out looking for trouble. We went out looking for submarines. And we chased them all over the Atlantic. All these other things happened doing just that. We commissioned the ship when it was turned over from the English Navy to the Canadian Navy, we were the crew that took over the ship. I was on the ship when we took the ship and put it into the mothball fleet where it was sunk up to its gun decks in the Sheerness area, that was in the London. Later I hear that the ship was raised and sold as scrap. So the ship was destroyed. We were the crew that the HMCS Nene[K270] had from the beginning to the end, as far as the Canadian Navy is concerned. We can’t say it’s the life of the ship because the ship was originally built for the English Navy. And it was turned over to the Canadian Navy. We got the ship all ready for storage and various things had to be done. And when it was finished, then we got off the ship and somebody went aboard the ship and opened up the seacocks [valves on the hull of a boat that allow water in], so the ship would sink. So that was put into what they call a mothball fleet. That if there was additional war requirement, they could raise that ship in a matter of hours and have it floating and ready for action. Well, apparently that never happened because the war was over and there was no need for the ship, so the ship was sold for scrap.
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