Veteran Stories:
Kenneth Woods

Merchant Navy

  • Canadian Merchant Seaman Kenneth Woods, who served on the Norwegian merchant ship Petter II from November 1944 to July 1945.

    Kenneth Woods
  • Diploma accompanying K. Wood's Norwegian Participation Medal, thanking him for his contribution to Norway's fight for freedom.

    Kenneth Woods
  • Letter from the Defence Command Headquarters of Norway, thanking him (in english) for his participation in Norway's fight for freedom during the Second World War.

    Kenneth Woods
  • Kenneth Woods (right) aboard the HMCS Sackville during a Battle of the Atlantic annual memorial service. Photo courtesy of the Halifax Herald.

  • Kenneth Woods' Medals (L to R): Atlantic Star; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal; War Medal 1939-1945; Norwegian Participation Medal.

    Kenneth Woods
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"And I had turned seventeen in February of 1944, and after D-Day I wanted to go active…"

Transcript

My name is Ken Wood and during my high school years I was a member of the 48th Highlanders Reserve Unit where we learned how to do drill, etcetera, etcetera.

And I had turned seventeen in February of 1944, and after D-Day I wanted to go active, but they said no, you can't go active until you're eighteen. And so I had a friend who was in the merchant navy and he told me what steps I had to go through to join. And I went down and I registered with the Registry of Seamen in Toronto and I had to contact the Canadian Seamen's Union at that time. About the end of October they let me know that they had a place for me and I went from Toronto to New York on the train and I stayed overnight at a Norwegian seaman's home there and was later sent to Baltimore, Maryland, where I joined a Norwegian oil tanker called Petter II, P-E-T-T-E-R, and the Roman numerals II, Petter II. And my job on the ship was to be the saloon boy. The saloon boy was the guy who looked after the senior officers' cabins. There was a second steward who looked after the captain's requirements. But I looked after the cabins, basically keeping them swept and the floors washed, and I had to look after getting the meals from the aft part of the ship to the bridge to the saloon, which was there and I served the captain, the chief mate, the chief engineer and the chief radio operator. So there were only four men that ate in the saloon on a regular basis. I was also responsible for doing the dishes and setting the tables, and there were quite a few duties. I really disliked the job. I came from a family of three boys and three girls and the girls were assigned the household tasks and the boys were given tasks outside, which I always thought of as girl's work and men's work. And here I was on a ship doing the work of what I considered one of the girls.

I later made friends with an English fellow on that ship who was called the deck boy. And he really thought I had a real soft job and a soft go because I wasn't out on deck in the storms and whatever was going on at sea. So we switched. We made arrangements with the chief mate and I became the deck boy and he took over my duties in the saloon. So I was very relieved with that.

Now, I didn't go, as I say, until the Fall of 1944, so by that time the submarine menace was about finished. There was one alarm where we had received information that there was a submarine off Cape Hatteras, but nothing came of it. It was a very stormy night and they had everybody out on lookout, and nothing happened.

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