"We went with our other ships and dropped patterns of depth charges pretty well all night to see if could find a sub."
Well, I was selling newspapers on the street. So I was quite aware of the war coming and quite interested. And I remember the day it was declared, I sold all my papers before I got out of the station because people were really interested.
Well, I quit school at 15 actually and went to Winnipeg, Manitoba and worked in a shell factory making 25 pound shells. I joined the Signal Corps while I was there, just the Reserve Signal Corps. Then I decided to come back home in the spring and I was very interested in the railroad because my dad worked on the railroad. So I was apprenticing for a fireman, but hoping for a career as a railroad engineer. But after three weeks or so, they sent me in for a medical and I was colour blind. So my dreams ended there.
And then one night in town, talking to some older guys, they were talking about going to Winnipeg to join the navy. So I had to get a re-certificate from the town hall and my sister fixed it up for me so that I was going as 18 instead of 16. And I took my basic training at Chippawa in Winnipeg, HMCS Chippawa, until October 24th, and then we were shipped out to Esquimalt, B.C., and Naden for the stokers course. Then our ship was built out there and I was drafted aboard the HMCS Antigonish, a frigate. And after some training, we sailed down to the Panama Canal to Halifax and then shortly after that, we sailed to Bermuda for our ops training and then back to Halifax and we joined four other ships as a striking force, called EG16. We patrolled between Halifax, New York and Newfoundland, looking for submarines.
One of the incidences we had were we received a message that there was a Canadian warship sunk near Newfoundland, so we went full steam all night and arrived in the morning, but it was a sad sight as sailors were found frozen in Carley floats and this reminded us that we were at war. I never did find out what ship it was, but we picked up some of the bodies and took them into port.
We went up the St. Lawrence [River] a few times, escorting convoys and then we started escorting convoys halfway across to England and once we were there, we left the convoy and ships from England took over. And we were headed back to Halifax, we heard explosions and so they turned around and when we got there, there was several transport ships sinking and empty lifeboats and no signs of survivors. So we went with our other ships and dropped patterns of depth charges pretty well all night to see if could find a sub.
And then we finally escorted convoys all the way across and ended up in the English Channel and then we escorted ships across to France and had a lot of contacts with subs and had a lot of depth charges firing. But we never had any definite sinking. And then we started convoying hospital ships from Scotland to Sicily and stayed in Gibraltar while the hospital ships were filled up and then brought them back to Scotland. And the second trip down, Germany surrendered, and while we were in Gibraltar, a lot of the subs were getting themselves up, coming into harbour. Our overseas base was Londonderry [Northern Ireland], so we eventually arrived back there and we were the last group of Canadian ships to leave for home.