Veteran Stories:
Douglas Rice

Navy

  • The Memory Project, Historica Canada
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"I was in Montreal, [Quebec] when, when the war ended in Europe. And, and they turned the lights that had been off all during the war, they turned them on. A lot of them didn’t work but most of them did. So it made quite a celebration, first when the war ended and lots of dancing in the streets and, and just real celebrations that went on."

Transcript

Well, I was just entering high school when the war broke out in 1939. I went to a small high school and the thing I remember mostly at that time was in the general assemblies, they gave out the names of those that were lost. And I think one of the first ones was about three days after the war started and he was shot down in an old bi-sander [Sanders N3N], which was a biplane and he was photographing the German lines in France when that happened and it just went on from there. It got to be quite a thing and quite a list of names that were lost over there. And then when I finished school, my dad was a First [World] War vet[eren] and he really wanted me to go with his unit. But I decided I’d try the [Royal Canadian] Navy and so I was a wireless operator, a telegrapher is what was the rating that they used in the Navy.

The wireless [operator] had a key job during the war, they were on every ship and it was mostly a case of listening when you’re at sea. And you would receive information that, that would maybe change things a bit for you. It was about a 26-week training course that we took and I ended up in the Radio Cataloguing Division which was a new branch or a new group of people that, and we worked with the suppliers, which at that time where you had people in Canada making radio equipment which was [Canadian] Marconi [Company] and RCA Victor in Montreal,[Quebec] and Sparton [of Canada, Ltd.] in London, Ontario and REL [Research Enterprises Limited] in Toronto, [Ontario].

So it was a matter of getting all the different parts, radio components and giving them a supplier number and an RCN number and entering that into a catalogue that people used in the equipment could order from then. So that was really, this was the very start of getting some of the information down into a form that was more usable.

The reason I joined the Navy was it looked like there was an opportunity to do things more quickly there. You know, there was a certain amount of rumours that used to go around and, and at that time, they were saying that there were ships down in Halifax, [Nova Scotia] waiting for crews. So that was one of the reasons why we looked at the Navy as our first choice. And not that we were doing something that, for any other reason, it was just a thought that you would maybe get to where you could be of some use more quickly. That was why I took the training that I did, was to qualify so that I would be able to go on sea.

I was in Montreal, [Quebec] when, when the war ended in Europe. And, and they turned the lights that had been off all during the war, they turned them on. A lot of them didn’t work but most of them did. So it made quite a celebration, first when the war ended and lots of dancing in the streets and, and just real celebrations that went on.

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