Veteran Stories:
Robert James “Bob” Sears

Navy

  • Robert James Sears, March 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"And everybody was jubilant and they were basically drinking because the war was over. They were celebrating."

Transcript

I joined the navy in Regina and it was right after the hockey season had finished; I played for Regina Pats [junior ice hockey team]. And I got a little letter from the gentlemen in Ottawa stating that the army wanted me because at that time, there was conscription, and I was determined they were not going to get me so I joined the navy. And that started my career and I did about a week or ten days in HMCS Queen and then I was drafted to [HMCS] Stadacona in Halifax and did my new entry training. I went to the [HMCS] Eastview, which was a frigate. I was on there and I wanted to be a physical training instructor. And they told me, no, they didn’t need any. And I couldn’t be a physical training instructor unless I had a third class non-substantive rate, which was your branch in the navy. And I said, what’s the easiest one to get and they said, AA [anti-aircraft] gunnery. So that’s what I took. And then I was waiting for my ship to come back after I’d finished that and I said, now can I be a physical training instructor and they said, no, we don’t need any. And it wasn’t long after that that the war ended. I went to Stadacona for new entry training. That was two weeks. I was in Stadacona for a while and then the convoys were going overseas, so they were always lined up either in Halifax, Saint John or Corner Brook, the three ports. And when the convoy was ready, then all of a sudden, we’d escort the convoys over to UK [United Kingdom] or wherever. I didn’t make any trips; I went back to Stadacona to take the gunnery course, because I wanted to be a physical training instructor. I’m in the national Sports Hall of Fame for sports and I’m into the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame. Everything was rushed through. Of course in the wartime, instead of taking as long as it should have taken to train you properly, time did not permit, they needed us - badly. So they got us trained as fast as we could and in a lot of cases, a lot of us went back to the gunnery and we were not properly trained, as they are today. Today, they’re fully trained and there is a big difference. That was when the riot was in Halifax. I was there and as a matter of fact, I was [on] duty in Stadacona and we were told by the duty officers that we could not go ashore until our relief came back. I was on the main gate in Stadacona and this kid came back and I gave him my boatswain’s call [naval whistle] and I said, I’m going ashore, you’re duty. And I told the officer of the day, I’d had a relief - I didn’t tell him he was drunk - but I went ashore. And I had a good time there, a really good time. Well actually, it was a sad thing because the mayor of Halifax, the admiral, the whole works of them, decided that they would shut the messes and so - it was a day of celebration, the war was over; they should have opened up everything wide and there’d have been no problems. But they didn’t and all of a sudden, and I don’t know who started it and I don’t think anybody else does either, somebody threw a rock through a liquor store, through the window in the liquor store and they got the booze and then from one bottle of booze to the next to the next to the next. And everybody was jubilant and they were basically drinking because the war was over. They were celebrating.
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