Veteran Stories:
Robert Small

Navy

  • Robert (Sam) Small looking out to sea on the port side of the H.M.C.S. Dunvegan K-177, circa 1943.

  • Robert (Sam) Small and best friend Blair Vipond prior to leaving for Halifax in 1942. Pilot officer Vipond was shot down and subsequently buried in France.

  • Robert (Sam) Small (5th from left) and crew mates having a pint outside of a pub in Derry, Ireland in 1944.

  • Robert (Sam) Small and elementary student playing 'Amazing Grace' on Memory Project school visit on Remembrance Day 2002.

  • Robert Small's Medals (L-R) : 1939-1945 Star, Atlantic Star with France and Germany Clasp, CVSM with clasp, War Medal 1939-1945, Exemplary Medal from Edmonton Fire Department, Russian Medal for Murmansk and Archangel run.

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"You just wondered, What have I got myself into now?"""

Transcript

Hello everybody. This is Bob Small and I joined the Navy in August of '41 for the World War II conflict. We were called into nonsuch in civies and we went through drills and until we got our uniforms. And at that time, we were considered in active service. When the fellows got the uniforms on and we all looked real green and pretty sharp I guess, and they were all going to the Legion to celebrate. When I joined the Navy down there, I was automatically called Sam, 'cause there's an old song "Sam, Sam, Pick Up Thy Musket". His name was Sam Small. And so when they ask me, "Come on Sam, let's go up to the Legion." I says, "No. I don't drink." Once voice I heard says, "Ah, why didn't you join the Girl Guides, you know?" But I always stood on my feet and I told my young grandchildren to stand on your feet and don't be bullied into doing something you don't want. But anyway, we eventually we went to Naden in BC. And that was a long train ride and we were locked out from the rest of the passengers and we only got to go by them when we were going for our meals. HMCS Naden, a big barracks. It's a real naval station. And boy, when we got through, they closed the gates and they clanged us like a prison and ev... oh boy, your stomach just fell out. You just wondered, "What have I got myself into now?" And we were marched to our barracks. We were lined up and the Petty Officer talked to us. And the first thing he says is, "Don't trust anybody. Don't trust the guy in front of you or the fellow behind you or fellow on your right or the fellow on your left. Don't trust anybody, they'll rob you blind." And all that stuff and boy. And then I went in for a AA3 course. That's Anti-Aircraft Third Class. And then to Halifax and there we continued our course. And then throughout the Dunvegen, a Corvette. One of the old, original Corvettes where there's a break in the foc'sle, which is a space between the hatchways to our mess. And the base of the bridge. And in rough sea, when the bows go down and pick up all that water and it hits the bridge and is dipping down again and somebody happens to be coming in the hatchway, to the mess deck, all of that water comes in with them. When you have that break in the foc'sle, to get your food you had to go outside to the galley. And you have your turns being a cook of the mess. And you get the food for the whole mess table. And there's many a time you'd be coming back with it and the big green would hit you and your tray of food over the side and... So when they put the hull extended... everything's inside. It's all protected from the weather. When she went for refit, I went into Cornwallis and continued my course on the AA guns. And then you go to HMCS Peregrine, that's a barracks. Everything's called HMCS, a ship you know. And then they call names and tell them what ship they're going to. And then there's me and another fellow that were drafted to the Stormont, a frigate. Three hundred foot length and the Corvette was two hundred. So we went and got aboard it and then that next morning early, we set sail for overseas.
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