Veteran Stories:
Stuart Nelson “Nick" "” Nicholson

Navy

  • Stuart Nicholson's Kit List.

    Stuart Nicholson
  • Stuart Nicholson's paybook, August 15, 1944.

    Stuart Nicholson
  • After the war, Stuart Nicholson joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in teh reserve regiment. Here he is in the third row, fourth from the right.

    Stuart Nicholson
  • Portrait of Stuart Nicholson, taken in Regina, 1944.

    Stuart Nicholson
  • Stuart Nicholson's Certificate of Service

    Stuart Nicholson
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"they would dress in our civilian clothes and went to town on Saturday nights to buy their cigarettes and so on and so forth, go to the show, and then go back down on the submarine"

Transcript

We lived in Saskatchewan and they used to send a lot of troops over to Moose Jaw and Regina and down south of there because of the weather. They had clear weather there in the winter time, cold but clear. These fellows could take their planes up and get training and so on and so forth. We had a deal one Sunday morning. It was a beautiful day and two of these planes come up from Moose Jaw, and they were flying around the elevators, trying to go down underneath the wires of telephone [poles] and so on and so forth. The first fellow went down. He didn’t make it. He hit the ground and killed himself. The guy behind him was able to pull up and get back to Moose Jaw. The war was right at your door! There wasn’t a thing you could do. The gas caught on fire. There was a fellow home on leave and he said the best thing was just to stay away from it, don’t take any chances of anything blowing up in your face. It really shook the neighbourhood up. One guy was named Sharp. I will always remember that as long as I live. All those small towns in the Prairies – most of them [the families] had four and five children and they oldest son would join up and the others, as they became of age, would decide to join up. If your brother went into the Air Force, you joined the Air Force. Mine went into the Navy so I joined the Navy. If you were in the Navy and you were twelve miles offshore you were in enemy territory because the enemy was coming into the St. Lawrence River in their submarines. They tied in behind the hill somewhere, or some place they could get close to town, and they would dress in our civilian clothes and went to town on Saturday nights to buy their cigarettes and so on and so forth, go to the show, and then go back down on the submarine again. They would wait for us to come out and see if they could blow us up. You had that to contend with and as I say out here, the same thing on this coast [the west coast of Canada]. They claim that we did get shot at up on the West Coast; some say they did and some say they didn’t but maybe they only said that to keep war going, keep things shook up a little bit. The Hecate Strait [body of water between the Queen Charlotte Islands and mainland Vancouver] was a wild place to go through in a ship. The wind used to blow like the dickens. You would get everything all cleaned up in the engine room and all polished up then you would hit the Straits It would take you up about six feet in the air, dropping you down and it would splash the nice clean engine room all up until we got to the other side. Then we were into shore. There wasn’t too much to do around Prince Rupert because the Yankees [American troops] were in there at the same time. There were supposed to be 5000 of them in Prince Rupert at that time. They had more money than us so they used to be able to date all the girls and us poor guys, we took what was left over. You know, dumb things like that. Around Victoria was kind of nice because it was an easy city to walk around and you could spend your spare time down around Beacon Hill Park and all that kind of stuff. People used to come and invite you to a party. Three or four guys would go along and they would invite them into their house and you’d join the party. That was nice. As I look back on it now, we had a lot of good times. It wasn’t so great when we were out at sea sometimes, bouncing around out there. You got to know all the guys aboard the ships and they were kind of like a big brotherhood. Some got torpedoed and some didn’t. That was the way of thing all the way through. The sad thing about it is, is that when the war ended these guys took off for where they lived and you never did see them again. They would get into their married life and start raising families, kids going to school and one thing and another. That’s the way it was. You had to go out and make a stack of new friends again. But, like I say, I would do the same thing again.
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