Veteran Stories:
Douglas Cohoon

Army

  • Douglas Cohoon when he was working at the Wireless Station in Alert, Northwest Territories, in 1957.

    Douglas Cohoon
  • In August 2000, Douglas and his wife Norma Cohoon visited Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Mr. Cohoon remembers docking after the war in 1946.

    Douglas Cohoon
  • Douglas and Norma Cohoon in 2009 at a Remembrance Day Ceremony on November 11 at the Fleetwood Villa. Mr. Cohoon is wearing his medals including the Pacific Volunteer Service medal.

    Douglas Cohoon
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"If you recall the song, “Bless ‘Em All,” the Samaria was the ship in that song."

Transcript

With luck, I managed to do both. After VE [Victory in Europe] Day, I volunteered for the Pacific War. I was discharged from the army in early 1947, in Halifax. I then started a course in Morse Code wireless operating. The school burnt down before my course was completed, so I decided to reenlist as an army Morse Code operator. At this time, I met some buddies who proved to be trouble for me. One day, my commanding officer called me to his office. Upon looking over my documents, [he] noted I was taking typing. So he said, I’m posting you to Her Majesty’s Transport, [RMS] Queen Mary, as a clerk typist. This was the beginning of a great year on the Mary. We sailed from Halifax to New York to Southampton. Each trip taking supplies and priority passengers to Britain, and returning with war brides and children. We would take German prisoners from Canada over. See, Canada had, I think, something like 6000, or maybe it was 13000. Yeah, anyhow, we looked after our prisoners during the war in Canada and then after the war was over, of course, they were all pardoned and given honourable releases and we shipped them back to their various countries. And I happened to be a young soldier who got posted to these ships. And it was a fantastic job. I’ll never ever forget it as long as I live. Eventually, the sad day came to leave the Mary. I then was posted to the Royal Mail Ship, Aquitania and later, to the Royal Mail Ship, Samaria. If you recall the song, “Bless ‘Em All,” the Samaria was the ship in that song. About 1951, I was posted to Ladner, B.C., with my wife, Florence, and two kids. [Royal Canadian Corps of Signals] Vancouver Wireless Station was my new army base in 1951. It was shift work, so there was free time to work on local farms. I did so and enjoyed that change. Canadian Forces Base Ladner was a good place to work. I spent 15 years there which also included three trips of six months each at [Canadian Forces Station] Alert, Northwest Territories. This was difficult: six months of darkness and away from the family. It was after courses in the U.S.A. that I was posted to Alert with my sergeant stripes. Returning from Alert to Vancouver Wireless Station, I was posted to Kingston about 1965 and later, due to [the] compulsory age requirement, I retired on 22 June 1970 from the Canadian army.
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