Veteran Stories:
John McLaren “Jack” McCarst


  • Jack McCarst aboard a captured German U-boat at the end of the war.

    Jack McCarst
  • Jack McCarst aboard a German U-boat at the end of the war; unidentified others in background.

    Jack McCarst
  • Jack McCarst in Royal Canadian Navy uniform.

    Jack McCarst
  • HMCS Midland.

    Jack McCarst
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"All the sea around us was covered with fire..."


And two of them, him and me, we were transferred – not too young and that – so we were transferred there as an ordinary seaman officer candidate and we were transferred to a ranger ship. And that was the first time on a ranger ship. September the 30th, 1944, HMCS Midland with – I remember the name of the commanding the officer very well, Wilfred Barbour, okay. Oh, he’s the best in the whole goddamn business. He’s a commanding officer at HMCS Midland and there were five ships on and he was on one of them but he was one of the greatest commanders in the navy as far as I was concerned. He was wonderful. Another time, he was in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and he said this, I hope you’re all back again at home for the next Christmas. And it turned out to be true! I was so surprised that it was true, that it happened to be true. The HMCS Midland and the HMCS Orillia, something happened and […] attacked her, he said, so we were separated from all the rest of them, we were, we were absolutely alone, nobody around us at all, you know. And we didn’t know what to do. So we decided to get back somewhere off Halifax or New York rather. […] he was ruined at sea by the Germans, ruined at sea by them and so we had to try to get back to them anyways. So what happened, without any warning, ping-pong went on, someone got attacked by all sides by Germans. All the sea around us was covered with fire. It wasn’t anything around us, there’s fire every place around the place. And I said to one of the guys around me, gee whiz, he should be a commander, he’s only a lieutenant commander, he’s only a commander now, but make him captain or something with a sea like that, because otherwise, it would have gone down, him at the bottom of the ship with him and nothing ever heard from him again. But for some reason or other, they didn’t go down. U.S. naval commanders went around and took pictures of us all around. Everything was fire around there. Nothing was fit around them. And they took pictures and everything else. That was January or February 1945, okay. I’m sure it was over right then and there, if I hadn’t gotten the wonderful work of the commanding officer there.
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