Veteran Stories:
Ralph Taylor


  • Ralph Taylor in 2009.

    Historica Canada
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"and the next thing I know, there was a big bang and sparks flying all over the place"


I was in the Saturday night army as they called it in Sherbrooke, Quebec. And well, I wanted to keep up my trade, you know, as an electrician. And so I applied to, in the navy. Actually, I applied for two or three of the services but I preferred the navy, you know, to be more on my line of work that I was doing. So I got a notice in April’42 to report to Halifax, which I did. And then I got involved in the naval school there, I think it was about three months. And then they put me on board a viker class minesweeper. Well, there was several different classes of minesweepers. Some were diesel run and the one I was on, I was a steam operator and it had turbines or something, that was running the powers and that to make it go. I got involved in what they call the LL sweep. You drag big electric cables behind you and then they send an impulse charge through the cables to make up a magnetic field which would bring up the mines. But I got into a little trouble. You see, down in the engine room, the main disconnects were up on the deck head. Being in the engine room, and at the winter time, the steam you know from all around the engine room, somehow or other, the cables at the connection joint was kind of wet. Anyway, there was an officer, I don’t remember his name but he came aboard ship to put it in commission and I went down in the engine room and he was up on the bridge. And there was some kind of a clock, you know, like a timer. And you set it for so many seconds and that. While I was down in the engine room, and he was up on the bridge, and the next thing I know, there was a big bang and sparks flying all over the place and the main connector, you know, there were just great big knife switches, we used to call them, and they just melted like icicles, you know. They were copper too and they were, there was I think about 2,500 amps or something that went through the cables, so you can imagine what it made. It made a big mess up on the deck head. So I went back up to see the officer up there and apparently, that thing blew up too. So then they shipped me off to a two or three day course on how to operate the system. But it was a short circuit through the condensation of the deck head and all the switches, which wasn’t too good an idea, so I guess whoever designed the thing had to get sit down and do some figuring and changing it, you know.
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