"And when the [HMS] Indomitable got hit I remember seeing the aircraft hit her and I remember what I said. I said, “You son of a bitch,” because I was picking up another shell to load."
[Serving in the Pacific aboard HMCS Uganda, 1944-1945]
The British Pacific Fleet consisted of two battleships, four aircraft carriers, six cruisers and 22 destroyers. We used to – the aircraft, they’d go off every morning about 6:00 o’clock. We didn’t have any of this here live action things that you see in the movies where they run out at – we always knew that we were going to be at action stations at 6:00 o’clock in the morning, so that where we went at 6:00 o’clock in the morning because that’s when the aircraft used to take off and they’d be going off and on all day until about 4:00 or 5:00 o’clock at night.
We got attacked two or three times by Kamikazes [suicide attacks by Japanese military aviators]. The [HMS] Victorious [a British Illustrious-class aircraft carrier] was one of the carriers, got hit. The [HMS] Indomitable [a British Illustrious-class aircraft carrier] got hit but it didn’t stop them from staying with the fleet. They caught on fire but within half an hour, three-quarters of an hour, they had the fire out. And I don’t say we shot one Kamikaze down but one landed about 100 feet off our starboard side and we waved to him as he went by. And when the Indomitable got hit I remember seeing the aircraft hit her and I remember what I said. I said, “You son of a bitch,” because I was picking up another shell to load.
And we used to bombard island like Formosa and […] Islands, Turk Islands. I say bombard – we would fire our guns, our six inch and our four inch guns. There’d be like three cruisers and the two battleships go out. We’d leave the aircraft carriers and the destroyers. We’d have two or three destroyers with us but we’d leave the carriers because that’s what the Kamikazes were looking for, was the carriers to get rid of them. And on our second bombardment we had to give it up early because the carriers were being attacked by Kamikazes so we just – and we were about 20 miles away from them.
So we got back and this was our daily routine, we’d go out for five or six days, we’d come in, refuel, go out again for five or six days and we did that until the European war finished up in May the 8th  and in June sometime, some smart-Alec guy in Ottawa decided that we hadn’t volunteered for the Pacific. And if had joined any of the services after 1941 on your enlistment it says, “To the end of the duration.” And it didn’t state European war or Japanese war so as I said – so they – like after the European war, everybody, all the military were asked if they wanted to go to the Pacific. Some guys said yes, some guys said no. We had the same thing given to us. We were in the Pacific already. We’d been there for three months, four months, and some guys said no, we don’t want to – we’re already here but – and you don’t blame them because a lot of these guys had their training on British cruisers and they’d been away for two or three years.
And I think the government thought that if they had enough guys that said they would stay or go, that they would fly them in or bring them in on other ships. But there was 600 guys that didn’t want to stay, wanted to go home. And we had a crew of anywhere from 850 to 900 on the ship. So you read in the paper that it was a vote. It wasn’t a vote. It was asked if you wanted to go to the Pacific and this was it.
And so [Captain Rollo] Mainguy who was the captain, he wanted to stay and the American Fleet – we joined up with the American Fleet on July 16, 1944 because we were getting ready to go to Japan in that time. And Mainguy said yeah he’d stay and that he got ordered to come home and Mainguy, yeah, yeah, yeah. They ordered him a second time, come home or we’ll court martial you. So we had to leave. We had to come home.
We left the fleet on July 27, 1945 and we sailed past Guam [a United States territory] and back through Victoria [British Columbia] and we arrived in Victoria August 10, 1945 and I was going back to the Pacific. And we arrived in Victoria about 10:00 o’clock in the morning. At 11:00 o’clock they piped all volunteers for the Pacific, pack up your gear, you’re going home. So we packed our gear up and paid us – we hadn’t been paid for five months. We were at sea for 140 days without hitting a jetty or a wharf. So they paid us and I had $800. That was my pay. I said there’s something wrong here but I’m not saying anything because it was too much I thought.
Anyway, we got paid and we got on the ferry at 1:00 o’clock. We got over to Victoria, we were on the train at 7:00 o’clock at night on our way home. We stopped in Winnipeg [Manitoba] and that was the first stop and it was stopped for an hour. Of course we didn’t have anything to drink and that so we – it was a Sunday. So we left the station, we got a hold of a taxi driver, we said, “Look, do you know where there’s any bootleggers?” “Oh yeah, come on.” So four of us jumped in the cab and away we go. We were driving for about 10, 15 minutes and said, “Wait, where we going?” He said, “Oh it’s just around the corner.” So the four of us bought a 26 ounce of Hudson’s Bay Rye, brought it back to the train. We got back just in time as the train was chugging out but we’re running down to catch the train. And I had a compartment all the way from Winnipeg to Montreal [Quebec] so that’s where we had the party.
I got home on August the 15th in the morning and Japan quit August 15th in the afternoon. So we were home on 30 days leave, so when Japan packed it in they said, “Well stay there.” They sent me another 30 days, another 30 days and I said, “Well I was going to go back,” and they said, “No never mind.” So they discharged me November 26, 1945.