Veteran Stories:
William Davis

  • American 10-cent Military Payment Certificate, series 481. Front view.

    William Davis
  • Reverse of an american 10-cent Military Payment Certificate.

    William Davis
  • One dollar bill issued by the Government of Hong Kong between 1937-1939. Front view.

    William Davis
  • One dollar bill issued by the Government of Hong Kong between 1937-1939. Reverse view.

    William Davis
  • American one-dollar Military Payment Certificate, series 481. Front view.

    William Davis
  • American one-dollar Military Payment Certificate, series 481. Reverse view.

    William Davis
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"I got summoned to the captain’s cabin and he said, I’m asking you and Don Saxon to investigate Dr. Cyr. I want you to go down to his cabin and...go through all his belongings. So Don and I went down in the middle of the blinking night and we inventoried everything in the cabin. "


We got to Hawaii and the orders came to go to Guam.  We had these Bank of Montreal bills of exchange which would work fine in a normal cruise because you go into a port and there’d be a Bank of Montreal.  But in going out into the Far East, there weren’t any corresponding banks between Hawaii and Japan.  And I needed money to buy fuel oil and the other ships needed money to buy fuel oil and whatever else we needed and spare parts, we had a problem.

So I had these $300,000 worth of them, 30 of them at $10,000 apiece.  What it said very clearly on the letter of intent that they could only be cashed one at a time and I mean, that was, I mean, normally if you wanted three, you’d go in and you’d get there.  But, you know, getting 30 of them all at once is a bit of a challenge.

Anyway, so I, the captain said, well, you better do something.  So I hide myself into the bank of Hawaii which was the corresponding bank and put in and asked to see somebody and I was given to a vice, one of the vice-presidents of the bank and I explained, I showed him the letter of intent and I explained about the three ships and where we had to go and when we had to get there.  And that I didn’t think I could wait until we got to Japan to start cashing these things because I had a very limited amount of American money.  Canada was a little unwilling to give anybody any American money in 1950.  So I explained it all to me and he said, okay.  If you go in and out of that door 30 times, we can cash the 30 cheques.  And then he says, let’s consider that we did that and get your friends with the appropriate signing officers here tomorrow and we will have the money for you.

So I went back to the ship, spoke to the captain of the, my captain and the captain of the other two ships and the other signing authorities were the captains or the first lieutenants.  So none of the captains were going to go and do it but they ordered their first lieutenants to do it. And so the next morning, I talked to the U.S. navy and the supply disburse...senior supply disbursing officer in the dockyard, in the shipyard in the naval base and we arranged for a bus and he arranged for the normal guarding process.  So at nine o'clock the next morning, there was a bus drew up beside where the three of us were parked or tied up and the first lieutenants of the ship and me and the other two supply officer, Lieutenant Crosby and Lieutenant Commander Adamick got in the bus and we had outriders of U.S. marines in jeeps and we had armed marines inside the bus and away we went from the naval base, the Honolulu naval base into beautiful, downtown Honolulu.  And as soon as we came outside the base, we were joined by outriders of the local police force and they took us all the way down to the Bank of Hawaii and they surrounded the Bank of Hawaii and they kept everybody away wasn’t, it was before banking hours so there weren’t any people in the bank.  But they cleared the street and cleared the block where the bank was.

We went in and I, as I mentioned to you when we talked before, that I had expected we’d get thousand dollar bills.  But we didn’t.  The vice-president explained to me that if native Hawaiian got any bill larger than $20.00, they put it in their mattress.  They saved it.  They didn’t spend it.  So there were no large bills running around Hawaii at all.  And so they wheeled in carts with 20 dollar bills in big packages and we had $30,000 for each ship on these carts.  And that’s a hell of a lot of 20 dollar bills. So people looked at me and said, what’ll we do?  Well, count one package, one package of 20s from each box.  They had them in boxes..  I said that’s all I can see to do.  So, and if you have a problem, we’ll squawk.

Well, we had no problem.  We counted them.  We counted our packages and they put them in big, they put them in big plastic or big canvas bags for us.  We carried them down.  Got in the bus.  Sirens blazing and horns honking.  And outriders riding around on their motorbikes and the jeeps with the armed...I mean they even made the driver of the bus get out of the bus when we got on with our money.  It was really most intriguing.

Anyway.  We got back to the naval base.  We got dropped off at the ship.  We carried the money down.  And we, all of us only had, you know, one small safe.  Well, we had an awful pile of money so it was stowed in a lot of places.


There was one very famous effort.  The evacuation of Qinhuangdao which is where the Americans had a base and they were being overrun by the North Koreans and they were retreating to Qinhuangdao and we, our captain in command of American, Australian and three Canadian destroyers went up the Qinhuangdao River in the middle of the night and got in there and protected the troop ships and the hospital ships and so on and got them out and then destroyed with gunfire the oil installations, the tankers, the tanks and the ammunition that was there and so on.  Our people went ashore and blew things up and so on and so forth.  And then the next day, we went, we evacuated from Qinhuangdao and went back down the river, back into the Yellow Sea.

Ten o'clock, eleven o'clock, we rendezvoused with HMS Salone, which was the task force commander and the captain decided to transfer Dr. Sear to that ship because there were two medical officers on board and they could handle whatever physical problem he had and still none of us knew anything about anything.  It was a total blank as far as we were concerned.

Joe Cyr went to the Salone and that was that.  About 9:30 at night, I got summoned to the captain’s cabin and he said, I’m asking you and Don Saxon to investigate Dr. Cyr.  I want you to go down to his cabin and ins...and go through all his belongings.  So Don and I went down in the middle of the blinking night and we inventoried everything in the cabin.  We made lists and that’s when I realized why he had had such a problem with the kit bag.  Because when we opened the kit bag, in the kit bag was his rig for being brother John Payne, which was the guy, who in Maine, had gone over to Joe Cyr's, the real Dr. Cyr's office and stolen this stuff.  He had his black suit.  He had his dog collar.  He had his Homburg hat.  He had his overshoes marked Brother John Payne, the whole thing, his whole disguise was in that kit bag which is why he had an epileptic fit when it was not where he thought it should be and where he thought some authority might be able to get into it.

Anyway, we found all kinds of things including letters that he had written to a university in South Africa calling him Dr. something or other and that he was a great physicist and he’d like to come and work for them and this.  He had a copy of the letters that he’d sent to them.  He had a copy of the material and a couple of previous impersonations that he made including this one of Cecil B. Hayman where he managed to get hold of the notary’s stamp and that was that.

And so we made a list of all this stuff.  We packed all the stuff up.  We made the list for naval headquarters and everything else and what happened after that, Joe got transferred to HMS Ladybird.  The Canadian navy sent out a surgeon lieutenant commander, Lieutenant Commander Little who was a psychiatrist.  They went out a policeman, Lieutenant Commander Clayards who was the deputy security officer Pacific coast.  Meanwhile, we’re still up and we never saw Joe again after that.

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