Able Seaman Lawrence Moskowy, 1945.L. Moskowy
Postcard, from HMCS Cornwallis, showing sailors on the drill square.L. Moskowy
Crew photo, HMCS West York.L. Moskowy
HMCS West York.L. Moskowy
Lawrence Moskowy's Proof of Service record for The Veterans' Land Act, November 4, 1949.L. Moskowy
"I got thinking that U-boat was down below and there was probably guys on it the same age as I was and they were there for the same reason that I was, they were fighting for their country"
I was 18 years old and I enlisted sometime in late 1943. I was drafted onto HMCS West York [convoy corvette]. They had a 20 millimetre Oerlikon anti-aircraft gun and I was in charge of that. I was an anti-aircraft gunner. Well, it was quite a thing, the first time when they assembled at St. John’s, Newfoundland and the first escort round that I was on, there was 165 merchant ships, and I don’t really know how many navy ships there were because you never ever saw them because you couldn’t see that far away. But that was the biggest group of ships that was ever escorted across the North Atlantic.
It was quite an experience; and had days, it was rough and had days, it was nice. And it generally took us about 18 days to get across. So we saw lots of different weather patterns and so forth. Whenever anything happened, the bells would ring in action stations and you went to your action stations. But, actually, what that ship was there for was looking out for U-boats. We chased quite a few of them, but we never ever did anything in it because we would stay with them for quite a while and then I don’t know where it come from, but another ship would come along and take over; and we would rush back to take up our positions in the convoy.
We got into some tight spots. There was flares and things like that being thrown up and everybody was looking for us and nothing really happened. And one of the amusing things that happened, we dispersed our merchant ships and we were going up the Irish Sea and the Irish Sea was fairly shallow. And anyways, the radar people picked up a signal and we started dropping depth charges on the thing, back and forth. Finally, there was a signal come from ashore and said, get out of there, you guys, that wreck has been there for 50 years.
In my time, we made three trips across, back and forth and it was always just back and forth, but we never ever went the same route. Sometimes we would go pretty close to Greenland in the north and then sometimes we would go south past the Azores [Portuguese archipelago] and go up in Bay of Biscay [Spanish-French coast], and into England.
There was lots of good memories. There was some things that you wonder why, you know, because it was a war and I’ve often thought about things. We were chasing those German submarines and I thought of it afterwards, there might have been a guy, because when we were on ship, we’d get together and sit around in a group, and we would always talk about the day we were going to be able to get home to our parents and things like that.
And after I got home, I got thinking that U-boat was down below and there was probably guys on it the same age as I was and they were there for the same reason that I was, they were fighting for their country. And who knows, I was trying to kill him and yet, maybe if I had met him in later years, in public life, he could have been my best friend. But he was there, fighting for his country just like I was for mine. And I was wondering what the heck this was all about.