The following is by courtesy of Brian Wilson
My father , P.O. J. Ronald Wilson served in the North Atlantic from 1941 to 1944, principally on Corvettes. After his death in 1998, we found a journal which covers his crew training in Stornaway, as well as a couple of convoy assignments. The journals end after the sinking of HMCS Spikenard in 1942, presumably for security reasons.
Dad was a cook, one of the very few real ones in Corvette service. He was well-educated, but had a childhood injury in his left arm which kept him out of the initial wave of recruitment, so he kept on trying until he was accepted as a cook (he had worked summers as a cook on a lakefreighter). He wrote well, and his stories are often very moving (and verifiably authentic). I have transcribed them, along with supporting newspaper clippings, letters and other photos, etc. that he had tucked into his notebooks.
Ron's Diary - Part One: September/October 1941
Morning of Sept 29th came round and every conversation carried a rumour. We were not supposed to leave before Tuesday but everyone was saying we would leave between 10AM and 12 noon. Where their information came from, I don't know but it proved to be true.
I had promised to return to my old ship Cornett and say good-bye to the boys. It was just another of those little misfortunes we all have to put up with. It did hurt though to see the Cornett chugging by full speed on its way to the very dock we had left just 3 or 4 minutes before. I stood on deck and waved at my old shipmates as we steamed by and a few tears trickled down my cheeks. Ships of all sizes were steadily passing thru the gates of Sydney harbour, ready to form the convoy which we would accompany across. Soon after we passed thru orders were given to clear all decks to the afterdeck. There the Jimmy gave us the news we all wanted. We were going to Tobermory in the Hebrides. There we would spend about two weeks in training at a special school for Corvette sailors.
When night had fallen and the last meal was thru, I stood on the deck for a few minutes getting my last glimpse of God's Country, my home. The lights of Glace Bay still sparkled in the distance and the moon ducked in and out behind little fluffy clouds that covered the deep blue sky like a flock of lost sheep. The ships still forming convoy like dark shadows when the moon peeped thru. What a beautiful night to begin this adventure. One which had always been one of my dark secret ambitions.
Dawn broke on a choppy sea. Our ship was rolling gently and an occasional wave would break over the bow. As the day went on the ship began to roll more and more and by mid-afternoon cooking was almost impossible. Thru most of this day we were still in sight of land but by nightfall we had settled down on our long slow trip over the Atlantic. By day we travel at the Convoy's head but by night we trail along behind.
Today has been calm and uneventful all day except that we had call to action stations as an emergency drill at about 1700hrs. Most of the boys turned out in their tin hats & life belts but we found that several of our number had neither pieces of this valued equipment. To-night the boys of the upper forecastle (Seamen's mess) are having a sing song while the off duty stokers and men of their mess play rummy and rundown MacKenzie King and Hepburn. War and danger seem to be far from their minds.
Thursday began with a calm sea clear sky and frost in the air. Labrador can be seen on our port side and the upper most parts of Nfld on our starboard. Soon Nfld will be out of sight. Snow can be seen on some of the slopes of Labrador. We heard of a ship being torpedoed just a few miles ahead directly in the course of our convoy. Some of the officers and men had gun drill. Jimmy gave us a short lecture and told us of a couple of disasters due to lookouts sleeping.
Late in the afternoon our ship began to roll and light snow began to fall. To-night the moon rides high and bright over a deep bank of fluffy clouds and its light makes a silvery carpet on the choppy sea. The convoy is now formed in three lines of 15 (?) columns.
Thursday was rough all day and our ship took a terrible pounding. So far I have not been the least bit sick but some of the other fellows have been sick ever since we left Sydney harbour. Today we received orders to maintain a speed of 12 knots and zig zag thru the convoy all night. We were joined by the Chambly which is based at Iceland. The night was clear & the moon bright. Huge waves have been & still are breaking over the whole ship.
Friday morning I awoke and found the ship still rolling heavily. I took advice of the other fellows & slept with my lifebelt and all my clothes on. Work is hard with the ship rolling so and I've had lots of reason to regret having asked for this draft. To-day tho still rough, has not been as bad as yesterday. We met three other merchant ships and one corvette to-day and last night we crossed into another time zone. To-night is cloudy but fairly visible.
Golly I would like time to pass a bit more quickly. I miss everything and everybody at home and especially Ruth and her daily letters. Without hope of having her someday, I'm sure I wouldn't care about anything.
So this is Sunday, a day of rest. Guess it must have been meant for someone other than us. We and our ship have been taking a gentle beating all thru this day but now the wind and waves are beginning to lash us in earnest. For the last hour Iíve been wondering just how much good I am doing in this war. I'm not sure that it is worth while. Maybe I'm selfish and just want all the things I'm missing ashore. Last night the Captain told me meals were better since I came & today his steward said he remarks each meal that we have a cook now. Personally though I think any old can opener could feed these men cause everyone can't be pleased anyway.
Monday - all night we've been pounded badly and more than once I was sure we were going down. The ship was rolling so badly that we couldn't cook breakfast and the bad weather continued till after supper. Night came and the sky was very dark & cloudy with no moon or stars. We're still rolling but not nearly so badly. I cut my left index finger with a knife but Scotty had much more to grumble about. He had a half inch chopped off his finger by the galley door. It happened at noon hour and nearly made me sick. I had a slight argument with Mike Kelly the other cook but everything is OK now. Today passed very quickly but I still had loads of time to think of Ruthie and showed the fellows all my pictures of her. Today at 4 o'clock we had been one week at sea and should be half way over.
Tuesday began dull and choppy. Our ship rode well except when it would turn to zig zag, then it would roll terribly. Some of the fellows helped in the galley all day and the meals were very good. Mike baked a cake for supper. After that some of us had a chat & I got to know a few of the fellows much better. Mike & I are getting along better now. We are now in the most dangerous zone so all is tense & we feel ready for anything. Our Asdic equip seems to be working well and all the boys are looking forward to some excitement before to-morrow passes.
I promised them duff for every meal till we reach Scotland, if they get a sub and they seem to consider the offer quite seriously. Our Chief has been very seasick all through this trip & is now very bad.
Wednesday arrived bright and reasonably calm and still no action. During the night a plane roared down and circled over us but did nothing. We challenged it & rec'd no reply but did nothing. Captain has since issued orders to fire in any such similar case.
An American (now Limey) destroyer which joined us two days ago, came along side early this morning. We are now not far from Iceland but to-night the moon shone through a haze and lit up the gently rolling ocean. The air is mild and fresh and several of the fellows are sleeping out on the boat deck.
Gee this trip is really getting monotonous for all of us. We used up our last fresh beef to-day and started on hardtack instead of bread. Most of the fellows will probably welcome a bit of action to brighten things up. I'll be awfully glad when this trip is over and I can just be back in the same country as Ruthie. I miss her letters and writing to her more than anything else.
Thursday has been mild & a bit choppy. About supper time it rained a little. This is the first real rain we've had. Seems strange that a lot of the fellows slept on deck last night a few miles from Iceland while back in Cape Breton we nearly froze.
To-day we finished up most of our fresh meat. S'funny I came across a pair of sox to-day, while helping the UA clean up stores, and they contained a card with the name & address of an Oshawa lady, Mrs McNeely.
Also on board this ship there's Darcy, a chap from my group at Kingston, and McGorshine goes with a girl friend of Audrey Taymouth (?) at 289 Erskine Ave and the Chief Engineer (Hartly) has a brother in law on the Clement and Ron Palmer used to go with Hazel Wilkinson. Still no action but we are far into the danger zone and may leave the convoy to-morrow. Also before I forget, Freddie Hue UA knows Joy Walker & Marg Nicholson in Halifax. Wish I were with Ruthie & also would like to see the old gang on the Cornett .
Friday began rough after a rough but otherwise uneventful night. The weather was dull with occasional rain all day and to-night our ship is still rolling. The sky is very dark and the breeze strong though the air is not at all cold. Freddie Hue the UA has been helping me all day and we get along very well together. During last night signals were rec'd from another convoy reporting two ships torpedoed and during to-day a flight of Bombers (British) were sighted over us. At noon hr during a bad roll I had one hand scalded by boiling soup.
Walter Noseworthy told us a story to-day. - A man, down on his luck, went to his richer brother and through him applied to a Baptist church Preacher for a job. The preacher offered him work as janitor of the church but as he could not write & sign for certain bills etc he could not accept. However the minister had concocted some kind of salve and gave the man a dozen to sell. He sold them and returned for more. Again and again he returned for more to sell. Soon he owned a small truck, later a small shop & later a large drug supply co. His bank account was large and once he went to a bank and while withdrawing a large amount he simply marked X and told the clerk he couldn't write. Golly Mr if you can't write with an account like you have where would you be if you could write. Janitor at the Baptist Church was the simple reply.
We miss fresh water for drinking very much but our wants will probably grow as other supplies are growing low.
Here it is Saturday, our second one out here and we are being pounded just as badly now as at any other time. At times our ship reaches nearly 45 degree angles on the roll and pitches at the same time.
To-day we sort of established a record by cooking a good dinner in weather which a lot of the fellows couldn't eat in. Nearly all the dishes in the seamen's mess are broken & to-day one of the tables was torn right off the floor.
We are still plugging along with the convoy but the corvettes Napanee, Chicoutimi and Chambly have left for Iceland and a stronger escort is joining us to-night. Rumours say we'll be another six days but that will be awful. Land will be wonderful but general opinion is that no one will be able to stand up for the first day. None of us have had our clothes off for over a week now and everyone wears life belts continuously. It is raining now and the night is black as pitch.
Sunday morning The sun shone bright on a deep blue smoothly rippling ocean and this whole day has been grand until darkness fell. Then the sea began to cut up again and a few more rollers began to break over our forecastle. Daylight revealed our new escort. Two gleaming Juicer destroyers, a Juicer corvette and an ex American flying the Norwegian flag. One of the British destroyers came nearby and we could plainly see the spotless condition of the ship and the neat pusser appearance of the crew in dress of the day. What a contrast to our ship and crew.
Several of the fellows were taking pictures of the crew while they are still in their bearded scruffy condition. Hardly anyone had shaved since the trip began. However we must all shave to-morrow or grow a beard for six months. Our water for several days past has been rusty and not very tempting. To-day we began condensing water but such water is not good as it contains no mineral salt.
To-night the sea is glowing under a yellow half moon which hangs low and shines through a few scattered streaky clouds. The day has been beautiful and the night is but who knows how long it will last.
Oct 12 - Monday
To-day has been dull all day and the good ship Sherbrooke has been sailing smoothly. In case of abandoning ship we have 2 lifeboats, 2 Carly floats and 2 Balsa floats. On the latter four there is accommodation for a large number of people but only room to hang on and stay in the water. Our Chief Engineer has been assigned to a Carly float so he set out to-day and built a raft of his own. It's large and safe and utilizes 2 large oil drums.
The night is black and as darkness fell, a large black ship slipped into the convoy without warning. Our commander challenged it and waited for the reply. It came through in the exact time 15 minutes but it's still possibly a large German raider. It could possibly have known the recognition reply and be waiting till light to wreak havok (sic). As our ship is second in command it is our duty to attack, so our Captain is boldly tagging along in the shadow of the huge ship. To us it's only a big black shadow. Every nerve is tense and the air is heavy. The eyes of the lookouts are so sore from staring that even the occasional peep of a star seems glaring and bright.
Tuesday began gently rolling and the crew was much relieved to find that the dread of last night was just a large freighter which had slipped into the convoy for protection. Apparently a message had been sent out regarding it but in a new code which we have not on record yet.
We are not far from land at the present time but as yet have seen no action. We should reach the North of Scotland late to-morrow. Several of the fellows are reading a book entitled U boat in the Hebrides for excitement. The gang in general is a very carefree one and they remind me of the dead end kids.
The night is dark and gently rolling is the sea. To-day heavy rain fell for a short time and a rainbow appeared. It was one of the most complete and beautiful Iíve seen since a child in Seaforth. Strangely enough it appeared to be bright to the horizon then dimly continued directly to our ship.
Oct 14 - Wednesday
Land! What a thrill went up and down each spine at the sound of that cry.
Wednesday therefore started a very pleasant day though the land sighted was only a tiny island or two of the farthest outflung Hebrides. The day past almost through with all kinds of talk on tomorrows possibilities. At1800 we left the convoy and headed down the Minch between Scotland and the Hebrides. The sea became rough and the wind strong. We headed into the waves and the crashing and pounding of our bow on the water almost seemed to be tearing the little ship apart.
Oct 15 - Thursday
Thursday brought real land and lots of it. Our dawn broke over some of the most beautiful country I've ever seen. We were smoothly sailing down a channel which led to the harbour of Tobermory. I'm not sure if I've ever seen any scene more beautiful than that which lay before us and the ship for the first time in many days was absolutely steady. Towering multi-shaded green and purple hills, distant castles, steep rocky and wooded banks, countless rushing waterfalls, deep still water in a sheltered lagoon and a clean little terraced town strung round the bay end. It's homes and churches and business places reminiscent of word pictures drawn by Dickens.
This was part of the Isle of Mull is home of the McLean clan crammed with picturesque history of the Scottish highlands. We've been informed that we'll be here for about 2 weeks then go to Greenock. I went ashore after 7PM and sent telegrams to Ruth, Mom, Skipper Myalls and J Nolan.
Oct 16 - Friday
The weather here is most unusual as the sun seems to be always shining on some place within our sight and yet rain also seems to be in view. One minute the sun is with us and next minute rain is showering on us. I went ashore at about 1300pm with Ron Palmer and Dick Stroud to take officers laundry to the high Manse. There is no other laundry in town and it only caters to officers. There is a small hall in town which has movies on Thurs & Fri nights. I went to-night and saw Rebecca also met a Scotch Lassie but did not pay much attention to her as I think too much about Ruthie to have time for anyone else.
Oct 17 - Saturday
Most of the boys have been troubled with dissentry (sic) and I'm having my share now. I feel chilled and sick to the stomach. Most of us have a slight touch of diareah (sic) and we believe water is the cause. I stayed aboard to-night and got some sleep as for the last few days I've been doing quite a lot of work.
Sunday has been as usual rainy and bright on and off all day. This afternoon I got to know some of the fellows a bit better, particularly Gorskine and Cotterill. We and a couple of stokers discussed the war & politics and the Bible nearly three hours. Gorskine seems to be a very fine chap and in his ideals much like I try to be. I went ashore at 5:30 to-night in order to go to church. It was a quaint little place with a quaint broad talking little Scotch minister and an odd service. There are only Scotch churches here and no Catholics. After the church service a hymn sing song was held in the theatre hall.
This is a little extra and some I'd forgotten to mention. The town of Tobermory like the rest of the British Isles is subject to blackout & rationing laws. Both are strange and new to us but they seem quite commonplace to these people. It is almost sorrowful to go into shops where people try to keep up a bold front by keeping their shelves lined with empty boxes and worthless sample packets. One little tuck shop still displays advertisments and cartons for cakes cookies and candies but the only thing it has to sell is soda pop. Another store, a grocers, has two large racks of glass topped cookie boxes. In two or three you'll find a few broken biscuits and above a sign which says "Only 1/4 lb of biscuits weekly to ration cards." Two eggs per month are allowed if you can get them but eggs and onions are only thought of here and never seen. The deprivations are countless yet the people never seem to mind. Such spirit is indeed admirable. They are all very independent and girls insist on paying their own way cause they feel they have more than we.
While downtown Friday I got some souvenirs for Ruth, Mom & myself. For a couple of days a New Zealand corvette, the Moa, was tied alongside ours. The New Zealanders came aboard on two nights and on Friday we had a good Sing Song. They'd been here for quite a time and on Saturday bid us farewell as they sailed for home with Canada as their next stop. They seemed a very fine bunch of boys.
While at church on Sunday I noted that about 3/4 of our fellows were also there.
[Ron's diary becomes a little hazy as to sequence here, he probably wrote several days entries at once and this may explain the mixed dates Brian]
Oct 21 - Tuesday
A bright sunny day with only one short period of rain. The whole day passed smoothly and I stayed aboard. I'm going to write a letter to Ruth before retiring. We all had practice action stations and abandon ship and to-morrow we are going out on trials. For a few moments to-night, before dark, I stood on the bridge and looked through the glasses at the hills and distant ruins and castles and waterfalls.
Note - When the Chambly and Chicoutimi left us in the Atlantic near Iceland it was because they had lost us during the night. They ran into a storm and were badly pounded before reaching Iceland. While in Iceland a Washington radio report informed them that our convoy SC47 had been completely destroyed.
We had just missed a pack of 11 Nazi submarines.
Today Monday Oct 20th marks the end of our 3rd week since leaving home. We all hope that before three more pass we'll be on our way home. I learned that eastbound convoys come as we did by the northern route and westbound convoys travel by the southern route. This is to avoid collision in stormy nights and fogs.
Tuesday began very early - Breakfast was served at 0615 because we were to go to sea to-day for trials and practise. The day has been bright and the sea comparatively smooth, although 5 Limey new entries who came with us were all seasick.
We had gun drill and target practise with the 4" and it proved very successful. I might note that an inner barrel is inserted in the gun, so that smaller calibre shells may be used for practise. We also had drill with life boats and fire drill.
As the sun was setting over the rocky isles we sailed smoothly into a sheltered cove and dropped anchor for the night beside a Limey 4 stacker and a Limey sub, both of which will assist in continuation of our trials to-morrow.
Again to-day I was impressed by the rocky grandeur of the Scottish Isles and coasts. Here and there a massive castle nestles on a blended mountainside. Occasionally a waterfall tumbles hundreds of feet down some rocky incline or over some sheer drop into the sea. Time worn Isles dot the water all around us like immense rocks strewn about by some playful giant. What a fairyland this would be for a dreamer. What an everlasting inspiration for an artist or poet.
As we dropped anchor dress as you please shore leave was piped for recreation. About half of the crew went ashore in the lifeboats. That was a real thrill we'd all been looking for and we romped over the rocks and through the heather and bluebells for a good hour and a half. We climbed to the top of one of the nearby hills and looked down on all the beauty of the surrounding country then chased a flock of fluffy white sheep. When we returned aboard ship everyone carried souvenir bundles of heather.
Additional - a Scotch chap I met in Tobermory who worked for the Telephone Co. told me that the enemy had actually attempted an invasion about 3 months after the London Blitz. They had tried to land troop barges along the Kentish coast and later in the Shetlands. R.A.F. Bombers blasted hell out of every enemy unit and it was claimed that more than 30,000 bodies were washed up on British shores.
Oct 22 - Wednesday
More trials and apparently we were quite successful. At one time in mid-afternoon while all the boys were least expecting anything, action stations were called. It was only 30 seconds till the first shot was fired. Otherwise the day was quite uneventful. After trials were complete for the day, we steamed back into the harbour at Tobermory where late shore leave was piped in order that the boys may attend a concert in town. I stayed aboard and just fooled away the evening.
Thursday began and ended as one of the finest days we've had since leaving home. We lay at anchor all day in Tobermory harbour and during the first part of the day most of the fellows took some instruction and practise. After noon action stations, boat drill and collision drill were called and the Commodore was aboard to see the results.
Also this morning some of the crew went ashore as landing party and took some squad and rifle drill. While ashore Gorskine saw a holly tree which is of interest as I never knew where or how it grew.
After action stations etc a boat race was held for all the ships in port. We had two lifeboats and the Chiefs oil drum raft in the competition and one of ours won. It was manned by seamen Harvey, Beck, Hatfield and Burfitt. After that all the off duty men, including myself went ashore and saw the local cinema's showing of My Favourite Wife . I might also add that the oil drum crew was very funny and caused quite a lot of fun & laughter by spending most of their time in the water.
Oct 24 - Friday
Friday Oct 23rd (sic) was another swell day all day. After noon we steamed out of the harbour for Anti Aircraft gun practise. While we cruised round awaiting our target most of the fellows worked at cleaning up the ship. When our target finally came it turned out to be a wind sock being towed at a good distance behind a slow plane. Tracer shells were used and aim proved good although our gun jammed several times. After tea most of the fellows went ashore but I stayed aboard and cleaned up after stores. Lieut. Bell found me cleaning up stores and after a talk he decided to give Freddie the UA a blast. Oct 25 Saturday has been a nice day mostly sunny with a bit of breeze and slightly choppy sea. We've been at sea all day and had some full calibre drill with the 4" gun. Before the shots were fired many precautions were taken. Among them doors were left ajar, clocks mirrors etc were removed and laid flat, light bulbs were removed and the fellows plugged ears with cotton batten and mouth crash pads were used. The percussion was terrific and all the air about us seemed to burn in a flash. One minute and twenty seconds passed between alarm and the first shot. Every shot was good. After gun drill we cruised about on Asdic trials till dark then dropped anchor in a sheltered cove for the night.
During the evening I wrote letters to Mom, Uncle Nath and Mrs McNeely. Also I talked with Gorskine and Cotterill about RDF and learned much about that type of equipment. After dark action stations were called for night gun drill. First two shots were star shells to light up the target and three were full calibre shots. The din was terrific and the percussion and flash blinding. The trial proved successful but the target was improper.
Oct 26 - Sunday
We steamed out on more Asdic trials but as this was a day of rest, most of the crew rested. At sundown we steamed into Tobermory harbour and dropped anchor once again. Shore leave was piped, but as it was too late for church, I stayed aboard and looked over my snapshots, mostly of Ruthie, then wrote a letter to her. Golly how I'd like to see her, even just long enough to say Hello and Good night. I wonder when we can say it again. Today McRae and Lanio(?spelling) gave me the Ensign under which we crossed the Atlantic.
Monday has been dull all day and a heavy mist seemed to be blowing over us as we went ashore at 1PM on afternoon leave. Officers from Western Isles came aboard this morning and put us through all the emergency drills. After noon Make & Mends was piped and many of us went ashore to look the town over in daylight. Al Gorskine and I went for a long walk around the bay and went through the grounds of the Aros Estate and had a look at the castle.
The grounds are open to the public and footpaths lead through natural landscapes of every description. One moment we are beside a smooth flowing stream next we are on the edge of a precipice over which the water tumbles and roars to drop about 100 ft and rumbled on over big black boulders. We follow the pathway through a maze of hedges vines and moss covered rocks and trees down a steep incline to the lower river bed. From here we see the falls in all its natural splendor.
The river rushes on from here at a steep angle over its rocky bed and several more falls to the bay 1/2 mile away and several hundred feet below. At its base we cross a little steel bridge and follow a pathway tunnelled through vegetation till we reach the estate stables and roadway. Here we met the owner, Colonel Allan.
We walked up the roadway and round the castle then onto the stone wall enclosed estate gardens. The Castle itself is not of ancient structure. It was built in 1847 and is square cut stone with just a couple of tiny turrets. The castle looks down onto a tiny loch, close by but far below.
From here we followed the road up a steep grade towards the high road and when almost there, we came upon another stream, just a tiny brook which trickles through the rocks then falls about 200 or more feet onto a bed of rocks below, then winds on its merry way into the nearby loch. The loch from here is far below and beautiful as it gleams like a jewel in its deep setting of dense trees & shrubs. This whole estate is a sanctuary of nature and I'm sure I've never seen any variety of trees shrubs vines and plants that would even compare with those found here.
We returned to town, ate a snack, bought some pictures, then climbed aboard, convinced that our day had been well spent and thoroughly enjoyed.
Today, Tuesday, was like so many others, rainy. We had more action stations and drill this morning, then at one PM a party, including myself, went ashore for squad & rifle drill under direction of a Limey Warrant officer. My memory was not too good on some of the movements, but I believe it would compare well with most of the others.
While we took drill, the Commodore came & reviewed us and some other officers took turns at commanding us. Before returning aboard ship some of us got some real holly to take home. After supper we had night exercises and everyone was kept aboard. After exercises I set out to clean some fresh fish for to-morrows dinner & doggone nearly cut one of my fingers off. Got it fixed and finished the job before going to bed.
Wednesday began with action stations and then we went to sea for a couple of hours and fired 8 practise rounds of full calibre from the 4" gun. Sea was a bit choppy & our aim not so good. After noon the Chief & Darcy & Stark & (Ron has left a blank space here) began to put a zinc top on our galley sink and it should be a big help to us. Walter Noseworthy and I took a short lecture on first aid & apparently we are to be first aid attendants in case of any emergency.
To-night some of the fellows are going ashore for 930 leave but I stayed aboard. Three officers from the Chicoutimi are aboard and they and our own are all sort of pickled.
Quarter master called crew and officers out for boarding party & they came pouncing (?) out armed with everything from brooms to cleavers. However the boarders proved to be just some of our own fellows joking.
The boys in the mess are having a sing song so I went out on deck & had a look at the moon before turning in. It's large and bright and beautiful and shows up the other naval ships surrounding us like ghostly grey silhouettes (sic) against the silvery waters of the bay and the high old mountains around us stand out (like) black shadows against the deep blue starry sky.
Thursday with more rain to start the day. Along about mid morning we had harbour drill, then a boat load of our fellows tried to board the Chicoutimi but were beaten off by brooms, fire hoses etc. Two of our fellows who did get aboard were thrown overboard.
During the afternoon a R.N. Doctor gave a lecture on first aid. At night we expected a boarding party from the Chicoutimi so I stayed aboard to join in the fun while quite a few of the other chaps went ashore to a movie. We were all prepared but nothing happened. Later however, about midnight, I went to the galley & was amused and surprised at what I found. All over the floor were about 7 of the seamen squatting among chicken feathers & innards. They had slipped ashore & broken into a chicken house after the show. They looked like a happy & guilty bunch of mud covered little kids.
Friday morning came round with quite a shock, both of our life boats had been stolen during the night and were later returned by the Chicoutimi crew.
After breakfast everybody aboard worked like mad to clean up ship for rounds & early dinner. To-day was to be our final examination day and we were to set sail for Greenock. The trials did come & how. Every possible type of emergency was called by the Commodore and while most of the exam was being carried on a terrible din was set by our signallers sending out code on the ships whistle. This was to cause confusion and interrupt communications. Apparently it was all successful because after a friendly talk, a bit of advice, and a cheerio from the old chap, we steamed out of that dreamy little bay on our way to - who knows where. Golly it was a quiet little place, but gee, how beautiful.
I for one will never forget Tobermory and someday we'll all wish we could spend just another day or two in those quiet waters. The meanest trick I ever played on myself was to visit Tobermory without a camera.