Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 13 > Page 39 - Sydney Harbour in World War 2

Page 39 - Sydney Harbour in World War 2

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1976/6/1 (1071 reads)
 

they were very anxious • they would come down and leave their name with us. Ihey were re'ally marvelous. You take a fireman who's going to sign on a ship • most of them were coal-firing • those young fellows there • they didn't know what minute a torpedo was going to hit. You're down there you're down there. The merchant marine are the unsung hero, really. And we had a Navy League up there, and they were really a wonderful thing. And with the Navy League was a Ladies' Auxiliary. It was a place for men to go that were away from home. And probably once or twice a week they'd hold a dance for them. And then as the war went on they added an annex and used to have sleeping quarters, a large dining area. A lot of the survivors that would come in would stay there. Fellows that were in hospital would come out and stay there. Ihe Ladies' Auxiliary used to visit with fellows in hospital, and they had ditty bags they used to make for them • consisted probably of a pack of ciga? rettes, toothpaste and toothbrush, like that • and maybe give it to thera in a pair of wool socks. They used to knit for thera. Ihe building is still there, right at the top of Dominion Street • and back of there, in the field, they used to play football. Church organizations and like the I.O.D.E. and others would also help* It was a won? derful Navy League, well run • nothing rough at all* There was lots of romances, too • a lot of marriages out of it* And a lot of heartbreak...*You wouldn't think of it so much, signing the men on the ships • but it would hit you when you heard of it*..and they didn't seem to think of it either, signing on, and I suppose you thought of it that way • but after a couple of days you'd hear about a torpedoing, this one lost, that one • you'd realize what it was all about* The "J> Pinckney Henderson" in the Northwest Arm, and Pilot Milton MacKenzie. Milton MacKenzie, Pilot: I went to those boys' funeral. They were only like in buc? kets, you couldn't tell what they were. One • one was in the engine room, you could tell what it was • but the rest were just like a burnt shoe. So I attended their fu? neral; put them all in Hardwood Hill • and you know when they collected up all the bodies in Europe and everything, the re? mains • and they put them in the Soldiers' Cemetery in Washington • well I had the ship in here when they picked up the 32 bodies that made 10,000 caskets aboard that ship. I had that ship in here, wasn't it funny? Brought them out in Johnny Young's little steamer, the Lakeview • and hoist them a- board • and T, had that ship. I said to the captain, "Look, isn't it funny. I had these boys in here when they were just a grease spot • and here I am going out of here with the grease spot put in a hermetically seal? ed casket • isn't it a coincidence?" I re? mained aboard because it was no time • lit? tle more than an hour • till I got them all aboard and then I went out again. I remera- ber speaking to that captain, and you know, he filled up just like a youngster. When I brought her in • the J. Pinckney Henderson • she was on fire and bumping. She had a collision with a high-test tanker off of Cape Race. She rubbed, scraped and sparks • fire blew everything up. She was adrift out there, and this admiralty tug got a hook on her and towed her here. Well, I had three tugs on her • I had to bring her in through the gate. I was aboard her. A fellow from the navy said Put her in here and let go the anchor. I said. If you're going to let go the anchor on this ship I'm not going to be aboard of her • because there'll be more sparks and you don't know what's down there. She was pretty well burnt out. But she was burning. She burned up there for four or five days after that. No one knew what she had a- board. So I had three tugs on her, moving her in. I left the bridge and supervised getting the bridle and all down. We just let her hang on the compass bouy. And then they came alongside with fire tugs and they started watering her down • well, did she ever go when the water hit her down there • big puffs of white steam. So they stopped that and, well, they couldn't get her out. Cape Breton's Magazine/39
Cape Breton's Magazine
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