Page 38 - "Fortress Sydney" Manning the Guns on the C.B. Coast
ISSUE : Issue 14
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1976/8/1
Dan J. Robertson today, and leaving his mother's house in a chauffeur-driven French raotorcycle m 1942. with one of the officers there • and we made arrangements with thera. Ve had what was called a "gyn" with 3 poles on it with was a Greek ship in the harbour • he had displayed the wrong signals. This shell was filled with high explosive but there was no fuze in it; there was just an iron plug in the nose of it. It hit the bar and ricocheted off the sand bar and into the lagoon. I guess that shell is still there. We manned our guns. The watch officer was on the telephone. He told us to stand down and what had happened. But in the meantirae the boys were quite anxious to fire; they wanted permission to fire right away. No. 2 gun was laid right on the smokestack of the Greek ship, ready to fire. Dan J. Robertson, Sydney Mines, Warrant Officer of the 36th Battery: The examina-- tion battery (at Chapel Point) fired a duramy round first. This freighter had the flags up but they had thera wroi' • and the orders were to fire one shot and if it didn't stop, to sink her. And I'm not going to tell you what officer it was, but you always give 12 seconds off target, which is the right deflection. And instead of giving cheeks on thera to raise concrete blocks. We'd use the gyn on the gun parts to hoist them up so that the truck could get under them, if he'd let us use his crane and everything. On account of being a railroad raan I knew thera (at the railroad yards) • and I got thera to shunt those two flat cars over to a siding right by the station at Florence. And there was over a raile saved there. Then we parbuckled thera off the car using ropes and 14-inch blocks, skids. And next raorning we went out • we only had two jacks • and we jacked up the front and jacked the back," jacked the front and jacked the back, and then got the big long baulks, 14- inch thick baulks, underneath there and we backed the trailer underneath her and then buckled her down with wire strapping. And we went all the way to Oxford by 5 o'clock that evening. I had the gun right where the holding-down bolts were for the pedestal. And they sent a Master Gunner down for the the airaer a right, he gave hira a left. Well, next one • and he was two weeks getting down the left, if you're aiming for the bow wa? terline, she'd hit the boat. So I tell the sergeant "Check, check" • and the sarae thing frora the officer. And so I say "Check a- gain" to see if he gets wise. I didn't want to say "You've got the wrong deflection" to an officer. So this Irishraan says, "Daran it, en platforras. then they raoved thera down to fire that thing!" and I say "Elevate" • so Stubberts' Point and they put them in con- we elevated and let her go. The shell must crete. They were hard on the ears. But the have been between the spars; it hit the wa- only thing they were used for was for bring- with the other barrel. Sorae of the fellows frora Chapel, they went to North Bar and put the two 6-pounders down on the shore, and they were there un? til about 1941, I guess. They were on wood- ter or soraething and then ricocheted up in the field up by South Bar battery. It was early in the raorning. Ihat first gun that went down to Oxford battery • that carae in on two flat cars to Sydney Mines station. And the orders we got over at the fortress in Sydney, was to skid that by hand frora Sydney Mines to Ox? ford • five railes. And that barrel weighed 26 tons, 500 pounds. Iraagine the brains they hadI But up here at North Bar they had a navy crane • she'd lift 25 tons • and they had a beautiful new tractor. So the Major and I went up. We had a few slashes Cape Breton's Magazine/38 to rounds, night shoots and practice. We used to get the tug boat frora Halifax down. It used to drag two flaots behind it. The Alfreda was her narae. We had to shoot--get a rainus and a plus, then try to get the bracket in between • but you weren't allowed to hit the target, you know. Ihe fellows up at the Strait of Canso • Porcupine • that was the Antigonish battery (of the 16th Coast Regiment) that was over there. Ihe fellow says, "My God," he says, "you, the gun- layer, number 3, I'm missing it, I'm miss? ing it." So he says, "To Hell with this" and puts a little deflection on it himself. He was shooting off v'ere he shouldn't
Cape Breton's Magazine