HMCS Prince Rupert

Heroes Remember

The Prince Rupert - that was my first and last ship. Well, I was basically ecstatic to be headed out to sea and it was surprising when I got aboard the Prince Rupert. The wireless operator I was relieving, I knew him. He’d been on the wireless course when I was in Toronto and he was going back to Saint-Hyacinthe for, I think his, what we called his ‘Threes’, for a petty officer telegraphist. So, he was on his way out and we said “hi” and it was good. It was a whole new experience, sleeping in a hammock right next to you, right next to another guy that would be snoring like blazes, but you got used to it and you ... The only way you could cope with it would be to make sure you snored the loudest. The food wasn’t anything to brag about. Thank God we got parcels from home. After I was assigned my watch, we had, there was three watches, red watch, white, and blue. And I was, my action station was on the flag deck. And what I was to do was to join the boat’s crew when they got called away to board a submarine that we had brought to the surface. My job was to go up the coning tower, down the coning tower, into the signals office on the sub, grab all the material I could, and turn around and make my way out again. Well, to me, submarines were notorious for going down quicker than they were coming up. So I had to work on something to get off that, but it was quite awhile before I succeeded. The other thing I was to do was to string antennas for the radio office if the ones there got shot away. I didn’t like that idea, a piece of wire in your hand and somebody saying, “Jeez, there’s a fair target.” But it never happened, so … I used to enjoy the scenery as much as I could from the flag deck, trying to look busy.

Mr. Irwin describes joining HMCS Prince Rupert and his shipboard duties.

Robert Irwin

Mr. Irwin was born in Toronto, Ontario on April 9, 1921. He lost his father in a car accident while a boy. Because his mother had to work, he and his brother were taken under the wing of the local YMCA, where they both became excellent competitive swimmers. Once old enough, Mr. Irwin worked on the lake boats on Lake Superior. Shortly before enlisting, he also worked for General Electric, where he was promised a job upon his return from active service. Mr. Irwin trained as a wireless operator and, after doing shore duty in the Halifax communications centre, joined the frigate HMCS Prince Rupert, which was assigned to convoy duty. Mr. Irwin spent his entire time at sea aboard this vessel. Notable events during his duty include a possible sub kill off Ireland and the rescue of survivors from a torpedoed British warship in the same action. After leaving the service, General Electric made good on its promise, and Mr. Irwin pursued a 40 year career with them. He now resides in London, Ontario.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Robert Irwin
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
North Atlantic Ocean
North Atlantic
HMCS Prince Rupert
Wireless Operator

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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