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Towards the Atlantic

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Towards the Atlantic

Mr. Jobin and his crew learned to shoot 20mm and 40mm guns in San Diego. They then went through the Panama Canal on the way to Norfolk, Virginia. At the time, some neighbourhoods were blacks-only after 11:00 P.M.


Guy Jobin

Mr. Jobin’s father was a chemist for a mill in Chandler, in the Gaspé. During the Depression, his father left to go work in Masson, in the Outaouais Region, and the family joined him 18 months later. They settled in Buckingham and when war was declared young Guy Jobin, a lover of ships, wanted to enlist in the Navy. He did his basic training in Québec and then went to Halifax to learn to fire guns before being sent to British Columbia. His group of Canadians left on the British aircraft carrier HMS Nabob. The ship went down the Pacific coast, crossed the Panama Canal and stopped in Virginia before arriving in England, at Liverpool. There they found the remains of a city damaged by 9 days German bombings. The Nabob was active in the British Isles throughout the war. During a mission to Scapa Flow in northern Scotland, the boat was hit by a torpedo. Upon his return to Canada, Mr. Jobin was hospitalized for awhile.


Toward the Atlantic

They sent us to San Diego, the biggest American naval base, to learn to fire 40 millimetres and 20 millimetres. We spent a couple of days there, training, because we didn’t know those guns. The English guns are pom-poms, y’know, and those were American. So, we learned to shoot and then we were off to the Panama Canal. That was interesting – the Panama Canal, from the Pacific to the Atlantic. And in the Canal itself there was a small aircraft carrier. It filled the Canal from side to side. There were electric cars that drew us through the Panama Canal, like the Rideau Canal. Everything has to be very close, y’know? Nothing can touch, and the gun towers can’t hit the sides. Anyhow, we crossed and it was quite interesting. And the “Panamanians” – those folks don’t move too fast [laughter]. They were playing dominos while they waited, and we wanted to go through.

We crossed the Atlantic and arrived . . . where was it? It’s famous, let’s see, what was happening down there . . . in Mexico. Tornados! Right there, we passed by Mexico and alongside Cuba, up to Norfolk, Virginia. Before arriving in Norfolk, Virginia, we hit one of those storms, probably the tail end of a tornado. We were in refit, in the dry docks, for a good week and were allowed to go out, but, in those days, there were black neighbourhoods in Norfolk, Virginia, that were closed at 11:00 P.M. with a gate. They would close off the streets and you couldn’t go there. We guys didn’t understand that situation at the time. So we went to the bars, went into a club, and a big black fellow came up to us, taps me on the shoulder, and said “Eh! Young fellow! You better off not to come in here… Stay out of the gates. Stay outside the gates. They’ll take them down in the morning.” Because he said, “It’s not safe here.” And he took us back; it wasn’t far, y’know. He was very nice, this fellow . . . A big black guy. We learned a lesson. We just didn’t know.

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