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Torpedoed (Part I)

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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.


Torpedoed (Part I)

One fine day, they sent us to Scapa Flow, in the north of Scotland on the Murmansk Run. We went up to Scapa Flow and were attached to the English navy. We would escort military convoys that were arriving from America, y’know, Canada and the United States, to supply the Russian army which was dealing with German divisions at the time, because the Russians had nothing. They had lost 20 million men, I think, at that time and they needed supplies. They were dealing with German divisions and the Germans had gone pretty far into Russia. But while they were doing that, there was the famous Tirpitz and the Graf Spee; the Tirpitz and the Bismarck. Not long before, the Bismarck had been sunk along the coast of Africa, but there was still the Tirpitz, which was in a fjord in Norway. It had to get out of there ‘cause winter was coming; it had to get out of there and go to Belgium where it was warmer. So the English fleet was waiting for it when . . . our airplanes were going to bomb it. It was between two fjords, two high mountains, and they couldn’t get it from the side. Our planes launched torpedoes, that was good, but they couldn’t get it from the side because the mountains, the fjords, were too high. From the front, or the back - the back was towards land - you don’t have a target, y’know? It’s not big enough, y’know, you can’t risk a lucky shot. But it had to come out of there. Our planes managed to damage it a bit but not much. But, [the Tirpitz], it had its submarines in front of it, in the Arctic. They came up, looked to see if anyone was going by, and then went down again without starting the engine. They had put a whole gang of submarines there to watch it. As soon as it came out of there, they would protect it.

So, it started to come out a bit and we advanced a bit more. At a certain point what had to happen, happened – and we weren’t the only ones – we got torpedoed. Our planes still launched 500 pound bombs and they were stored down in the hold. You couldn’t keep those in your pockets. If the torpedo had gone into the 500 pound bombs, we’d still be flying up, we’d be up there still [laughter]. But it didn’t hit the bombs – it hit beneath the kitchen at supper time. There was a big crew in the hold of these boats, not a little [inaudible]. It killed all the cooks. I wasn’t far from there myself; I had left there, I don’t know why that I happened to leave there. I’ told you about the crew that takes care of securing the ship after it’s been torpedoed. Well, these guys locked the doors below. Those who were locked in there were done for, y’know. I heard the doors closing behind me. Oh, you hustled to get up out of there . . .

To be continued …

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