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Protective Measures

Heroes Remember

The ship was going to be armed. She was going to have a 4.7 inch anti-submarine gun on the stern and a three inch high angle gun on top of the hospital. During the time that they were fitting these guns, they fitted the ship with what they called degouzing. Now degouzing was a defence against magnetic mines. They run wires around and around and around and around the ship and they energize them in some fashion. And the purpose was to demagnitize the ship. So if you went over a magnetic mine, the ship was mag, demagnetized. At one time they put an A-frame, now that's, it's like a wish bone. A turkey wish bone secured on each side of the bow, and the point, you'd be lowered down under the water below the four foot of the ship and from it there would be two wires. A wire on either side and they went out to a para-vein which is a, kind of a kite that's in the water, underwater kite. At the end of the, at the end of the para-vein there was cutters. So as soon as you'd, if you were approaching the British Isles or departing the British Isles, you'd lower down this A-frame and you do your own minesweeping. Now on another trip into London, we were dive-bombed. Dive-bombs were active then, stuka dive bombers. They would dive at the ship, directly at the ship. Aim at the ship and at the last moment, they'd release a bomb and they'd pull up out of the way. And they were deadly because they aim, it was like aiming a rifle at the ship. So at one time it was decided to protect the ships from the dive bombers. They'd fit them with kites. The kite flew from the mass head. So from the mass head down to the drum on the winch, this is how you control the kite. So once you got underway and up to maximum speed, you'd slack off on the winch which would allow the kite to be airborne and it would go up. I've forgotten how long now, perhaps five hundred feet or whatever it was and this was to discourage the dive bombers. They would not, they could not aim at directly at the ship because of this wire. It was a great safety device.

Mr. Goodyear discusses several devices used to protect merchant ships: deck mounted guns, degaussing the hull, paravanes for mine sweeping, and finally balloons to deter Stuka dive bombers.

Thomas Goodyear

Thomas Goodyear was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland on March 17, 1920. He was the eldest of four children. His father had served in the First World war, and later became operating engineer in the local butter company. Mr. Goodyear left school at age 13 to learn the dry fish business, and in 1936 ran away to work at sea with provisioning coastal communities in Newfoundland, Labrador and Quebec. The outbreak of the Second World saw Mr. Goodyear join the transatlantic merchant fleet as a quartermaster. In addition to the North Atlantic, he saw service in the Indian Ocean, where he survived the torpedoing of his ship. Mr. Goodyear offers some unique experiences from his perspective as a Merchant Mariner.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Thomas Goodyear
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Merchant Navy

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