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The Journey Overseas

Heroes Remember

The Journey Overseas

We came across in August in 1942, boarded in Halifax and the first night out our ship happened to collide with another ship in the convoy. The reason for that was they had detected, it was explained to us they had detected a submarine and this one ship came to cut across our bow and drop their depth charges or whatever. And we didn’t quite make it in time and we hit the end of the ship, the stern of the ship and I guess it knocked the depth charges off because the ship that was coming to our rescue got blown up. We had the bow of our ship, the Awatea, stove in, the size of a, the indent made into the bow was the size of a street car and they were worried we might sink as a result because the bulk heads were the only things that kept the water out. So we managed to fortunately, the water became quite calm and it was like a pond, the only time I ever seen the Atlantic that smooth. We managed to stay afloat and we, of course, were prepared to abandon the ship and wait but the fog descended on us and somehow they had to blow the fog horn and somehow they didn’t detect us anymore and we just stayed there until we had a generator so we would have some light and some power. As it was we were just sitting there. And they managed to get one half of the generator, I don’t know enough about ships to explain it. And we were limping back to Halifax by noon the next day three corvettes came out to conduct us back. One stayed behind to pick up survivors from that ship we bumped into, the one that was coming to our rescue and there were only four survivors. Well, of course, I didn’t anticipate what might happen to us but, you know, you do what you are supposed to do and whatever happens, happens. We went back to Halifax and we were quarantined there for two months while they repaired our ship. And we got back on the same ship and came back to Glasgow.

Mr. Bernhardt shares the adventure of going overseas only to leave the port of Halifax and be involved in a collision with another ship, a rough start!

Charles Bernhardt

Mr. Charles Bernhardt was born March 13, 1921 in Yugoslavia. His father, a bricklayer, was from Hungary and came to Canada in 1927. The family followed the next year. Unable to recall too much of his childhood, Mr. Bernhardt does remember his happiness as a Canadian and that he always had the desire and pride to serve in the Canadian military. He chose to join the Canadian Armoured Division and served during in the Second World War in Normandy during the Battle of D-Day. He held the occupation of Brigadier General’s driver, a role he felt great pride in doing. Mr. Bernhardt is known for his participation in one of the most famous photos of all time which went for poster print, the “Wait for Me Daddy” poster which can be found displayed across Canada. In recognition of his service, Mr. Bernhardt received the Legion of Honour medal and was given the opportunity to be a part of the Canadian delegation for 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge - a memory of honour he will hold for a lifetime. Mr. Bernhardt resides in Summerland, B.C.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
April 4, 2017
Person Interviewed:
Charles Bernhardt
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Armoured Regiment

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