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“Mine Dismantling” Part 2 of 3

Heroes Remember

“Mine Dismantling” Part 2 of 3

Well we had, I got a signal one morning that this was in the fleet anchorage and we had a drifter and the normal procedure would be to take this drifter out, it’s, it’s a herring fishing, herring fishing sort of boat, and stream a net from the stern paying out about 200 yards of line because 200 yards is the, the safe distance for the explosion of 500 lbs of TNT. And you would circle the mine until it got caught up in the, and then take a small boat and row it ashore. Well when, when I got on the scene, there wasn’t room to do this, it was already too close to battleships. And so I, we, we lowered a small boat from the drifter and rowed towards the mine. I had a crew of about 12 sailors I guess and the torpedo gunner’s mate, and when we got there, or as we got close to the mine, I realized that these guys, they weren’t volunteers, none of them, so there was no reason why they should be imperiled by this. So I took off my clothes and took a, a heaving line in, in my mouth and swam to the mine and put, put the line through one of the ring bolts on the shoulder of the mine and then swam back to the boat. And, and we, we towed the mine to one of the, one of the smaller islands and, and secured it so that when the tide went out it would be left high and dry. And then I went back to the mess for lunch.

Risking his life, Mr. Sutherland secures a mine which is adrift in the Scapa Flow close to some battleships. Because of this action he was nominated for the George Medal.

Donald Marshall Sutherland

Donald Marshall Sutherland, was born in Toronto on the 22nd of June 1916. His parents couldn't afford to send him to university and so he worked at the Bank of Commerce. After the war broke out, he joined navy as an ordinary seaman. Canada didn't have any means of training naval sailors at that time; so he was sent to England to be trained. He was involved mostly in mine dismantling. When he returned to Canada he finished his studies.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Donald Marshall Sutherland
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Mine Disposal

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