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“Mine Dismantling” - Close Call 2

Heroes Remember

“Mine Dismantling” - Close Call 2

Shortly after that on, on another island, I was disarming a mine and I took out the, the mine has a main charger, has a primer and inside the primer is a detonator and the detonator is in a, a cylinder, to protect it. A detonator is, is fulminating mercury, which is a very unstable explosive and so it has to be very carefully protected. And I took this out of the mine and handed it to the torpedo gunner's mate and he dropped it on the beach and in normal circumstances, it would have blown your foot off or something like that, but it fell on a bigger stone, the only bigger stone on the beach and, and we, we were safe but clearly he was jittery and clearly I was jittery. Then sometime shortly after that I had to deal with a mine that was trapped in the Churchill Barrier. These were ships that were, Merchant ships had been sunk between the Islands to keep submarines from getting in and this, this mine was in the, was caught up in the rigging of this sunken ship. And I thought to myself, this is really too much for me, I don't, I really can't cope with this. And so I, the, the, the medical people just felt I was being cowardly and since it was a volunteer job, I myself in my conscience felt at liberty to devolunteer. But anyway the George Medal was downgraded to a mention in dispatches because of this. And, and I was sent away more or less in disgrace.

Mr. Sutherland has another close call, and because of his reaction to this, his George Medal is taken away.

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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