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Joining Up at Age 15

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Joining Up at Age 15

Well when the time came I was, I'd turned 15 on the 4th of May 1941 and I was in the Canadian Navy the 21st of May of 1941, at the age of 15, so... Interviewer: Tell me about that. How did you do that? Where did you go to get signed up and what action happened? Well the barracks was here in Charlottetown, HMCS Queen Charlotte was the barracks down on Kent Street and a good friend of mine named Gordon Beers, he just lives in next to us here. We were, we were itching to get in the navy and we talked to his father and no father likes to get his son go away to war, but he understood we were hell bent on doing it. The recruiting officer was a good friend and he told the recruiting officer, that his son was hell bent of getting in the navy, along with his friend Ivan Doherty. But he said age is the problem, he never mentioned how old we were but . . . so anyway, the recruiting officer said he would accept the lower age and that night we knew whether we passed the medical; we were in the navy. So I was accepted and the only thing blemish, the only blemish I had in my medical record, was that I was colour blind and I couldn't join the navy as a naval seaman. I had to go below decks as a stoker. And that's a . . . Interviewer: But you must have really, really wanted to sign up.. Well, Rick I guess the reason was there was a number of our friends that were joining and probably a little older than I was and it sort have planted the seed in the movement, to join the navy and of course the more we read about advertising was, "Join the navy to see the world," made it that much more, that you wanted to get in the navy. And that's what happened and my parents and their . . . my brother and their grandparents, when I got home with a kitbag loaded, they were gonna call up the navy and take, take me right out. And I said, "No don't do that, please, I'll look after my education." Which I did. I kept that promise.

Mr. Doherty recalls how he was able to join the Navy at age 15, and his motivation for doing so.

Ivan Doherty

Mr. Doherty was born on May 4, 1926, in Boston, Massachusetts. His family having originally been from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, decided to return soon after his birth. His father left the family soon after moving to Charlottetown, Mr. Doherty was raised by his mother and grandparents. Soon after turning 15, Mr. Doherty and a friend of the same age, eager for excitement and to see the world, became very anxious to join the Navy. His friends father, understanding that the boys would not be deterred, convinced a recruiter to ignore their age and allow them to join on May 21, 1941. Promising his mother and grandparents to continue with his education, they did not attempt to have him discharged. As he was found to be colour-blind, Mr. Doherty was only allowed to join the Navy as a stoker below decks. After two months basic training, and an 18 month posting in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, he was drafted to the Guysborough, escorting convoys across the North Atlantic, and sweeping the French coast for mines in preparation for the D-Day invasion. In addition to serving as a stoker (Acting Petty Officer), Mr. Doherty acted as a depth charge loader in his off-duty action station. After D-Day, Mr. Doherty left the Guysborough to take a Petty Officer course, but after several delays was drafted to the American carrier, HMS Puncher as a Killick (with the same duties as Acting Petty Officer), escorting convoy ships on the Murmansk Run. Still on the HMS Puncher on VE-Day, Mr. Doherty and the rest of the crew volunteered for the Pacific battle, but it finished before any could enter. Mr. Doherty stayed on the HMS Puncher ferrying troops home across the Atlantic, until he returned home to Charlottetown in September 1945.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Ivan Doherty
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Acting Petty Officer

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