Frank Curry Diary January - March

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Saturday--January 17
We went alongside the good old jetty at 0800. Crew busy cleaning ship after the rough going. Plenty cold up top. Quartermaster 1200-1900, seven straight hours of it. Turned in as soon as I was relieved.

Sunday--January 18
Up at 0400 and fire sentry patrol until 0700. Quite cold and monotonous out in the dark and icy quietness. Over to see John Granda on the Malpeque. Went ashore in the evening to take in a singsong at the Y. Other fellows along. Lots of fun for all. Back on board early.

Monday--January 19
This morning spent doing a final check on the Asdic. We sailed at 1600, picking up oil from the Teakwood on the way out. Headed for the open Atlantic at dusk. Rounded up convoy of 78 ships and we took up our screening position on the port beam...here we go again.

Tuesday--January 20
Weather not too bad as we plunge ahead. Sea quite heavy and kicking us around a fair bit. We are operating Asdic 2 on and 4 off. No sign of an echo so far. Tough time holding onto the convoy in the pitch dark. Thinking a lot of home so far away.

Wednesday--January 21
We are steaming north-east with our large convoy. Heavy seas running, operating and watches down to a routine. So far not a sign of any trouble. Feeling pretty good - so far. Eating everything in sight...an enormous appetite. So it goes...where are we headed???

Thursday--January 22
Operating 2 on and 4 off. Visibility closed down to one half mile. Picked up a sub echo at 0530 and we gave it two solid patterns...resumed position at 0700.

Friday--January 23
Headed more easterly now--our convoy is steaming right along and for a change things are going very smoothly. Not a sign of trouble so far. Sighted two American destroyers and a patrol bomber off the port wing of the convoy...something to break the monotony.

Saturday--January 24
Seas are running much rougher and huge swells are rolling us 40 and 50 degrees at a roll. We are warned to be on the lookout for Hudson bomber down in the Atlantic in our vicinity. What a hope in all this water. No sign of subs since that echo of several days ago.

Sunday--January 25
Greek ship on the far side of our convoy was torpedoed at 0500 this morning, nothing doing on our wing. HMCS Rimouski picked up some survivors. Sure feel tense when I am operating Asdic, knowing that subs are close by. Split my knee going to action stations when I skidded on the icy decks. Depth charges going off all round the convoy. We haven't had a contact yet.

Monday--January 26
Looks as if we might be getting off lightly this time as we have not lost any more ships. Things quietened down considerably--perhaps it is the huge seas that are running. We are bouncing around like a top. My knee is driving me crazy with throbbing. Still heading east, ever east.

Tuesday--January 27
Well, we are still rolling--and I do mean rolling--due east. How vast this old Atlantic appears to be to an awed landlubber like myself when I gaze out in all directions day after day and see nothing but turbulent waters as far as I can see--never dreamt a few short years ago that this is what my future would bring.

Wednesday--January 28
Boy--are there ever huge seas running. I never expected to see them this big--ever. We are still keeping the port beam of our convoy covered and heading ever east. We run out of spuds today. Rice from now on. Double lookouts on watch for long-range German Junker aircraft which are spotting allied convoys.

Thursday--January 29
Huge seas still running. We ran out of bread today and it will be a diet of hardtack from here on in. British escort arrived at dusk as we are now off the north-west coast of Ireland. We five corvettes gladly turned over our convoy to them and we--the Kamsack, Rimouski, Trail, Trillium and Napanee headed on alone at full speed.

Friday--January 30
Great seas still pounding us. We are close to the coast of Ireland as I write this. What a wonderful feeling after two solid weeks at sea. German air activity in the Irish sea reported, and we got a red warning in our vicinity. Everyone highly enthused about getting near land. What a life.

Saturday--January 31
Today is a great day-- a wonderful day. At dawn, even before darkness lifted, we could smell that wonderful smell of land, earth, long before we could see it. In the early dawn we slipped quietly into Loch Foyle. Immediately went alongside a British tanker where we filled our near-empty oil tanks brimming. Ireland looks beautiful. Guess any solid earth looks beautiful at a moment like this. We sailed twenty miles up Loch Foyle and at dusk tied up in Londonderry. Everyone busy buying fresh cream, live chickens for packages of cigarettes. I headed ashore for the first time in Ireland--went along with Yearsley, and we wandered around in the blackout and rain, finally finding a chip shop where we had a feed of chips. Returned early--drew two pound casual.

Sunday--February 1
If Newfoundland is the land of snow, then this appears to be the land of rain, for it has not let up for a second since we first sighted land. I wrangled permission to go off to Enniskillen. No trains running there on Sunday, but managed to get there by going half way around Ireland by bus. Went by way of Omagh, Ballgolly. Young English army officer and I chummed up in the blackout waiting for our bus connections. We had a meal in a hotel. We had quite a chat sitting by a blazing fireplace. I finally reached Enniskillen at midnight--pitch black and pouring rain. I felt my way around the deserted and silent streets, managing to find the Imperial Hotel, where I took a room for the night....

Monday--February 2
Up at 0800 and a real Irish breakfast in the dining room. The big question--how was I to find my relatives when I had no idea where they lived???? Went to police barracks and luck was with me--an inspector knew the Currys. He ordered a young constable to drive me out in a patrol car. Saw cousin Gretta on the way. Uncle Frank, Aunty Lucy and Cecil gave me a great welcome--they had no idea that I was wandering about this part of the world. Spent most of the day wandering about country lanes in the rain and eating and talking. Had to get going all too soon. Train to Omagh and caught a bus back to Londonderry. Still pouring rain as I headed back on board ship at 2300.

Tuesday--February 3
Morning spent lugging on board sacks and baskets of those huge Irish loaves of bread. We left Londonderry at 1300 and headed down Loch Foyle. Went alongside tanker at Moville. Rumor has it that we shall be boarded tonight.

Wednesday--February 4
Up anchor at 0400 (no boarding during the night) and sailed with St. Laurent and four other corvettes. Out of Loch Foyle and so off to sea facing us as a rather unpleasant prospect. Feeling pretty grim as we plunge our way out into the Atlantic. Headed north-west, where to, know not we. Heavy seas running, and already our little ship is a mess....

Thursday--February 5
A weird feeling to see it pitch dark at 0900 and a full moon shining down on us...we are heading to the north with our large westbound convoy, in the hope of eluding subs; operating steadily, with the seas having levelled off just a little, much to the relief of everyone on board.

Friday--February 6
Thick fog has settled down around us--rather a queer feeling to be escorting a convoy that is invisible--a huge convoy of 73 ships. Suddenly at 1500 we cleared the fog and it was an amazing sight to gaze on our convoy in the brilliant sunshine. Lots of time off watch spent behind the funnel, the gathering place for the Funnel Gang--off watchers.

Saturday--February 7
Sea smooth as silk--there has been trouble close by. We sighted several large pieces of wreckage and then we came upon two machine-gun-riddled life boats, two dead seamen in one--nothing we could do about it--a terrible sight and I feel it very deeply. Action stations in the noon hour and the Rimouski, our old winger, is going at it hot and heavy on the other side of the convoy with a sub contact. No contacts for us, but I feel pretty tense every minute I am operating on the old Asdic set.

Sunday--February 8
Beautiful sunrise as I operated on the 0400-0600 watch. Something to remember, just to sit high on the bridge and gaze out on such a magnificent scene, with a brilliant sun coming up in the east and our great convoy steaming quietly on its way, with little corvettes spotted out on all wings. Still smooth as anyone could wish for--everyone amazed and happy about it. We picked up a good sub echo on the Asdic at 1925 and threw four patterns of depth charges at it--crew pretty tense, not to mention one FC.

Monday--February 9
A bit rough today, but really nothing to moan about. We are ploughing right ahead with our large convoy and making good progress. We have certainly swung far to the north with this one, and are now well up between Iceland and Greenland...must be method in this madness....

Tuesday--February 10
Seas have flattened out again, and we are steaming right along, with nothing out of the ordinary for the last couple of days. Just a constant alertness for something to happen..

Wednesday--February 11
Still (I repeat still) smooth as smooth. Grand warm sun came out and poured down on us all this long day. If you were trying to convince anyone back home that winter in the north Atlantic was not exactly a picnic, you would have a tough time today. Seems more like a summer cruise in the Caribbean. But we are not complaining a bit....

Thursday--February 12
Does not take it long to change. This morning it is rather rough and much, much colder. Guess we have moved out of the Gulf Stream and are now getting closer to the dear shores of Newfoundland. Feeling in an awful mood, and thought I would go raving mad on the 2400-0400 watch. Staggered through it somehow.

Wednesday--March 4
After waiting for sailing orders, we slipped out of St. John's, leaving Swhartz ashore. He went for last minute mail and never came back--looks like he jumped ship. Very thick fog as HMCS Trillium, Sherbrooke, Rimouski and ourselves headed out into the Atlantic.

Thursday--March 5
Operating 2 on and 4 off. Cooper taking the place of our beloved Jones, who is sicker than a dog. Fog thick around us--no sign of our convoy or the rest of our escort group. Feeling pretty woozy--a lot of the fellows in the same boat. Here we go again....

Friday--March 6
Jones still out like a light. We are plunging right along, with never a sight of our huge convoy of 86 ships which we are taking to Britain. We are operating 2 and 4. Pounding quite a bit as we do 14 knots.

Saturday--March 7
Quite a sea running, but we are riding it. Our convoy at last hove into sight for the first time when the fog broke at 0800. 86 ships spread out in vast columns--destination Britain. One of the old four-funnelers with us, rolling like nothing on earth. We are screening the starboard forward end of the convoy. We are headed north-east, rolling badly in the huge swells.

Sunday--March 8
Only way of knowing it is Sunday way out here in the vast expanses of the Atlantic is the hard-boiled eggs for breakfast. A miserable day all round. Heavy seas giving us an awful pounding and our messdeck is really and truly a mess. Crew in a generally miserable state of mind....

Monday--March 9
A terrible time holding onto the convoy during the night--tremendous seas running and we are taking an awful beating. Everything bouncing around in the mess decks--dishes, helmets, hat boxes, tins of jam (open), letters and loaves of soggy bread--all sloshing around in two feet of stinking north Atlantic ocean. What a life....New moon rose out of the stormy horizon.

Tuesday--March 10
The huge seas are still breaking around and over us as we pound our way steadily ahead in a north-east direction. Kamsack bouncing all over the Atlantic. No sign of any trouble so far--very quiet as far as subs go. Found it almost an impossible task to pen even these few miserable lines in my daily record. Something keeps making me want to keep a personal record of these difficult days for the future (?) days....Very cold--a few of us huddled faithfully behind the funnel this bright afternoon watching our solemn convoy plunging, lunging and rolling its way to Britain.

Wednesday--March 11
And still it goes on and on. Great seas still pushing us around like a top. Mess deck is a sickening place to go near. Bridge is continuously awash as seas constantly break completely over the ship from tip to stern. Jam, peanut butter, loaves of bread (mouldy and soggy), sea-boots, old socks--everything swilling around in our beloved home away from home, the mess deck. Not a single whole dish left, and we have now reached the stage of eating out of empty jam tins, steel helmets or anything else with a depression in it that will contain food. How the cooks can get anything cooked on the galley stoves is one of those untold miracles.

Thursday--March 12
The sun broke through for the first time in days, and everyone is in a much happier frame of mind--sure does not take much to help a lot under conditions such as these. Quite heavy seas still running but it is a mild day with a bright and warm sun as we continue to escort our convoy ahead--we are now off the southern coast of Iceland and the Old Man is pretty concerned about the constant reports of submarine activity in our particular vicinity. We should be swinging around on a new course pretty soon now. Things have been mighty quiet....

Friday--March 13
We dropped two 8-charge patterns on a good solid sub echo, just as the sun was rising, and we chased all over our screening section to make sure nothing was sneaking into the convoy. Convoy spotted a German aircraft spotting us. It hung around for hours, just visible on the horizon--probably doing a first rate job of reporting our presence, speed and course to a friendly bunch of subs. Received a report of British aircraft attacking a surfaced sub 150 miles directly ahead of us. It is beginning to look as if our pleasure cruising this trip is just about over....

Saturday--March 14
On watch 0600-0800, and feeling pretty tense as we have been warned of several subs being in our immediate vicinity. Action stations at 0930 when Trillium reported a sub contact on her wing of the screen. We stayed closed up at action stations for five long hours. Seas smoothing out, which does not help matters.

Sunday--March 15
Glad to see daybreak again after a long night of scares and the road of constantly exploding depth charges. We seemed to have kept our screen tight enough to keep the subs out of our convoy--most of the escort group (including ourselves) very touchy all through the night. This is the beginning of our second week with the convoy, and it has brought us smoother seas and a bright friendly sun to warm our spirits. We are now sailing in on the northern approaches to the British Isles, and at 2130 Kamsack set off alone to escort three ships to Loch Ewe on the northwest coast of Scotland. The rest of the convoy and escort headed for the Irish Sea, Belfast and Liverpool.

Monday--March 16
We sailed all night with our three ships--we are out ahead about three miles, doing a continuous zig-zag screen. Seas are smooth, and we are at last able to square off our mess deck and make it almost decent enough to live in again. We were off Loch Ewe at noon, and our ships slipped in immediately. And so we saw the end of another mission. Headed south along the coast of Scotland. Quite close in and we sailed between the Hebrides and the mainland. Able to examine this barren coast with its snow-capped mountains, magnificent waterfalls crashing right into the ocean. Telescopes and glasses at a premium. Only sign of life all day long was a small herd of sheep. Full speed ahead for Londonderry.

Tuesday--March 17
And the top of the morning to you this fine St. Patrick's Day, as we wind our way up Loch Foyle at dawn, after having oiled up off Moville near General Montgomery's home. Traded fags for cheese and chickens (had to kill and pluck them in the bargain). We tied up in Londonderry at noon and it is a wonderful feeling to be tied securely to a jetty that stands still. Got a casual of one pound, and Schiller and I wandered off ashore. We took in a show, had a meal of chips in a small waterfront shop, and back on board early to willingly hit the hay for a good night's sleep.

Wednesday--March 18
We spent the morning squaring off the ship for Commodore's (no less) rounds--which did not come off. That was good for plenty of nattering on behalf of the lower deck. We immediately suspected a foul plot on the part of the Jimmie to get some extra work out of us. Make and mend in the afternoon and I went off ashore to get a haircut at my little shop with the witty Irishmen. Not often one can get a haircut for 10 cents. Cooked my chicken in the evening. I was king for a day.

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