Frank Curry Diary April-June

Archived Content

Archived information is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Sunday--April 5
Spent all morning until 0930 in a bed--a true luxury these days. Then up to have a grand breakfast and then off to the Easter service in the Cathedral. A beautiful service, with the church crowded. Wrote letters home in the afternoon, and took in a service concert in the evening. Turned in early...

Monday--April 6
Up at 0800 after a fine sleep in the Y, and had another dandy breakfast. Then to wander about this quaint old city of St. John's, with its crowds of children, Newfoundland dogs, sailors from all nations. Spent almost $10.00 in the Kodak shop. Wandered far off in the outskirts of the city and then trudged back to the ship tired and pensive to find most of the crew roary-eyed drunk. Ship in a turmoil--hardly conducive to sleeping.

Tuesday--April 7
After a morning ashore at Captain D's, returned to the ship only to find we were doomed to spend the afternoon on the Attack Table. Pretty good results--Old Man quite happy about his Asdic team. Evening on board....

Wednesday--April 8
Tons of mail landed on board early today--as a result the ship in quite a fair humor. Off ashore in the afternoon to pick up a terrific blast for not saluting an upstanding young example of a naval officer. Certainly put me in a nasty frame of mind for a while--if I could only picture him being at least worthy of a bent elbow....On board early and turned in...

Thursday--April 9
What a day--howling gale, heavy snow and very cold, altogether one which could best be put in alongside a nice blazing fireplace with a good book and a comfortable chair. Instead, we nearly froze all day working on the upper deck, getting our little ship ready for what the North Atlantic has to offer in the way of tough going. Did not venture ashore--stuck around the mess deck and spun dips with the boys.

Friday--April 10
After knocking about the ship all morning, Cosburn, Jetty Jones and I wandered off ashore and hiked miles around St. John's. Ron and I bought two huge boxes of groceries to stock up for the coming days. Cost us both a pretty penny, but we felt it was money well spent. Supper at the Y and then back on board ship early.

Saturday--April 11
Little to put down on paper these past few days as we hopefully cling to the jetty for another day and pray we will remain inside the harbour gate for even a little while longer. I dread to go back to sea. Quite a bit milder for a change, with perhaps a hint that the long dreary winter is coming to an end.

Sunday--April 12
Weather has turned again, and the mess deck is the best place to be. The ship settled down to a drowsy Sunday afternoon routine of slinging carts, climbing into them, reading, nattering or making huge pots of stew--rather a pleasant day, all in all. A lazy one spent in the very closest of quarters with the companionship that can only take place on a small ship such as ours.

Monday--April 13
Asdic runs all morning ashore at the Base, with very good results. Picked up the mail and medical stores in the p.m. Ron Cosborn and I stood in line almost two hours to see a movie ashore, and it turned out to be a pretty miserable effort. We were both disgusted.

Tuesday--April 22
The wonderful weather continues, with the seas quite smooth. Who says this sailing business is rough????? Big disaster of the day was the snapping of the gramophone's main spring which means no more music. We sure will miss the old music machine that ground out "I Wish I Had a Dime" by the hour....

Thursday--April 23
On watch 0400-0600 to see a most beautiful sunrise--certainly makes up for being dragged out of a warm and comfortable hammock at 0330 hours of a pitch dark morning. And still one more grand day. Certainly we have no complaints to register with the Officer in Charge of Weather. Out of this very relaxing routine HMCS Saguenay suddenly spotted a dipping periscope just at teatime, and threw the book of charges at it. Ocean churned up just ahead of us--no evidence one way or the other as to the results. Wonder what the night will bring us--looks as if this trip will have its moments--yet.

Friday--April 24
Tonight as I write my usual comments for the day, we are steaming between the Inner and Outer Hebrides off the West coast of Scotland. It is 8 p.m., the sun is high in the sky, and we are enjoying a most beautiful and peaceful evening after having got ourselves out of last evening's tangle with no more trouble. Kamsack is escorting 11 ships to Loch Ewe, which is far up on the northwest coast of Scotland. The rest of the convoy and escort headed for Liverpool and Belfast, but we, lucky fellows, being junior ship, picked up the choicest assignment.

Saturday--April 25
On watch early this morning as we arrived off Lock Ewe--the convoy headed in as we screened off the entrance, and as the last one slid safely in, we turned tail and headed for Londonderry. A truly magnificent day, grand warm sun, as we steamed along at full speed and just at evening we arrived off the lovely coast of northern Ireland and slipped into Loch Foyle as the sun dipped behind the blue hills. Alongside a British tanker to oil up, and we spent the night at anchor. Very peaceful and restful, and we swung at anchor in the broad mouth of the Foyle. Turned in to get some sleep in preparation for the middle watch on the anchor.

Sunday--April 26
We headed up Loch Foyle at the turn of dawn. Beautiful sight as we skipped along quietly between patchwork countryside and the distant mountains clothed all in mist and the sun rising over the eastern hills. We tied up in Londonderry alongside HMCS Rimouski. Duty watch--so it means remaining on board. Make a dollar and six shillings scrubbing hammocks--Turned in early.

Monday--April 27
After a morning astride a stage over the side, painting, off ashore with WC Bell to the Post Office, and then wandered about this lovely old town of Londonderry crowded with genial shoppers. Back on board just in time to help shift ship down stream. Off ashore again at 1600 to get an 8-penny haircut. Met some of the fellows ashore, and we managed to find a spot where we could get a small tough steak and chips for supper. Then to a show and back to the ship.

Tuesday--April 28
The whole day spent slapping paint over everything in sight. Grand day--quite hot (for Ireland). Some of the fellows got themselves four days' leave. I wandered off ashore at 1600--did some browsing around the shops and got talking to an ERA off the Rimouski. Wandered about Londonderry for hours, absorbing its atmosphere and colour, finally back to the ship, dead tired.

Wednesday--May 6
All morning spent in the confines of the Asdic Base, hammering away on attacks. Make and mend in the afternoon and Cosburn and I, cameras and film, set off on a bus to Strabane, County Tyrone, to spend a memorable day. We swam in the River Mourne in our shorts (to the open amazement of the local citizens) and found the water ice cold, but we enjoyed every moment of it. Then to hike for 10 miles along the Mourne to a little town named Sion Mills. From all appearances, we were without doubt the first sailors ever to reach this quaint little town. We were greeted on all sides, and given a royal reception. A grand old man of 79, who rode a bicycle 30 miles every day, took us to tea and then personally showed us all over the estate of Sir Everett Emerson, a good friend of his who owned the local linen mills. Spent a grand evening meeting all the local people, and then at dark set out to hike back to Strabane, where we caught the last bus back to Londonderry. On board ship, tired, but very happy.

Thursday--May 7
Up at 0600 and sailed down the Foyle early this quiet and peaceful morning. Topped off with oil from the tanker off Moville, then out to sea for anti-aircraft and anti-submarine exercises. Excellent attacks on the Dutch sub. Also a noisy, successful shoot. Back off Moville at dark, and then out to sea again for spotting subs on the surface at night. Quite a hectic night of continuous action stations and mad manoeuvres. Dropped anchor at dawn off Moville, just as the sun peeped over the distant mountains of Mourne...

Friday--May 8
We lay at anchor all day. The weather was grand, and the ship settled down quickly to the peaceful routine of riding at anchor. Oiled up again from the Empire Dolphin, and at dusk slipped quietly away on our own, headed for a convoy rendezvous....

Saturday--May 9
After a quiet night for us, steaming at full speed, along with HMCS Skeena, Saguenay, and Eyebright (excellent company to be keeping), we picked up a convoy of twenty-two, 12-knot tankers and headed west. Beautiful day, with our last sight of Ireland just at dusk--leaves me with a sad feeling deep down inside. Crew feeling just a little apprehensive about this convoy--it could turn out to be dynamite, being all tankers. Took my turn on watch just as darkness closed in on us.

Sunday--May 10
On watch--0400-0600. Grand watch to be on if one can appreciate the beauties of a sunrise coming up out of a somewhat stormy horizon. We are pitching and tossing right along at top speed--have to keep in step with these mad tankers. They just seem to be always in a great hurry to get somewhere, and having to be constantly zig-zagging adds to our troubles. We altered course on an emergency signal--headed almost due south at nine in the evening--apparently a wolf-pack of six to eight German subs was straddled right across our original course some three hundred miles ahead. Might as well steer well clear of those chaps if we do not want trouble, and we are not out looking for it, that is certain.

Monday--May 11
We continue to run far to the south, and our fast convoy of tankers is plunging ahead in great old style. Flock of messages pouring in that Convoy W-8 is under heavy attack to our north--looks as if they ploughed into the mess of trouble that was awaiting our presence. Not sorry to be clear of it all--they lost six ships last night and are still under heavy attack.

Tuesday--May 12
Out of nowhere we ran into trouble--Jones picked up a sub contact at 5:15 in the morning and we gave it three patterns. We brought quite a slick of oil to the surface. Skeene and Eyebright busy on their side of the convoy, both attacking a single contact. Looks as if we scared them off, for we did not hear from them.

Wednesday--May 13
On watch 0600-0800. Cosborn 15 minutes late for watch, which is always hard to take. Not such a good day. Quite rough and raining. Large convoy ahead of us which is being escorted by the United States Navy is under terrific attack by a swarm of subs. We were taken from our group and detailed to go at all possible speed to their aid. Full speed ahead, plunging and ploughing into head-on seas. We are taking an awful beating.

Thursday--May 14
We are ploughing - and how - at full speed through heavy seas in an attempt to reach the convoy which is still under attack, and lend a hand. We are taking a terrific pounding as great seas break right over the bridge almost continuously. No sign of our battered convoy yet. Much colder as evening closed in on us early.

Friday--May 15
On watch 0400-0600 this cold and wintery morning. Speeding on at full speed into rough seas. No sign of our convoy as yet, although we are continuing to receive numerous reports of numerous subs in our vicinity.

Saturday--May 16
We spent a terrible night--one that will never be forgotten by me. As we hurled ourselves onward into the teeth of mountainous seas at full speed, we made an all-out effort to reach the convoy which has now been under steady attack for four days--we found her at least, in the pitch darkness of 2:00 in the morning. She has now lost sixteen ships, and everyone feeling mighty tense as we took up screening position. Thick and miserable fog closed in on us at dawn, and we are going to have one great time hanging on to this convoy....

Sunday--May 17
On watch on the set from 0400-0600 with a magnificent sunrise out of a rough and stormy Atlantic. Our convoy is now ringed tight with extra escorts, and there seems to be a good chance that things are under control. Weather bitterly cold and ice forming all over the ship. Some talk that we will go right on into Halifax with the convoy. We will not mind that at all....

Monday--May 18
So it won't be Halifax for us this trip. We were detailed off to escort a section of the convoy into Newfoundland. Altered course and ploughed along in zig-zag fashion at the head of our group of ships, shepherding them to safety of port. Hope nothing happens to us, for we are all by ourselves and could not offer too much to our ships in the way of a screen. Dark, unpleasant night closed in on us as I went on the early evening watch.

Tuesday--May 19
Very happy at this writing to be tied up securely alongside the jetty in St. John's, Newfoundland. We steamed at full speed for Newfie and made it early this morning. Alongside the tanker and then at long last--to the jetty, meaning the end of one more round trip. The ghost walked at 1100 a.m. Then it was away from our ship for a brief few hours to fasten onto a pair of new shoes and obtain a very necessary haircut. Cosburn and I had a good solid meal at the Y and then took in a show Thanks for the Memories. Back on board early to have an all-night sleep. How wonderful.

Wednesday--May 20
A deadly day of lugging stores on board--bags of flour, bags of sugar, and vast amounts of tinned goods. Sure looks as if we will never starve. Remained on board--mess deck and the ship in general quiet and peaceful for short time, only to have the spell broken when the boys started to roll in.

Saturday--June 6
Up Halifax harbour early this morning and swung compass just inside the harbour gates. We spent the afternoon over the side swinging a paint bucket and brush as the Kamsack swung lazily tied to the buoy as emergency ship, ready to make off out to sea at full speed in five minutes if the word came. Ship in a quiet, lazy mood this evening. Most of the fellows writing letters, reading, or just plain spinning dips or playing bridge. I am duty watch, so it means a long night on the bridge as a lookout.

Sunday--June 7
Up at 0400. I scooted ashore to pick up some last minute signals, and then we sailed at 0600 with HMCS Rimouski and Oakville and HMS Burnham--a juicer packet which is our senior ship. We picked up a large convoy of 55 ships and headed north-east out into the Atlantic. Seas smooth, weather quite dull and depressing (or is it just my mood). Drizzling and dripping. Back to the old routine of watches, 2 on 4 off, 2 on 4 off, day and night. Thinking a lot of home as I came off watch in the pitch dark of midnight...dark and foreboding. Convoy looms up as a mass of barely visible black shapes off our port quarter. We are ploughing steadily into the darkness ahead. Makes one wonder what he is doing away out here at this ....

Monday--June 8
On watch 0600-0800 as we slide along through a heavy fog, cutting into a sea as calm as the proverbial millpond. Right back into the deadly routine of on watch, off watch, on watch, off watch. No sign of our convoy in the fog, but it is right there. Can tell from the odd mournful hoot of a whistle or the periodic ping off the closest line of ships to satisfy the Old Man that we are holding our position. And so on into the day and night....

Tuesday--June 9
Heavy fog still had us in its grips as dawn broke, but it suddenly lifted about 10 a.m. -- quite an amazing feeling to suddenly emerge into the midst of brilliant warm sunshine, and to see our large convoy so close by. Sea continues calm and lazy. Life is readily accepted as proceeding along in a deadly fashion on days such as these, but we are lucky to have them--no complaining.

Wednesday--June 10
Just as dawn broke this peaceful morning, we left our convoy in the hands of a relieving escort group, and headed full speed for St. John's, Newfoundland. It is a bright warm day with the sea ever so smooth. Into Newfie in mid-afternoon and immediately alongside the tanker to oil. We remained in the stream, closed up at action stations, as there is a red warning on--air aid imminent--buzz has it that several unidentified planes have been spotted in this vicinity. A long dreary night of watching and waiting for something to happen--which it did not, as per usual.

Thursday--June 11
No sign of those German planes that were supposedly close by. Weather broke and today is a miserable dirty day of continuous downpours. Quite a job of provisioning ship in the rain, lugging vast quantities of stores across half a dozen ships, dripping and dropping the odd article between ships into the oily drink. Can think of many more pleasant tasks than this....

Friday--June 12
Today is just one of those days when there is absolutely nothing to record of interest--unless it be my despondent mood which comes to me in spite of always trying to see the bright side of this life. But on and on it goes with not much sign of any break....

Next
Date modified: