From the diary of Frank Curry

Royal Canadian Navy
Aboard a Corvette in 1940

Tuesday--December 23 -- Terrible seas still running as we pounded our way into them. We are bouncing all over creation. Somehow we found the merchant ship at 0200 of the wildest darkest night imaginable, and got a line aboard her. Headed slowly back to Sydney from close to St. Paul's Island. It is rougher than I ever dreamt the ocean could be. Our mess decks are knee-deep in bitterly cold sea water, everything possible is afloat from spilled tins of jam to best uniforms, hats, sea-biscuits, letters and books. No one gives it a second thought--for it seems all-important to think of survival. Arms and legs and joints are screaming for even a moment's relaxation from the jarring and pitching and beating. One has to go back to the old sailing rule of one hand for the ship, one hand for yourself, particularly on the upper deck where one false move means the end.

Wednesday--December 24 -- We staggered into Sydney harbour this Christmas Eve, feeling pretty good about accomplishing our mission. What a feeling to tie up securely to a jetty where everything is still--the crew in a jubilant mood, and I am no exception. Make and mend in the afternoon and we spent it cleaning our mess decks. Duty watch for me--on Quartermaster from 2000-2400, and I saw Christmas Day come in from the frozen gangway. Celebrated by taking a hot shower and climbing into my hammock at 0100.

Thursday--December 25 -- Christmas Day--and what a day. My first one aboard a ship, but, from the looks of things, not my last. Up at 0800 (among our rare gifts, and a most welcome change). We hosed down the decks and cleaned ship. Decorated our mess decks and tied a small Christmas tree to the masthead--apparently another old, old tradition of the sea. I got feeling pretty merry on the punch which the Old Man fixed personally in the seaman's messdeck. We had a tremendous dinner--all the officers in a very congenial mood for a change--they were almost human. Went ashore with a gang of the fellows and wandered about Sydney, stopping in at two or three dances, but dancing little.

Friday--December 26 -- Back to the old grind today - up at 0600 and the morning was spent with a paintbrush securely in a frozen hand. Duty watch for me--most of the crew off ashore having themselves a good time. Ship very quiet and peaceful--one of those rare happenings. Turned in early.

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