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Combat at Sea

Heroes Remember

In the English Channel we were in combat with a destroyer that the Nazi's captured from Holland. And they ran out of ammunition, it was a battle that lasted quite a while. They ran out of all ammunition and torpedoes, yes torpedoes. And our communications picked up the message, “Have expended all ammunition, I’m getting ready to ram.” That was us! We hit it with a torpedo and it went down. And another time we were in combat with a destroyer and we hit it a number of times and it listed. This was at night and it was on fire. We got that close that you could see bodies running back and forth. And we thought this was going to be the end of that ship but they fired back and they got a fellow by the name of Salty Gosnac . He was in charge of the 40 mm pompom gun and his crew lay down on their belly but he stood up and fired back, something drove him to do that. They hit him with a 40 mm right in the head. Of course, there wasn’t much left of him and my second in command, Patrick Budge (sp), I mentioned his name earlier said, “Treat him with care. He has served his country well.” He didn’t go over the ship’s side, he was buried in England, you know. And the tragedy not knowing, the anticipation of what might happen is greater than the arrival. Anticipation is greater than arrival, very often - what’ s going on in your mind, you know, what you’re thinking. And when you’re idle you think a lot. When you get busy, you don’t have time to do it.

Mr. Polowin describes naval battles in the English Channel.

Alexander Polowin

Mr. Alexander Polowin was born in Lithuania in 1925. Growing up, his family endured many hardships and because of this Mr. Polowin’s father left for Canada in hopes of bringing new opportunities to their family. Life as a child for Mr. Polowin was focused and at age 8 he found himself selling product door to door in hopes of helping his family financially. At age 17 he joined the Navy, a service he knew nothing about but fondly looks back on as a very positive part of his life. Mr. Polowin fought during D-Day and the Battle of Normandy onboard the HMCS Huron. Never stepping foot on French soil, Mr. Polowin returned to France in June 2014 to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. He resides in Ottawa and shares his wartime experiences with youth accepting many invitations to speak at schools.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
June 2, 2014
Person Interviewed:
Alexander Polowin
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
HMCS Avalon
Able Seaman

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