Language selection


Contribution of the Merchant Navy Towards War Efforts

Heroes Remember

Contribution of the Merchant Navy Towards War Efforts

Interviewer: Mr. Haegert, looking back on your service in the merchant navy with the air force when you have the vantage point of 50+ years that we now have looking back on the Second World War, how would you say that the Merchant Navy contributed to Canada's contribution in the Second World War? They kept it, the only thing that going, they were full of stuff, they took their, they were the one who were the backbone of the whole thing. If it hadn't been for them they would have lost the war completely. The Merchant Navy was the most important of all, absolutely, no question about it. And they didn't mind being drowned, I didn't, in fact I expected to be drowned. And we were starlight. And if I had been drowned, my wife would have got absolutely nothing, it was the most wicked thing. It was only about 5 years ago that they decided.... And I'm treated well now. Interviewer: Mr. Haegert, how would you... how do you feel about the attitude of the Canadian government toward you Merchant Naval Veterans? I feel it's entirely their business. All my life has always been not how people treated me, how I treat them. I always behave like a gentleman, had a noble family and I should, how are they, that's their problem. If they don't want to give it to me, well, that's up to them, I'll abide it. No, I don't criticize them, that's their business. That's all my life I've done that, and that the exact truth, that's true.

Mr. Haegert talks about the contribution of the Merchant Navy to Canada’s war efforts in the Second World War.

Joseph Haegert

Joseph Haegert was born in Bethel Mission, India. He was part of a military family of noble descent. His father was Prussian and moved the family to England, where he trained as a doctor in London. His father died when Haegert was three years old so Haegert had to be entirely self-sufficient throughout his life. He was taken out of school at the age of thirteen and put to work. At the age of sixteen, Haegert took a class in wireless telegraphy and was employed as a wireless operator and purser on the Gray, a supply ship. In 1918, he taught himself Latin. He wanted to go to Queens University so he learned German as well. He went to UBC, but was penniless and got traumatic fever, which lasted six months. After that he decided to go back to sea where he rejoined his original ship as a wireless operator. His brother, Sam, was killed in World War One in the Battle of the Somme. He wanted to be a field medic and stretcher bearer in World War One, but was too young. He celebrated the end of the war in Victoria, BC. He came to Canada on the Corinthian and married a Jewish lady. He worked as a civilian for the Western Air Command and with the Empress Line during the 1920s and 1930s as a wireless operator.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Joseph Haegert
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
North Atlantic
Merchant Navy
Empress of Canada
Wireless Operator

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: