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Army Over Navy

Heroes Remember

I remember in the armeries in Regina, I was talking to a navy guy there, they were taking guys in, and I showed him my discharge papers; I was still carrying my discharge papers from the merchant marine. And he saw this thing and he runs in and brings out, who I realize now was a petty officer, and he said, "This guy's in the army and he should be in here. He's had three years in the merchant marine." And the guy tried to talk me into it and I said, "No, no," I said, " yes, I was in the merchant marine." And I said, "I was in, worked in the engine room one week out of four and the rest of the time I was a stoker for fire." "Well," he said, " why wouldn't you want to be in?" And I said, "Well I'll tell you one reason why, because," I said, " I remember from the First World War, reading stories," and I always did, was a great reader. I said, "When those torpedos come in there the first place they hit is the engine room and you've got three flights because I've just come, I was a stoker on the Great Lakes and I've just come off of there and I know you've got three flights of iron stairs, maybe four, depending on the size of your ship, assuming you can still run when you get out of there to get up on the top deck. So, no thanks." I said, "As an old prairie chicken I'll be able to find a hole or something to run into or a shellhole to pop in before the next one comes. No thanks, I'm not for the navy, thank you."

Mr. Keys explains why he joined the army instead of the navy.

Herman C. Keys

Mr. Keys was born on September 15, 1916. He grew up in Balcarres, Saskatchewan which is sixty miles east of Regina. Mr. Keys started school at the age of six and quit in grade ten, at which time he went to Ontario to find work. His father owned a hotel which he sold before Mr. Keys was born. He also owned two farms and later became a cattle buyer. He died when Mr. Keys was twelve. His mother came from England and was a housekeeper for his father. Mr. Keys had a brother, named Mel and a sister. Mel went into action with Mr. Keys in Dieppe. Mel was wounded but survived the war. Mr. Keys joined the South Saskatchewan Regiment as a rifleman and was a member of the merchant marine for three years prior to enlisting.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Herman C. Keys
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
South Saskatchewan Regiment

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