Evelyn Bloom grew up in prewar Montreal, enjoying life near “her beautiful mountain”, while at the same time seeing the harsh realities of the Great depression. When the war came, she and her sister decided to enlist. They understood that Canada was under assault, and stories of U-Boats in the Gulf of St. Lawrence only confirmed their decision. Evelyn joined the CWACs; she was at first deployed in Longeuil, but later was transferred to Ottawa, where she became a pioneer in the new computer technology being utilized by the Canadian military. Evelyn’s job involved setting up the terminals, doing data entry, and keeping track of the materiel involved in Canada’s WW2 operations. When the war came to an end, Evelyn was demobilized; she returned to Montreal, where she reconnected with a childhood acquaintance, a man by the name of Harry Bloom. Harry had served in the Signals Corps during the war. The two built their life together in postwar Montreal, where Evelyn became an art teacher.
Oral History Project March 26th, 2018
We met Liam Dwyer at the Castle Peak Retirement Suites in Bracebridge, where he presently lives. Liam is one of several authors/editors who assembled At Your Age, a collection of stories of those who live there. The residents felt it was important for them to record their stories, which serve as a great entry point into their generation’s collective experiences. As a published author, Liam took the lead in the process, and the attention it generated north of the city caught the attention of the Crestwood community, leading Mr. Masters to investigate.
Liam served in the RCN during the Second World War. He came of age and enlisted, and began his training right away, studying to be an engineer aboard ship. His studies were cut a bit short though, as the Battle of the Atlantic had created pressing need, and Liam was called upon to serve. He was posted to a minesweeper in the western part of the Atlantic and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, clearing the way for the many convoys passing through the region. He recalled many tense times from that part of the war, and remembers the tremendous pressure the crews felt. From there he was posted to the Sarnia, and he began convoy duty, patrolling the western reaches of the open ocean. On one of those mission, Liam’s ship the Sarnia came upon the remains of the Esquimault, their sister ship; it had been torpedoed by a U-boat and had lost a good portion of its crew. Liam’s ships helped with the rescue and the survivors, returning them to Halifax. With the end of the war, Liam returned to his young family, and along with others of his generation, he fell into the new rhythm of civilian life, and helped Canada to forge its postwar identity.
Oral History Project June 2nd, 2017
“Digger” Gorman served in the Canadian Navy during the Second World War. Originally from New Brunswick, the future geology student – that’s where the name “Digger” came from – Digger was deep in his studies when the war approached. As a science/engineering student, Digger’s enlistment was originally deferred, but like many in his generation, he put school off, and went into the navy in the middle part of the war. At first Digger was in Coverdale, site of the top secret naval decoding base, where he was assigned to the EOTVOS project, though his involvement was minimal. From there his life aboard ship began, as he played his role in the Battle of the Atlantic, escorting convoys in the western part of the Atlantic and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Digger and his shipmates did their part in fighting the U-Boat threat. With the war’s end, Digger was getting ready for the Pacific campaign, but when the A-bomb ended that possibility, he went back to school, pursuing his degree, all while resuming married life and having a young family. He soon relocated to Toronto, where he emerged as an associate professor in the geology department.
We met Digger at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing in March 2017, when he shared his story with Arielle Meyer and Scott Masters.
Oral History Project May 21st, 2017
Gord Casey served in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War Two, where he was one of many sailors playing a role in the Battle of the Atlantic. Gord saw action on a variety of ships, where he protected convoys as cargo ships brought vital supplies to the European theatre of war. Along the way Gord experienced the many facets of the naval war; his ships confronted and chased many U-boats, and he saw ships under his protection sunk. Gord also remembers the storms on the Atlantic, and the time in port, scenes which he compellingly shares here.
Oral History Project April 10th, 2017
Don Morgan is a Canadian World War Two veteran who grew up in rural Ontario. When the time came to enlist, Don chose the air force, and after considerable training in different locations across Canada, he was ready to be a pilot. Further training in England ensued, and Don and his crew were ready to begin missions, on Wellington and Halifax. Don remembers that many early missions focused on the U-boat pens at St-Nazaire, though they completed missions to the Ruhr region as well. On one of those emissions, they were hit; Don kept the plane going while the crew bailed out. When he jumped, he thought he might have heard one of the gunners still in the aircraft, something that haunted him. He hit the ground and was in German custody by the next day, and Stalag Luft III awaited him. He recalls that life in the camp was not easy, but that the German guards treated them satisfactorily. The men greeted the end of the war with great joy, and the return to England and Canada went smoothly.
We met Don Morgan at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing, where he was interviewed in April 2015.
Oral History Project May 11th, 2015
Phil McTaggart served in the coastal patrols during World War Two, on the watch for German U-Boats. He presently lives in the Sunnybrook Residence for World War Two veterans, where he was interviewed by Crestwood students Andrew Spanton and Brandon Kleshch.
Werner Hirschmann was a U-boat officer in the German Navy during the Second World War. He served on several U-boats and saw action in both the Mediterranean and Atlantic theatres. When the war came to an end, he and his crew surrendered to Canadian forces, and he became a POW in Canada, later to be returned to England and then Germany. He emigrated to Canada at the first opportunity in the late 1950s. He visited Crestwood in April 2009, where he shared his memories of pre-war life and his wartime service with Crestwood students Colin Walker and Chris Cho.
Mr. Sam Garnet served in the RCAF during WWII. After training that took him across Canada and to the Bahamas, he was eventually seconded to the RAF, where he joined Coastal Command. Mr. Garnet was a wireless air gunner who served on B-24 Liberators; he spent most of his war doing transatlantic flyovers for the convoys involved in the Battle of the Atlantic. It was Mr. Garnet’s job to hunt for U-Boats and to keep the supply lines open. He first spoke at Crestwood in February 2009, where he was interviewed by T.J. Bickley. He has since returned to Crestwood and spoken to several classes, and he was interviewed a second time by Chris Leo and Ryan Chiu and a third time by Max Benitah. Mr. Garnet also went to Normandy for the 65th Anniversary of the D-Day landings in 2009, in the company of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.