Navy, U-boats and Torpedoes
I mentioned in an earlier note one of the fringe benefits of getting my Gpa Mike’s military file is that it helped encourage my Great Uncle, Earl Allen, who we call Uncle Jimmy, to get his file. He was kind enough to share his file with me and the information within it did not disappoint! I especially love that the file records his pre-enlistment “service”. At the age of 16, Uncle Jimmy served for eight months on a “Norwegian Shipping and Trade Mission” on a ship that was stationed in New York. Upon his official listing in the Navy, Jimmy completed his basic training (8 weeks) in Brantford and then completed a 10-week “seamanship course” on the HMCS Gaspe. He also completed a one-day “anti gas” course.
I am completely stunned to learn that on December 3, 1944, HMCS Cornwallis was hit by a German U-boat torpedo while sweeping in the Gulf of Maine. According to Uncle Jimmy’s military logs, he was on that ship during that time.
One of the surprising pieces of the record is related to the records related to Uncle Jimmy’s physical appearance: his height is listed as 5 foot 9 inches and his weight, 140 pounds! This speaks directly to his still being a boy, not completely grown. By the time he returned to civilian life, he was well over 6 feet tall and he certainly was not 140 pounds 🙂 Also of great interest is that in his file, there is a copy of his will. It’s creepy to see the words “do hereby revoke all former wills made by me and declare this to be my LAST WILL” especially knowing that when he joined the Navy and signed this form, Uncle Jimmy was four months shy of being 18 years of age. I’ve taken a photo of the document and attached it below.
Here are some examples of the (cool!!!) details within the file.
Statement of War Service Gratuity – Navy:
- total qualifying service number of days: 711 days equal to 23 complete periods @ $7.50 = $172.50
- 310 days of eligible overseas service days @ $0.25 per day = $77.50
- supplement for overseas service = $38.31
- there is an entry of “over payment” of $3.75 that I can’t figure out!
- TOTAL pay for 711 days of service = $284.56 and the funds were dispersed in three monthly installments of $96.90 each
In addition to the above, Uncle Jimmy applied for and received a “rehabilitation grant” which was in place for when veterans returning to civilian service met certain criteria. In Uncle Jimmy’s case, this was related to meeting the criteria for employment and career transition – he received an additional $55.
On July 24, 1953, the following service awards were mailed to Jimmy: the Atlantic Star, the War Medal and the CVSM (Canadian Volunteer Service Medal) and clasp.
This form shows a list of all the ships on which Jimmy served:
- York: 14 Feb 1944 – 11 Apr 1944
- Cornwallis: 12 Sep 1944 – 12 Dec 1944
- Scotian: 13 Dec 1944 – 14 Dec 1944 and then transfered to….
- Stadacona: 14 Dec 1944 – 13 Mar 1945
- Scotian: 25 Jul 1945 – 27 Aug 1945
- Chaleau II: 28 Aug 1945 – 31 Aug 1945
- Penetang: 1 Sep 1945 – Nov 1945 (seems to be an entry error given the final line…)
- Peregrine: 27 Oct 1945 – 24 Jan 1946