Introduction - beginning a wartime naval
career (See also, Basic
NENE crew came together from all across the nation, from the east, Sydney,
from as far west as Victoria, B.C. Just youths, uninitiated, naive , seeking
a sense of adventure and a sense of patriotic duty to King and country.
Their character had not been moulded and they were poured into the cauldron
of the Royal Canadian Navy. They were carried away by the routine, born
of the traditions of generations of British naval service.
introduction to naval life was a naval barracks, where the fundamentals
of discipline were taught; to march, to carry a rifle, to line up for
breakfast, for lunch, and for supper. There were large naval shore establishments
on the east coast and the west coast. H.M.C.S. Cornwallis was a large
naval base located at Digby, Nova Scotia on the Bay of Fundy. The fundamentals
of seamanship were taught at this base and thousands of new recruits passed
through the base learning the basics of gunnery, rowing a whaler, tying
knots and how to string up a hammock. Traditional services were held on
Sunday morning, Sunday morning divisions, where hundreds of sailors would
be on the parade square. The picture below depicts the scene on Sunday
Grounds at HMCS Cornwallis Training Facility near Digby, Nova Scotia
There were the pangs of homesickness, and the songs that remain with us
even today, favourite singing groups like the Andrew sisters. Each initiate
developed and was channelled into his stream of specialty. Each ordinary
seaman began to develop a sense of purpose, a mission to be carried out,
the engine room artificers, the gunners, the upper deck seaman, the signalers.
None of us can forget the "navy" songs.
along wavy navy, roll along We're the RCNVR etc."
Front: Schlacter, Desjardin
Back: MacDonald, MacDormac, Unknown
NENE crew were part of thousands of seamen trained to take active
duty aboard ships of the Canadian navy, the corvettes, the minesweepers,
the frigates, the destroyers. Puny vessels compared with the mammoth
ships of the British navy, but what a job they did.
that select group of seamen, there came together a group forming
the crew of H.M.C.S. NENE. The NENE became home for the crew.
For seamen, whether they be career merchant seamen or volunteer
navy seamen, there is a strong feeling of affection for the ship
and none more so than for the NENE.
came together on this ship commanded by Captain (Lieut. Commander R.C.N.R.)
Eric Shaw, an experienced
seaman commanding the respect of all aboard. It is a lasting tribute
to this man that the crew and their extended family of wives and children
have come together more than forty years after the event to share the
fellowship of a relationship born in war (1).
Each member of the crew has an especially warm place in his heart for
All eight vaccinations shots were given at once at HMCS York (the Automotive
Building at the Canadian National Exhibition). Most of the guys passed
out. In March and April of 1943, so many ships were being sunk by U-Boats
that many recruits looked for a way out. A sure-fire route to jail or
discharge was to contract persistent VD or punch and officer. One fella
came up with a rather clever method. For weeks he walked around picking
up every piece of paper he saw on the ground, then dropping each with
a loud, "That's not it!". Concerned officers took him to an
office and gave him discharge papers, wherupon he exclaimed, "That's
re-told by Don Delong)
is an example of the training requirements for a Radar Operator:
Qualifications and Rates provided
to sailors at the end of the War]
This is a reference to the first Nene Reunion, held in Belleville, 1985)
"Nene Lives"; ed. Kenneth Riley, 1993, ppg. 5 - 6)