Nene K270 Training - Introduction

Introduction - beginning a wartime naval career (See also, Basic Training Experience)

The 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.

Their 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 morning.

Parade Ground at Cornwallis Base Digby Nova Scotia Parade 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.

"Roll along wavy navy, roll along We're the RCNVR etc."

Workups in Bermuda
Front: Schlacter, Desjardin
Back: MacDonald, MacDormac, Unknown

The 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.

Amongst 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.

They 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 Eric Shaw.

Addendum: 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 it!".
(as re-told by Don Delong)

Here is an example of the training requirements for a Radar Operator: [Radar Qualifications and Rates provided to sailors at the end of the War]

(1. This is a reference to the first Nene Reunion, held in Belleville, 1985)

(Source: "Nene Lives"; ed. Kenneth Riley, 1993, ppg. 5 - 6)


Webmaster: Dan Delong - Updated: November 30, 2002