Galiano Museum and Archives
Interview with Bill Scoones
1. Bill Scoones in the Navy
That was earlier in my career, when I was a Leading Seaman. The ranks in the Navy were Boy Seaman, Ordinary Seaman, Leading Seaman, Petty Officer, and Chief. I joined as a boy, because I was... a boy! Literally! I was 17. And I was payed $15 a month, $5 of which I collected at the end of the month from the pay table. And the other $10 had to be sent.. well they either saved it for you or you could send it home to your parents, which I did. You know.
K: John said, when he saw this picture, that he used to try on your uniform when he was home, because he wanted to be in the Navy so badly.
I know! He did, yes. And when I finally got out of the Navy and came home I worked for the summer and then I went to school in Vancouver I left all of my junk at home, and when I got back it was practically all destroyed! I have nothing except my badges. In a little box, and my medals, which I don’t have there [in the picture].
K: So this was sometime during your service..
Yes, that would have been before we went overseas, up the Coast here, and at
Esquimalt. I was taking courses, and first of all I was involved with the Japanese.
We were up in the Aleutians, and up around that part of the world. And we were
on patrol up at Prince Rupert for one Winter, and down in the Straits for a
while, and then I went ashore for a course. I was commissioned a ship in Victoria,
and about 3 weeks later I left around through the Panama and up to our service
out of Newfoundland. So I went twice.. actually I went twice around the United
States before I actually went into the United States! After the War we brought
an old Minesweeper back from Sidney, Nova Scotia, to Victoria, and it was quite
a trip because this thing had been laid up for a while, and we sort of got it
going , but we had all kinds of trouble. Our fresh water system quit working,
and we almost ran out of oil after we got through the Panama. And we went in
to a little port in Southern Mexico called Selina Cruz, and which was really
“Wild West”, you know? I was detailed to go ashore on shore patrol,
and I wore a 45’ on my hip!It was a dangerous place in those days! And
after that, you know, we went into.. what’s that big place in Southern
Mexico...a big recreation facility... on the Coast, anyway in those days there
was practically nobody there. There was one hotel. The Native people cooked
on the street, and there were fires on the street. It was a very interesting
place. It really was. I joined the Navy in 41’, and I’m in no more
pictures for years after that. I was 17 when I joined. I served four years of
active service in World War 2, and when
I came home after the victory in Europe, I was 21. Isn’t it amazing? Mostly I was on the mid-Atlantic escort, and stuff around England, and also one of the first things I did, the day after I graduated as a ordinary seaman, I was shipped up the Coast to collect a whole bunch of Japanese fishing boats, which were taken over at that point... which was a really tough job, because I’d been to school with Japanese kids. They were my friends, you know, but my option was either to go or to get shot for being a spy or something... it was really grim. And still, for the Japanese, I think, it’s still a terrible thing to have happened to them. A lot of them, well... most of them were Canadian citizens. A lot of them were World War 1 veterans, in the Canadian forces. So that was sad. That was really sad. But that’s life, you know. Especially in the Armed Forces-- the Royal Canadian Navy, as it was then.
But I had some fun in those days... I enjoyed being in Ireland and Scotland. I knew Londonderry and Belfast very well in those days. And the tension there between the Northern and Southern Irish was pretty vivid. Because they were neutral... the South was neutral. And the North was British, which they’re still trying to settle. I think of Londonderry, and the buildings, and the river, the people, and you know... it was a very interesting place. We actually sank a submarine off of Northern Ireland. Our ship did, the Glasgow. And we were badly damaged, and got the hull patched, and went all the way around the North of Scotland, and into the Forth, a dockyard there. And that’s where we were when the War ended. And it was funny...everybody was just roaring and raving and cheering, and all the rest of it. And I was a Petty Officer then, and I told all the guys, “Go and have your fun, I’m going to stay here.” And I sat by myself on the ship in the dock yard and thought, thank god I was still there. It was really a very significant part of so many young lives in Canada. And then I came home. And the home front was pretty mild after that. People weren’t... there was very little understanding of what the troops went through during the war. Which I think is always true. I mean, think of the Peace keepers and the terrible times they’re having. Nobody seems to worry about it, really.
see photo S25, S23
2. Bill and Friend in Uniform:
I was probably after I came home and the War in Europe was over. So I would have been 21 then. All dressed up. I should have had my hat on!
see photo S23