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Leaky Vessels; Dangerous Journeys

Heroes Remember

Leaky Vessels; Dangerous Journeys

We got on two cattle boats, they were wrecks, they were leaking water. They made the convoy with these two, these two boats. They were dealing before they came down there to pick us up in Iceland with they were cattle ships. They dealt with the Brits and Ireland between Ireland and Scotland and England you know. And by golly I tell you, when I took a look downstairs, down below, where they, they were doing some cooking down there, and near the engine room and all that. The water was just pouring out, pouring in the boat, the pumps were running at full blast and everything. I said, “Holy gee what’s going to happen here?” You know. “Are we going to make it to England?” But anyways when we arrived in Scotland at the docks the ship I suppose were too badly, leaking too badly we, they had to run a shuttle service. They didn’t want these, these two ships to land at the docks incase they sank which they, they were needed very desperately you know. So we got on, on this shuttle. And the, the fella he said, “You were very lucky you guys. We heard that you were all sunk you were, you were killed.” We were hit by the Bismark that was in the area at the time but we didn’t know that we. At night we always saw a glare, a glare of somebody either bombing something or heavy guns, naval guns and what not. There was almost every night this was on, and when the Hood was hit, we didn’t even know that. But it was, and it blew all to pieces there was nothing. I don't know someone said there were three survivors, but I don’t think there was any. Anyway, when that occurred, when we arrived on the docks, the people were on the docks were clapping their hands and everything hurray, hurray, because we, they thought we were actually drowned or killed or whatever.

Mr. Champoux recalls sailing from Iceland to Scotland in leaky cattle boats and wondering if they’d make their destination.

Robert Arthur Champoux

Mr. Champoux was born in Hull, Québec on March 21st, 1921. He lived there until the age of 8 when his father, a First World War Veteran, moved the family to Ottawa. Mr. Champoux had three brothers and four sisters; he was the third oldest child. When the war broke out he was attending Ottawa Technical High School. He left school, after his first year, to join the Army after failing to join the Navy and the Air Force (who were not yet recruiting). He left for Europe July 17th, 1940 and ended up stopping in Iceland where he remained for the next 10 months. Mr. Champoux’s wartime service saw him fighting on D-Day and in the Falaise Gap. He also fought in Calais and later on in Holland where he was wounded. Mr. Champoux got a job with the Mint upon returning to Canada. He joined the army again in 1948 retiring in 1965.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Robert Arthur Champoux
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
13 Platoon - Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa

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