For Posterity's Sake
A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project
Service information for:
Brief Service Auto-Biography
In December 1949 volunteered for the RCN at HMCS York, Toronto.
On the Morning of February 4th, 1950 I was sworn in to RCN at HMCS York. I was advised to be at Union Station, Toronto, by 10.30 that night properly dressed with an empty suitcase, civvies to be sent home.
I arrived at Cornwallis early Monday morning of the 6th, and we were marched to Galley for a breakfast of Red Lead & Bacon, (I still have a feed now and then). Marched to stores, stripped of all clothing even tooth brushes, given a severe haircut, packed all other belongings in suitcase to be sent home. Confined to barracks for two weeks, deemed unfit to mingle with rest of Ships Company.
In June 1950, I was drafted to HMCS Ontario and travelled to west coast via ship and rail. Served in Ontario with then Captain Hugh Pullen. He cleared decks almost every morning to announce we were going to join the fight in Korea, and Joe Stalin would tremble in his boots, "they will hear our guns in the streets of Moscow"!! Don’t know about Stalin but it certainly had us concerned. In February 1951 I was drafted to Halifax, Stadacona. I left Victoria on a Tuesday morning, ship and rail to Halifax. I arrived in Toronto Friday afternoon to change trains - as Toronto was my home went home for the weekend. Resumed journey east on Monday morning, arriving Stadacona Main Gate late Tuesday afternoon and was promptly given 7 days cells AWOL. I was at Stadacona couple weeks before being drafted to Magnificent. I arrived aboard in time for supper with the Dog Watch hands, and we sailed for Caribbean next morning. I was in Magnificent until January of 1952 then Stadacona for AA 3 course. In March of 1952 I was drafted back to Magnificent, steamed many miles until January of 1954.
I was drafted ashore to HMCS Star, (Hamilton). What a collection of (Reserve) PRICKS!!! Served there until April, drafted to Stadacona for an AA2 course, by this time I was moved up to Leading Seaman.
April 1954, Stadacona on 2`s course. June 1954 class of AA 2s and AA 3s sailed in Micmac DDE 214 under command of Commander George (Trigger) Wadds, to qualify on 3" 50 Cal. Mount. Visited St, George`s Bermuda, and returned to Halifax. I was drafted to HMCS Star in August.
In January of 1955 I was drafted to HMCS York, Toronto. Was asked to re-engage, and if so would remain there for a year.
I was honourably released on February 3rd, 1955. I joined North York Police March 1st, 1955 which in 1957, was amalgamated into Metropolitan Toronto Police in 1957.
Short Police Yarn
Christmas Day 1955, my 1st, Christmas after leaving Navy and I`m working day shift. Family of four, two adults 2 children, travelling road North end of city attempted to out-run a passenger train, it was a tie. Wreckage, Christmas presents, toys, body parts strewn for ¼ mile along the right of way.
I had 33 more Christmas' to go.
Ships served in:
HMCS ONTARIO - Jun 1950 - Feb 1951
HMCS MAGNIFICENT - Mar 1951 - Jan 1952 // Mar 1952 / Jan 1954
HMCS MICMAC - Apr 1954 - Aug 1954
(GS01) The firing A and B turrets on HMCS ONTARIO - August 1950 - see ALSO RCN Memories - The Big "O's" Guns
(GS02) Ordinary Gerald Sullivan on the boat deck, starboard side, HMCS ONTARIO, August 1950
(GS03) Canteen card of OS Gerald Sullivan - 1950
(GS04) HMCS ONTARIO station card of OS Gerald Sullivan
(GS05) HMCS ONTARIO in drydock in 1950 - Esquimalt, Yarrows Dry Dock, at that time one of the largest dry docks in the world. ONTARIO, AKA the “Big O” in dry dock, note the coastal vessel astern. When ship is secured the water is pumped out and braces placed as it lowers. When approximately 18 – 20 inches remain pumps stopped, dock yard workers done hip waders and descend into dock armed with pitch forks. North Pacific salmon some as long as your arm trapped in the dock. Sea birds, cormorants, gulls feasting on smaller fish while the dock yard workers spear the salmon. The ship is still, no fans, motors, systems running, no vibrations, nothing. An 11000 ton floating weapons platform with 800 crew - its as if she was dead with shore power for lights only. We used Heads ashore and meals in Naval base (Naden). Heads were very interesting for a 19 year old from the city; they were designed for Muslim crews using them. Never did see any of the salmon.
(GS06) HMCS ONTARIO Christmas card
(GS07) HMCS ONTARIO
(GS08) An Avenger flying over HMCS MAGNIFICENT - 1950-53 time frame. The Avenger is still flying in western USA, still wearing her RCN paint work // Photographer: unknown
(GS09) HMCS MAGNIFICENT with HMCS Micmac astern, March/April 1951
(GS10GS-11) HMCS MAGNIFICENT, returning to Halifax from the 1953 Coronation Fleet Review, in a North Atlantic gale - Jun 1953
(GS12) HMCS Micmac preparing to tow M.V. Gilbert Jr. - HMCS MAGNIFICENT standing off in the background - April 1951. I (Gerry Sullivan) was bridge messenger in HMCS MAGNIFICENT, proceeding south in Caribbean Sea. At first light, radar picked up drifting Dominican coastal ferry the Gilbert Jr. which had been drifting for several days - out of fuel, water & food. The so-called engineer thought the Captain had fueled vessel; the so-called Captain thought that the engineer had fueled. Our escort, destroyer Micmac put crew, food & water aboard, found 12 female passengers as well as a number of chickens and two (horses??). Micmac took vessel in tow to nearest port Curacao. We then proceeded east along Venezuelan coast to Trinidad for R&R, rum ($1.00 a bottle) & coke. We had been at sea for more than two weeks, time for a little run ashore.
(GS13) HMCS MAGNIFICENT, G-6 Mess - 1951. No more space than a single car garage, we are sitting on the boot lockers, lockers on opposite side of mess, nothing fancy here, 20-25 men in mess. Note the hammock bar top of photo, each loop indicates a mick, kind of cozy with full crew on extended deployment. We are alongside in Halifax, ships laundry shut down, until we return to sea, did our own laundry in 10 gallon bucket with toilet plunger, some laundry seen top of photo. Number of shipmates seen here are Newfoundlanders - great guys to sail with. Few days later we were off to the Mediterranean with full crew and many stops along the way.
(GS14) OSNQ Gerald (Jerry) Sullivan in Rome, Oct 1951 - "I was an A/B NQ (Not Qualified) on MAGNIFICENT at the time. Later that day we had an audience with Pope Pius XII at his summer residence."
(GS15) Boudro & Considine having a beer in Rome Oct 1951
(GS16)Oct, 1951 - MAGNIFICENT & Micmac alongside in Naples, ships companies travelled to Rome by train on a tour and audience with Pope Pius XII. Late in the day, before retuning to Naples we had dinner in a 1st, class Italian restaurant, Chianti was plentiful, as fast as bottles emptied they were replaced. Ken Book on right I`m on left, Boots Boudro next to Book. In photo, L-R: Jerry Sullivan, unknown, unknown, Boots Boudro and Ken Book.
(GS17) "Hands ashore on Capri, toured the island in a Rolls Royce taxi, visited Gracie Fields, villa & had couple of drinks at her bar. Interesting times!!"
(GS18) HMCS MAGNIFICENT at anchor off San Raphael, French Riviera, fall, 1951
We were operating with RN carrier HMS Ocean, and French navy on NATO exercises in the Mediterranean. Attached photo was taken by a French professional photographer, apparently, shortly after we anchored. Liberty boats can be seen alongside forward gangway and proceeding towards shore. Around 2230-2300 returned to the jetty after a run ashore in San Raphael & Nice, to wait for the Liberty boats back aboard. There was a French civilian flogging photographs to the Ocean Hands, telling them it was a photo of Ocean, light was poor, and they were buying them. He was down to his last photo when I took a look at it and could see it was the MAGNIFICENT, Avengers on flight deck & Maple Leaf on ships funnel. Realized it was a great 20”X12” colour tinted photo. Paid him remaining Francs I had left. Frenchman didn't know one ship from the other. Wonder what the Ocean hands did when they realized it was MAGNIFICENT. I had mine framed when home on leave.
(GS19) "Abandon Ship!" - Crew of HMCS MAGNIFICENT go for a swim off Greece in 1952 after Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten orders "Abandon Ship!" // See RCN Memories - Abandon Ship!! for the story behind the photo
(GS20) Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, Commander of the RN Mediterranean Fleet, boards HMCS MAGNIFICENT, July 1952
(GS21) Some of HMCS MAGNIFICENT'S crew at Norfolk, Va, 1953
(GS22) Audience with Pope Pius X II at his summer residence Castle Gandolfo attended by members of the ship's company // See RCN Memories - An Audience with the Pope for the story behind the photo
(GS23) 40 mm gun crew of HMCS MAGNIFICENT - Spring 1951 in the Caribbean Sea. Bernard (Bernie) Dubois loading ammunition, Gerald (Jerry) Sullivan to his immediate right is supplying the ammo
(GS24-GS25) HMCS MAGNIFICENT off the volcanic island of Stromboli in 1952 - MAGNIFICENT sailed from Halifax 2nd June 1952, working with Royal Navy in the Mediterranean, it was now August and we were leaving Malta for a NATO deployment with US Navy in Denmark & Norway, operating as far north as North Cape. All hands were aboard, sea boats inboard & secure, when the Captain K.L. Dyer announced on the loud hailer that a movie had been made a short time ago in the Tyrrhenian Sea on the volcanic island of Stromboli, and there had been some fooling around with the actress Ingrid Bergman, and director Roberto Rossellini. And as this ship had never traversed the Strait of Messina, we were going to have a look. Special Sea Duty Men close up, close all X & Y doors, we are off. Through the Strait of Messina, circled Sicily and proceeded to Gibraltar.
(GS26) HMCS MAGNIFICENT with HMS Ocean astern with the Dghaisa boats waiting ferry crew members out to the ships - 1951 - There were not too many ports where we go that we could go alongside, ship would go to a buoy or anchor. Ship's boats provided some means of getting ashore, space was limited, so there were delays in crew getting ashore. If working with the US Navy they had some liberty boats, small landing craft that would get us back aboard. In other ports, the ship would arrange with boats ashore that we could use. Anchored off Istanbul, the ferry that plied the Bosphorus between Europe and Asia would drop us off at the ship. But, without a doubt the best port for getting ashore was Grand Harbour, Valetta, Malta. The ship secured to a buoy and we could use the civilian Dghaisa, loosely pronounced (Dicer). Two or three hung around the gangway waiting for a hand going ashore; others waiting at the jetty until about 2300. If you missed all means of getting back aboard, one could swim; a couple of hands did, or you could put your head down at the Iron Duke, or Dreadnought a couple of doors down. Nothing fancy; a half a crown. Wakey-wakey at 0530.
(GS27) HMCS MAGNIFICENT entering Grand Harbour, Malta - 1951
(GS28) USS Wasp, moored Valletta, Malta Aug 1952. HMCS MAGNIFICENT is coming around to port to a buoy astern of Wasp. Note the aircraft on deck of the Wasp - Douglas Skyraiders, F4U Corsairs, Banshee Jets. I had never seen that many aircraft in one place before. Shortly after our arrival a Pipe was made inviting any hands to supper aboard Wasp. We had sailed from Halifax 02 Jun 1952, so by this time we were being victualed by the RN. An invitation to dinner aboard Wasp was too good to pass up. We were eating kippers for breakfast, yellow spuds and at some point goats milk. The following day it was Torchy Smith's birthday - the cooks baked a cake and later we took over a Valletta bar for a “few” wets. US Marines joined us, as well as a Wasp hand.
(GS29) Torchy Smith's birthday, Malta, Aug 1952 - Torchy Smith is in the back row 4th from left // The ship's baker baked a cake. Jerry Sullivan - top right of photo with Marine cap, USN Swabbie from USS Wasp, CV 18 Marines USS Rolette AKA 99. All other Matelots are Maggie`s Air Branch, recognize any?? Bugs Lane, McIntosh ??
(GS30) Torchy Smith's Birthday, Malta, Aug 1952. Torchy Smith is on the right in the front
(GS31) HMCS MAGNIFICENT at Navarino - 1952
(GS32) Iron Duke Lodge House, with the Dreadnought two buildings to the right
(GS33) Lifebuoy sentry on HMCS MAGNIFICENT circa 1952
(GS34) RN Hawker Sea Hawk on HMCS MAGNIFICENT in Sydenham Airport, just outside of Belfast, Ireland. We were transporting them back to Canada for cold weather testing at Cold Lake Alberta
(GS35) "The Rat Patrol" - G-6 Mess members, (L-R) Taylor, Marshall, Considine, Sullivan at Gibraltar, 1961 // See the story in RCN Memories - The Rat Patrol
(GS36) US Navy blimp landing on HMCS MAGNIFICENT, May, 1952 - In May 1952, off the Virginia coast, a US Navy blimp landed aboard MAGNIFICENT. Apparently this was the first landing of air ship aboard carrier “underway”. I was in starboard side gun sponson, opposite the blimp. The roar of those Pratt & Whitney engines was deafening. The craft was tethered by cordage through snatch blocks, Hands standing by with fire axes top chop lines if necessary. It did not stick around too long, the pilot had problems controlling aircraft.
(GS37) HMCS MAGNIFICENT Summer Cruise 1952
(GS38) Working on Maggie's flight deck in rough weather - 1953
(GS39) "No Right turns allowed on flight deck allowed" - Fairey Firefly crash on HMCS MAGNIFICENT - 1951
(GS40) Photo of the Hotel-Restaurant Bar de la Paix - 1951 // See the story in RCN Memories - Mademoiselle, The Matelot and the Poodle
(GS41-GS42) MAGNIFICENT & Micmac sailed for the Caribbean in March 1951, April found us in Port of Spain. We had entered the Gulf of Paria via Dragon`s Mouth Strait and were alongside astern of a CPR cruise ship. Ashore we visited Dirty Jim`s Swizzle Club, rum was one Trinidad dollar a bottle, bottle of coke was extra. No doubt you are familiar with the Andrew Sisters, Rum & Coca Cola!! Couple of us took a taxi up into the hills to Isaac Terrace Recreation Club, where mother and daughter were still working for the Yankee dollar. Couple of days there and we were pulled off the jetty, proceeding towards the Strait when we were overtaken by a Trinidad Port Police boat, seems one of our Petty Officers was distracted while ashore, damn near missed us. Defaulter next morning, commander will be interested in his “yarn”.
(GS43) Lieutenant Commander Anthony (Tony) Law, DSO, Official War Artist, on HMCS MAGNIFICENT'S flight deck in 1952. As a MTB Commander he saw action in the English Channel 1942 with Battle cruiser Scharnhorst & Gneisenau. One of the finest men I had the privilege to serve with. He held art classes with crew interested, one seen here with painting. I won the painting in a draw; never managed to leave ship with it; a yarn for another day.
(GS44-GS45) HMCS MAGNIFICENT in a North Atlantic gale - 1951 // See the story in RCN Memories - "A Gale of a Time"
(GS46) The Great Imposter - Ferdinand Waldo Demara // See the story in RCN Memories - "The Great Imposter
(GS47) September/October 1953 Exercise Mariner, somewhere near Denmark Strait. USN Oiler Elokomin, fueling HMCS MAGNIFICENT, AV gas forward, oil aft. "I (Gerry Sullivan) was Gunners Yeoman, one of my duties was putting line across to begin transfer, bronze rod fired from 303. Elokomin fueled us again, 10 – 12 days later, at 2359. Both ships steaming under blackout conditions. We did it, don't recall how."
(GS48) Souvenir from the Benelux Restaurant, London,1952
(GS49) HMCS MAGNIFICENT departing Halifax to sea circa 1952. Pier 21 ahead to starboard
(GS50) Piccadilly Commandos - Frank McIntosh (left), Jerry Sullivan (Right), Benelux, London Piccadilly 1952
(GS51) Three matelots in English Pub May 1952 - (L-R) Jerry Sullivan, TAS Rate and Andy Pelerine. It was Jerry's 23 birthday
(GS52) (L-R) Jerry Sullivan, Publican and her Spanish bar maid. HMCS MAGNIFICENT, 1952, Exercise Mainbrace - MAGNIFICENT was anchored out in Firth of Forth Scotland, off Queensferry. I went ashore; took bus into Edinburgh and stopped for a pint in Pub
(GS53) HMCS QUEBEC off the Starboard bow of HMCS MAGNIFICENT near Iceland, 1953
(GS54) Ensign Estler, USN being presented a ship's plaque from HMCS MAGNIFICENT by Commander (Air) Abrams, senior air officer aboard the Maggie, just prior to his take off after his unplanned visit to HMCS MAGNIFICENT
In September 1953 MAGNIFICENT, Wasp and Bennington were part of a carrier force taking part in Exercise Mariner. The fleet was transiting one of the most treacherous areas involving the combination of the Labrador Current, Greenland Current and Gulf Stream. At some point off Cape Farewell en route to Iceland 42 aircraft from the three carriers were caught in a dense fog covering the whole area, they could not get back aboard. They were in the air circling for hours attempting to get back aboard, at one point one of our Avengers pilots spotted through the fog a large area of deck, he was making his approach when he realized it was the quarter deck of USS Iowa. The aircraft had been in the air for hours, running out of fuel, it was decided the carries would steam abreast, aircraft pass overhead and ditch near a USN submarine, Redfin, boats crews from carriers would attempt to pick up aircrew, I was in # 1 sea boat, turned out and lowered ready to drop into a sea running around 12 feet. As the aircraft approach from astern we suddenly came into an open area of sea; it was getting dark by this time but visibility was good. The Douglas Skyraider was close to us and came aboard, taxiing forward his engine stalled, as he was out of gas. The pilot Ensign Estler USN was delighted to learn MAGNIFICENT had three bars aboard - Happy Hour during the night. I seem to recall he was aboard a couple of days due to “sloppy” weather. A member of our Mess had a connection with a steward in Ward Room, managed to get us a bottle of scotch. The aircraft were just aboard when the fog rolled back in, also darkness, close call!! (submitted by Gerald Sullivan)
After the landing: While Ensign Estler was imbibing in the officer's mess, about 10 of us from the deck crew went up to the flight deck that night and proceeded to paint his aircraft in various colours with slogans like, "For Sale $1.98," "Wrong way, Corrigan." "Yankee Go Home! etc. etc. The next morning Commander (Air) was totally ticked off and ordered a bunch of us to clean up the aircraft with varsol. However, the incident obviously had an impression because he arranged for the "Maple Leaf" and "Maggie" logo to be stencilled inside the white American star. Hence the photo. An addendum to this story came years later from an American airframe tech in the USN. He stated that this particular aircraft, the Douglas Skyraider, eventually made it's way to Vietnam in an air-to-ground support role, which is quite dangerous by the way because of intense ground fire while flying at very low levels. This aircraft completed hundreds of sorties and went through the Vietnam war without a scratch. The "Maple Leaf" and "Maggie" paint job was faithfully maintained throughout, because they believed it was a lucky charm logo. (submitted by ABAC Bill "Bibs" Farley RCNAS 1951 - 1956)
A bit more of the story: US Mail was painted on it and also the prop blades were painted yellow. The aircraft was in the hanger when I observed the art work. We heard that Estler was OK with the graffiti, just remove the yellow paint from the prop blades. Interesting Times !!! (Submitted by Gerald Sullivan)
(GS55) A Douglas Skyraider, piloted by Ensign Estler, USN, preparing for takeoff from HMCS MAGNIFICENT
(GS56) Three of HMCS MAGNIFICENT'S hands at the Porch of the Maidens, Acropolis, Athens, Greece, 1952 // (L-R) Frank McIntosh, unknown, Gerald Sullivan
(GS57) Royal Navy Fairey Firefly taking off from MAGNIFICENT. Note how high the tail is off deck - this pilot knew what he was doing
(GS58) HMCS MAGNIFICENT CVL21 alongside Sydenham, Ireland in 1948 // "We would walk across runways to catch bus into Belfast proper. Astern of MAGNIFICENT, right of photo are Harland & Wolff shipyards. A number of times when ashore in Belfast, having a pint or two, we would be approached by older workers from the yards that had help build MAGNIFICENT, and they would buy us a pint. Those certainly were interesting times!!"
(GS59) Admiral Nelson's HMS Victory // Photo taken during HMCS MAGNIFICENT'S visit to Portsmouth in 1951
(GS60-GS61) HMCS MAGNIFICENT (foreground) leaving Portsmouth, England, 1951 - "MAGNIFICENT is just out into the stream proceeding to sea. HMS Victory can be seen in a dry dock ashore. Had a very interesting tour of Victory. In those days of sail, it certainly was wooden ships and iron men. I believe the carrier alongside is HMS Indomitable."
(GS62) HMCS MAGNIFICENT entering Saint John, NB, June 1953 - We returned from Coronation, air groups ashore, all reservists getting sea time on a “Jammy” deployment ashore and home. MAGNIFICENT was going into dry dock for hull inspection. Remaining Hands granted two weeks annual leave. Problem getting into dock and getting gangway in place, time running out for Hands to catch trains. Dock yard rigged bucket to get them ashore. We had some very talented people aboard and a sketch was done by one of them. (See picture below, left)
(GS63) Cartoon of the crane set up used to get crew from the MAGNIFICENT onboard and ashore during her refit at Saint John, NB in 1953
(GS64) May of 1952, MAGNIFICENT is being pulled off Jetty Four by the use of aircraft engines (Avengers). Apparently it was a method used by US Navy. What a hell of noise involved, engines full out to do the job. It did to some degree, never used again while I was in MAGNIFICENT