Second World War veteran Raymond MacAulay recalls serving on the original HMCS Charlottetown
Raymond MacAulay will never forget feeling the violent explosions of torpedoes on Sept. 11, 1942.
The 92-year-old Second World War veteran was on the HMCS Charlottetown during the vessel’s visit to its namesake city on the weekend.
MacAulay, now a resident of Majorville, N.B., had served on the original HMCS Charlottetown in the Second World War when it was sunk by torpedoes just off the coast of Gaspe, N.B.
He was onboard the ship Saturday for breakfast with Commanding Officer Rod Druggett looking over a scrapbook with clippings and photos from his time on the original ship.
“It’s a great feeling knowing the present. Because we didn’t have much in the past,” said MacAulay. “A veteran appreciates the present and this is the present. We are the past and it’s nice to see the present so wellprepared.”
The ship was open to tours in Charlottetown during its stay, while crew members also participated in the 13th annual Children’s Wish Foundation Run for Wishes.
For MacAulay, the visit was sentimental.
Druggett noted there have been three ships with the name of Charlottetown, including one that was decommissioned after the Second World War.
“Obviously there’s a connection between the old and the new with Mr. MacAulay coming on this weekend,” said Druggett, who also presented MacAulay with a plaque of appreciation on Friday night. “He’s been on this ship several times. He was there to see the keel being raised, for the launch and for the commissioning.”
Born in Lower Millstream N.B., MacAulay joined the Navy in 1942 at the age of 18. Being a commissioned member of HMCS Charlottetown, MacAulay was part of 11 convoys.
“She went on the high seas and had done a lot of hard work,” said MacAulay. “We’d join large convoys moving across. Before we’d dare take them out, we had to sweep and clean to make it as safe as we could.”
The vessel had just left a convoy on Sept. 11, 1942, and was returning to base with the minesweeper HMCS Class Clayoquot. MacAulay remembers having just taken over the helm when he felt the ship being hit by two torpedoes.
“It was all of the sudden an awful feeling when the ship was torpedoed, it turned the steel red,” said MacAulay. “I’ll never forget it.”
The ship sunk just about 11 km off Cap-Chat in the St. Lawrence River.
While most of the ship’s crew, including MacAulay, were picked up by the Clayoquot, 10 members were lost including Lt. John Willard Bonner.
“It couldn’t have happened at a better hour because everybody was up. But the people in the engine room didn’t make it out,” he said. “I can still see the commander watching his ship.”
MacAulay finished the war serving on the second HMCS Ottawa and was a part of the Normandy landings commonly referred to as “D-Day.”
The efforts in that battle also led to MacAulay being awarded the Legion of Honour by the French government.
“It’s a great feeling to know they appreciated the work we had done to free their country,” said MacAulay. “We spent quite a few dark nights and days there.”
Second World War veteran Raymond MacAulay looks over a scrapbook of pictures with HMCS Charlottetown Commanding Officer Rod Druggett during the ship’s visit in its namesake city this past weekend. MacAulay served on the original HMCS Charlottetown and was on the ship when it was hit by torpedoes on Sept. 11, 1942.