Mem­o­ries vivid

Sec­ond World War vet­eran Ray­mond MacAu­lay re­calls serv­ing on the orig­i­nal HMCS Char­lot­te­town

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY MITCH MAC­DON­ALD

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.”

MITCH MAC­DON­ALD/THE GUARDIAN

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.

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