Nova Scotia

WW II veteran Larry Hartman visits HMCS Sackville 71 years later

Larry Hartman hasn't been aboard HMCS Sackville since 1944. After 71 years, he decided it was time for a visit to the Halifax-docked ship he fought on for two years during the Second World War.

Halifax's HMCS Sackville saw action in the Second World War, and operates as a museum today

      1 of 0

      Larry Hartman hasn't been aboard HMCS Sackville since 1944. After 71 years, he decided it was time for a visit to the Halifax-docked ship he fought on for two years during the Second World War. 

      On Thursday, the veteran returned to the ship. "It brings back a lot of memories," the 91-year-old said.

      The good times were when they were tied up at port and not sailing through the rough ocean water, Hartman said. "I remember one day it was calm, calm and sunny. I can't remember any other day [like that] in the North Atlantic."

      The two years Hartman spent on HMCS Sackville were dangerous. His ship fought Nazi U-boats on at least two occasions.

      I like to think it was probably my depth charge that hit that torpedo.- Larry Hartman

      One time, a U-boat came up alongside the ship so the Sackville couldn't hit the submarine with its main gun.

      The captain of HMCS Sackville pitched the ship to its side so it could hit its target.

      "'Bang!' All I saw was green and blackish smoke as we put a large hole through its conning tower, but I later heard, after the war, that it managed to limp back to Germany," Hartman said.

      In another battle, Hartman was manning the depth charge thrower. One of the depth charges hit an incoming German torpedo. The explosion was so big that it blew out one of two boilers on the Sackville. Had the torpedo hit the ship, it would have meant the end for Hartman and his crew, he said.

      "I like to think it was probably my depth charge that hit that torpedo," Hartman said.

      Nazi submarines weren't the only danger. Hartman lost a good friend, Basil Johnson, who was washed overboard while on duty. He can still remember the nine-metre swells and the way the ship pitched as it sailed through the waves.

      Hartman's service with the Royal Canadian Navy began when he was 17. Being too young to go to sea, he transferred from Edmonton to Saint-Hyacinthe, Que., where he learned to be a telegraph operator. When he turned 18, he transferred to Halifax.

      He was stationed as a telegraph operator on HMCS Baddeck for a month before becoming one of three telegraph operators on board Sackville. In June 1944, Hartman was stationed on HMCS Thetford Mines. He stayed there until the end of the war.

      Hartman left the Royal Canadian Navy on March 21, 1949, as a petty officer.

      His daughter, Candace Hartman, said her father's love of the ocean has affected the whole family.

      "We grew up fishing, boating, everything." she said. "It became our lives, too. My brother is a captain on the ferries, my other brother, Neil, was an engineer on the ferries, my children sail. I mean, it affected generations." 

      Comments

      To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

      By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.