The Diary of a Proud Canadian Sailor
by Real Joseph DeGuire
Real DeGuire
V.61809 - Mess 2, H.M.C.S. ALGONQUIN
His Diary.

Part 1

This is the journal of a young Sailor, Real J. DeGuire, aboard  H.M.C.S. Algonquin. It starts off from the coast of France between La Havre and Cherbourg.  Second Front Highlights “Surveille-Sur-Mer”.
June 5th 1944

About 7 o'clock the Captain (Desmond Piers also referred to as the Old Man) cleared the lower deck for a brief discussion. We didn't know exactly what he wanted of us but we had a rough idea.

D-Day June 6, 1944

It was as we judged - the second front was starting. He gave us details on our task which was bombardment. I was somewhat scared as it was my first time under actual fire. I worried about what could happen and I couldn't sleep. We closed up on defense stations at 12 midnight. I was on the White Watch. At 04:00 we had action stations. We were to remain closed up till everything was in hand. More worry as we didn't know the German shore strength. We were escorting Canadian forces. There weren't many ships around us so we figured we'd really be in there on bombarding shore batteries. Zero hour was to be 06:00. We were to open fire on certain positions and  targets. Six o'clock rolled by and we still didn't open fire. At 06:55 we opened fire with our first salvos but  but we fell short of the target. At 07:00, the Air Force was to start bombardment.  After applying  corrections, we were ready to open fire when the Air Force showed up and let loose. Our target was completely destroyed so we had to find another.

In the invasion force, there thousands of ships of all sizes and strengths. I was a bit happy at the sight of that but still worried.

We then open fire with "Champagne" bottles. (High Explosive bombardment) It must have been our lucky day. Instead of one target destroyed, we got three. The first two salvos fell short but the rest were spot on.

We got away quite a few rounds with loads of effect. Just then, an L.A.C. (landing craft) pulled along side with injured men. The M.O. (Medical Officer) started hauling them out of the barge but it was bouncing around quite a bit and made it very difficult to haul them up. What a horrible sight it was. The first man had an arm just about shot off;  his leg was injured and he sustained wounds around his face.  The second man's arm was three quarters  shot off;  his legs were hit and also had injuries around his face. The third one had his back half shot off. I couldn't see the others but I imagined  it was also horrible. One was alive when he left the shore, but upon being put on the deck, he died. He was sown up in canvas bag ready for burying. The others were brought to the Algonquin's wardroom for emergency treatment. About 19:30, another Marine died. Laroque, Trevisanutto and Irwin volunteered to carry him out on deck. In a short time, he too was sewn up. I felt bad all over as I now realized the horrors of war even though we still hadn't been fired upon.

All night, so far as I could see, they bombed various shore targets. About 23:15, enemy aircraft arrived. Smoke screens were laid all around. Oerlikon (anti-aircraft gun near bridge) fire was severe and all around us. Troops had  been landed earlier in the evening and quickly. Allied aircraft also filled the air.  Three planes were shot down. One didn't have a chance. None of the crew escaped. She broke in flames upon being hit and exploded. It was horrible. We had all night in and weren't required so I didn't see much that night although I was told Oerlikon fire was carried on all through the night. At 8:00 a.m. we closed up and heard another man had died. The other two had been buried at sea. He was sewn up and laid by the forward torpedo tubes. He stayed there till 17:00  and  I witnessed the burial. I didn't know what to think.  I later found out not one of the three who died was over nineteen. One of them, named Williams, was nineteen and he was better off dead as his face was severely injured his arm was nearly off. His legs were both in bad condition and to my way of thinking,  I think he'd have lost both legs and the arm. He was very good looking guy and born on the 11th October, 1924.

We were sent out on patrol in the afternoon and all we did was patrol vast areas looking  for subs, E-boats and aircraft. I saw  thousands of aircraft fly by that day. Bombing continued all day. We then got orders to open fire on a town still occupied by German troops.  After Allied troops were cleared away from that area we opened fire.

Real Joseph DeGuire  as a  young sailor.
The gunnery was excellent as every salvo was right on target - a successful mission.  We saw houses and buildings blown up. Fires were started all over the place. Then things fell silent.   Later, a landing craft capsized. I don't know if there were any casualties. At night there were a few aircraft flying around. Smoke screens were laid and Oerlikon shells were sent up. I didn't see any aircraft go down though later on, one of our Spitfires was brought down. It couldn't be helped. Visibility becomes very poor when a  smoke screen is laid. That night we had the morning watch but not much happened.

We were still on patrol, we took Vigilantes run and this was going to keep us going till 16:00. But things happened during that time. At 13:00 action stations were called. They had picked up a very strong echo from a submarine. We were the first ones there and let out with five patterns of depth charges. They proved somewhat effective but not satisfactory. Oil rose to the surface. We then waited impatiently for a sub to surface but to our disappointment, it didn't. We then circled about and dropped four more patterns. No oil or flotsam came to the surface. All the destroyers around us were flashing their signal projectors wondering what was coming off.
Quickly, we were surrounded by destroyers. Two of them dropped numerous patterns but with no effect.

The old man was mad and left the scene as our relief had arrived . We carried on to our anchorage. I was closed up from 19:00 to 20:00 but Algonquin still opened fire on the beaches and villages. I saw ships and barges up on the beaches. There was quite a tide at this spot as it was at the mouth of the Seine River. The army had advanced again now holding a beachhead 15 miles inland and 10 miles wide.

The remaining injured marines were removed from Algonquin at 19:30 and transferred to a hospital ship. Artificial harbours were being constructed on the beaches and being put up in a hurry. Special sea duty men were just piped. We closed up our gun as another bombardment was about to begin. The Belfast, a Royal Navy cruiser, was opening up full blast on enemy shore batteries. We stood by our gun but no order was given to open fire. It started getting rather grim just standing around. At 22:00, we secured action stations. It was rather cloudy and I went below to get my head down as I was going on duty at 04:00 and I hadn’t had much sleep. Aircraft fire carried all through the night along with bombardment. At 04:00, when I closed up, it was misty and raining. There wasn’t much going on. A message came through that the Haida hit another German destroyer making her quite popular. ( HMS Rodney was the lead ship of the naval attack force.)

The usual routing followed through the day. Bombardment, had one “Red Juno” (enemy aircraft on way) but it lasted but momentarily. Shore patrols and engineers were busy erecting artificial harbours. They blasted the beach for land mines and hedgehog (large timbers in the ground against mechanical invasion). I was on watch at 05:00  ‘til 06:00  as “lookout”. I had powerful binoculars set on a special mounting and I was studying the coastline and for the damage done by three days of the invasion. The buildings were quite air conditioned, houses with their roofs shot off. A Church blown up and the steeple full of holes.

There are shell casings to be cleaned up after a battle such as the one in which HMCS Algonquin bombarded a section of the Normandy coast on D-Day. Gathering up the shell cases and sponging out the gun are: Foreground, (L-R) OS Kenneth Allen, R.C.N.V.R. of Niagara Falls, OS Real DeGuire, R.C.N.V.R. of Windsor and LS Gerald Day, R.C.N.V.R. of Halifax supervising the work. At the back, AB Guy Trevisanutto R.C.N.V.R. of Fort William (now Thunder Bay); AB John Van Dyke,  R.C.N.V.R. Toronto; OS Andy Irwin, R.C.N.V.R., New Westminister, and OS E. Mathetuk, R.C.N.V.R., Campbellford, Ont. This picture was flown across the Atlantic and  published in The Windsor Star.
Trucks were going to the front. The lineup was very long and noticeable as far as the eye could see going over the hill. The countryside was lovely. The trees at places were somewhat shot up along with a castle on the hill. Gun fire was still in full swing and imagine it will be that way all through the night again. I then went down for supper. My next watch is the middle watch (00:01  to 04:00). I expect to see quite a bit during those four hours. The photographers aboard went ashore yesterday to get right in on the late happenings. The Canadians are inland quite far now and the width covers numerous mileage. I got my picture taken quite often aboard by American and Canadian news reporters. I hope Mom sees it in the paper.

Suddenly, orders reached the bridge but before I go into details other things happened. Paratroops were being landed by the thousands. It was good to see them float through the air. One thing that made me happy was to have the MTB 459 (Motor Torpedo Boat) tied up alongside. Her crew was Canadian and one of my friends, Seaton, came aboard. I learned great things from him. Armstrong, another friend of mine on the MTB 464, was killed. He got an Oerlikon  shell through the chest. He was the only Canadian Naval casualty of the opening of the second Front. Red Nichols was on her when they attacked three German destroyers. MTB life is pretty grim but they have nice quarters.

Back to sailing orders again. About 05:30, we got the orders to return to Portsmouth. We tied up alongside the SIOUX and gave her our ammunition (bombardment shells only). The Venus and Ourselves left before noon and headed across the channel. Two tugs were pulling a French battleship which was captured. It was old and battered. Upon return to Portsmouth, we took on provisions and thought we’d have a bit of shore leave but no dice. We were to sail back to St. Aubin, France right the next morning. That night I wrote letters till 04:30 explaining my safety to my parents and friends.

A French beachhead as observed from ALGONQUIN. 
JUNE 10/44

The next morning (June 10th), we left with a distinguished visitor aboard. It was Vice-Admiral Percy W. Nelles.  We took him right close to the shore and there he departed. He joined up with Prime Minister Winston  Churchill and some Generals. On the G.01 Scourge (G boats) and G. 37, they patrolled the ships around and went ashore. In the afternoon and air raid was on. Dog fights were going on and out of nowhere a plane came down in flames. It was not ours. Not that I love war or love to see people killed but I knew that was one less enemy to conquer and a faster ending to this war.

We stayed there a few days doing patrol. We dropped charges here and there but no subs.

We returned to Portsmouth on the 12th of June. Again our hopes were high but no dice. We got browned off for patrol duties. We patrolled and we dropped nearly all our depth charges on a spot where a good ping was picked up.

With only 20 charges left, we were called back to Portsmouth. We took on a few supplies and then got orders to take a troop ship to Plymouth about 8 to 10 hours away. It was a slow convoy. We picked up a ping on the way and dropped nearly all our remaining charges. We finally reached Plymouth and the Trooper we found out had over 200 casualties aboard. We dropped the hook in harbour. The Huron and Haida were there though we did not see the Haida. Some of the boys visited the Huron. We stayed there all night and the first thing in the morning 15th June we left Plymouth.

We stopped at Portland and picked up another convoy headed for Portsmouth. It was a lovely day and it was nice on cruising stations. We pulled into Portsmouth about 17:00. We took on charges. We had all night in but the first thing in the morning we were leaving for the French coast. I wrote a few letters. Ate a bit of the parcels received by the boys in the mess then went to crashing Stations (to bed). At 04:45 we got up and up anchor and away we went, this was Sunday morning the 18th June.

On board we had a few Lieut. Generals four ringers and down. Photographers - nearly all of them were Canadians. We had prayers on deck and had Capt. Houghton, General Crerar, Brigadier General  Bray and a bit of a speech by the Lieut General. We arrived to St. Aubin in a short time. That night we had an air raid attack. Planes were overhead all the time. One was seen  coming down on Monday morning during the Middle Watch. It crashed and blew up. I’m sure there were no survivors. Monday morning we had a shoot. Our target was an airport. We fired 29 rounds from each gun. We then packed up and awaited results of the shoot. We were overjoyed when we saw that we had crippled enemy aircraft and really shot up the airfield. We made every salvo count. We also shot up some troops advancing along the road. We really did damage there. We were sent a message that the fact that the Algonquin was there and the help she was to everyone, she is given a great amount of the credit for the safe landing of the Canadian Pongos (soldiers) by shooting out the shore batteries.

Nelles also said this was a great ship and was soon to enter into the limelight . Whatever he meant it was good to the old man. While on watch this afternoon (30th  June) I spotted a body in the water. It was that of a Yank. He was floating face down. I knew he was a Yank by his lifejacket. He floated very close to the ship but nothing was done in a way of picking him up. I thought it was terrible as he was all shot up and naked. We were trying to drop the hook but the capstan (motor to haul anchor in/out) broke down. We finally let it down. We are now in close range to enemy guns. We may have a shoot before the day is gone. We were lucky I a way, we didn’t have a shoot after all. Bombardment carried on as usual. HMS Ajax was right in there today. Dakota’s (C-47) came overhead laden with troops and were flying inland to let them carry on the good work. Mines floated by early this morning (21st  June) but no damage was done to any of the ships. One exploded on the beach about 8 o’clock and it really let out a loud roar. Nearby all the ships were taking firing positions. It looked like another bombardment and before I knew it guns were roaring all around. The shooting was noisy.

The cruisers moved in closer to shore so as to carry out a shoot requiring longer range. A great bit of news just came in about Rodney (lead ship) also, we’re going back to Portsmouth. I hope it’s true as I hope to get ashore. That night 22nd June we were sent out on patrol. Our limit was 12 knot speed. Suddenly out of nowhere came enemy aircraft. One of the ships (HMS Swift 646) opened up on the planes and before we knew flares were dropping all around us. We had just got back to the mess deck the time being 00:45 .  Action stations went and it took a very short time for the guns crew to close up. The reason for that being that a bomb had exploded about 50 yds. From our quarterdeck (abaft) and then another even with “B” gun. The first words mentioned upon hearing the blast was - “We’ve been hit”. I thought sure we were. The planes lit us up completely and I thought sure we were goners as all hope seemed gone. The old man really handled the old crate marvelously. We really think a lot of him while in action.

One of the ships flashed that our chances were one in a thousand after we reported being bombed by aircraft. This kept up for quite some time running into flares and dodging bombs. About 05:30 we secured action stations as the enemy had withdrawn. There was quite a bit of action going on, on the beaches. We finally came into harbour and secured. On the 21st we were sent out to rescue survivors of the HMS Fury H-76 who had been mined just outside the anchorage. One body was sighted and all types of odd goods from the Fury. She finally managed to beach herself. She was a really good ship. She often made patrols with us.

The day was quiet (22nd June) but at night we were sent out on patrol for E and V type German boats.. Nothing happened but upon return we noticed that they had a going over June 23rd on the beaches and enemy guns were raging.

The usual bombardment carried on through the day. That night we went out on patrol with the Swift G46, and the Sioux (R64). Not much happened but the morning will live in my memory as long as I live. At 07:30,  we were pulling in to anchor but we spotted a mine and fired away at it. We finally returned. We noticed the Sioux had already dropped her hook. We carried on to anchor when out of nowhere comes a great explosion which really has me shaking. We didn’t know which ship it was .It looked like the Sioux but we weren’t sure as the ship had started to sink and her number was no longer visible. As we neared the ship another explosion was heard , it  was a trooper. Her quarterdeck was blown clear off and she started sinking right away. We were puzzled as we didn’t know what was the cause of it. It could be but two things, mines and glider bombs. I later learned it was mines. They sank pretty fast as the tide was coming in. Before she did sink all ships around sent boats to claim gear. We got quite a bit.

That afternoon another front opened at Orne Canal district. Hidden enemy guns were firing all about us and quite a few coming near. At 15:45 we closed up to action stations. We then headed the ships for shore firing as we went. Barges were keeping up a good rate of fire. We could not get enough range to get at them. It wasn’t long we secured as shells were falling very close and shrapnel flying all about. We secured at 18:20 but returned at 18:30 and fired a few more rounds at maximum range. The cruisers were firing steadily. Despite firing at full range we could not do any damage to these batteries. I noticed ashore (6) cruiser and battleships and freighters were sunk, all of them in a row. It was used as a breakwater. I expect we’ll have a bit of action tonight. They’re really starting to make it tough for us. News came that the Yanks were at the gates of Cherbourg. They’re right in there doing their bit. That night things were carried on as usual, bombardment and shore batteries exchanging shots.

The next day, we closed up to the gun about 16:00. We were to have another bombardment run. This time we had range and to top everything, four targets. That being infantry headquarters, infantry patrols, shore batteries and wireless (Spotters) nests which caused much  trouble. Well we fired a few rounds for range and then took up from there with corrections of range and deflection. The sixth salvos was a good one. Infantry headquarters was destroyed. Four gun shot off the roof completely. We fired about 34 rounds and I’m sure they weren’t wasted. They really did damage. We then secured and carried on down below, At 20:30 we closed up at Bofors (a gun position) as enemy aircraft were on their way. Nothing came close enough to harm us.  But after midnight, the 26th of June we were almost gone. Mines were dropped all around us. A few merchant ships were damaged but apart from that everything was okay. A severe battle was going on ashore. The pongos are really taking the strain. They made a bit of progress but at severe losses on both sides. This afternoon we transferred over three quarters our ammunition to the Venus (R50). We were going back for a boiler clean. That night we got browned off for patrol. We carried on to Rosyth (east coast of Scotland) via Scapa for a boiler clean where I enjoyed three days leave.

Part 2

November 8th

Up anchor and out we went at 21:00. We were out for a crack at German shipping off the Norwegian coast. It sounded awfully thrilling and a great change from the dullness of Scapa Flow. It was a bit rough out but still we were going out. Once outside the gates we went to action stations and had a star shell (a shell  used to light up the night sky) shoot for exercise. We were to be the standby  star shell ship when we met the enemy. There were six ships in all. Cruisers Kent, Bellona; Destroyers - Myngs , Verulam, Zambesi and ourselves. We were all out that night. I had the first watch and thus giving us all night in I was looking forward to a good nights rest in my hammock. But I found out different once below. You’d think the ocean was inside the mess deck. It was flooded. The capstan leaked and the water poured in freely. I slung directly under the capstan but not that night. I slept in the “mick” rack (where you store the hammocks). The ship pitched, rolled and went through quite a bit of beatings before they finally decided to head her bows for Scapa Flow. We were all happy then. We got back to Scapa in the afternoon. We then carried on to have our capstan and other damages repaired.

On November 11th we up anchor and out again for the same reason. We had a star shell  shoot for practice. The weather couldn’t  be better. It was very calm. All went well that night. We passed through enemy minefields in the afternoon with but 3 miles to get through. We were to go to action stations at 20.00 but it was delayed till 20:30   We were ready for them now.

There were two convoys we were to clean out on before the night was done. I, for one, was somewhat scared and didn’t like it as we did not know their strength and there were numerous shore batteries. We were to come within five miles of the coast and follow our sweep for about 125 miles south following the coastline. We were pretty jittery, then as there were mine fields, shore batteries and E boats to watch out for and the night was really black. We could hardly see anything.

Time rolled by and we waited, but not for long. At 23.15, we got the alert alarm signal. We all took our positions at the gun and waited. Then the alarm sounded "Alarm Starboard Green 40" . With star shell.... load, load, load (the alert signal for emergency), we then got the gun loaded as fast as we could then waited for the command which followed soon after. We fired our rounds and lit up the enemy perfectly. There were seven  or eight merchant ships of which two were armed trawlers. Guns blazed and all was hell. I felt better then as we were giving them everything we had. It later proved to be eleven ships. Kent (cruiser) on his first salvos scored a direct hit on one of the ships which set it afire. We then took position in single file. We were going right at them. Myngs let them have it with four torpedoes. We were all set but didn’t fire. We were being fired at from all angles. Joe Byway nearly got it. An Oerlikon shell just missed his leg and imbedded itself into the turn wheels on the torpedo tubes. Four guns crew nearly got it. Oerlikon shells flew all around them. Some imbedded themselves into the barrel of the guns. Verulam got away 8 fish and got one ship. We kept constant fire on one ship - it blew up and sank beneath the waves. There were four or five gone then. Zambesi let loose with one  or two  fish, but no score. Verulam got the spray of Oerlikon shells. This proved grim as two  were killed about seventeen wounded. Of those killed and wounded a whole guns crew was wiped out. After the last ship got past the convoy seven were sunk and one  ran ashore. We nearly ran ashore when we left the scene. That’s when on tanker blew up and lit the sky full of technicolor flames. We threw back Bofors shells and really did damage.

Then we all set our guns on the one target and sank it. We were all pretty scared. We thought we had got them all but they signalled us to go in and finish them off. Again fear struck us as it was getting pretty hot then. German shore batteries were shooting the ships with 4.1 inch shells. HMS Bellona  still kept on firing star shell. HMS Kent was taking care of the shore batteries. Well we got back to the scene and we saw three ships trying to get away. So we went after them. HM ships Myngs, Zambesi and Verulam broke off the single line and went on ahead. We put up speed and caught up with them. We spotted one ship, a fairly good sized one at that. So we let out with all we had. She didn’t fire back. After about five  minutes firing, she folded in two and below the waves she went. We then opened up on one ship headed for the shore. It took very little to sink it. It had been hit before. The third was acting as rescue ship but it didn’t matter. We opened fire and she went up. There weren’t any survivors. There were still two small ships aflame when we left the scene but before we got very far they also disappeared under the waves. On the way going out a shore battery opened up on us. She just missed our bow. Kent and Bellona got in on it and before we knew it, up went the shore battery. A direct hit. The weather changed very quickly upon us leaving the Norwegian coast. In a day and a half from then, we pulled in to good old Scapa Flow. We were very glad to see it then even if it is the most desolate place in the world. mail and parcels really flowed in that night and everybody forgot of their grim experience.

Real DeGuire hamming it up for the camera in slippers and a fur coat aboard HMCS HAIDA.
We were to meet the other convoy further south near Scagaral but we heard of the Tirpitz being sunk and Narviks (aircraft) were on the way out. So we left the coastline and headed home. I’ll never be able to forget that night as long as I live. People being killed. I felt like a murderer but I remembered what they did off the coast of France. How they butchered our men. They also were murderers. These things make me bitter. I don’t know if I’ve changed. If so, not much. That night we arrived we were allowed to state in our letters the experience we’d been through. Old Scapa Flow was a very welcomed sight after that experience. I realize that you have to encounter the enemy closely in order to reduce it’s fighting power and bring it down to a surrendering point but I didn’t want to get into anymore action of that type.

Part 3

Russia 1

September 1944

We headed for Russia. It was very nice out because we had the midnight sun with us all the way. That adds beauty to life. We pulled in to Polyarnoye which was a very nice place. Whilst there we took in many sports and bartered with the Russian kids who came aboard. I got some money and jerseys and knives. They make good souvenirs. I could not get any “vodka” but I didn’t care for it too much.

In the sports meet we played against the Juicers (8 other ships) and I was amazed at the results. We beat them in everything. We were honoured with “Cock of the North” which we hoisted on the mast. It was a great honour to the old man. He’s really a proud guy. In October we left Polyarnoye for Scapa. The trip down to Russia proved interesting though we were shadowed by wolf packs all the way with no damages inflicted. On the way back we hit dirty weather and the subs were waiting for us off Bear Island. They got six of our merchant ships with acoustic torpedoes (torpedoes that sense sound and aim for it). We started dropping charges every five minutes to evade these torpedoes. Once down a ways we were clear of the wolf pack (groups of enemy submarines). A signal came through on the 21st that the Skeena had been run aground and numerous casualties. I thought we’d go to the rescue, but no dice. Orders read that we carry on to Scapa after a stopover at the Faroes for fuel. We did just that and were once again happy to see the dreaded Isles of Scapa Flow. There was tons of mail and parcels awaiting us so we forgot of all the grimness on the lonely trips to Russia.

Russia 2

On the 22nd of December leave was given to the boys till the 29th December. I spent that leave very well and really enjoyed myself. But then I got back to the ship. The buzz had changed. We were going home but the buzz was crushed quickly when the old man cleared lower decks and told us we were to go on another Russia convoy and then we’d go back to Canada. We felt pretty grim because the dark days had closed in on the Arctic and it was plenty cold.

On the 31st Dec., New Year’s Eve we left Scapa Flow for the long dreary trip to somewhere in Russia. The trip was grim and I do mean grim. We spent a very quiet New Years. The weather was the coldest I’d ever encountered in my life. Rain sleet, snow, strong winds. All that and total darkness. We saw light but for a few hours a day. On the 8th Jan. we pulled in to Polyarnoye. I never expected we’d pull in there again. The weather wasn’t too bad there. There was tons of snow and the air was excellent. Cool and very refreshing. We once again indulged in sports. But this time entirely different. We skated and skied. It was a very healthy and appetite building exercise. We didn’t stay in Polyarnoye very long. We were due back in Scapa on the 21st Jan.

On the way back subs did not bother us much but the weather had a lot to do with that. We hit a Force 9 gale and before we reached the Faroes the convoy was spread for over 500 miles. We waited for the remainder of the convoy for two days. Then carried on to Scapa with but the thought of mail and parcels on our minds. Now all we could think of was what we’d do whilst on leave and how much leave we would get. But Lady Luck was not with us as once again and out on operations we went again. This time to bomb a sub depot at Narvik and Trondheim. But the weather was too rough and we headed back to Scapa. On the way, seven Junkers “Ju-88” (noisy German planes) were overhead and we opened fire on them. It was too dark to see who ht what but we later found out that we had gotten one. We pulled in to Scapa as the weather was getting to be nicer. I thought we would go out again but to our luck we got a signal that we proceed to Greenoch, Scotland and prepare to proceed to Canada. But on the way to Canada we hit very grim weather and we almost didn’t make it. One of the E.R.A.’s (commonly known as Stokers) got a bad attack of appendicitis and we were forced to pull in at St. John’s Newfoundland. Had a good drunk there. We left late in the afternoon for Halifax. It was nice weather so we made good time. We pulled in to the jetty a day early. This ended my experience on the “Algonquin”. We got thirty four days leave and four days travelling. I was well received when I got home.

Other notations in Real's diary include the following poems:


There is always someone happy
There is always someone blue
But never have I loved someone
As much as I do you.


That Lonesome Scapa Boy
May 11/44 written by A/B R. J. DeGuire (Able Bodied Seaman)

I wonder how many lonesome lads,
This Sunday noon in Spring
Who walk down Scapa’s streets
In service of the King.

The city of course has many charms,
It is gay but so far away
From Scapa Flow, it’s little towns,
Occupied by us to-day.

A week-end leave is simply grand
For the fellows whose home is near.
But what of the boys in Scapa Flow
Who never even get near.

He watches while buddies more fortunate
Leave ships with whoops of joy.
Then saunters off with a lump in his throat
God Bless that lonesome Scapa Boy.


A Note to a Lonely Sailor.
Written by Marsé in journal:

All my love forever Marsé
Won’t forget
to write dear
 every day
No blondes

Think of me once in a while
And always remember that
 I’ll be thinking of you and writing.

(Marsé was a British girl who Real DeGuire met while Algonquin was docked in England. She wrote the note in his diary. Her last name remains unknown)


Real DeGuire’s Daughter-in-law, Kim Thomas-DeGuire wrote this poem in 1988.

11th Hour, 11th Day, 11th Month, Not Enough

Many brave men died
Seventy years ago today,
So we would experience a better life
Than they have ever known.

We tend to take for granted
The good fortune bestowed upon us
This country of great beauty
Opportunity, hopes and dreams.

Take time to proudly reflect
On their courageous, unselfish acts.
Their unimaginable suffering
Means we’ll never have to.

We owe them much more
Thank our gratitude and respect
Once a year - one minute,
One day, one month is not enough.


A Letter to a Sailor from a Sailor:
July 23, 1944

Guido Trevisanutto,
809 McLeod St.,
Fort Williams, Ontario

Dear Ray:

Here’s wishing you all the luck which you deserve. When this is all over don’t forget to look me up then we could meet as more than just sailor friends.

Adios Trev


Real DeGuire (L)  and Andy Irwin (R). They were shipmates aboard H.M.C.S. Algonquin .It was Andy’s 85th birthday party.
Real J. DeGuire in 2010. 
All photos in this web document came from the collection of Real DeGuire


Linda Matheson  <Flmath23(at)>

Sept 18/13

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