For Posterity's Sake
A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project
Wartime Diary of Robert Elwood Pearson, V-37150
While serving in HMCS Swansea
01 Mar 1944 - Left Halifax to go overseas. Hope we come back soon but not much chance.
10 Mar 1944 - Our first action. Sank U-845 at 8:20 p.m. after quite a battle. St. Laurent assisted. Took 23 survivors aboard. They were very grateful to be picked up. God help the poor devils we couldn't pick up. They seem cheerful and are surprised at being so well treated. One chap is fifteen years old. They still think that Germany will win but aren't so sure about the U-boat warfare.
14 Mar 1944 - Pulled into Derry and discharged our prisoner ashore.
16 Mar 1944 - Out to sea again on patrol
26 Mar 1944 - Into Derry again. Did not have any action
05 Apr 1944 - Out to sea again. Wonder how we'll make out this time.
14 Apr 1944 - Met Jerry again today and he came out second best. We took 17 survivors this time. This subs No - U-448. It was smaller than the 1st one. The survivors aren't as cheerful as the 1st sub. We are just off the mouth of the Bay of Biscay. Its really a hotbed of action. We are with the Biter an A/C carrier which is acting as "bait". I think hoping to draw the subs. It seems to be very successful. We are making quite a name for ourselves. We have been sinking on sub a month. Hope we get back to Canada soon. I can't say that I like so much action. War is really a horrible thing.
20 Apr 1944 - Still hunting subs but I guess we have had this months quota. It's been three weeks since we have seen land. It's going to be good to go ashore again.
22 Apr 1944 - Back again.
05 May 1944 - In again after a short trip of 10 days. No subs this time. Thought we had one a couple of times though.
26 Jun 1944 - Into Plymouth to refuel. Think we go another sub but not sure. Invasion seems to be going ok.
30 Jun 1944 - Pretty close to coast of France. Today closest we have been in yet. The Coastal batteries fired on us. Made smoke screen and got away. Could see our planes bombing quite plainly. Think that I will do a little letter writing. That's all for today.
01 Jul 1944 - Everything quiet today. Think that I will write you a letter, dear. I have a funny feeling that something is going to happen.
04 Jul 1944 - That funny feeling I had must have been pretty good. We picked up H.E. from submarine last night and went to action stations. It was almost on the surface running on her diesels. She came up on us fast and passed within a few feet of us doing down our port side I could have reached out and touched her periscope. She had a device like a pipe up in front of her periscope to suck in air for her diesel motors. We fire on her and she went across our stern. We couldn't pick her up on our asdic and after searching for her we gave it up. It all happened so fast we really didn't have a chance to get her. We were very lucky she didn't fire torpedoes. If she had we would be under 40 fathoms of water right now.
17 Jul 1944 - Quite a bit of time has passed. We have been back to Derry ??? for 4 whole says. Nothing much doing. We had actions stations twice today. False alarms though. Going into the coast tonight just off Brest.
21 Jul 1944 - Action stations again tonight. We were attacked by glider bombs. We were sure lucky. Our gunners shot one down about 100 yards away. One of the other ships with us was hit. 26 inured 1 dead and 3 missing. Finally our own planes came out and cleared them away. I was sure glad to see the RAF. Hope our luck holds out.
17 Aug 1944 - Sailed from Derry, heading for the Bay of Biscay. Its a real hotbed of U-boats, Torpedo boats and German destroyers. There will be action, I feel sure.
20 Aug 1944 - Out patrol is off Bordeaux, a German naval base. Our aircraft report that thee are two Narvik destroyers, two U-boats, two minesweepers waiting to come out. I thank God there are two of our destroyers and a cruiser close by.
21 Aug 1944 - Shelled by shore batteries again. This has been the third time for us. They must have been at least 12-inch guns as we were 12 miles away. They landed too close. One chap killed and one injured on one of the other ships from shrapnel. No casualties for us. Lucky Swansea.
24 Aug 1944 - Tonight we can see Bordeaux going up in flames. We are sixty miles away but the glare of the fires and demolition lights up the whole sky for a hundred miles around. We feel a little safer now with that place out of the fight. There are a great many more down here in the Bay.
25 Aug 1944 - Allied planes smashed two Narvik and Elbe destroyers tonight. They were heading right for us. Going to try to break through I guess. Later. Just came down from action stations - we had a sub contact. It got away after sending a torpedo at us. It went past our stern. I wonder how long our luck will hold out.
26 Aug 1944 - Have just come down from the Quarterdeck after attending service for a burial at sea. Earlier today we sighted a lone fighter allied plane. He circled us and flew ahead of us. We wondered why he was way out here. All alone. Shortly after leaving us we saw him crash into the sea. With both engines full ahead we headed for the spot. On arrive there all we could see was a few bits of wood. We circled around and personally saw the pilot come to the surface. We sent our sea boat away and picked him up. He was dead and horribly broken up. His back was broken in several places and his arms and legs also. We took all his personal gear from his body and sewed him up in a canvas shroud. At sunset tonight we gave him a naval burial at sea. He was an American from Texas about 22 years old. When I saw him there all mangled and broken I could see so clearly the futility of this bloody war. In this hip pocket there was a letter probably from his girlfriend. Maybe he read it before he left the flying field. that's something we will never know.
31 Aug 1944 - Attacked sub contact today. We are still holding it.
01 Sep 1944 - Still attacking contact with depth charges. Brought up oil and debris. We have the navigator's log books and ????? with the name Schultz on them. He hasn't surface as yet and I don't think he will. He must be pretty well beat by now.
23 Oct 1944 - Have received signal from Admiralty stating we have shared the credit with the St. John on sinking the U-247. That makes our third sub. We aren't doing bad.
27 Oct 1944 - Have sailed from Gibraltar for Derry. I sort of hate to leave this wonderful weather. On the other had it will speed up our getting home. I've been thinking a lot about coming back. Its hard to believe.
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