My Battle of the Atlantic

5 September 2013

My Battle of the Atlantic
by Donald A. Bowman
Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing
Review by Keith Foster
$16.95 ISBN 978-1-894431-99-6

There’s something about the sea that seems to attract men from the Prairies. Donald Bowman was one of them, and he records his personal experiences in his memoir, My Battle of the Atlantic.

Born and raised in Saskatoon, Bowman enlisted as a teen at the outset of World War II. After trying his hand at bayonet practice, and reading about rats in the trenches during the First World War, he realized the infantry was not for him. The Air Force appealed to him, but only if he could be a pilot, and he didn’t think he had the qualifications for that. So the Navy it was.

While on leave in Saskatoon, he married his sweetheart, Muriel Beatty. They booked a room at the Bessborough Hotel, but the war cut short their honeymoon.

Bowman regales readers with his adventures as an officer on HMCS Edmundston, a corvette intended for coastal duty but used to escort convoys across the Atlantic, and named for a city in New Brunswick. In heavy seas, it would be flung about with as much grace as a Spanish galleon.

Bowman explains nautical terms and naval jargon in a way that landlubbers can understand. He relates some of the perils he faced – refuelling at sea; trying to restrain 600-pound depth charges that got loose on deck; witnessing a torpedo rip through a ship just above the water line, leaving a hole as large as a garage door; and watching a hospital ship, in pitch dark, steer straight for the convoy!

The White Ensign flag that flew above HMCS Edmundston now adorns HMCS Sackville as a fitting tribute to Bowman and the other sailors who served in Canada’s Navy during World War II.

The 117-page book contains 25 black and white photos chronicling Bowman’s naval career.


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