Dean Rownd enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy in 1942. (Contributed)

Salmon Arm veteran’s love for Canada endures

Dean Rownd enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy in 1942, assigned to the HMCS Saint John.

Barb Brouwer

Contributor

Dean Rownd showed his love of Canada and its people by enlisting in the Royal Canadian Navy in 1942.

Recovering from a broken hip and a stroke that has affected his speech, the alert 94-year-old Navy veteran said he would have gone to war again to protect Canada’s freedom.

Rownd was working in a Vancouver machine shop when the owner’s son enlisted. Rownd, who was 17 at the time, followed suit.

“It was the thing to do,” he remembers simply.

Rownd was sent to Halifax and assigned to the frigate HMCS Saint John as an oilman. His job was to keep the ship’s steam engines running smoothly.

Built in Montreal, the frigate was commissioned on Dec. 13, 1943. She arrived at Halifax seven days later and embarked on a trial run to Bermuda the following month, according to a Government of Canada online military history site.

Named for Saint John, NB, she served primarily as a convoy escort in the Battle of the Atlantic, which lasted from 1939 to 1945. Following initial trials, the Saint John was based in Halifax until April 1944 when she joined an escort group in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

The Saint John headed to Newfoundland to join a convoy of about 150 ships. Rownd remembers that one of them was lost to a German submarine during the crossing of the Atlantic.

On Sept. 1, 1944, the Saint John and HMCS Swansea sank a German submarine off the western coast of Cornwall, England.

In December 1944, his ship was assigned to escort convoys on the North Russia or Murmansk run to and from Kola Inlet near Murmansk.

The extremely dangerous route into the Arctic Ocean was used to deliver desperately needed materials – much of it from North America – to the Soviet Union.

Read more: Digital poppies set to launch as part of Remembrance Day campaign

Read more: Canadians mark Remembrance Day, 100 years since end of First World War

Read more: RCMP carry carbines during Remembrance Day service

The Saint John was present on D-Day. Rownd recalled the ship being out on the ocean off Juno Beach but not engaging in action.

“The chief engineer, he disappeared. He had a chance to jump ship and go home to his wife and kids,” he recalled.

“We were sent to the Channel Islands and we thought the Germans were gone. That was a nasty surprise. We were blowing smokescreens and getting out of there as fast as we could.”

Rownd also remembered being on one of six ships travelling in single file as they patrolled off the coast of France where the Germans established a submarine base.

“One evening we thought we had a sub. It was on the top of the water,” Rownd said with a grin.

“We were ready to attack but nothing was there. At daybreak, we discovered it was a large ball of foil.”

On Feb. 16, 1945, HMCS Saint John destroyed its second submarine, this time in Moray Firth, off the northern coast of Scotland.

“We were using hedgehogs, shooting them off the bow,” Rownd said of the British designed, forward-throwing anti-submarine weapon that fired up to 24 spigot mortars ahead of a ship.

“Then we had to reverse fast to get out of the way of the explosion.”

Despite dangerous assignments and some close calls, including one bomb that exploded near the frigate’s stern, Rownd and the Saint John survived the war and returned home.

As a crew member of the Saint John, Rownd was awarded Canadian battle honours—the Volunteer Service Medal, the Defence Medal and the War Medal 1939 – 1945, as well as the Arctic Star, Atlantic Star and 1939-1945 Star.

“All the guys I knew are gone now,” said a nostalgic Rownd, who turns 95 on Dec. 5.

While some of the details have dimmed and speech is somewhat difficult, Rownd’s love of Canada and family endure without question.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Dean Rownd was assigned to the HMCS Saint John. (Contributed)

Veteran Dean Rownd wears his love for his country on his sleeve and his respect for fellow veterans on his head. (Barb Brouwer photo)

Just Posted

Okanagan teenagers found after missing for four days

The pair, believed to be dating, had been missing since Nov. 15.

South Shuswap residents’ input wanted on proposed cannabis store

CSRD hosting Nov. 19 public meeting for retail outlet planned for Blind Bay Village Grocer property

Show will go on in honour of Shuswap musician Willy Gaw

Fundraising concert at North Shuswap Community Hall to support family

Online registration for Salmon Arm rec centre programs to begin

Fill in your account early, computer registration for programs starts 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 26

Investigation ongoing after shots fired in North Okanagan

RCMP have no updates from Nov. 1 incident

Salmon Arm Silverbacks lose in Penticton, pull off overtime win against Wenatchee

Team now in second place in the BCHL Interior Division

Kamloops woman sues Armstrong IPE for Slingshot mishap

Woman claims ride gone wrong caused injury, loss of wages and other damages

UPDATED: Vancouver Island’s Joe gets suspended sentence in Teddy the dog cruelty case

Melissa Tooshley expected in court on Thursday in same case

Alleged drunk driver survives crash into Kettle River

The crash happened Saturday near Grand Forks

Woman ‘horrified’ after being told to trek 200 kilometres home from Kamloops hospital

‘I can’t get from Kamloops back to 100 Mile House injured, confused… no shoes, no clothes whatsoever’

Canadian universities encourage exchange students in Hong Kong to head home

UBC said 11 of its 32 students completing programs in Hong Kong have already left

Midget no more: Sweeping division name changes coming to minor hockey in Canada

Alpha-numeric division names will be used for the 2020-2021 season and beyond

Most Read