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

Overtime heroics help Vees to 2-1 overtime victory

Vees cracked Chenard late in the overtime frame, with only 15 seconds remaining in extra time

Pecha Kucha returns to Cannery Brewing to Move It on Dec. 5

Speakers for the upcoming show haven’t been announced yet.

Summerland takes the 100 Radon Test Kit Challenge

Take on Radon and the Summerland Healthy Community Initiative are partnering on the campaign.

Vees take 6-3 win against rival Salmon Arm Silverbacks

Vees’ Jay O’Brien and Lukas Sillinger both had multiple-point games.

Interior Health issues warning about opioid-laced stimulants causing recent overdoses

Interior Health is urging residents using or considering using drugs to reconsider… Continue reading

Abortions rights advocates urge Liberals to turn politics into policy

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was pressed to clarify his stance abortion over several weeks

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Dallas Smith, Terri Clark to perform on CP Holiday Train’s B.C. stops

Annual festive food bank fundraiser rolling across province from Dec. 11 to 17

Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

Series of land-use fines inspire owner Michael Poole to sell the roughly 20-acre property.

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Family of B.C. man killed in hit-and-run plead for tips, one year later

Cameron Kerr’s family says the driver and passengers tried to cover their tracks

Chilliwack family’s dog missing after using online pet-sitting service

Frankie the pit bull bolted and hit by a car shortly after drop off through Rover.com

Most Read