Harold (Bud) Alexander Robertson - E. A. 4/C

It is with great sadness I announce that Harold (Bud) Robertson passed away on March 9th 2014, in his 90th year.  He lived life to the fullest right to the very end and set a good example for all of us.
Obituary Notice


H.J. “BUD ROBERTSON E.A.----  MY ACCOUNT of  ATTACK  

THE TORPEDOING OF HMCS MAGOG    

                This is my recollection of  SATURDAY OCTOBER 14 1944:.We were proceeding up the St. Lawrence River, it was a dull day with a little bit of wind blowing. It started out as a normal slow day and the only activity was the continuing patrol of the Escort around the convoy. As mentioned previously the convoy was a slow moving group of Merchant Ships of about 12 to 14 and our Escort group of 3 or 4 Frigates  and 3 or 4 Corvettes. It was the opinion that we were so far up the St Lawrence River ,that any thought of any action was remote.

Most ratings were looking forward to some shore leave in Quebec City, at the end of this tour and thinking !about where we would be going from there.

            We had breakfast in our mess and preparing to go to our daily assigned duties, when the Quartermaster piped  and announced a message that  Captain Quick was going to have a ship inspection and would be making inspection rounds.

            I didn’t have any planned duties that were urgent so I decided to make a check  of the E.A., Workshop to make certain that it was all in order in case they did decide to go aft and 1 deck down to this area. This was not likely going to happen,but I thought it was best to be sure that my workshop was clean and in order..

So I decided , I would go down anyway and check batteries on charge, I would be doing it later anyway.

            I was not aware that earlier the “ Cat Gear “ had been pulled in. This was due to sea weed becoming fouled ,that prevented it to function properly. Of course this left us without this protection astern for a remotely possibility of a torpedo attack.

            I proceeded from the mess deck got some fresh air and a look around, back across a gangway to the watertight hatch to the lower deck. Due to the size of the hatch, I removed my life jacket and went below. Secured the hatch and went aft about 15 ft to the workshop.

This had a steel door and about a 10” scupper, which is a vertical projection which was on all lower deck doors to prevent and contain any transient water from spreading farther. 

It was customary to keep your jacket within arms length reach in case of any major problem.

            I did my battery checks and looked around the shop and figured it was Ok.  I started on the way to go back to the mess deck.. With lifejacket over my arm ,opened the door and started to step into the centre gangway. 

                 ! THIS WAS THE INSTANT ! ! - WHAM!! the torpedo hit. There was a terrific explosion and I was knocked unconscious by the door swinging back and hitting me a blow to the head and I presume trapping my leg between the  scupper and door and knocking me back into the workshop. I am not sure how long I was Out.

     The next thing I recall was total silence. I could see out to the gangway and saw steam escaping from a severed steam line to the aft steering gear. I don’t know if I was temporarily deafened by the explosion or not, I couldn’t hear anything after that for a short period. I was groping my way around in very dim light I presume from emergency lighting.             I was in chest deep  in water and trying to understand what had happened; when I heard and felt numerous depth charges exploding and some Oerlikon firing  ( not from the MAGOG)  but  by other escort ships. As reported by other witnesses a skirmish had broken out that was quite intense. To me it did not seem to be for too long but made me apprehensive,

{ see the account of the lighthouse keeper.} )             I was still trying to orient myself to this strange setting -- Bunker oil spitting out from the forward bulkhead, steam escaping, the sounds of real action -- when I realized that I could see out through an opening to the open water in the back left corner of the workshop

 My reaction now was to get the H---out of here. I realized this opening was not very large but , I guess in desperation decided to try to get out.  I was part way through when I heard ‘- Someone “ Shout,“I got someone here but I don‘t know who it is!”  I felt someone from the open quarter deck above grab me by the back of my coveralls collar. On looking up I recognized he was an E.R.A. that I knew and I couldn’t understand why he couldn’t identify me !

I later realized I was covered with gooey fuel oil, and my head injury was likely was causing swelling and bleeding.

            He with help proceeded to pull me through and lift me to the quarterdeck. This is when I knew I had a broken leg because this allowed my leg at the my knee to drop sideways , which resulted in a shot of severe pain and I guess I passed out.

 {  l do recall a little later not being able to see out of my right eye - I had a  swollen black eye and  nose. }

            The next recollection was coming around strapped to a stretcher , with some others of the injured nearby.

We were in an area that I recognized was outside the Sickbay and Officers Mess in a relative large area .

By this time I realized we must have been hit really hard by some type of armament.

 I have no idea how much time had elapsed.

            When much to my concern I heard the whistle pipe and command ABANDON SHIP followed by a lot of commotion of much running of others to their appointed A/S stations.

            I recall saying to someone passing. For **** - please pull me to the open deck to give me a chance!

 He stopped and replied it is Ok. We are being called To A/S to establish a head count to verify if there is any one missing. I guess this must have set me at ease, because I again passed out. I was not aware that I had received a serious head fracture and concussion also.

            The rest of this day is a blur of brief moments ,the first was to recognize I was on the stretcher on the top of a motorboat. ( pictures verify that it was our ships cutter ) and we were being transferred to a flying boat, I was told later, to be taken to Mt.Joli QUE  Hospital. I have e few minutes recollection of the Canso landing on water.I am not aware of other awakenings until, what I think, was days later by a voice telling me to lie very still and not move they were going to give me an needle in my spine. I found out later this was a spinal tap to check for blood or fluid not normally present. I did ask  ” where am I “ and found it was Mt. Joli  Hospital. In emergency.

            This test was positive and I was transferred to the Montreal Neurological Institute Hospital

            I do vaguely recall being on another airplane and followed by a very bumpy ambulance ride to the Hospital.

 To eventually become aware that I was in a hospital bed.(Montreal Neurological Institute Hospital) I have tried hard to recall this period of time but I am not sure of the time line and days involved.

            It was during this time that they put a cast on my  right leg from hip to toe. I do remember my leg was in a splint prior to this and very swollen and painful.

                       I will comment the  irony of some of the days happenings when hit :- Oct. !4 1944

  1. If the “Cat Gear “ had been in the water and functioning properly, it would likely have detonated the torpedo
     

  2. If the call all for Ship Inspection had not been made a lot of personnel would have been in different areas.
    - l would not have gone at that point in time to the E.A. Workshop  but would have been in the mess deck or
     

  3. possibly in the EngineRoom at the Highpower Switch board which was normally my first daily check
     

  4.  L/seaman T. Davis would not likely have been at the aft gun overlooking the Quarterdeck doing his inspection
     of the quarter deck .    He was killed when standing at the aft 3” gun looking down at the quarter deck)
     the quarter deck folded and crashed down on the aft gun shearing off the side mounts and pinning Davis

     to the deck..
     

  5. There were Escort ships, The MAGOG happened to be in the wrong place . FATE
     

  6. Other torpedoes were used ,some missing , some failing to explode, If they had made contact with other ships
    or Escorts.  The damage and casualties would have been very high.

*   I am going to try to show in  S/Lt. Herb’ Montgomery;s report - by underlying in red  or copying his words that refer      to me,  Although I did not know him personally, at this time.  Other than he was an Officer- and he did not know me.by name.  Our paths through circumstances. were going to come together a few years later.  He was a Sales Rep. for a chemical  company and I was the contact person when I was employed at Geo. Cluthe Mfg.

             The  NEXT PART  is taken from S/Lt Herb Montgomrey’s  write up  of the time immediately after the Attack

 - -**I am going to try to try to show Herb”s  report by underlining in RED  and copying his words that refer to me, although II did not know him  at  the time only  that he was an Officer, and he did know me personally.

 ‘{ - the captain’s cabin and all the officers’ cabins on the top deck were immediately taken over as dressing stations and the wounded lads were taken to one of these cabins for attention. As we had no medical officer on board there was a rushed signal flashed to one of the frigates which carried the doctor for our escort group. Carrying on until the doctor arrived on board,  our ship’s sick bay attendant did a miraculous job of caring for the lads who had been hurt. Two lads had been working below the waterline aft when the torpedo hit were helped from the water at the end completely covered from head to toe with filthy black fuel oil. They were scarcely able to breathe or see because of this thick coating of oil. These men were rushed to one of the dressing stations for immediate attention.Two lads had been working below the waterline }

 

- aft  port side WORKSHOP  E.A.  H.J. ROBERTSON

Aft Starboard side WORKSIDE   E. R. A   ALFRED LAPSLEY

 

           the two cabins were both immediately  forward  of the portion of the ship that  was severed

(approx 65 feet ) by the torpedo that hit.

 


Please contribute to this website with information, links, pictures etc. email me at paul@hmcsmagog.com