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Donald McIntosh

V37067, Engine Room Articifer (ERA), HMCS Regina K234 - Returns to Pier 21

November is always a special month at Pier 21 full of visits from veteran’s and school programming on Second World War related topics but this year, the Year of Veteran, it was especially meaningful. Donald MacIntosh, a friend of the Pier 21 Society and story contributor was in town being filmed for an upcoming documentary on the WWII sinking of the ship he served in, HMCS Regina.

Don joined the Royal Canadian Navy in Winnipeg on May 15, 1942. He was 19 when he started training in Calgary and Esquimalt. Like so many he was sent to Halifax for deployment overseas and assigned to HMCS Regina K234, in Plymouth, England. Don was an Engine Room Artificer on board HMCS Regina (K234) which was assigned to Western Approaches English Channel) for D-Day activities. His ship was torpedoed August 8, 1944 in invasion waters by German submarine U667. There were 30 sailors lost and 60 survivors. The survivors were sent to the Canadian Navy Base HMCS Niobe at Greenock, Scotland.

On September 1, 1944 Don was one of 18 survivors from HMCS Regina who were healthy enough to returned to Canada. The servicemen were taken on board the Queen Mary at Greenock docks. Don explains that they waited on the Queen Mary for several days with no one telling the eager sailors when they would be setting off. Don clearly remembers hearing a flurry of activity on the deck at 5pm on September 5, 1944. He was standing at the ships rail when the reason for both the delay and the commotion became clear. He saw a number of people boarding the Queen Mary and instantly recognized British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. With Churchill and his staff safely onboard they sailed almost immediately. Don remembers that there was great fanfare with huge ocean liners, liberty freighters, and all manner boats dipping their flags and blowing their horns as the Queen Mary sailed from Greenock.

They arrived at Pier 21 four and a half days later on September 10, 1944.

In 1997 Don and his wife Sharleen visited the Queen Mary in all her floating hotel glory at Long Beach, California. They spent three days on the ship and had an A deck cabin, just as he had during the crossing in 1944. Luckily for us Don’s most recent sentimenta journey brought him back to Halifax to participate in the documentary film about the sinking of HMCS Regina. We were thrilled when he and his wife came straight from filming on the boardwalk in front of HMCS Sackville to Pier 21. Volunteer and fellow veteran, Allan S. Tanner welcomed Don back and Pier 21 board member and volunteer captain, Dot Duhan provided he and his wife with a private tour. All of us eagerly anticipate the couple’s next visit and hope that many of the Pier 21 alumni among our readers will find their way back to Pier 21.

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