Gordon Moore was a young 19-year-old kid when he took to the sea aboard the frigate HMCS Montreal.
As a first class stoker, his job was to keep the engines running, keep the boat moving. At all costs. Because if he failed at his job, odds were a German U-boat would have sunk his ship the first chance they got.
Gordon Moore is a 94-year-old resident of Crescent Park Retirement Villa who served in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve aboard the Montreal and HMCS Wentworth during the Second World War. Their duty was to escort supply ships across the Atlantic to the European theatre of war, dodging and defending against German submarines the whole way.
And on Monday afternoon, he told his story to the Moose Jaw Generals Midget AAA hockey team.
“We went for lunch together every Monday after my father passed away just to keep the family together, and now that he’s in a home, we take lunch to him every Monday,” said Generals assistant coach Kevin Moore, Gordon’s nephew. “We figured this would be a great chance for the kids to meet and speak with a veteran, so they came along this time.”
Moore regaled his 15- to 17-year-old audience with tales from his time on the ocean, with one harrowing moment sticking with the team more than others.
“One of his stories he told the boys, it’s 73 years later and he broke down crying, it was really emotional,” coach Moore said. “When you’re a 19-year-old kid and you see people jumping into the water to save themselves, it’s a pretty traumatic experience. I couldn’t imagine how horrible that must have been.”
Generals forward Zac Robins agreed.
“It was very eye-opening to hear about what it was like over there, especially when he was telling us the story about the boat blowing up,” he said. “It was crazy to think about what went on all those years ago… No one should have to go through that, especially someone that young, it’s just crazy.”
Casey McDonald felt much the same way, especially given how the annual celebration of those veterans, Remembrance Day, is set to take place on Saturday. Putting an actual true face to the stories from movies, books and school classes brought things all that much more closer to reality.
“It was pretty cool that we got to meet a guy who went through all that stuff, McDonald said. “Just to know about and hear some of the stories he told, it was pretty near to hear what they went through. It’s all stuff you just hear about, but coming from a guy that was there and was a part of it all, it’s pretty cool.”
Moore was lucky enough to get through the war without running directly into the death and destruction so many convoys faced from the U-boat packs. He was enroute to the Pacific theatre and in the Panama Canal when Japan capitulated, bringing and en to the conflict.
“I think it was good for them, especially because the generation gap, now they can put a face to the stories,” coach Moore said. “We all know what Remembrance Day is, but to meet a vet and actually here from him, see how things affect him all this time later, it’s quite an experience.”