Transcript: Defending Canada's Shores | Mar 18, 2019

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and purple tie.

A caption on screen reads "Defending Canada's shores. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says MORE THAN A MILLION
PEOPLE ENLISTED
IN THE CANADIAN ARMED FORCES
TO SERVE AND FIGHT
DURING WORLD WAR II.
BARELY 40,000 ARE LEFT TO TELL
US ABOUT THAT HORRIFIC CONFLICT
OR THE LIVES THEY
LIVED AFTER THE WAR.
LIAM DWYER WAS AN ENGINE ROOM
ARTIFICER PETTY OFFICER
IN THE ROYAL CANADIAN NAVY,
AND HE WAS STATIONED IN CANADA,
PROTECTING THE HOME FRONT
DURING WORLD WAR II.
AN ENGINEER BY TRAINING,
IN THE POST-WAR PERIOD,
HE WENT ON TO BE IN CHARGE
OF PRODUCTION CONTROL
FOR THE AVRO ARROW FIGHTER JET.
JUST DAYS AWAY FROM
HIS 96TH BIRTHDAY,
WE'RE PLEASED TO
WELCOME HIM TO OUR STUDIO
FOR MORE ON A LIFE WELL-LIVED.

Liam is in his nineties, clean-shaven, with short white hair. He's wearing a black suit with several military decorations and a yellow shirt.

Steve continues IT'S A GREAT PLEASURE
TO MEET YOU AND HAVE YOU HERE.

Liam says THANK YOU VERY
MUCH FOR HAVING ME, STEVE.

Steve says WE HAVE A LOT OF YEARS
TO COVER HERE, RIGHT?

Liam says A LOT OF YEARS TO COVER.

Steve says SO, LET'S... LET'S GO BACK.
I WANT TO GO BACK,
WELL, TO 1942 BECAUSE,
UNLIKE SOME OF US WHO GO TO
EXHIBITION PLACE
TO GET ON THE FERRIS WHEEL, YOU
WENT TO THE EXHIBITION GROUNDS
FOR A VERY DIFFERENT REASON.

The caption changes to "Liam Dwyer. Canadian World War 2 Veteran."
Then, it changes again to "Entering the fray."

Liam says WHY DID YOU GO?
WELL, I WAS WORKING
IN A WAR PLANT...
WE WERE AT SMALL ARMS
LIMITED IN NEW TORONTO...
AND WE WERE MAKING THE
LEE-ENFIELD RIFLE.
I WAS WORKING.
I HAD A LINE OF WOMEN.
THEY WERE FROM AGES FROM 18 TO
80 YEARS OF AGE,
AND IN THOSE DAYS
EVERYBODY WAS ON WAR WORK.
IN 1942, WE WERE LOSING THE WAR.

Steve says WE SHOULD EXPLAIN
FOR OUR YOUNGER VIEWERS.
THE WAR STARTED IN 1939, AND
YOU'RE RIGHT, HALFWAY THROUGH...
ENDS IN '45...
BUT BY '42, WE'RE IN TROUBLE.

Liam says WE WERE IN BIG TROUBLE
IN ITALY AND ALGERIA,
AND THEY HAD
TAKEN OVER FRANCE
AND GERMANY AND
HOLLAND AND BELGIUM,
AND THEY WERE STARVING
THE PEOPLE IN HOLLAND,
AND THE ENGLAND
WAS IN BIG TROUBLE.
AND THE WAR WORK WAS THE
THING TO DO IN CANADA.
IT WAS AN EFFORT.
IT WAS AMAZING HOW PEOPLE ON...
THE LINE THAT I RAN
ON MANUFACTURING
THE LEE-ENFIELD RIFLE,
WOMEN WERE FROM 18 YEARS
OF AGE TO 80 YEARS OF AGE.

Steve says BUT YOU WERE 19
AT THE TIME.

Liam says YEAH, I WAS GETTING
CLOSE TO BEING DRAFTED.
I DIDN'T WANT TO...
IT'S NOT THAT
I DIDN'T WANT TO SERVE.
I DIDN'T WANT
TO BE IN THE ARMY.
I HAD NEVER SEEN THE SEA,
BUT I HAD A HANKERING
TO GET TO THE SEA.

Steve says WELL, CAN WE SHOW
YOU A PICTURE?
YOU LOOK AT THAT.
WHERE'S THAT?
LOOK AT THE WALL
RIGHT OVER THERE.

A black and white picture appears in which a young man poses outside a door in a black Navy uniform.

Steve says THAT'S YOU IN YOUR NAVY UNIFORM,
LOOKING VERY SPIFFY,
I HAVE TO SAY.
SO, YOU WENT DOWN
TO THE EX TO ENLIST.
AND WHY DID YOU WANT TO SERVE
IN THE NAVY SPECIFICALLY?

Liam says IT WAS, WHEN I WAS IN HIGH
SCHOOL, YOU KNOW,
YOU GET WRAPPED UP
IN DIFFERENT BOOKS,
AND IT'D BECOME
A PASSION TO READ.
HORATIO HORNBLOWER WAS MY HERO.
BUT HE WAS, YOU KNOW,
SAILING IN THOSE DAYS.
AND TO LOOK AT THESE
BATTLESHIPS SAILING THE OCEAN,
YOU KNOW, WITH THOSE
MONSTROUS GUNS ON THEM,
AND THE HUGE STEEL VESSELS
TRAVELING AROUND THE WORLD,
IT GIVES YOU
THE EXCITEMENT, YOU KNOW,
THAT YOU WANT TO WANT
TO BE THERE.

Steve says WELL, THE TITLE THAT YOU HAD...
AND I HAVE TO CONFESS,
I'VE NEVER HEARD
OF THIS TITLE BEFORE...
YOU WERE AN ENGINE ROOM
ARTIS... ARTIFICER.

Liam says YEAH.

Steve says WHAT IS THAT?

Liam says ARTIFICER.
YOU HAVE TO KNOW ALL
THE SKILLS OF RUNNING A SHIP.
THERE ARE PUMPS AND HUGE,
HUGE STEAM ENGINES,
BOILERS, ALL KINDS OF THINGS.
YOU MAKE YOU HAVE TO MAKE
FRESHWATER AT SEA.

Steve says SO, YOU HAD TO KNOW THE
GUTS OF THE SHIP REALLY WELL.

Liam says I DON'T KNOW
EVERYTHING ON THE SHIP.
YOU HAD A... WE TOOK...
THE ENGINE ROOM ARTIFICER
TOOK THE FIGHTING
VESSEL TO THE AREA
THAT WAS REQUIRING THE ATTACK.
THE CAPTAIN OF THE SHIP
WOULD FORM HIS ATTACK PLAN,
AND WE HAD TO TAKE THE VESSEL...
IF HE WE HAD TO SPEED IT UP
TO THE POINT WHERE...
OR STOP ENGINES
OR PREPARE TO RAM A SHIP OR...
WE HAD TO GET TO GET THE VESSEL
UP TO A CERTAIN SPEED
BEFORE WE COULD
DROP DEPTH CHARGES
BECAUSE THE DEPTH CHARGES
WERE SUCH AS CONCUSSION,
THAT IT WOULD BLOW
OUR SHIP UP IN THE AIR, TOO.
SO, WE HAD TO GET IT UP
TO THE PROPER RPM, YOU KNOW.

Steve says SO YOU CAN DROP IT AND THEN
GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE.

Liam says AND GET THE HELL
OUT OF THE WAY, YOU KNOW.

Steve says GOT IT.

Liam says THERE WAS A...

Steve says NOW, LOOK AT THE WALL AGAIN
BECAUSE I WANT TO SHOW YOU
ANOTHER PICTURE HERE.

Liam says OH, YES.

In a black and white picture, dozens of Navy officers pose standing or sitting on the deck of a warship.

Steve says THIS IS THE HMCS SARNIA.
AND LET'S ZOOM IN, AND YOU'RE IN
THERE SOMEWHERE. THERE YOU ARE.

Liam says JUST ABOVE THAT GENTLEMAN THERE.

The image homes in on one of the young officers, who turns out to be Liam.

Steve says THERE YOU ARE.
THERE I AM, YEAH.

Steve says WOW.

Liam says YEAH.

Steve says THAT SHIP WAS
A MINESWEEPER.

Liam says YES, IT WAS.

Steve says AND YOU WERE STATIONED OFF
THE COAST OF HALIFAX
AND NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR.
YOU WERE ACTUALLY...
AS OPPOSED
TO GOING OVERSEAS,
YOUR JOB WAS
DEFEND CANADA, RIGHT?

Liam says YEAH. THE GERMANS...
THE GERMANS HAD
A VERY LARGE SUBMARINE
THAT THEY STORED MINES ON,
AND THEY SEEDED MINES
IN THE GRAND BANKS
JUST OFF NEWFOUNDLAND
AND HALIFAX.
THESE MINES WERE WHAT
THEY CALL A MAGNETIC MINE.
A VESSEL TRAVELING
THROUGH THE LINES OF FORCE
THAT SURROUND THE EARTH...
GO BACK TO YOUR CHEMISTRY,
WHERE YOU PUT A NEEDLE ON...
ON WATER,
AND IT GRADUALLY WENT
TO MAGNETIC NORTH.

STEVE SAYS YES.

The caption changes to "Aboard HMCS Sarnia."

Liam says THESE MINES WERE SET
THAT THE VESSEL,
THE STEEL VESSEL TRAVELING
THROUGH THE LINES OF FORCE
THAT SURROUND THE EARTH
BECAME GIANT MAGNETS.
THEY WOULD TRAVEL
ABOVE THE WATER,
THESE MINES WERE ANCHORED
TO THE BOTTOM
AND A CABLE UP...
THEY'D BE ABOUT NINE FEET
BELOW THE SURFACE.
THIS MAGNET OF A SHIP
WOULD COME OVER IT,
IT WOULD RELEASE, COME UP,
HIT THE MIDDLE OF THE SHIP
AND BLOW IT THE KINGDOM COME.
AND THE... IF YOU SEE...
THERE'S PICTURES
OF THE QUEEN MARY.
THEY HAD TO DEGAUSS...
MAGNETISM IS MEASURED DEGAUSSES.
I THINK THAT'S
THE RIGHT PRONUNCIATION.

Steve says I'M NOT GOING TO ARGUE WITH YOU
ON THIS, SO YOU'RE OKAY.

Liam says NO, NO.
WE'RE OKAY THERE, STEVE.
THEY HAVE A CABLE ALL
THE WAY AROUND THE SHIP
TO NEUTRALIZE THE SHIP.
AFTER A WHILE, THEY EMBEDDED
THAT CABLE IN THE SHIPS.
BUT THE GERMANS WERE SMART...
THEY HAD A MINE THAT THAT
THREE SHIPS WOULD GO OVER,
AND THE FOURTH SHIP,
THEY'D GET IT, YOU KNOW.

Steve says HUH.

Liam says AND ONE INCIDENT,
WE WERE SWEEPING
MINES OFF NEWFIE,
AND WE SLEPT...
WE SWEPT UP
ABOUT TWELVE OR FIFTEEN.
I CAN'T REMEMBER
THE EXACT COUNT.
BUT THEY SENT A GUY OVER FROM
BRITAIN, FROM THE ROYAL NAVY.
THEY THOUGHT THE GERMANS HAD
INVENTED A NEW MINE,
AND THEY ASKED US,
WE HAD TO SWEEP UP A MINE.
SO, WE BROUGHT UP
A MINE ABOARD, GINGERLY.
WE HAD MATTRESSES
ALL OVER THE QUARTERDECK.
BUT AS WE HEADED FOR
NEWFOUNDLAND
TO ST. JOHN,
THE SEA GOT ROUGH
AND THE CAPTAIN MUSTERED
EVERYBODY FORWARD OF THE BRIDGE,
ONLY LEFT THE PEOPLE WORK THAT
WERE NECESSARY FOR THE WATCH.
AND I WAS THE YOUNGEST
PETTY OFFICER ON BOARD,
SO THE CHIEF SAID, "LIAM,
"YOU, YOU GO DOWN
IN THE ENGINE ROOM
"AND I'LL GIVE YOU AN OILER,
"AND WE'LL PUT A STOKER IN
NUMBER ONE STOKEHOLD
AND ONE IN NUMBER TWO."
AND HE SAID, "IF ANYTHING
HAPPENS, LIAM,
I'LL MAKE SURE YOU GET
MENTIONED IN
DISPATCHES."

Steve says OH MY GOSH.

Liam says AND I THOUGHT...
AND I THOUGHT,
"EH, NOT TOO BAD, YOU KNOW?"

Steve says NOT TOO BAD? HE'S BASICALLY
SENDING YOU TO YOUR DEATH.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Liam says BUT THEN I GOT THINKING,
"I'M GONNA HAVE TO BE
GONE TO GLORY BEFORE..."

Steve says EXACTLY. EXACTLY.
WELL, SO, JUST TO
COMPLETE THE STORY,
THE MINE DID NOT
GO OFF ON THE SHIP.

Liam says NO, NO. WE BROUGHT
IT INTO PORT.

Steve says OKAY.

Liam says SO, IT WAS OKAY.
IT WAS STRANGE
HOW WE BROUGHT IT IN.

Steve says DID YOU EVER
HAVE A MINE GO OFF?

Liam says WHEN THEY CAME TO THE SURFACE.
WE DRAGGED A BUOY,
A BLADDER
WITH TWO ELECTRICAL
CONNECTIONS ON IT
AND HAD A
MAGNETIC FIELD IN-BETWEEN,
AND DRAG THIS OVER
THE SURFACE OF THE OCEAN,
AND IT WOULD TRIGGER
THE MINE TO COME UP,
AND WE WOULD
DESTROY IT WITH GUNFIRE.

Steve says GOTCHA.
NOW, HOW... AGAIN,
YOU'RE IN ATLANTIC CANADA.

Liam says YES.

Steve says HOW CLOSE, TO YOUR KNOWLEDGE,
DID ANY OF THE AXIS POWERS...
SO GERMANY, ITALY, JAPAN...
HOW CLOSE DID ANYBODY
GET TO CANADIAN SHORES?

Liam says WELL, I KNOW...
I HAVE A GOOD FRIEND,
WERNER HIRSCHMAN,
HE WAS IN THE GERMAN NAVY
AND HE WAS A ENGINEERING OFFICER
IN THE GERMAN NAVY,
AND HE SWEARS THAT NO GERMAN...
NO VESSEL LANDED ON
CANADIAN SHORES.

Steve says OR GOT CLOSE?

Liam says OH, THEY CAME CLOSE.
THEY CAME VERY CLOSE,
UP THE ST. LAWRENCE.

Steve says DID YOU EVER SEE ANY?

Liam says NO, I NEVER SAW.
I NEVER SAW...
I NEVER SAW A, UH...
AFTER THE WAR, I SAW.

Steve says YEAH.

Liam says NOT DURING THE WAR, NO.

Steve says BUT DURING THE WAR,
THEY HAD GERMAN U-BOATS
COME UP THROUGH
THE ST. LAWRENCE RIVER?

Liam says OH, HELL, THEY KNOCKED OFF
THREE OR FOUR SHIPS
RIGHT OFF QUEBEC CITY
AND... AND THE GASPÉ.
IN FACT, THEY LANDED A GUY THERE
OFF ONE OF THESE SHIPS,
BUT HE HAD OUT-OF-DATE
TWO DOLLAR BILLS.
THIS IS THE ONLY WAY
THEY CAUGHT HIM.

Steve says HUH.
OKAY, I'M GONNA SHOW
YOU ANOTHER PICTURE, OKAY?

LIAM SAYS OKAY.

Steve says LET'S LOOK AT THE WALL AGAIN.
THIS IS THE HMCS ESQUIMALT.

A black and white picture shows a battleship travelling in the ocean.

LIAM SAYS THAT'S RIGHT, YES.

Steve says WHAT HAPPENED TO IT ON APRIL
16TH 1945, EARLY IN THE MORNING?

Liam says OKAY, THIS IS
6:30 IN THE MORNING.

Steve says OKAY.

Liam says WE'RE TO MEET AT
THE MOUTH OF THE HARBOUR.
THERE'S A CONVOY COMING OUT
AND WE HAVE TO
SWEEP FOR THE CONVOY.
SWEEPING MEANS THAT WE'D DO AN
ANTI-SUBMARINE DETECTION,
SWEEPING AHEAD OF THE CONVOY.

The caption changes to "Ship sunk!"

Steve says AND YOU SAY AT THE HARBOUR?
THIS IS HALIFAX HARBOUR?

Liam says THIS IS HALIFAX HARBOUR.
THEY ASSEMBLED THE CONVOYS
IN BEDFORD BASIN...
THE BIGGEST BASIN IN THE WORLD.
WE WERE TO MEET
THE ESQUIMALT THERE
AT EIGHT O'CLOCK
IN THE MORNING.
IT DIDN'T SHOW,
AND OUR CAPTAIN
GOT ANTSY ABOUT IT,
AND HE TOLD THE CAPTAIN ASHORE
THAT HE WAS GOING TO
LOOK FOR THE ESQUIMALT,
AND HE CALLED IN ANOTHER
SHIP TO TAKE OUR POSITION,
AND WE STARTED TO
LOOK FOR THE ESQUIMALT.
AND AT ABOUT 9:30 IN THE
MORNING,
WE PICKED UP A SUB, AND WE
DROPPED SEVEN DEPTH CHARGES,
AND WE LOST IT.

Steve says "WE LOST IT."
MEANING YOU GOT HIM
OR HE TOOK OFF?

Liam says NO, HE AVOIDED US.

Steve says GOT IT.

Liam says WE CONTINUED TO LOOK FOR HIM,
AT THE SAME TIME,
LOOKING FOR ESQUIMALT.
AND THEN, WE WERE
GETTING MORE ANXIOUS.
OUR LOOKOUT SAW
WHAT WE THOUGHT WAS THE
CONNING TOWER OF A SUB,
AND THE CAPTAIN
CALLED FOR RAMMING.
WHEN THEY GOT CLOSER, THEY
REALIZED IT WAS CARLEY FLOATS
AND THERE WERE SURVIVORS
IN THE CARLEY FLOATS.

Steve says SO, THIS WAS THE WRECKAGE
OF THE ESQUIMALT.

Liam says YEAH. IT WAS TORPEDOED
AT 8:30 IN THE MORNING.
STEVE, I'D LIKE YOU TO IMAGINE A
ROOM, ABOUT 20 BY 20,
WITH MAYBE 15 OR 20 MEN IN IT,
IN THEIR HAMMOCKS,
AT 6:30 IN THE MORNING.
THEY'RE GETTING READY TO GET UP
AND HAVE BREAKFAST
AND GO ON WATCH.
THE TORPEDO SLAMS INTO
THE STARBOARD STERN OF THE SHIP.
THE SHIP LISTS TO STARBOARD.
THE LIGHTS GO OUT.
IT'S PERFECTLY BLACK IN THERE.
EVERYBODY IS COMING
OUT OF THEIR HAMMOCKS,
TRYING TO GET UP A GANGWAY
THAT'S DID FOUR FEET WIDE.
THE SHIP IS
LISTENING AND GOING DOWN,
TURNING ON ITS SIDE.
TRYING TO CLIMB UP A LADDER
THAT'S ON ITS SIDE.
THE SHIP WENT DOWN
IN FOUR MINUTES.

Steve says ITS SANK IN FOUR MINUTES.

Liam says YEAH.

Steve says THAT HUGE SHIP.

Liam says TOOK 44 MEN WITH IT.

Steve says 44 OUT OF 74 ABOARD.

Liam says YEAH.

Steve says MORE THAN HALF.

Liam says YEAH.

Steve says BUT YOU RESCUED SOME, RIGHT?

Liam says WELL, SOME GOT OUT.

Steve says THERE'S A PICTURE,
INCIDENTALLY, MR. DWYER,
OF SOME OF THE...
SOME OF THE FOLKS YOU RESCUED.

In a black and white picture, several young navy officers carry a wounded man on a stretcher.

Liam says YEAH, WE'RE TAKING THEM
OFF THE SHIP THERE.

STEVE SAYS YEP.

LIAM SAYS YOU NOTICE THE...
SEE THE GUY WITH
THE BEARD ON THE LEFT THERE?

STEVE SAYS OKAY.

Liam says HE'S THE ONLY
MEDICAL MAN ON OUR SHIP.

Steve says NOW, WHAT KIND OF CONDITION
WERE THESE MEN IN, HAVING BEEN...

Liam says THEY WERE TERRIBLE.

Steve says WELL, I WAS GONNA SAY, I MEAN,
STUCK FLOATING IN THE WATER
FOR HOURS, YOU KNOW, WAITING.

Liam says THE WATER WAS 38 DEGREES.
AND THE...
THESE CARLEY FLOATS ARE A BIG
DOUGHNUT, YOU KNOW,
AND THEY'LL SEAT
MAYBE 12-15 PEOPLE.
BUT THAT THE ROLL OF THE SEA,
THESE MEN WERE LOSING
THEIR STRENGTH
AND THEY'D... AS THE SEA ROLLED,
THEY WOULD FALL
INTO THE WATER AND PASS OUT.
AND THERE WASN'T ENOUGH ROOM
IN THE FLOATS FOR THESE GUYS.
AND THEY WERE ROPES
AROUND THE CARLEY FLOAT
AND THE GUYS
WOULD HANG ON TO THAT.
BUT THE HYPOTHERMIA
WOULD TAKE OVER,
AND HYPOTHERMIA IS A THING
THAT IT PUTS YOU
TO SLEEP, YOU KNOW.

Steve says I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT
MAY 8TH, 1945... V.E. DAY?
DO YOU REMEMBER WHERE YOU WERE?

Liam says I WAS AT SEA.

Steve says YOU WERE AT SEA.

Liam says YEAH.

Steve says HOW DID YOU GET THE NEWS?

The caption changes to "When the guns fell silent."

Liam says THERE WAS A RUMOUR
A WEEK BEFORE.
PEOPLE WENT NUTS.
THEY THOUGHT THE WAR
WAS OVER AND IT WASN'T.
AND AT 8:30 IN THE MORNING,
THE SIGNAL CAME DOWN
THAT EISENHOWER
WAS SIGNING THE DECLARATION.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live."

Steve says THE SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER
DWIGHT EISENHOWER.

Liam says AND THE CAPTAIN SAID,
"SPLICE THE MAINBRACE,"
WHICH GAVE US A
DOUBLE RATION OF RUM.
AND IT WAS STRANGE,
YOU WOULD THINK THAT WE'D BE
DANCING AROUND,
HUGGING EACH OTHER.
BUT, YOU KNOW,
THERE'S 16 MEN IN OUR MESS,
CHIEFS AND PETTY OFFICERS,
AND WE JUST SAT THERE
AND TALKED, YOU KNOW.
AND SOME BRAGGED ABOUT GOING
HOME AND,
"MY UNCLE HAS A BIG BUSINESS,
HE'S GONNA GIVE ME A JOB,"
AND "I'M GONNA WRITE A BOOK,"
AND, YOU KNOW, ALL OF THIS.
BUT DID SOME PEOPLE
JUST SAT THERE AND THANKED GOD.

Steve says HOW LONG BEFORE YOU
GOT BACK TO SHORE
AND BECAME A CIVILIAN?

Liam says WE WERE FIVE DAYS
THEY LEFT US OUT THERE.

Steve says FOR ANOTHER FIVE DAYS.

Liam says BUT BECAUSE THE RIOTS
CAME IN HALIFAX.
THE HEAD PEOPLE IN
THE ARMED SERVICES IN HALIFAX
MADE THE STUPIDEST
MOVE EVER BY SAYING,
"SHUT EVERYTHING DOWN."
HALIFAX HAD SEEN MORE OF THE WAR
THAN ANY CITY IN CANADA...
YOU KNOW, THE PEOPLE
GOING OVERSEAS,
AND NOW THEY'RE
COMING BACK, THE WOUNDED...
AND THEY WANTED TO CELEBRATE,
AND THEY CLOSED THE LIQUOR
STORE, THEY CLOSED EVERYTHING.

STEVE SAYS SO, PEOPLE RIOTED.

Liam says AND ONE LIQUOR
STORE GOT BROKEN INTO
AND THAT SET OFF
A GRASS FIRE THAT JUST...
IT WAS A CONFLAGRATION.

Steve says NOW, I DO RECALL YOU
SAYING A FEW MINUTES AGO
ABOUT A MAN WITH
A CHEST FULL OF MEDALS,
AND I CAN'T HELP BUT NOTICE
YOU'RE A MAN WITH
A CHEST FULL OF MEDALS, TOO.
YOU WANT TO TAKE
US THROUGH THOSE?
CAN YOU TELL US
WHAT THOSE ARE FOR?

A close-up shows the decorations on Liam's coat.

He holds up a golden six-pointed star and says
THIS MEDAL IS...
THE NORTH ATLANTIC STAR...
THIS IS NINETY DAYS IN THE
NORTH ATLANTIC IN THE WAR ZONE.

He holds up another, similar, golden six-pointed star and says
THE SECOND ONE IS
ONE YEAR AT SEA IN A WAR ZONE.

He holds a round golden medal and says
THE THIRD IS
THE VOLUNTEER MEDAL,
AND IF YOU SEE THE BAR HERE,
THAT INDICATES
THAT I VOLUNTEERED,
RATHER THAN DRAFTED.

Steve says THE BAR ON YOUR RIBBON.

Liam says YEAH, THE BAR ON THE RIBBON.

Steve says I SEE, OKAY.

Liam holds up the last decoration, another golden medal, and says
AND THE THIRD ONE
IS THE VICTORY MEDAL.

Steve says WHEN YOU LOOK AT THOSE MEDALS,
HOW PROUD ARE YOU?

Liam says WELL...
WHAT IS THERE TO BE PROUD OF?

Steve says YOU SURVIVED THE WAR, SIR.
THAT'S PLENTY TO BE PROUD OF.
THINK HOW MANY DIDN'T.

Liam says THINK OF THE MEN...
YOU KNOW, I LOST MY
BROTHER-IN-LAW
AT 19 YEARS OF AGE, AND HE WAS
IN THE ROYAL REGIMENT.
HE WAS... HE'S BURIED OVER IN
HOLTEN CEMETERY.
AND I LOST A LOT OF MY FRIENDS
THAT I WENT TO
HIGH SCHOOL WITH, YOU KNOW,
THEY... PLAYED HOCKEY WITH,
YOU KNOW, GUYS YOU REMEMBER.
I LIVED IN KIRKLAND LAKE
AND THE REGIMENT UP THERE WAS
THE ALGONQUIN REGIMENT,
AND IT TOOK
A BEATING IN HOLLAND,
AND A LOT OF MY FRIENDS
WERE LOST THERE.
ONE OF MY BEST FRIENDS,
HE WAS A TAIL GUNNER
AND HE ONLY LASTED
20 MINUTES OVER TARGET, YOU KNOW?

Steve says I MEAN,
THEY CALL YOUR GENERATION
THE GREATEST GENERATION
FOR A REASON.
I THINK NO ONE
CAN IMAGINE TODAY
18 YEAR OLD,
19 YEAR OLD,
20 YEAR OLD KIDS
JUST DROPPING SCHOOL
AND PUTTING ON A UNIFORM
AND GOING OFF TO FIGHT,
GOING OFF TO WAR.

Liam says AND FLYING AIRCRAFT.

STEVE SAYS RIGHT.

Liam says AND NAVIGATING. THEY TOOK
CHARGE OF SHIPS, YOU KNOW.
SOME OF THESE PEOPLE WERE FROM
WEST... BY GOD...
SASKATCHEWAN, YOU KNOW?
NEVER SEEN THE SEA,
AND THEY WERE
WONDERFUL PEOPLE.
TAKE D-DAY,
THERE WERE 10,000
CANADIAN SAILORS ON D-DAY. 10,000!

Steve says YEP.

Liam says VERY FEW PEOPLE
THINK OF THAT, YOU KNOW?

Steve says CAN I TAKE YOU TO THE NEXT
CHAPTER OF YOUR LIFE?

LIAM SAYS CERTAINLY.

Steve says BECAUSE THERE'S LOTS
OF PEOPLE WATCHING THIS
WHO ARE GOING TO
REMEMBER THE AVRO COMPANY,
WHICH MADE THE AVRO ARROW,
WHICH WAS THE BEST PLANE
IN THE WORLD OF ITS KIND.

LIAM SAYS YEAH.

Steve says AND THEN, I THINK, IT'S IN
FEBRUARY OF 1959...

A black and white picture shows workers assembling a jet plane inside a huge hangar.

Liam says YEAH, BLACK FRIDAY.

Steve says BLACK FRIDAY, YOU CALL IT.
THERE'S THE PICTURE.
THEY MADE 'EM IN MALTON, WHICH,
I GUESS, IS THE TOWN OF MALTON,
WHICH IS IN MISSISSAUGA TODAY.

LIAM SAYS YES.

Steve says AND YOU MADE THESE THINGS.

LIAM SAYS YEAH.

Steve says WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO BE
AT THE CENTRE
OF SUCH AN HISTORIC PROJECT
AS THE AVRO ARROW?

Liam says IT'S HARD TO EXPLAIN,
BUT ALONG CAME
A GROUP OF ENGINEERS
WHO HAD A VISION
THAT THEY COULD DESIGN
AND BUILD AN AIRCRAFT
THAT COULD FLY AT LEVEL FLIGHT
AT TWICE THE SPEED OF SOUND...
1,600 MILES AN HOUR.
WHO COULD BELIEVE THAT?
AT THAT TIME,
NATO WAS VERY STRONG
AND EVERYBODY WAS NERVOUS.
THEY WERE TALKING
ABOUT MISSILES
AND WHAT HAVE YOU.
WE HAD A FIGHTER THAT
COULD BE TAKEN OVER BY NATO
AND BE ONE OF THE
BEST IN THE BUSINESS.
NOBODY COULD BELIEVE THAT.
AND I BELIEVE
THAT PEOPLE IN OTTAWA
WHO HAD THE RESPONSIBILITY
OF MAKING THE DECISION TO
CONTINUE TO MAKE THE ARROW
AND THE IROQUOIS ENGINE,
THEY WERE...
THEY COULDN'T CONCEIVE
THAT THEY COULD DO THAT,
AND WE DID IT.

Steve says AND I WANT TO ASK YOU,
TO THIS DAY...
SO WE'RE NOW, WHAT IS THAT?
SIXTY YEARS LATER,
HOW MAD ARE YOU STILL
AT PRIME MINISTER DIEFENBAKER
FOR CANCELLING THE ARROW?

Liam says WELL, I'M NOT
SO MAD AT DIEFENBAKER,
AS I'M MAD AT THE PEOPLE
WHO ADVISED DIEFENBAKER.
DIEFENBAKER PUT HIS NAME
ON THE BOTTOM OF THE SHEET
THAT SAID CANCEL.
HE WAS A LAWYER
FROM THE MIDWEST.
HE WASN'T AN AIRCRAFT MAN.
THERE WERE PEOPLE
WHO ADVISED HIM.

Steve says SO, YOU'RE MAD AT THEM.

Liam says POOR OLD DIEF TOOK THE...

Steve says HE TOOK THE HEAT FOR IT.

Liam says HE TOOK THE HEAT.

Steve says YEAH. NOW, AFTER THE
DECISION WAS MADE
TO CANCEL THE ARROW, THEY
DESTROYED EVERYTHING, RIGHT?
THEY DESTROYED THE PLANES, THEY
DESTROYED EVEN THE BLUEPRINTS.

Liam says I WITNESSED THEM CHOPPING UP
THE ARROW, THE FIVE ARROWS.
THEY HAD A PIECE OF STEEL
THE SIZE OF
THIS TABLE SHARPENED UP.
ON ONE END, THEY'D
HOLD IT UP IN THE END,
THEY'D DROP IT LIKE A GUILLOTINE
AND CUT IT IN PIECES.
THEY LOADED IT OUT OF TRUCKS
AND POLICE ESCORT TOOK IT
TO HAMILTON, TO THE SCRAPYARD.

Steve says DID IT JUST GET YOU
RIGHT HERE TO WATCH THAT?

Liam says YEAH. OH, YEAH.
IT WAS SICKENING.
IT WAS SICKENING.
AND I WAS IN THE ENGINE PLANT,
AND WE HELD THE ENGINE
FOR ABOUT TWO MONTHS.
SOME PEOPLE WERE
INTERESTED IN THE ENGINE.
WE WERE USING TITANIUM THAT
HAD NEVER BEEN USED BEFORE.
AND FINALLY,
THEY SAID THAT
THE IROQUOIS WAS CANCELLED.
I TOOK 40 TRUCKLOADS OF DRAWINGS
AND SPECIFICATIONS
AND BURNT THEM.
40 TRUCKLOADS.

Steve says I WANT TO TAKE YOU TO
ANOTHER FASCINATING CHAPTER
OF YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW...
AND AGAIN, LET'S LOOK AT THE
MONITOR WALL OVER THERE...
BECAUSE IT WAS ALMOST
A QUARTER CENTURY AGO
THAT SURVIVORS FROM THE ESQUIMALT
AND YOU AND YOUR SARNIA
CREW MET FOR A REUNION.

A colour picture shows a younger Liam and seven other men posing in decorated Navy uniforms.

Steve says AND WHAT IS PARTICULARLY
ASTONISHING ABOUT THIS PICTURE
IS THAT THE GUY WHO WAS THE
SECOND FROM THE RIGHT...
YOU'VE MENTIONED HIM ALREADY
IN OUR CONVERSATION ONCE...
HIS NAME IS WERNER HIRSCHMAN.

LIAM SAYS YEAH.

Steve says HOW DO YOU KNOW HIM?

The caption changes to "At the end of the day..."

Liam says WELL, I PUT AN AD
IN THE LEGION MAGAZINE
AT A NAVY REUNION,
SURVIVORS OF THE ESQUIMALT
TO MEET IN BRADFORD.
AND I GOT A PHONE
CALL FROM A GENTLEMAN...
A VERY RICH GERMAN ACCENT...
AND HE INTRODUCED HIMSELF,
AND HE SAID,
"CAN I COME TO THE REUNION?"
AND I KEPT TALKING TO HIM,
AND HE SAID,
"I HAVE JUST COME BACK FROM A
REUNION OF THE SURVIVORS
"OF THE ESQUIMALT IN VICTORIA,
"AND THEY MADE ME AN ASSOCIATE
MEMBER OF THE SURVIVORS."
AND HE SAID, "I WAS A
ENGINEERING OFFICER
"ON THE U-190
THAT SANK THEIR SHIP."

Steve says I GOT TO SEE
THAT PICTURE AGAIN.
SHELDON, BRING
THAT PICTURE UP AGAIN.
YOU ARE STANDING THERE,
SECOND ON THE RIGHT.
THAT MAN HELP KILL
YOUR FELLOW CANADIAN OFFICERS.

A close-up to the picture shows the German veteran.

LIAM SAYS YEAH.

Steve says AND THERE HE IS
AT THE REUNION IN 1995.
DID YOU HAVE ANY
ILL-WILL TOWARDS HIM
WHEN YOU FIRST MET HIM?

LIAM SAYS NO.

STEVE SAYS NO? WHY NOT?

Liam says WELL, I THINK...
I DON'T THINK
YOU CAN EXPLAIN THAT
I THINK IT'S DIFFICULT.
TODAY, I'M OUT TO GET YOU.
SOMEBODY SAYS,
"WELL, DON'T GET HIM ANYMORE."
OH, WHAT AM I GONNA DO?
I'M GONNA SHAKE HANDS WITH YOU.
AND, UH...
THIS IS WHAT WERNER DID,
HE JUST CAME
AND HE BROUGHT ALL HIS BOOKS
FROM HIS TRAINING IN GERMANY
AND WE WENT OVER THEM WITH THEM,
AND HE... THIS IS 50 YEARS LATER.

STEVE SAYS SURE.

Liam says IT'S HARD TO REMEMBER WHAT THE
HELL HAPPENED 50 YEARS AGO.

Steve says WELL, HOW DID
EVERYBODY TREAT HIM?

Liam says WITH RESPECT AND HE
TREATED US WITH...
AND HE WAS VERY,
VERY FRIENDLY VERY FRIENDLY.

Steve says SO, THE SENSE...

Liam says BY THE WAY, HE CAME TO CANADA.
HE WAS A PRISONER OF WAR IN
GRAVENHURST FOR A YEAR,
AND HE WENT BACK TO GERMANY,
HE GOT HIS ENGINEERING DEGREE.
HE CAME BACK TO CANADA IN '52,
BECAME A CANADIAN CITIZEN,
TAUGHT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO,
MEMBER OF THE RCYC.
HE DESIGNED THE FIRST PROGRAM
THAT OPERATED THE
RED LIGHTS IN TORONTO.
SO, HE IT WAS
A GREAT CONTRIBUTOR.
HE BECAME A PART OF CANADA.
AND HE LOVED TO SAIL.
HIS HOME WAS ON THE ISLAND,
YOU KNOW, THE RCYC.

Steve says MR. DWYER, I'M GONNA ASK
YOU ONE MORE QUESTION,
BECAUSE AS WE SIT HERE TALKING,
YOU ARE JUST DAYS
AWAY FROM TURNING 96.

Liam says YES.

Steve says THAT'S A PRETTY GOOD AGE
THAT NOT VERY MANY
PEOPLE GET TO.
SO, IT FEELS LIKE
I SHOULD BE ASKING YOU FOR SOME
SECRETS TO LIVING A GOOD LIFE.
WHAT CAN YOU... WHAT WISDOM
CAN YOU SHARE WITH US?

Liam says HMM. THAT WOULD BE
A DIFFICULT THING TO SAY.
I WOULD CERTAINLY
NOT RECOMMEND MY LIFE.
I DIDN'T...
I DIDN'T MAKE...
I DIDN'T THINK I'D MAKE 22.

(CHUCKLING)

Steve says AND HERE YOU ARE.

Liam says I JUST STUMBLED ALONG.
I'M ONE OF EIGHT.
I'M THE LAST ONE OF EIGHT.
MY FATHER DIED AT 90.
MY MOTHER DIED EARLY.
BUT I GUESS ITS GENES,
IT'S LIFE.
AND I WAS MARRIED
TO THE SAME WOMAN...

His voice breaks and he says
EXCUSE ME... FOR 74 YEARS.

Steve says MY GOODNESS.
WHEN DID YOU LOSE HER?

Liam says A YEAR AGO.

Steve says OH, I'M SORRY.
74 YEARS MARRIED.

Liam says YEAH.

Steve says YOU KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE
IN THIS WORLD CAN SAY THAT?
NOT VERY MANY.
HMM. SOUNDS LIKE YOU'VE
HAD A WONDERFUL LIFE, THOUGH.

Liam says I'VE HAD SOME WONDERFUL
PEOPLE AROUND ME,
AND I'VE BEEN...
YOU KNOW, ANYONE WHEN THEY WOULD
PUT UP WITH ME FOR 74 YEARS
MUST HAVE A WONDERFUL
PLACE IN HEAVEN.

(LAUGHING)

Steve says AMEN TO THAT.

Liam says AMEN TO THAT.

The caption changes to "Producer: Harrison Lowman, @harrisonlowman."

Steve says YOU KNOW, IT'S A GREAT
PLEASURE TO MEET YOU,
AND I'M SO GLAD YOU COULD
SPARE SOME TIME FOR US
AND TAKE US THROUGH
SUCH DRAMATIC MOMENTS
IN YOUR LIFE.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Liam says THANK YOU, STEVE.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Steve says IT'S A GREAT
PLEASURE TO MEET YOU.
THAT'S LIAM DWYER... FORMER
ENGINE-ROOM ARTIFICER
PETTY OFFICER
IN THE ROYAL CANADIAN NAVY.
THANKS SO MUCH, MR. DWYER.
GREAT TO MEET YOU.

Liam says THANK YOU, STEVE.

Watch: Defending Canada's Shores