Jack Fortnum

Jack Fortnum

Amica at Swan Lake

Royal Canadian Navy – Served 3 years

Jack spent his wartime years serving in the Royal Canadian Navy as a Stoker Petty Officer and Petty Officer Mechanic. After completing his training in Toronto, London, Ontario and Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, Jack was stationed in Newfoundland.

His job was to keep the ships sailing through the difficult years of the war. As Petty Officer Mechanic, he worked on ship maintenance in the engine room with the Engineers. They oiled the engine, did general repair work and did carpentry work with the mast and other areas of the boats. As a Stoker Petty Officer, Jack performed convoy duties, bringing up ships and tug boats for repair work in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Jack and his fellow sailors needed a lot of courage, as many of the convoys were attacked by submarines. Part of his duties involved completing search missions to pick up survivors of these attacks.

When they travelled the American coastal waters it was very risky, especially when they had lights on, making it unsafe for them to travel without the possibility of a submarine attack. Eventually the Americans instituted shore-side black outs of city lights, minimizing the outdoor light to help protect ships from being seen against the shore and attacked by enemy submarines farther out at sea and hidden from view.

Jack really enjoyed his 3 years in the Navy and he made many friends. He worked hard, received excellent training and gained a lot of general life experience which still serves him today. When Jack first enlisted, he was a young boy, but came home in 1946 as a man. Life in the Navy was very disciplined, so after completing his service he remembered feeling life seemed so free and easy.

When Jack reflects back, he feels that his best accomplishment really happened post war. He received the award from the Lieutenant Governor for The Volunteer of the Year Award for organizing a Remembrance Day Special Event at the Metropolitan Toronto Zoo that attracted over 150 people.