Previous Article Next Article FNPI Search Home Previous Year Next Year Year List


Submarine Warfare

Told By Adam Cuthand, Transcribed By Vivienne Beisel-Mckay

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 1991      v20 n05 p06  
My grandfather, Mistatimos, became a war chief at Cutknife Hill.

For his part in the rebellion at Cutknife Hill he was sentenced to spend five years in Stoney Mountain Penitentiary. When I joined the Army, my father wondered why I joined to fight for other Canadians when my grandfather fought against it...

I had gone through grade twelve and four years of University training as a theological student.

I went through my basic training and after basic training I was approached by an officer if I would be interested in a new program called electrical fire control...I said I'd give it a try. I discovered later that I was studying radio and electronics and going in for radar. We had to study very hard for a year. When I finished the course I was sent to Labrador as a radar technician in charge of radar sets and I had eighteen men under me who I trained as operators. I was there two years.

In the mean time we discovered we were not required to go to Great Britain. The English had their operators,trainers, and technicians.

Many of our people went to Australia, Dakar, New Guinea, to take radar sets with them to use as early warning for Japanese airplanes coming over to Northern Australia.

But I later discovered I was needed in Halifax because then we were very much involved with anti-submarine warfare.

In 1941 and 1942 shipping was closed in St. Lawrence River because it was hemmed in by German submarines.

Just off the coast of Anticosti Island there were 200 merchant ships that were sunk.

And therefore, when I went to Halifax, we also discovered that there were submarines within 5 miles of the harbour just waiting.

And I remember, Christmas Eve, 1944, 200 ships went on a convoy to Great Britain and the first five were sunk by German submarines, just outside the harbour.

And therefore, I got involved with the Air Force and the Navy. I was in the Army then. The three of us worked together to try to do something about the submarines.

My operators did the work at night to watch out for the submarines and the navy took over in the daytime. But in spite of that we had many losses of ships that were sunk.

When the war ended, there were 300 German submarines across the northern part of the Atlantic near Canada and the U.S. They were asked to turn in, to give up.

Only one German submarine came into Halifax. I went on board that submarine and discovered there was rubber coating and when you rubber coat anything there is no reflection. In order to get a reflection of a radar beam it has to be metal. But rubber doesn't reflect any signals and therefore they were quite free to be outside of Halifax.

The Germans even used to boast that they used to come ashore and walk around Halifax and no one noticed them.

It was a serious thing. This is very top secret.

In the war, you become brothers, the war forces you. you're not looked at as Indian or white - you are Canadian.

We need educated people now because we're in a bad situation if we're going to have Indian government within ten years. We've got to have people who are knowledgeable - we've got to have University graduates.

We cannot have the blind leading the blind.

Adam Cuthand
Adam Cuthand