BILGAR MORGAN RCNVR

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MORGAN BILGER: ROYAL CANADIAN NAVY

                                        VOLUNTEER RESERVE 1943-45

Edwin Morgan Bilger was born March 13, 1925 on a tobacco farm in

Lynedoch, Ontario.  He had two brothers and went to Delhi D.H.S.,

but as he admitted, he was an indifferent student and left school to

enlist in the Canadian Navy on August 24, 1943 at the age of 18.

He signed on at HMCS Starr in Hamilton and took his basic training

at HMCS Montcalm at the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City, where

they were billeted at a millionaires club with an indoor swimming pool

although most of young volunteers couldn't swim. He was trained as

an ASDIC (Sonar) operator at HMCS Cornwallis in Halifax and joined

 

HMCS Noranda, a Bangor Class Minesweeper, with no mine-sweeping

gear, only ASDIC in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. The Noranda was first

assigned to the Halifax Force, a local escort force. IIn February 1943

she was assigned to the Western Local Escort Force, escorting convoys

along the coast of North America.  Morgan recounted that the Noranda

escorted ships from Halifax, New York and Boston to Sidney, Nova Scotia

and St. John's Newfoundland and out to the Ocean Meeting Place where

bigger and faster convoys were assembled and larger naval ships took

over to take the convoys to Britain.

 

By his own account, he could not handle the tossing and pitching of the

ship in rough seas and was often seasick, especially when working in the

tight confines of the ASDIC room. To prevent "accidents" he carried a

bucket around with him while on duty inside, earning the nickname

"Buckets", which was given him by the Captain.  He fared better outside,

standing watch.  As an able seaman and a sonar operator he received a

pay of $3.50 a day including his duties as a submarine detector.  As a

non-smoker, he supplemented his income by selling cigarettes that he

received from the Town of Delhi and Imperial Tobacco Company to

longshoremen in various ports.

 

They were also assigned to escort the ferry from Sidney N.S. to Port

aux Basques Nfld. which the Captain did not consider a worthwhile

assignment. However, this was necessary as the ferry Caribou had

been torpedoed by a U-Boat while on that run on October 14, 1942,

with a loss of 137 lives. The crew of the Noranda came from all across

Canada, from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, and even Newfoundland;

Morgan still has two sheets of paper with all the signatures and home

towns of all his shipmates.

 

Morgan was de-mobilized in November 1945 and returned to Lynedoch,

married in 1947 and ran a tobacco farm for three years. He then bought

a hardware store in Norwich from his uncle, W.W.W. Morgan who had

owned it for forty years and ran it successfully until he sold it and entered

the Insurance Business.  He was an adjustor for several years and he

climbed the ladder to Manager, C.E.O of the Company and a member of

the Board of Directors for 35 years in total until his retirement.

 noranda 2

SMALL-noranda-crew

The Noranda was launched in 1941 and escorted convoys for the

rest of the war. After the war she was refitted and was transferred

to the RCMP as the patrol vessel Irvine. In 1962 she was sold and

turned into the yacht Miriana.  Renamed Marijana and thenViking LR

in 1969, she sank off the coast of Jamaica in a storm.