Red Tape and Torpedo Nets

Celia LeDrew nee Shaw

During World War II shortly after VE day the Canadian Navy dumped tons of torpedo netting into Louisbourg Harbor. Torpedo netting was made of hawser steel wire and each link about twenty inches in diameter, which made a mesh buoyed at the waters surface and dropped to the bottom of the harbour to prevent torpedoes from entering past the torpedoes gate. The loaded merchant steamers were remaining at anchor to wait for convoys and orders.

WE lived in old frame house handed down from our grandmother on Commercial Street right by the government Wharf. The lot was 50 feet deep and right on the harbour with 180 feet of shore. Below our house was a beautiful sandy beach where we learned to swim and played in the sand that beach was our pride and joy our whole lives depended on that beach the beach processed every thing that children loved it was heart breaking to see the Royal Canadian Navy dump all this wire mesh on the beach I knew the first gale we would get the under tow would spread all over the whole shore line, not only the shore line would be messed up the lobster fishing that the fishermen depended on for there livelihood would be lost forever I spoke to my father that something should be done about it and he told me I would be wasting my time he said there was a war on and besides you cant fight the Royal Canadian Navy my attitude was how will I know if I don’t try he first person went was the Commander in charge of the Navy in Louisbourg he was very snarky and told me there was a war on and he had no time for such nonsense From there I went to talk to our mayor he to went down to speak to the Officer in charge same answer its impossible as there was a war on then I went to see the harbour master we had a long conversation about what the wire would do the lobster fishing he agreed that it would be disastrous so off he goes to the commander only to get the same answer this time words flew from both of them the officer walked away went to office and slammed the door there was about 160 men working on the marine repairs refitting the mine sweepers and other naval ships. I caught them all on there lunch time although they agreed it was wrong Celia we would like to help you and you cant buck the R C N This all happened from 9 am now its 1pm Mr L H Cann the owner of the marine company that serviced the naval ship she was reluctant to help me I asked him if he would give me the phone number of the naval headquarters in Halifax he gave the phone number perhaps only to get rid of me before I phoned the navy I went to the harbour master to get the phone number of the DEPT of Fisheries He agreed that I should carry on I asked to speak to the Commander of the navy when this commander got on the phone I was a little on the nervous side I explained all that happened I never used so many yes sirs and no sirs in my life This Commander was very sympathetic to my concerns about the fishing and the destruction this tons of wire will cause
It was 3.30 in the afternoon and the commander said he would give it his immediate attention I then asked if I could have his name and rank in case I needed to contact him again.
A navy minesweeper was in for refitting and the Captain and his wife were boarding with us. I couldn’t wait to tell them the good news and everyone laughed their heads off when I showed them the name of the man I was talking to in Halifax ‘Rear-Admiral L.W. Murray’. The Commander of the mine sweeper said we don’t ever get to talk to him. At that time I didn’t know the difference between a Sub-Lieutenant and a Rear Admiral no one wanted to believe me. I felt like a damn fool but I only had to feel like a damn fool till 8 o clock the very next morning my father called everybody to the window and before my eyes was a large scow with a large derrick lifting the discarded nets onto the scow. My fathers expression was I’ll be damned you did it a little girl you beat the Navy.


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