The Journey Story of Robert Cotsworth (Canadian living in Northern Ireland)

Category: 
Culture : 
Country of Origin: 
Port of Arrival: 
Language: 
English
Creative Commons: 
CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Accession Number: 
S2017.833.1
Story Text: 

Robert’s Father, Frank Cotsworth, was working for the Canadian Department of Immigration in Belfast Northern Ireland when the Second World War broke out in 1939. Frank remained behind for the duration of the war and worked at Canada House in London England but the rest of the family was told to return to Canada.

Transport was arranged and the other 5 family members- Edith 50, Robert 17, Barbara 16, James Bernard 14 and Peter 13 left for the trip from Belfast to Glasgow in early July of 1940.

Robert remembers that needed money had been transferred to a bank in Glasgow but when they arrived the bank was closed. Edith was frantic since they were leaving early the next day for Canada. She could see people working in the bank. They ignored her at first but after constant knocking at the door they let her in and after explaining her problem, they helped her out.

They left the next day- July 4, 1940 on the Polish ship, The Batory. They were quite excited to travel first class and ate in the first class dining room, which was a real treat. Robert shared a room with a French University Professor. He remembers that there were English children on board a second ship in the convoy who were being sent to Canada to be safe during the war.

He also remembers that there were some military personnel on board returning to Canada. They gambled for pennies to pass the time playing “Crown and Anchor”.

There were 3 non military vessels in the well guarded convoy. One vessel fell behind and the story was that it was torpedoed. The Batory made it safely to Pier 21 in Halifax. The Cotsworth family boarded a train for Guelph Ontario which was their final destination. Robert’s Father had gone to school at the Ontario Agricultural College and still had friends in the area. In particular a Major McConkey who set Robert up to work at a farm in Fergus Ontario.

In 1942, after finishing High School, Robert enlisted in the Air Force on March 17, 1942 and somewhat later his brother James Bernard enlisted in the Navy.

They did not learn till later that the Batory was transporting the Polish Treasury to Canada for safekeeping and that is why it was so well guarded.

When World War Two was over Robert returned to Canada through Pier 21 and James Bernard was waiting at the Pier to welcome him home.

As a post script, in the spring of 2016 at the age of 93 Robert visited Pier 21 with his son and daughter and had a flashback to returning to Canada through Pier 21 at the end of the war. He remembered his bother was there to greet him and also many dignitaries giving speeches. He almost missed the train to return to Ontario to be reunited with his wife Mary.