Canadian Armed Forces
Malcolm Yates was born on April 13, 1921 in East York, Ontario. His dad was a laborer – “a real good father.” His mom stayed home to look after him and his three sisters. He attended East York Colligate and Danforth Technical School … later to become Danforth Technical Collegiate and Technical Institute -- the school known for having sent more of its students and staff to the Second World War than any other school in Canada.
When he enlisted in 1942, Malcolm was 21 years old. He had been given a deferment for a few years because he worked for John Inglis and Company helping to produce Bren machine guns to support the war efforts of Great Britain and Canada.
“I was conscripted,” he said. “Before signing up, I visited all three branches of service – Army, Navy and Air Force. The Navy seemed to suit me the best. So I went with them.” After six weeks of basic training at the HMCS York facility located on the Toronto exhibition grounds, he was transferred to Halifax, Nova Scotia where he would be stationed for the duration of his service. Malcolm spent about 50 percent of his time at sea and the other 50 percent in port. At sea, on the HMCS Kentville --a minesweeper, he was a Petty Officer in charge of the Engineer Room. In port, he worked in the machine shop repairing damaged ships. “I joined the Navy because I hoping to see the world. Instead, I spent most of my time in the engine room.” When planes came over, the windows in the room would be blackened to avoid detection by enemy aircraft. Depending on the time of year, it could get very hot.”
War brings up sad memories for Malcolm. He recalls a good pal who was killed while serving in Italy. I still miss him. He also remembers an incident that happened when he was riding a streetcar in his uniform. A female passenger motioned him over. She asked if there was anything he could do to keep her son safe. She was distraught with worry. It broke his heart to have to tell her that there was nothing he could do.
Coming home after two years, Malcolm married a local girl (Helen Gordon) who was born in Scotland – she had a great personality. She was 95 when she died. She was five years older than Malcolm. Married for 46 years, they raised three girls and one boy. Have nine grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren. I am very blessed.
“I avoided talking about the war,” he said. “I’m more passionate and peace loving. I always felt that what is done is done, I didn’t want to talk about it.”