Harrison “Little H” Stumpf

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Battle of the Atlantic Heroes / April 29, 2020

As part of our coverage of 75th anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Atlantic, the following story was one of many submitted by Canadians to honour the service of someone they knew in this longest battle of the Second World War.


P. Kelly Stumpf, CPO1 (ret’d)
HMCS
Quadra

My father, Able Seaman (AB) Harrison “Little H” Stumpf, was one of thousands of Canadians who answered the call during the Second World War and participated in a number of ways throughout the Battle of the Atlantic.

He joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve along with his older brother and my uncle, Harold “Big H” Stumpf. My other uncle, Bobby, joined later when he was of age.

My dad lived in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., and was one of eight children. He joined the fight because his family could not afford to support him. With four siblings still at home, he would send money back to support his family during the financially difficult time of the 1940s.

But it wasn’t just the money. It was also the possibility for danger, romance and adventure that appealed to him as it did to so many young people at the time.

The adventure he had been looking for, found him.

Over the course of his first crossing of the Atlantic on His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Mayflower, the ship was fitted with a telephone pole in place of a main gun. The Mayflower was later fitted a functioning main gun in North Carolina after their return trip.

While working on a tug, he fell into the water in Halifax during the winter, which damaged one of his lungs. He was blown from his seat on the 4-inch main gun from a concussive blast and was not able to see or hear for days. My father also had the honour of being a pallbearer for one of those lost on September 11, 1942 after HMCS Charlottetown was destroyed by an enemy U-boat during the Battle of the Gulf of the St. Lawrence.

My father said a cure used to help a sailor from sea sickness including tying a piece of bacon fat to a string which would be swallowed and then pulled back up. This may have been one of those strategies like pinching your arm to stop focusing on pain from a burn.

AB Stumpf also sailed with HMCS Eastview down through the Panama Canal to join the fight in the Pacific. However, by the time the ship had reached San Francisco the atomic bombs had been dropped on Japan and the war was over. Afterward, the ship received orders to return to Vancouver where my dad disembarked and caught a train back home to Kitchener-Waterloo. It always disappointed him that he did not earn his Pacific Star.

Once home my father, his friends and his brothers founded the Kitchener-Waterloo Naval Association and built the building themselves. He served at the Naval Association for 13 years as their Master at Arms. I met and married the granddaughter of a stoker that he was friends with at their club when we were in the Sea Cadets together, and even got married in that very club.