Battle of the Atlantic Heroes: George Patrick Keating

Navy News / September 2, 2020

By Greg Hussey

My great-grandfather, George Patrick Keating, was born April 2, 1923 in Dartmouth, N.S., and grew up in the small fishing community of Little Harbour on the province’s Eastern Shore.

George worked in oil tanker merchant ships off the coasts of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, and of South America. With many years of seafaring experience as a coastal lobster fisherman, he joined the Canadian Merchant Navy on October 12, 1944 and worked as a boiler room fireman. He was discharged on February 25, 1945.

As the story went, he joined the Merchant Navy after being denied entry into the Canadian Army as an infantry man because of his flat feet. His brother-in-law, Thomas Matthew DeWolfe, also served with the Merchant Navy.

He used to tell us about his time during the war. Once, he said his ship was off the coast of Newfoundland when it was rammed by a German U-boat. The ramming caused significant damage to the ship, but all of the crew was safe and survived. The theory aboard the ship was that the U-boat must have been out of torpedoes and elected to ram the ship as a last resort.

I remember my great grandfather very well, as he only passed away in 2011 at the age of 88.