Battle of the Atlantic Heroes: William Cameron

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Navy News / April 30, 2021

We would like you to meet William ‘Bill’ H. Cameron, who volunteered for the naval service in 1943, and joined in Vancouver with His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Discovery.

Cameron joined the crew of HMCS Kitchener in January 1944 at Liverpool, N.S.

Bill served as a gunner on one of the corvette’s 20mm anti-aircraft cannons. He recalls rough seas during this first voyage in “this ferocious hurricane area. It was what you call a quick orientation!” The sea was so rough that the Kitchener had to be put into port for repairs before beginning convoy escort duties in the North Atlantic.

HMCS Kitchener was present on D-Day, the only Canadian corvette to escort a wave of troops to their disembarkation point that day. Bill recalls observing the situation on the beach through binoculars, “From our vantage point we could see that the soldiers had to transit from the barges in questionable water depth along with the Nazi firepower coming from the bluffs above.”

He manned his anti-aircraft gun and fired at any enemy aircraft he identified. “We were all very afraid we would be sunk or killed, but at the same time we knew we had a job to do. Our skilled captain managed to maneuver our ship such that we did not lose a single man.”

After D-Day, Bill and his shipmates protected ships in the English Channel for the balance of the war. Bill Cameron served aboard HMCS Kitchener until May 1945, when the ship returned to Canada. He married in 1949 and visited Normandy for the 70th anniversary of D-Day in 2014 and the 75th in 2019. Bill received the Legion of Honour from the French government in 2016 for his role in the D-Day landings.

This story was shared with us by the Juno Beach Centre.