At the end of Bill's training, his commanding officer wrote that Bill's conduct at ROYAL ROADS had been "to my entire satisfaction. Has worked with zeal and energy." Bill's grades also passed muster, with his highest marks in Signals (91.5) and Anti-Submarine (86). He was recommended for sea appointment and his name was entered on the list for the "Graduating Class No. 2" of 1941. He became a full Sub Lieutenant.
In May 1942, Bill was promoted to Lieutenant and took a short Anti-Submarine course before returning to the MIRAMICH for another tour. In September 1942, Bill returned to HMCS NADEN (Victoria) and was land based for a while, in part assisting the Port Signal Officer.
Starting in June 1943 and for the next 11 months he was back aboard ship, this time on HMCS PRINCE ROBERT (F 56), an armed merchant cruiser built in the UK (built originally as a passenger ship), and newly refitted as an anti-aircraft cruiser. Bill's duties were "Officer of the Watch at Sea & Signals Officer". By August 1943 he was in the Atlantic; by October he was in the Mediterranean near Italy. It was critical that Britain and its allies maintain possession of Gibraltar to control naval traffic entering the Mediterranean, and of Malta at the foot of Italy. Malta was in the middle of enemy-controlled territory and in a strategic location for controlling traffic between Europe and Africa. Using Malta as a base for Allied offensive missions allowed them to hamper the Axis supply chain while defending their own. Ships in the area were threatened by bombers from above and German "U-boat" submarines from below, so they needed protection. According to Naval Archive records, the HMCS Prince Robert was involved in escorting and defending 17 different convoys between December 1943 and September 1944. Bill would have been involved in 7 of these convoys.
Two personnel appraisals exist for this time period. In Aug 1943 Bill is described as "A conscientious and capable officer with a keen interest in the service in general and in the signal branch in particular. Quiet in manner yet manages to get things done without undue "fuss" or delay. Not very forceful as yet but in improving is this deficiency. A trustworthy officer of the watch and a good organizer." Recommendations included a long sea deployment and accelerated promotion. Then in Apr 1944 he is also described as zealous, capable and efficient with a quiet nature, and "Possesses ability as an instructor. Keen to qualify in [Signals] for which he is well suited. A good mess-mate."
However, Bill was having health problems and he was also hit hard by his traumatic experiences in the middle of these active "theatres of war". So at the end of Apr 1944 he was assigned to HMCS NIOBE, a RCN manning establishment in Greenock Scotland, where he remained for 3 months. These facilities included a hospital which is likely where Bill had all his teeth removed and where he partially recovered from stress. On returning home to NADEN (Victoria, Canada) he was granted "QO" status which lasted another 7 months or so. In a letter addressed to Bill dated 16 November 1944, it says "I sincerely hope that your cold is all better and that you are completely recovered from the effects of your very hard life."
It was during this time that they utilized some of Bill's public relations skills to raise money for the war effort. Bill was involved in a "War Loan Drive" in Alberta, as mentioned in one of his last appraisals. Several letters also exist from November 1944, including a "Commendation for Work in the Seventh Victory Loan". After that, but prior to May 1945, Bill promoted Victory Bonds in New Westminster as well.
In a letter from the Vice-Chairman, Payroll Savings Section, National War Finance Committee, Calgary Alberta, dated 15 Nov 1944, to the RCN Naval Officer In Charge, HMC Dockyard, Esquimalt BC:
"I am very pleased to advise that Lieutenant W. Boorman, RCNVR, who was loaned to the National War Finance Committee of this city as a speaker in the Seventh Victory Loan Campaign, has spoken to a large number of mass meetings of employees held in the larger establishments covered by the Payroll Savings Section of National War Finance this city and has also made official presentations of Victory Flags to a large number of such establishments, including large groups in the Dominion Civil Service.
"He also spoke on a number of occasions from a platform erected on the street in the centre of the business section of our city to large groups of citizens, and was always enthusiastically received and highly respected by the public. Lieutenant Boorman did an excellent job on all such occasions and we wish you to know that we are very highly pleased with him.
"Please accept our sincere thanks for permitting him to assist us."
In a similar letter from the Supervisor Stamp Sales in Alberta, dated 21 Nov 1944, to Bill directly:
"I [received] a notice from [the] Principal of Sunalta School that the children had sold $133.00 worth of War Savings Stamps on their 'Bill Boorman War Savings Stamp Day'. This amount in stamps is 532 which is over a stamp for each child in the school. I think you will agree that was a well worthwhile effort on your part and shows the interest the children took in your visit. ...
"I've heard many complimentary remarks about you and the good job you did here."
In Feb 1945 Bill took some additional seaman's training, followed by SO Signals duties with the Commander in Esquimalt BC. He remained land based for the rest of the war. His signal duties gave him access to naval messages for distribution, including those from the Admiralty. Can you imagine the excitement and extreme relief that Bill, as Signal Officer, felt when he received official word of Germany's surrender and the cease fire? Here is a clipping from what looks like a carbon copy or perhaps the original message received on 8 May 1945:
References and Further Reading
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) - Military Heritage
Rybak, Stephen (2011) The Royal Naval Canadian Naval Reserve 1914–1919. Nauticapedia.ca 2011
CFB Esquimalt, including Naden, HMC Dockyard - wikipedia
CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum
Royal Roads, Hatley Castle, Victoria BC
Ships of the Canadian Navy
HMCS Miramichi - ReadyAyeReady site
HMCS Prince Robert - For Posterity's Sake site
HMCS Prince Robert Tribute
HMCS Niobe - RCN headquarters in Scotland
Victory Loans and War Savings Bonds - Wartime Canada site