Adrian L. Whiteman: Perth the Spaniel and Gus the Goose

Perth the Spaniel and Gus the Goose

Perth the Spaniel and Gus the Goose

Adrian Whiteman of Keremose, British Columbia, was a Seaman Gunner during the Second World War. His job was to scrub the deck and fire the guns aboard the escort ship, The Lanark. This was a British ship that showed the convoys where to go and keep them protected from submarines.

“The ship the Lanark was named after Lanark County in Ontario where the town of Perth is located. The town adopted the ship because there was an English Royal Navy Ship called Perth. The town sent us a black Cocker Spaniel as our mascot and of course we named him Perth. The sick bay attendant (nurse) was his official keeper. The dog lived with him in the sick bay. But he also really enjoyed it up on deck with Gus who was a goose.

Gus the goose was was purchased off the coast of Ireland for two packages of cigarettes. We were going to eat him, but he was just a bag of bones. He was nice and tame so we decided to keep him. We hid him in the vegetable locker on the after deck. When he was discovered during morning inspection by the ship’s Captain, Zimmerman and I went to the ship’s office and put in a request to keep him as a mascot along with Perth. The Captain granted our request and named us his official sweepers. If you know geese you’ll know what that entailed. Up on the deck where he spent much of his time with the Perth and the crew, it was easy, we just grabbed a hose and washed it overboard; we had no shortage of help.

At sea there was always a shortage of fresh water to wash and have a bath or shower. But every morning at 8 AM somebody would bring the goose down one flight of steps and put him down. He knew his way to the shower room where a large wash tub was set up for him. He climbed in and someone would turn on the fresh water and he’d play and clean himself until he was satisfied and then he’d climb out and make his way to the mess (dining room). When he arrived we’d just put him up on one of the benches at the table and feed him Hard Tack which were navy biscuits, and grain we had bought in Londonderry, Ireland. When he’d had enough he’d had enough, he’d jump down and go to the stairway going back up on deck and there he’d wait for the dog and the crew. He partook of the odd beer, but after two we had to carry him. We only took him ashore in St. John’s, Newfoundland where the bartenders were very understanding.

I left the ship shortly after Gus was washed overboard by a violent storm in the North Atlantic between Newfoundland and Ireland. It was a very bad hurricane that lasted about a week. The merchant ships we were escorting were scattered all over the ocean during that storm and Gus went over the side when an extra bad wave came over and tore our ammunition box loose. There were two men up on deck at the time and saw it all but they couldn’t move, they were lashed to safety lines. When the wind died down, they came down the stairs hollering that Gus was overboard. I had just finished my breakfast and was due up on deck for duty at 8 AM. A lot of the crew was upset and the Captain sent out a message offering $100 reward for anyone picking him up. By 9 AM you might say the ocean was like glass. No waves, sheer as anything. The storm had passed but Gus was gone. As to what eventually happened to Perth, I never heard.”

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