Downhome Magazine

Able Seaman John Head

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In March 1940, 26 year old John Head (aka Jack) left Comfort Cove, Notre Dame Bay, to walk to Lewisporte, about 20 miles through the woods and over the frozen bay to catch the train to St. John's to go to war. From St. John's he travelled to Halifax, Nova Scotia and from there to continue his training in England and Scotland. Throughout this training period he enjoyed socializing at the Union Jack Club in London, and in Davenport and Liverpool. All the time training both as soldier and sailor. He completed his courses in seamanship and gunnery and reached the rank Able Seaman. His pay was 4s per day.

Then began his active war experience - he survived the destruction of several navy ships and managed to come through the Russian convoys and many other hard experiences but on November 9, 1942, his ship the HMS Palomars was torpedoed and John Head and another Newfoundlander, Doug Pike from Freshwater Bay, were killed. Their ship was blown up at Algiers, North Africa.

Jack Head, son of John Head, was born October 2, 1940 at the Armoury, a home for unmarried mothers located on Cook Street in St. John's. His mother was Olive Cull of Comfort Cove. His father's Royal Navy ship came into St. John's around the time that Jack was born and he had two or three hours leave. He had two sisters, Flos and Valda, living in St. John's. His sister Valda had arranged for her employer to pick him up and drive him to visit Flos and then go see Olive and the baby Jack. When they got to Cook Street, they discovered that Olive and baby Jack had the previous day gone by train to Comfort Cove. John went back to sea and never got to see baby Jack, and he never received any leave thereafter.

In 1940, John Head's parents Moses and Lily Head had a monument placed besides the church in Comfort Cove in memory of their son. Attached is a photo of the monument with five-year-old Jack standing on it.

 
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