Mascots  were a morale booster for those young sailors who were so far away from home.

1943 Commissioning Crew Mascots. Can anyone confirm the names of the mascots in the above and below photos? Contact: jerry.proc@sympatico.ca  (From the Parks Canada/HMCS HAIDA Archives)
1944 Commissioning Crew Mascots.  (From the Parks Canada/HMCS HAIDA Archives)


Fred Polischuck with Handy
From The Star Newspaper, October 1944:

In 1944, HAIDA's mascot was a little rabbit with the odd name of  "Handy Built.". "We weren't satisfied with a rabbit's foot so we brought along four on the hoof," said Petty Officer C. S. MacArthur of Ottawa , Ottawa. The rabbit actually belongs to A.B. John McGregor of Montreal. 

He says the rabbit is a submarine detector in his own right, jumping wildly around in his cage whenever there is a contact. Handy Built always seems to know when there is going to be action. too," he said, "He once woke me up even before action stations were sounded. I woke up some of the other fellows and they were at their guns faster than would have been possible without Handy's warning," (News clip provided by John Clark of Orleans Ontario).

Naval historian Peter Dixon adds a post script to this story. "Handy Built  joined the ship in Newcastle on Tyne. He was injured, suffering a broken leg when a sack of potatoes was dropped on him.  The ship’s doctor had quite a time setting and casting the leg. He can be seen in the commissioning crew picture in HMCS HAIDA: BATTLE ENSIGN FLYING  page 30. After his broken leg, he was also called “Thumper” as he thumped his leg when the ship went into action. He was decorated by the British Humane Society with a medal for bravery. He remained in the ship  until HAIDA  was paid off in 1945. Handy Built  was adopted by one of the crew and retired to domesticity in Nova Scotia. Apparently he did not adjust to that lifestyle having lived in the messdeck with seventy odd and he “pined away”. There is a chapter on him in a book called ANIMAL HEROES. There was a terrific picture of him sitting in the starboard Oerlikon mount in the HAIDA Collection.

"Handy Built" in front of a 4.7 inch gun. (From EG Piccioni collection) 
Skipper the dog. Does anyone have any further info on this dog? If so, contact Jerry.Proc@sympatico.ca  (Photo of a photo from the HAIDA Association scrapbook).


This is Muncher, HAIDA's rabbit mascot in Russia, April 1948. (From the Parks Canada HAIDA photo collection) 
Muncher with Seaman Jock MacGregor . (AA3 rate) Jock was part of HAIDAs commissioning crew. (Photo credit unknown) 



The dog's name is Pom Pom and the canine was HAIDA's mascot during her first tour of duty in Korea in 1952-53. Able Bodied Seaman John Milne found the starving lop-eared mongrel in Kure Japan and was quickly appointed as the dog's official keeper. He decided Pom Pom would find a new a new home with his parents in Toronto.

When HAIDA returned to Halifax on 23 July 1953, customs officials had other ideas. Pom Pom would have to remain in quarantine for 90 days at a cost to the owner of $75. "But I haven't got $75 exclaimed Milne. Shipmates dug deep in their jeans and came up with $50 to help Able Seaman Milne defray the costs. While officialdom was making all the fuss over Pom Pom, one of HAIDA's officers whipped ashore with two budgies in a cage.

Thanks to Jerry Hanselman of Brantford Ontario who provided this information.


P2 R.G. Kettle in Korea 1954 and Puppy San.
This is "Puppy San",  HAIDA's mascot during her second tour of duty in Korea in 1954. (Both photos courtesy Flo and Robert Kettle)

Contributors and Credits:

1) Colin Blackburn <acblack(at)shaw.ca>
2) Peter Dixon   <p.dixon(at)sympatico.ca>
3) Brian J Piccioni <bjpiccioni(at)gmail.com>
4) Carla Morse,  Sr. Program Officer, Heritage Designations, Parks Canada  <Carla.Morse(at) pc.gc.ca>

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