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A. B. O'Brian
Biography of a Ship's Mascot

Over the course of HMCS TRENTONIAN’s travels, she found herself with a diversity of crew. Not all were of the two-legged type. All were strays of one sort or another. It has been rumoured that while in Bermuda, she had a monkey join the ship’s company. The last mascot of the ship was a stray picked up in England. This dog left the ship, suddenly on the morning of 22 February 1945, just prior to sailing. Some of the more superstitious of the crew worried this was a bad omen. Their concerns were proven correct later that fateful day.

The most devoted mascot was picked up while TRENTONIAN was in Londonderry for refit and training prior to D-Day operations. A dog followed a group of her crew, returning from shore leave. He wandered aboard and never made any attempt to leave.

Quickly a volunteer came forward to care for him, Signalman Slatter, and the dog was given a name, A.B. O’Brian, the A.B. stands for Able Seaman. The crew made him a hammock and he made himself comfortable. His “Mick” was slung from the deck head every night in the Signalmen’s Mess, and he accompanied the crew in all their activities. The crew of TRENTONIAN adopted O’Brian as one of their own; he gave these young men, most of who were 17 to 19 years old, a sense of home and normalcy. O’Brian was with the ship through Operation Neptune, the Naval portion of the D-Day invasion, he was on deck when the ship was attacked by the Americans and stayed when TRENTONIAN was escorting the convoys back and forth to France following the invasion.

Some time after the invasion, TRENTONIAN was taking on Bunker C fuel from a 15,000 ton, tanker. She was dwarfed sitting alongside this ship, 15 times her size, when an American destroyer came up the river at speed. The wake created by this ship caused TRENTONIAN to crash and bob along the side of the tanker. The steel fuel line separated and ruptured, spraying the heated fuel all over the bridge. The two signalers on the bridge tried to escape along with A.B. O’Brian. All three were covered with this heavy crude oil. Unfortunately water aboard ship was being rationed due to a shortage. The men were given stove oil and seawater to clean themselves with. They washed O’Brian and themselves as best they could.

A few days later O’Brian started to show signs of being ill. Over the next couple of weeks, O’Brian continue to get sicker. He started to have fits of barking, snarling and biting. The crew tried their best to help him and hold him during these fits. Eventually they had to borrow the heavy asbestos gloves the gunners used to change the hot gun barrels.

TRENTONIAN was escorting a convoy in the English Channel, when O’Brian went into a severe fit and died in the arms of “Slatts” his keeper. The crew heartbroken took their shipmate and placed a round from the after gun at his feet and lashed him into his hammock. O’Brian was buried at sea and given the same respect as any sailor. He is still remembered fondly by the crew to this day.


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