There are no more letters home, but there is a speech giving Cec’s take on his wartime experience.
In 1971 Dr Gerhard Herzberg, the Director of the Pure Physics Division of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), Cec’s boss, won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. It was an honour, and thrill for all in the NRC, and also somewhat of a joke, since Dr. Herzberg was, to everyone, a physicist! To honour Dr. Herzberg, the Governor General gave a dinner and reception, the NRC scientists were invited, the invitation stating that medals were to be worn. So Cec had miniatures of his medals ‘suitable for wearing with evening dress’ made, and that is how I own a picture of the young Lieutenant Commander C.C.Costain, with his medals.
At a tribute to Dr. Herzberg years later, Cec gave a speech about the time before Herzberg joined the NRC, the time in the 1930s when Professor Herzberg, seeing the writing on the wall in an increasingly Nazified Germany, accepted a guest Professorship at the University of Saskatchewan, moved with his wife Luise to Canada, started a family, and educated Cec Costain and many other future Canadian physicists. Here he is, addressing his former professor:
And later in the speech, he explains Herzberg’s influence on his wartime experience:
The end of Cec’s war service involved a Distinguished Service Cross and a promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. The explanation for the medal that I remember hearing was that Cec just happened to notice- up late? working his usual 18 hour day and night? tweaking his radar system to reach further than ever?- a kamikaze attack in time to warn the fleet.
A clipping from the local newspaper saved by his proud parents, and The London Gazette, a link with Nelson, provide documentary proof.
|April 1945||1st||Damaged in KAMIKAZE attack during operations off Sakashima Gunto group. 14 men were killed and 16 wounded. Extensive damage to Island structure and some fires were started. Flight deck was cleared and fires extinguished with an hour.|
|9th||Flying operations transferred to targets in Formosa (Operation ICEBERG OOLONG).|
|11th||With HMS INDEFATIGABLE carried attacks on Schinchiku and Matsugama.|
|16th||Transferred with TF57 to renew attacks on airfields in Ishigaki and Miyako in Sakishimas.|
|20th||Returned to Leyte.|
|May||1st||Sailed from Leyte to resume attacks on Sakishima Gunto group.|
|4th||After replenishing with ships of TG57 launched first of a series of air attacks with HMS VICTORIOUS and HMS FORMIDABLE on airfields at Hiara, Nobara, Miyako and Ishigaki.|
|Hit by KAMIKAZE aircraft but remained operational.|
|9th||Damaged in another KAMIKAZE attack but continued flying operations with gaps for replenishment until 23rd May.|
|20th||In collision with HM Destroyer QUILLIAM which was seriously damaged.|
|25th||Sailed for Manus on completion of operation requirement for TF57.|
|June 1945||Relieved by HM Aircraft Carrier IMPLACABLE and refitted in Sydney.|
|July||On completion remained at Sydney.|