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A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project

SHIP'S COMPANY PHOTOS

HMCS EARL GREY

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HMCS Earl Grey

Fifty years ago the Royal Canadian Navy went to war for the first time and before the conflict ended some 9600 officers and men had seen wartime service in the RCN or RCNVR. Hundreds of other Canadians had proceeded to Britain to serve in ships of the Royal Navy or in the Royal Naval Air Service. An unusual scene photographed in the Autumn of 1914 is the accompanying picture of the ship's company of HMCS Earl Grey (despite the signboard, she was commissioned in the Royal Canadian Navy) taken around the time she was preparing to sail for for Archangel, Russia, where she was turned over to the Russian Navy who wanted her for ice-breaking capabilities. Special gear provided for the journey included padded duffle coats, larrigans (knee-length, oiled moccasins) and caps the like of which the Navy surely cannot have seen before or since. They had enormous ear flaps which were tied together at the top of the cap when not in use. One individualist appears to be wearing a Balaclava. The ship made the journey to northern Russia safely, with a brief stop at St. John's Nfld., for repairs, but there were casualties when the ship in which some of them were returning to England foundered. The Earl Grey was built by the Canadian government as a freight and passenger steamer for service in Northumberland Strait between Prince Edward Island and the mainland. She was the third ship commissioned in the RCN - after the cruisers Niobe and Rainbow - having served under the White Ensign briefly in 1912 during a cruise by the Governor General, the Duke of Connaught. She was sold to Russia for $493,000. The Earl Grey is still steaming the White Sea as the Fyodor Litke, according to the current edition of Jane's Fighting Ships. (1964) During her earlier Russian career she was known as the Kanada. The original (photo of ship's company), from which this picture has been copied, is owned by former Chief Shipwright W.J. Fry

Source: The World War I Document Archive

Credit: The Crows Nest Magazine, July 1964

 


 

 

Crew of HMCS Earl Grey (contrary to the sign stating HMS Earl Grey)

Source: LAC Govt of Canada General files re HMCS Earl Grey 1914-15. RG24 Vol 3970 page 6. file NSC 1047-22-2

Researched by Roy Pellett

 

 

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