For Posterity's Sake         

A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project


In memory of those who have Crossed the Bar 


Robert Walter Timbrell, C.M.M., D.S.C., M.I.D., C.D.


Rear-Admiral, O-73390, RCN / C.A.F.


Born: 01 Feb 1920, Tavistok, Devon, UK


Died: 11 Apr 2006, Chester Basin, Nova Scotia


TIMBRELL, Robert Walter - Passed away April 11, 2006 at home in Chester Basin. Robert Timbrell was educated in West Vancouver where he lived from the age of 2 months with his mother and new stepfather (Jupp). At age 15, he joined HMS Conway in Liverpool, England, for naval cadet training and he completed his midshipman training with the Royal Navy in Portsmouth; although he was registered with the R.C.N., at that time there was no naval training in Canada (1937). He served on battleships in the Mediterranean and North Atlantic and in June 1940, was called at 20 years old to skipper a millionaire's yacht from Portsmouth to Ramsgate and thence to Dunkirk to help load the British Army back to England as it was all in France. Many close calls later, from E-boats, minefields and enemy air attacks, he and his crew of woodsmen from Newfoundland and engineers from London Transport and six guardsmen and their sergeant had made many trips and had rescued a thousand men (out of the 400,000 on the beaches). He was decorated by King George VI as the first Canadian naval officer to be awarded The Distinguished Service Cross in the Second World War. Shortly thereafter in October he survived the sinking of HMCS Margaree, but only after some harrowing hours with only twenty others on a life raft in the North Atlantic - no lights, no radar, heavy seas. He returned to Canada and joined "hunter-killer" groups of destroyers searching for subs in the U-boat war, as he was a Tas specialist. He was Executive Officer of HMCS Micmac Post-War and Commanding Officer of HMCS Swansea; then to HMCS Ontario as Training Officer of cadets and it was then that Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip were transported from Prince Edward Island to Sydney. He became Vice-Commandant of Royal Roads Service College, and after a staff course at Greenwich in the United Kingdom, was the first Commanding Officer of the St. Laurent, at that time a new class of destroyer which was built at Vickers in Montreal. After two years he was posted to Shearwater as X.O., then to a three-year posting to the staff of Saclant in Norfolk, VA, after which he was appointed C.O. of the aircraft carrier HMCS Bonaventure, which also included ferrying Canadian troops to Cyprus. Concluding a two-year sea service, he went to Winnipeg on the staff of Training Command. These were unhappy years for an R.C.N. officer in a green uniform, and many retired, but he stayed and went with General Jean Allard to begin the process of reducing Canadian forces from Lahr, Germany, and various other European bases. Then came a posting as Senior Defence Attache at the Embassy in Washington, D.C., and after that, back to Halifax as Maritime Commander. He retired in 1973 and was honoured with a companionship in the Canadian Order of Military Merit. He became president of the Dominion Maritime Association, which dealt with ships (and ship owners) on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, and held that post until 1985, when he left Ottawa and retired to Chester Basin with his wife of nearly 60 years, Patricia (Jones) of Halifax, who survives him. Also surviving are his daughter, Nancy Timbrell-Muckle, Ottawa, and grandson, Sub-Lieut. Antony Timbrell Morrow, presently in Victoria, B.C. There will be a memorial service at a later date to be published. Arrangements are entrusted to Davis Funeral Home, Chester.


Ships served in:  

HMCS MARGAREE - Survived the sinking of HMCS Margaree

HMCS ANNAPOLIS - Appointed to Annapolis I04 on 26 May 1941 as Slt, RCN

HMCS OTTAWA - Appointed to Ottawa H31 on 08 May 1944 as Lt, RCN



HMCS SWANSEA - 5th Commanding Officer


HMCS ST LAURENT - 1st Commanding Officer

HMCS BONAVENTURE - 5th Commanding Officer


Article on SLt Timbrell surviving the sinking of HMCS MARGAREE



"The Timbrell Boys" - West Vancouver 20th St c 1940


SLt Robert (Bob) Timbrel centre


Courtesy of Siobhan Jackson



HMCS SACKVILLE fires a 13-gun salute during the memorial service for RAdm Robert Timbrell, C.M.M., D.S.C., M.I.D., C.D. - 12 Jun 2006



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