For Posterity's Sake
A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project
In memory of those who have Crossed the Bar
Trickett, William Dearl (Bill) - Like any good Navy ditty, this tale begins in a bar. Little did I know, a visit to the local Legion in my home village of Kelwood, MB would end up as a quest to uncover some of my own ATHABASKAN family history.
sipping on a beer, I was perusing the mass of military memorabilia on the
Legion walls. Then to my great surprise, I saw the crest of my old HMCS ATHABASKAN
282 up on the wall labeled with the date of the original ATHABASKAN's
sinking. A relative identified it as a donation from my deceased Great Uncle
Willie. Unbeknownst to me, Able Seaman William Dearl Trickett, RCNVR, Stoker
(1st Class), V38773 had served onboard HMCS ATHABASKAN G07!
As a previous bridge officer and Public Affairs Representative for HMCS ATHABASKAN 282 for two years, I was already intimately acquainted with the history and sinking of the original ship.
The RCN regularly conducts Remembrance ceremonies near the site of the sinking each time a ship is near that particular stretch of French territorial waters. In fact, in 2015 while on a NATO deployment to the Mediterranean, my ATHABASKAN conducted a ceremony over that lonely patch of the English Channel. I was unaware that 70 years previously, my young Uncle, oil-soaked and hypothermic, was desperately clinging to life at that very spot. In a twist of fate, AB Trickett's destiny lay with being rescued by the German torpedo boat T24.
There have been numerous writings describing the exploits and disposition of the ill-fated ATHABASKAN G07 and her crew. After poring anew through my copies, I found Uncle Willie's name listed in the crew manifest. Also, he appeared in many of the old photos as an unidentified sailor. There are several pictures of him and his monster grin front and center in group photos. In one, he is clearly seen seated in the back of a truck flanked by German soldiers after being brought ashore at Brest, France. In another, he is lined up with his Barrack 'V' messmates in the POW camp Marlag und Milag Nord, near Bremen, Germany. Luckily, he did not appear to have suffered any severe injuries from the torpedo blasts, the resulting explosions and fire, or his hours of floating in the oily debris of his sunken ship. Unfortunately, he and 82 other ATHABASKANs spent the rest of the war locked up as German POWs.
But other than a few tantalizing tidbits of specific information, Willie Trickett's military story might have easily gone to his grave when he passed away in Victoria, BC, December 14, 2004 at the age of 79. Considering the trauma of shipmates dying all around him in the water, the hardships of POW life, and some friendly fire tragedies leading up to his liberation in May 1945, it was no wonder that he never really spoke of his experiences.
Of course, complicating matters as I continued to dig, most of his military memorabilia had been liquidated and was scattered who knows where. But I turned up an old Ebay ad for his Y.M.C.A. Wartime Log (POW No. 1295 of Marlag und Milag Nord, Germany). After a lot of sleuthing, I tracked the logbook down to a military collector in California who graciously sold it back to me.
The Canadian Y.M.C.A. in December 1944 gave every Canadian POW a Wartime Log so that they could keep a diary of their experiences. Although Uncle Willie's logbook did not have much in the way of personal writings, it did contain much of the flotsam and jetsam that a Navy sailor collects during their travels.
Many of Willie's friends drew intricate drawings and cartoons in the pages of his logbook. There are old photos of G07, the POW camp, and fellow sailors. He had a receipt from his mother, Mrs. W. (Agnes) Trickett, listing the contents of a POW parcel. Daily camp rations were basically a chunk of bread and a potato. Red Cross parcels and food mailed from relatives saved the POW's lives. There were also receipts for cartons of 300 Sweet Caporal cigarettes from Mr. W.E. (Bill) Trickett (his father who was Kelwood's United Grain Growers Elevator agent), Mr. A. (Alex) Trickett (a brother), and Mrs. Lyle Wilson of Kelwood. Cigarettes were too valuable in camp to all be smoked and were traded with the German guards for food and material. In letters to home, prisoners would often ask for the prized Canadian commodity as German cigarettes were rather inferior. Aid groups and support from the home front made the tedium and privations of life behind barbed wire tolerable.
Also, to my surprise, William D. Trickett had been presented the Soviet Union's Jubilee Medal "Forty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945" from the USSR Ambassador to Canada, Aleksei Alekseievich Rodionov on October 1, 1988. Known as the Murmansk Medal, only a small handful of non-Russians have ever received this honour. The RCN, USN and Royal Navy convoy runs up to the high Arctic region of Russia from 1941 to 1945 kept the country in the war and provided the critical eastern front that divided Hitler's forces.
Willie Trickett and my great aunt Jean moved back to Kelwood for a short time after his return from the war, then moved to Victoria, BC where he worked as a city bus driver. They had a daughter, Sandra (deceased) and a son, Sam. After retirement, they bought and renovated Jean's mother's old house in Kelwood and used it as a summer vacation home.
Willie rarely spoke of his wartime experience except for a few anecdotes after having one too many with his Legion buddies. At some point a bullet had whizzed by his ear. Also when they were onboard T24, he spoke of a German officer with a sword who cut all their soaked and fouled uniforms off. Willie did keep a room in his Kelwood home with much of his ATHABASKAN G07 memorabilia plus the local Legion now has more memories of the old ship up on the walls.
Unfortunately, all of Willie's ditties died upon his passing. Hopefully, he and all of the former ATHABASKANs are all somewhere hoisting large tots of rum and sharing good times.
Ships served in:
HMCS ATHABASKAN - Bill survived the sinking of HMCS ATHABASKAN G07. He was rescued/captured by German forces and became a POW for the remainder of the war.
Below is the wartime log book of AB Willam Trickett, Sto 1c, RCNVR - kindly shared here by his nephew, Blair Glover, SLt, Canadian Navy, ret'd. Blair is researching his uncle's wartime career and posted this log and associated write-ups on his blog.
(WT15) Y Gun crew in Bay of Biscay
(WT16) Top - HMCS ATHABASKAN GO7 at Spitzbergen (WT18) HMCS ATHABASKAN G07 - HMCS MACKENZIE 261* (WT19) HMCS ATHABASKAN G07 - HMCS SIOUX 225** (WT20) HMCS ATHABASKAN G07
* Post WW2 photo. HMCS MACKENZIE 261 was not commissioned until 06 Oct 1962
** post WW2 photo. HMCS SIOUX was not numbered 225 until 1950
(WT21) HMCS ATHABASKAN POWs returning home
(WT22) Last crew photo of HMCS ATHABASKAN G07 (WT23-WT24) List of ATHABASKAN POWs (WT25) Bill Trickett's signature on back of POW list.
(WY27-WT31) Post WW2 magazine article on the loss of HMCS ATHABASKAN G07
(WT32) Post WW2 magazine article on LCdr Stubbs (WT33-WT35) Application to join the British Free Corps (BFC)
Historical note: In 1943, the Nazis began a program (The BFC) to recruit POWs to fight against the combined Jewish/Communist European threat. Only 12 men joined the BFC and the only ‘action’ they saw was when 10 of them were sent to the Russian front in March 1945. None of them fired a shot.
(WT41) left photo: Bill's mother, father and one of his sisters - right photo: Bill and his sisters Agnes and Jessie
( WT41) the POWs of Barrack ‘V’- Willie is back row, fourth from the left and not smiling. The middle photo appears to be a machine for boiling water. The bottom photo looks like a prisoner’s drama skit. (WT42) Marlag und Milag Nord POW camp
(WT43-WT45) Almost more important than food was the demand for cigarettes requested by and shipped to the Canadian POWs. Letters to home contained pleas to send more cigarettes. Their true purpose was not necessarily for Canadian consumption but for bartering with the German guards for extra necessities. German tobacco was of inferior quality and Canadian cigarettes were used in trade. Relatives of Bill’s took advantage of the ‘300 Cigarettes for 76˘’ and he kept their receipts in his Logbook
(WT46) Random photos of a violin maker, a European city street, and a group of men (WT50) Article on the loss of HMCS ATHABASKAN G07 - Victoria Daily Times - 28 Apr 1969
(WT51) The various ships of the 10th Division Force with best regards from Emile Beaudoin, a fellow ATHABASKAN PO
(WT53) Stockheath Naval Camp located in Portsmouth, England would have been a stopover point for the returning ATHABASKAN POWs after they were liberated. Dated May 11, 1945, Uncle Willie would have exchanged some Belgian Francs for British Pounds. (WT55_ Ted, Mack and Bill (AB William Trickett) (WT56) Larger image of photo in WT55
(WT57) Names and addresses of those in V Barracks - W. D. Trickett, Kelwood, MB; Elmer Scratch, Blythewood, ON; Gerry Webster, 507 Manitoba Ave, Saskatoon, SK; J. Laidler, 1743 West 2nd Ave., Vancouver BC; “The Duke” R. D. Osborne, 1110-2nd St, Saskatoon, SK; W. Bint, 711 Ave. “H”. South, Saskatoon, SK; Lester McKeeman, Gaspereaux, PEI; E. A. Rouse, Tillsonburg, ON; J. W. Fairchild, 33 St. Genevieve Ave, Quebec City; R. E. Phillips, Ocean Falls, BC; J. L’Esperance, 515 Newton Ave., Winnipeg, MB; D. Sweeney,7516 Querbes Ave, Montreal, QC; W. E. Connolly, 18 Locke St. N. Hamilton, ON; J. Acorn, Cardigan, PEI; E. R. Beach, Balgonie, SS; R. H. Cummins, Wild Rose, SK
(WT60) Russian Jubilee Medal “Forty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945” - Presented to William D. Trickett from USSR Ambassador to Canada Aleksei Alekseievich Rodionov on October 1, 1988. (WT61) Pamphlet for the 20th anniversary reunion for the crew of HMCS ATHABASKAN G07 (WT62) ATHABASKAN Association news letter from Emile Beaudoin - 18 Dec 1981
(WT63) HMCS ATHABASKAN G07 Reunion
(1) Don Newman (2) Wilf Henrickson (3) Sam Pine (4) 'Doc" Savage
(5) John Fairchild (6) 'Buck' Parsons (7) Andre Audet (8) Herm Sulkers
(9) Jess McCabe (10) Roy Westaway (11) Jim Carr (12) 'Whitey' Eastwood
(13) Harry Liznick (14) Paul Woolley (15) Ernie Takalo (16) Dave Frame (17) Hector Cooper 918) Digby Deal ?sp
(19) Ray Beach (20) Alex McKinnon (21) George Howard (22) Bert Nelson
Missing: Jim Lesperance, George Quigley
(WT64) Obituary for Roy D. Trickett