For Posterity's Sake         

A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project

HMCS ATHABASKAN G07

Photos and Documents

Click on the thumbnail images to view the full size image

 

HMCS Athabaskan G07 - date and location unknown

HMCS Athabaskan G07 rescues survivors from German U-boat that was sunk by a Wellington bomber

Crow's Nest newspaper - Jan 1944

Engineroom dept of HMCS Athabaskan G07 when she was hit by a bomb on 27 Aug 1943

 

Crow's Nest newspaper - Jan 1944

HMCS Athabaskan G07

From the collection of Raymond Rolls

Courtesy of Kevin Gaines

Newspaper article on HMCS Athabaskan G07

From the collection of James A. Senior, RCN

Courtesy of Bob Senior

Damage to HMCS Athabaskan G07 caused by a glider bomb attack on August 27, 1943

Source: CROWSNEST Magazine Vol. 1, No. 6, April 1949

Newspaper article on HMCS Athabaskan picking up survivors of German U-boat - dated 15 Dec 1943

From a Quebec newspaper

From the family of Able Seaman Paul Chamberland

Courtesy of Pierre Barrette

First official photo of HMCS Athabaskan along the coast of Scotland

From a Quebec newspaper

From the family of Able Seaman Paul Chamberland

Courtesy of Pierre Barrette

Captivating story of combat between a Canadian destroyer and German pilots

HMCS Athabaskan hit by bomb - 5 sailors killed, many wounded.

From a Quebec newspaper

From the family of Able Seaman Paul Chamberland

Courtesy of Pierre Barrette

Canadian and British flotilla sink German destroyer

From a Quebec newspaper

From the family of Able Seaman Paul Chamberland

Courtesy of Pierre Barrette

Nazi destroyer sunk

From a Quebec newspaper

From the family of Able Seaman Paul Chamberland

Courtesy of Pierre Barrette

Newspaper article of the battle in which HMCS Athabaskan G07 was lost

 

HMCS Athabaskan Was Sunk In Battle With German Destroyers. About 130 Of Her 200-Man Crew Are Accounted For. One Of the Geman Destroyers Was Driven Ashore in Flames

From the World War II collection of John Acorn

Courtesy of Barry Acorn

 

Articles from Quebec newspapers on the sinking of HMCS Athabaskan and the loss, capture and rescue of her crew

 

Note:  These articles are in French only

 

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(1 & 2) Terrible odyssey of 5 sailors from the Canadian ship Athabaskan - 27 Sep 1944  (3 & 4) Three sailors from Athabaskan saved from the high sea  (5) Five sailors from Athabaskan have escaped the Germans - 29 Aug 1944  (6) LS Stanley Dick missing with HMCS Athabaskan  (7) Sailors Beaudoin and Dion disappear with the Athabaskan  (8) Cold blood of a Sailor - Lt G.K. Cowan remembers G.J. Parsons - 04 May 1944  (9) Preparations for the invasion provoked the action which resulted in the sinking of the Athabaskan  (10) Raymond Miller, serving in Athabaskan, was saved  (11) Canadian destroyer Athabaskan sinks in the channel  (12) Two Quebecois return home - Arthur Beaudoin and John Fairchild  (13 & 14) Six Quebecois lost with HMCS Athabaskan - 05 May 1944  (15) Leaders of political parties pay tribute to the sailors of the Athabaskan - 02 May 1944  (16 & 17) Loss suffered by the Canadian Navy - 14 May 1944  (18) Loss suffered by the Navy  (19) Quebec sailors missing  (20) HMCS Athabaskan POWs arrive in England - 16 May 1945  (21) The valiance of Athabaskan sailors is praise - 02 May 1944  (22)  Thirty-five survivors of HMCS Athabaskan arrive in Canada - 04 May 1944  (23) Athabaskan survivors and casualties  (24) LCdr Dunn Lantier missing  (25) Sailor Germain Dion killed  (26) HMCS Athabaskan sunk  (27) Sailors Liberated - 11 May 1945

 

From the family of Able Seaman Paul Chamberland

Courtesy of Pierre Barrette

 

Robert Yeadon and shipmate, HMCS Athabaskan G07

Courtesy of Cynthia Tompkins

Graves of Robert Yeadon and Robert Henry, both were killed when HMCS Athabaskan G07 was sunk on 29 Apr 1944. Their bodies washed ashore on Ile de Batz, France.

Courtesy of Cynthia Tompkins

 

 

        

 

Newspaper articles on casualties and survivors from the sinking of HMCS Athabaskan G07

 

       

 

(1) Athabaskan Survivor - OS Joseph Raymond P.P.H. Miller - The Montreal Gazette 03 May 1944   (2)  Lindsay Boy went down on Athabaskan - May 10, 1944  (3) Signalman Allen Thasher (Thrasher) reported lost at sea  (4) Lindsay Native Believed on Athabaskan - May 2, 1944  (After articles #2, 3, and 4 were published it was found that Allen Thrasher did not die but had been captured and was a POW.)

During their captivity, some 70 members of HMCS Athabaskan's crew captured by German forces signed this mimeographed - or copied - document. Printed on the reverse side of a commemorative image of Athabaskan, the document provides space for survivors from each of the nine provinces in wartime Canada. More than 80 members of Athabaskan's crew were rescued and captured by German forces. Most of them wound up in prisoner of war camps, while a few seriously injured sailors were sent to a hospital where they were later liberated by American troops. George Metcalf Archival Collection CWM 19870005-001

Part of the "X" turret crew on HMCS Athabaskan G07

Back row, 2nd from left - John W. Fairchild. 4th from left - Louis Ledoux

Source: Web blog by Pierre Lagacé

Painting of HMCS Athabaskan G07

Source: Web blog by Pierre Lagacé

Crew members of HMCS Athabaskan G07

The 3 men on the left in front of the turret are (left to right) Raymond Leslie Roberts, Herm Sulkers, and Jim L'Esperance. In the turret window is John Gordon. On the turret, rear row, left to right are - Bob Moore, Bill Pickett and Ernest Anderson.  Eugene Fuller is on the gun barrel on the right, in front, behind him is Gerry Milot. On the left gun barrel - front to back - Maurice Watson, Vince Myette and Art Barrett

Source: Web blog by Pierre Lagacé

HMCS Athabaskan G07 Gun crew

Front row (L-R) Vince Myette, Bill Pickett, Gerry Milot, Art Barrett, Eugene Fuller

Rear row (L-R) Herm Sulkers, Maurice Watson, Bob Moore, John Gordon, Ernest Anderson, Ray Roberts, Jim L'Esperance

Source: Web blog of Pierre Lagacé

 

Update: The unknown gunner in this photo has been identified as Ernest Raymond Anderson

Ernest Raymond Anderson has been identified by his wife and daughter as being the unknown gunner in the gun crew photo above

Jim L'Esperance

Jim survived the sinking of HMCS Athabaskan G07. He was captured by the Germans and was a POW for the remainder of the war

Source: Web blog of Pierre Lagacé

 

John W. Fairchild - When the Athabaskan was sunk, John went overboard on the opposite side of the ship from the Haida which was under orders NOT to stop and pick up survivors; the captain did anyway but only picked up men they could see…and then went to high revolutions to get away from the patrolling German P-T boats. The RCN had just introduced a new flotation device which had a lamp attached that was activated when in contact with water; my dad was wearing one of these.  At around the time of the sinking, John’s sister in Quebec City woke with a start seeing my father floating in the water with a big light over his head.  She was the only one in the entire family that was convinced he was alive as his paperwork was lost for some time and the family had received a telegram indicating “missing and presumed drowned at sea”.

 

John was sent to a prison camp with the other survivors; he and one of his mates escaped by hiding for three days in an asbestos filled attic when the Germans evacuated the prison (the Russians were approaching). They wandered west for a few days before being picked p by American troops who promptly arrested by Dad as they were convinced that he was a German posing as an escapee (blonde hair and blue eyes and all)! That took some time to sort out but, eventually, all the paperwork caught up to him and he came back to Canada.

Written by Peter Fairchild, son of John W. Fairchild

Source: Web blog of Pierre Lagacé

Crossing the Line certificate (Arctic Circle) for John James Acorn while onboard HMCS Athabaskan G07, 17 December 1943

From the collection of John James Acorn

Courtesy of Barry Acorn

 

 

        

 

Newspaper articles on HMCS Athabaskan's POWs

From the collection of John Acorn

Courtesy of Barry Acorn

Headstones for Leading Stoker William McGregor and Lt. Commander John H. Stubbs who were lost when HMCS Athabaskan G07 was sunk

Headstones are located at the PLOUESCAT COMMUNAL CEMETERY; Finistere, France

Source: Web blog by Pierre Lagacé



Ernest Raymond Anderson

 

RCN - HMCS Athabaskan G07

 

Ernest R. Anderson - Atlantic Star with clasp France and Germany, War Medal 1939-45, 1939-45 Star and Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with clasp.

Ernest Anderson's HMCS Athabaskan cap tally

 

Ernest R. Anderson joined the Royal Canadian Navy on 14 December 1939.  He served on HMCS Athabaskan and survived her sinking, being picked up by HMCS Haida. The following is from his daughter, Karen Anderson.  "My dad really never talked about his days in the war, he was just never the boastful kind of person. My mom does remember his brother telling her a story about my dad, on the Athabaskan on the night it sank. He mentioned how he was with one of the guns that exploded, he was thrown into the water and a lot of the men he was with were killed. He was a very strong swimmer and was able to swim to be rescued. He was covered in oil and had bad burns on his hands. He told me he remembers coming out being covered in oil and being filmed on a camera. I do know these burns on his hands gave him pain and limitations for his whole life."

 

Click here to view Ernest Anderson's Certificate of Service

 

Courtesy of Karen Anderson

 

Newspaper article on the repatriation of 64 POWs from HMCS Athabaskan G07

From the World War 2 collection of Jim L'Esperance

Source: Lest We Forget blog of Pierre Lagacé

Lieutenant Douglas McKenzie Brown 0-9383 RCNVR

 

        

 

Date of photo of A/Slt Brown (left) is unknown.  Second photo of Lt Brown is from the ship's company photo of HMCS Athabaskan G07.

 

The tunic belonged to Lt Brown and is in the collection of Kevin Joynt. Lt. Brown lost all his uniforms when HMCS Saguenay had her stern blown off, this was his replacement tunic.  He had this tunic when he was onboard HMCS Athabaskan G07. He was transferred off Athabaskan, on request, one month before she was sunk. Note the tag inside the tunic pocked with his name, D.M. Brown and the date it was made.

 

Courtesy of Kevin Joynt

Raymond Burton Rolls (Centre) - other crew member's names unknown

From the collection of Raymond Rolls

Courtesy of Kevin Gaines

Raymond Burton Rolls

Raymond was killed when the Athabaskan was sunk on 29 Apr 1944

From the collection of Raymond Rolls

Courtesy of Kevin Gaines

Remembrance Day: The captain yelled out, "Abandon ship!"

Newspaper article from "The Senior Times" - by Irwin Block

 

On November 11, we remember those who served our country, but for Harry Hurwitz the day he can’t forget is April 29, 1944.

 

That was the day Hurwitz and other victims of a German torpedo attack on his Canadian ship ended up in the English Channel, struggling to survive.

 

At 92, and a resident of the B’Nai Brith House in Côte St. Luc, Hurwitz recalled his remarkable story in preparation for Remembrance Day ceremonies. He is to lay a wreath at the cenotaph in Montreal West.

 

The Lachine-born son of trucker Chaim and Bella, with seven brothers and five sisters, enlisted in 1939 at age 18. He switched from the army to the navy and in 1942 shipped out to Greenock, just west of Glasgow, Scotland.

 

As an able-bodied seaman, Hurwitz was assigned to H.M.C.S. Athabaskan and in August 1943, while patrolling the channel, the ship was attacked by six Messerschmitt fighter-bombers.

 

“We opened fire, we drove five away, but one came out of the sky and dropped a bomb right near me. I was one of the lucky ones. The guy next to me was killed instantly and seven others died as well.”

 

He later sailed to Murmansk, Russia, as part of a convoy of 57 ships delivering materials and supplies to assist the Soviet Union in resisting and counter-attacking the German assault.

 

“Only about 20 made it. The rest were torpedoed and sunk. I was up in the masthead when it was 40 below zero, watching for enemy ships. They gave me a cup of coffee every 10 minutes, it was so cold.”

 

From its base in Plymouth, U.K., the Athabaskan continued to patrol the English Channel where the Allies were expected to launch the long-awaited second front by invading France.

 

On April 29, the ship left Plymouth at 6 pm and after three hours was at the French coast not far from Brest.

 

“For some reason, we went a little too close to the French coast. I’m on my gun at our action station, and all of a sudden a torpedo hit our ship near the stern. It was cut off completely, about 2,000 shells exploded and everyone was killed instantly.

 

“We got the order from Commander John Stubbs—who gave the order to man the hoses—to see if we could put out the fire. Guys were dying, they were screaming. Me and four other guys grabbed the hose, and just then a second torpedo hit. There was no pressure, everything was dead, the whole ship was ablaze. I got a piece of shrapnel right above my nose.

 

“Then the captain yelled out, ‘Abandon ship!’ Me and my friend Raymond Meloche (who lives at Ste. Anne’s veterans’ hospital) jumped. I threw off my big rubber boots and my heavy coat. We sunk at 4:28 am. How do I know? My mother bought me a cheap watch on my bar mitzvah and I had it all these years. She paid $4 for it!

 

“We were in the water for six or seven hours.

 

“First I was holding on to the masthead, with Meloche. I couldn’t see.

 

“I was covered with oil from head to toe. Then I held on to an empty barrel.

 

“One guy had his leg blown off and he kept yelling, ‘I don’t want to die.’ Another had a big hole in his stomach and the salt water was getting in and he was yelling. We couldn’t do anything. They all died in the water.”

 

A lifeboat floated nearby, probably released by Allied ships to help survivors. “About 15 or 16 of us got into the lifeboat. We had no oars, so we drifted, like a bunch of dummies.”

 

A German battleship appeared and prepared to take the men prisoner.

 

“I had my Magen David (Jewish star) and I ripped it off my neck and tossed it into the water. I also tossed a wallet, with Jewish things and about $40 I won the day before rolling the dice with the money from payday.”

 

Records show that 129 of the crew, including Captain John Stubbs, died. Hurwitz was among 83 men taken prisoner while another 44 were rescued by H.M.C.S. Haida. The war was coming to an end and the German captors “were very good to us.”

 

“We arrived in France and we saw two girls completely naked, dead drunk, and they cheered, ‘A way, les bons Canadiens,’ while the Germans commander yelled, ‘schnell’.”

 

Hurwitz was interrogated at a convent and gave his name as Hurwit – “I took off the zed, to sound less Jewish.”

 

His interrogator, an officer about 75, turned out to be “a really nice man. I told him I was from Lachine and he told me he had worked for General Electric in Lachine for about 20 years! I lived on 10th Ave. and LaSalle St., and General Electric was on 1st Ave. and LaSalle St.”

 

The German had immigrated to Canada to work as an engineer, but in 1936 went back to Germany to help his country, Hurwitz recalled.

 

He pounded the table, denounced the Jews, but Hurwitz said he replied he had worked for Jews and never had any problems.

 

After 14 days in Brest, the POWs were taken to a camp outside Hamburg. “Every night at exactly midnight, R.A.F. bombers attacked the oil installations there, and at Kiel, Bremen and Hanover. We would sit on top of our shack and had a beautiful view.”

 

He and a fellow prisoner bribed a guard with 25 cigarettes, worth “$500 on the black market,” and got wire cutters to escape. But when he asked a German woman in his Yiddish-style German in a nearby farm for a glass of water, she called the police and they were rearrested.

 

A senior British officer among the prisoners at the camp warned the Germans to “release the men immediately” because “the British were only 400 miles away and I will hold you personally responsible if anything happens to them.” They were returned to the general PoW population.

 

They were told to march to Lubek, and the column was accidentally attacked by an R.A.F. fighter—four men were killed by friendly fire. They returned to the prison camp.

 

Hurwitz was liberated on April 29, 1945—a year to the day he was captured. Two of his three daughters were born after war’s end—on April 29.

 

When he lays the wreath, Hurwitz says he’ll be thinking of that day in 1944, and “the guys in the water dying, shouting: ‘Save me, save me’.”

AB Harry Hurwitz and cousin in London, England

From the collection of Harry Hurwitz

Courtesy of Darla Hurwitz Scott

Athabaskan G07 POWs at Marlag und Milag. Harry Hurwitz is in the white shirt

From the collection of Harry Hurwitz

Courtesy of Darla Hurwitz Scott

ERA Leonard Mumford penned a letter home 2 days before his ship was sunk

Sig Donald King McGrath on the flag deck of HMCS Athabaskan G07

Courtesy of Donna McGrath

An oil covered Francis (Frank) Austin Charles Roach stands on the deck of HMCS Haida after being rescued

Courtesy of Garry McFadden

More Ottawa Men Off Athabaskan Now Prisoners-of-War

The Ottawa Journal 11 Aug 1944

Four Montreal Sailors Rescued In Loss of HMCS Athabaskan

The Montreal Gazette, Tue, 02 May 1944

Newspaper article dated 29 Apr 1944 on Missing Athabaskan crew members Lawrence Johnston, Herman Sulkers and Eddie Bieber

Courtesy of Pierre Legacé

Blog  Lest We Forget  //  Lest We Forget II

 

Letter from OS Berkeley to his parents - dated 02 Mar 1944

Courtesy of Pierre Legacé

 

Letter from OS Berkeley to his brother - dated 20 Apr 1944 (9 days before Athabaskan was sunk)

Courtesy of Pierre Legacé

Letter sent to OS A.G. Berkely that was returned to sender - OS Berkeley was MPK

Courtesy of Pierre Legacé

Newspaper article on one Athabaskan casualty (OS Berkeley) and one Athabaskan survivor (PO Mancor)

Courtesy of Pierre Legacé

Newspaper article announcing the loss of HMCS Athabaskan G07 - Sunk in action

Courtesy of Pierre Legacé

Newspaper article on two of HMCS Athabaskan G07's casualties - OS Berkeley and AB Barrett

Courtesy of Pierre Legacé

Newspaper article on LCdr Stubbs

Courtesy of Steve Hlasny

Leading up to D-Day (50 years later) - Re-print of a newspaper article on the loss of Athabaskan G07 - original article dated 01 May 1944

From the collection of Ivan Chamberlain

Courtesy of Dave Chamberlain

 

On September 19, 2017, HMCS Montréal took time from their operation to honour and remember the officers and sailors of HMCS Athabaskan who were lost at sea when the ship was torpedoed and sank off the coast of France on April 29, 1944 during the Second World War. As HMCS Montréal transited north as part of NEPTUNE TRIDENT 17-02, the ship’s company laid a wreath at sea over the area where HMCS Athabaskan sank. The wreath was laid by those who served on HMCS Athabaskan (3rd of name), named after the original Athabaskan, whose members felt a close connection to the ship and its history.

 

DND/RCN Photos / Crown copyright 2017

Montage that was presented to Mr. Ernie Takalo, a survivor of the sinking of HMCS Athabaskan G07, onboard HMCS Haida during a Remembrance Ceremony for the crew of Athabaskan G07. The montage has the last crew photo taken of HMCS Athabaskan G07 and a crew photo from HMCS Athabaskan 282

Courtesy of Blair Gilmore

 

 

Surviving crew members for HMCS Athabaskan G07 onboard HMCS Athabaskan 282 in the English Channel near where HMCS Athabaskan G07 was sunk - 1974

From the collection of Greg Mackenzie

Courtesy of David H. Brown

Click on the above photo to view a larger image

 

In 2003, Greg Mackenzie, a commissioning crew member for HMCS Athabaskan 282, received a tour of HMCS Athabaskan 282 from MS David Brown. Greg sent David a thank you letter for the tour and sent him the above photo with the letter.

 

Click here to read the letter Greg Mackenzie sent to MS David Brown

 

Article from the Vancouver Sun on HMCS Athabaskan G07

Courtesy of Dave Clarke

 

Newspaper article from the Trident Magazine on a memorial service conducted on HMCS Athabaskan 282 on 16 Oct 2015, off the coast of France, for those lost on HMCS Athabaskan G07 by Slt Blair Gilmore, HMCS Athabaskan.

Courtesy of Blair Gilmore

 

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