HMCS FRASER H48

 

C - Class Destroyer (RN)

 

River Class Destroyer (RCN)

 


 

HMCS FRASER on 22 Jun 1940, shortly before her loss

From the flickr photo collection of Don Gorham

Click on the above photo to view a larger image

 

Battle honours and Awards:  Atlantic  1939-40

 

 

Laid down: 01 Dec 1930

Launched: 29 Sep 1931

Commissioned: 15 Apr 1932

Transferred to RCN: 20 Oct 1936

Commissioned: 17 Feb 1937

Sunk: 25 Jun 1940

 

The history of HMCS FRASER H48 - from an article in the Daily Colonist 28 Jun 1957

 

The first HMCS FRASER was one of two destroyers acquired from the British Admiralty by the Canadian Navy to replace two over-age destroyers, HMCS CHAMPLAIN and VANCOUVER.


One, the CYGENT, was to become the first HMCS ST LAURENT, while the other, the CRESCENT, was renamed HMCS FRASER.

 

Both destroyers were laid down in the Royal Navy's 1929 program.

 

Construction began in 1930 and they were launched the same day, Sept. 29, 1931.

 

The two warships were commissioned into the RCN on Feb. 17, 1937. Captain (later rear-admiral) V.G. Brodeur was the FRASER's first commanding officer. The destroyers sailed for Canada from Portland, Dorset, on March 12 of the same year. Twelve days later they entered Carlisle Bay, Barbados, to rendezvous with HMC Ships SKEENA and SAGUENAY. On March 25, Captain Brodeur exchanged command with Commander (later vice-admiral) H.E. Reid of the Skeena. At Barbados, the FRASER and the St. Laurent parted company, the St. Laurent proceeding to Halifax in company with the SKEENA and SAGUENAY, and the FRASER sailing for Esquimalt, B.C. where she arrived on May 3.

 

For the few remaining pre-war years, the FRASER carried out a busy schedule of training cruises. In the early months of 1938 she sailed south to join Halifax-based units at Panama for a cruise down the west coast of South America. A year later, under her third and last commanding officer, Commander (later rear-admiral) W.B. Creery, she sailed with other Pacific coast units through the Panama Canal for exercises in West Indies waters.

 

Other activities of the FRASER included the embarkation of Lord Tweedsmuir, Governor-General of Canada, during his 1937 visit to British Columbia; participation in the escort of President Roosevelt during his visit to the province in September of the same year, and in the four-destroyer escort of Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth during their crossing to Victoria in May, 1939, during the Royal visit. A little over three months later, Canada was at war. On August 31, four destroyers, FRASER, OTTAWA, ST LAURENT and RESTIGOUCHE, lay at anchor just off Coal Harbor in Vancouver, where they were to take part in the celebrations for the city's annual exhibition.

 

The same day a message was received from Ottawa ordering FRASER and St. Laurent to Halifax. The ships were rapidly prepared. One hour and 49 minutes after the orders had been received, the destroyers were steaming at high speed for the Panama Canal.

 

Canada declared war on Sept. 10, while they were still en route for their destination. The FRASER arrived at Halifax Sept. 14, exactly 14 days and 30 minutes after weighing anchor at Vancouver.


Joining the Halifax Force, the FRASER spent the next few months on convoy duties. Among the vessels she assisted in escorting into Halifax Harbour were ships bringing gold bullion from England to Canada for safekeeping. In March, 1940, the ship was ordered south to join the Jamaica force in the Caribbean where the allied naval forces had been bottling up German shipping caught in that area by the war.

 

However, her time with this force was short. The Nazi tide was rolling down to the coastline of western Europe and Canadian ships were urgently requested to help protect British shores against threatening invasion, and keep open the vital supply routes to the British Isles.

 

In the latter part of May, 1940, FRASER was one of the Canadian destroyers sent overseas. Following her arrival, she was assigned mainly to convoy duties, including the escort of troopships carrying Canadian soldiers to the United Kingdom.

 

On June 21, the day that Hitler imposed the armistice of Compiegne, the FRASER was dispatched to assist in the evacuation of St. Jean de Luz, a small town on the Bay of Biscayne coast near the Franco-Spanish border and one of the last outlets for refugees attempting to leave the continent. On the evening of June 22, she carried out anti-submarine patrols in the bay off the town, and later helped cover the vessels arriving to embark the refugees. At dawn on June 23, she was ordered northwards to Arcachon, on the Biscay coast southwest of Bordeaux. Her commanding officer , Commander Creery, carried two secret hand messages; one addressed to Sir Ronald Campbell, the British Ambassador to France, and the other to Admiral Darlan. It was believed that Sir Ronald was in Arcachon at the time.

 

As she approached the coastal town, the FRASER sighted a small sardine boat tossing in the rain-swept waves. When she came alongside, it was found that the boat was carrying the British ambassador, The Canadian Minister to France (Lieutenant-Colonel Georges P. Vanier) and the South African Minister to France, as well as naval, military and air attaches. The FRASER returned to St. Jean de Luz where the rescued diplomatic personnel were transferred to the British cruiser Galatea.

 

At St. Jean de Luz, the evacuation continued smoothly and efficiently and by June 23 the evacuation was practically complete. The first warships in the harbour were the FRASER, another Canadian destroyer, the RESTIGOUCHE, and the British cruiser CALCUTTA. When they stood out to sea shortly after, the FRASER had embarked five officers and 33 men of the Royal Navy, one British army officer, and four Polish seamen.

 

The three ships next headed north toward the mouth of the Gironde River, up which lay the port of Bordeaux. German vessels had been reported in the area, but when the Canadian and British units arrived nothing was seen of the enemy, and the CALCUTTA ordered a return to the United Kingdom.

 

The FRASER was never to reach her destination for, late that night, June 25, she was in collision with the CALCUTTA while the ships were forming into line ahead. Shortly after 8:30 p.m. 12 miles due west of Pointe de la Coubre light at the Gironde River mouth, the Calcutta's bows sliced into the FRASER's starboard side, cutting through to the centre line of the destroyer and stopping inside the crushed wheelhouse. The FRASER's bow broke off at the forecastle while the aft portion, engines still going astern in obedience to the order which sought to avoid the collision, moved quickly off the cruiser's port side.

 

The FRASER went to the bottom in the early hours of June 26 - Canada's first naval loss of the Second World War. Rescue efforts by the RESTIGOUCHE and CALCUTTA, and by the officers and men of the FRASER themselves saved many, but 45 of her ship's company were lost. Most of those who survived went down four months later, on October 23, with HMCS MARGARE.

 


 

Photos and Documents

 


 

Commanding Officers

 

Capt Victor Gabriel Brodeur, CB, CBE, RCN - 17 Feb 1937 - 24 Mar 1937

 

Cdr Howard Emerson Reid, CB, RCN - 25 Mar 1937 - 31 Aug 1938

 

Cdr Wallace Bourchier Creery, CBE, RCN - 01 Sep 1938 - 25 Jun 1940

 


 

     In memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice    

     Lest We Forget     

 

ARCHER, Arthur Ernest

LS, 2560, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

BARRETT, Osbourne Gordon

CPO, VA, 40392, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

BAXTER, Richard Alexander

PO, 2570, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

BEVINGTON, Sidney

PO, D/J 103378, RN

killed - 25 Jun 1940

BISSON, George Paul

Sto 1c, 21584, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

BODGER, Richard Roy

PO, 2156, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

BROWN, Hugh S.

Shipwright, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

CALL, George E.

Sto PO, RCN

DOW - 04 Jul 1940

CARLTON, Douglas Anson

AB, 3290, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

CAROLAN, Robert Emmett

Sto 1c, 21483, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

CHISOLM, Frederick D.

OS, D/JX 179370, RN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

CLARK, Frank

OS, D/JX 179367, RN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

CLARK, John Richardson

OS, 3431, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

CLARKE, William

OS, 3276, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

CONWAY, Archibald Henry W.

LS, 2259, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

COOK, John Edward

Sto 1c, 21488, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

COX, Richard H.

OS, D/JX 179361, RN

killed - 25 Jun 1940

DAVIES, Leonard L.

OS, D/JX 188660, RN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

EDWARDS, Edward

OS, D/JX 188749, RN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

ELLIS, Verdun G.

OS, D/JX 188671, RN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

FECTEAU, Ernest

Ch OA, 21180, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

FORD, Malgwyn Charles

AB, 2669, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

GAGNON, William Miller

Sto 1c, 21485, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

GILL, James

OS, D/JX 188663, RN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

HICKS, Earl Cameron

PO Ck(S), 40396, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

HINDS, Edward

OS, D/JX 179349, RN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

JOHNSTON, James McKinley

AB, 2802, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

JONES, Glyn

OS, D/JX, 187980, RN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

KELLY, John Richard

AB, 3099, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

KEMPSON, Walter M.

OS, D/JX 188730, RN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

KENNEDY, Archibald

AB, 3011, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

KENNEDY, Robert Makin

AB, 3230, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

KOWBEL, Harry

AB, 3293, RCN

killed - 25 Jun 1940

LEATHERBY, Frederick E.

LS, D/JX 136867, RN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

LEVICK, Cyril L.

L/SA, D/MX 52017, RN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

LEVINE, Reginald L.

OS, D/JX 187873, RN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

LOGAN, Clifford Melvin

AB, 2817, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

MACKLIN, Franklin George

L/Sig, 2536, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

MARCOTTE, Joseph Leo Paul

AB, 2161, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

MARKS, Walter H.

OS, D/JX 188717, RN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

MARR, David

PO Tel, 2185, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

MCDOWELL, Andrew Vincent

Sto 2c, V300, RCNVR

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

MCGIBNEY, Frank

EA 4c, 40569, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

MCLACHLAN, George Hallern

Sto 2c, 21612, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

MILLER, Lloyd Gregory

AB, 3259, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

MITCHELL, Donald William

OS, 3424, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

MOORE, Arthur James

Yeoman of Signals, 2258, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

MORE, Andrew

AB, V9314, RCNVR

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

MORRIS, Raymond H.

OS, D/JX 188759, RN

killed - 25 Jun 1940

PADDON, James Weymuth

AB, 2730, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

PAUL, Gordon Mckenzie

AB, V16007, RCNVR

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

POMEROY, Alfred J.

CPO, D/J 51975, RN

killed - 25 Jun 1940

PRATT, William Russell

AB, V16013, RCNVR

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

PRICE, John Roberts

CPO, 2082, RCNVR

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

REES, Henry V.

OS, D/JX 187981, RN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

ROSS, William Garfield

Sto PO., V10019, RCNVR

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

SAUNDERS, Arthur Robert

AB, 41047, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

SCIBAN, Henry Albert

AB, 3097, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

SENYK, Steven

Sto 2c, 21638, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

SMITH, Charles Dunsmore

OS, 3307, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

SWINDLEHURST, John C.

OSig, V7559, RCNVR

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

WAGAR, Donald Frank

AB, 2896, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

WATT, Thomas

Sto PO, 21232, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

WESTCOTT, James Herbert

AB, 2237, RCN

died - 06 Nov 1939

WHITE, Donald Harrison

OS, 3502, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

 

WRIGHT, Richard Christopher F.

Sto 2c, 21608, RCN

MPK - 25 Jun 1940

 

 

 


 

     In memory of those who have crossed the bar    

They shall not be forgotten

 

(s) - Survived the sinking of HMCS FRASER

A

 

 

B

 

 

C

 

 

D

 

 

F

 

 

G

 

 

H

 

 

J

 

 

K

 

 

L

 

 

M

 

 

O

 

 

P

 

 

R

 

 

S

 

 

T

 

 

U

 

Underwood, John C.

 

 

 

 

 

W

 

 

Y

 

Young, Alfred (s)

 

 

 

 

 


 

Former Crew Members

 

Knowlton, John Grant, LCdr (E), RCN - 01 Feb 1937 (Stand by) / 17 Feb 1937

Laman, Albert Curil Kirkland, Lt (E), RN

 

MacConnell, Clifford  (s) 

McLean, Timothy Blair, A/Surg/Lt, RCNVR - 15 Mar 1940

 

Moore, Ewan Archibald, 2828, RCN  (s)

 


 

Photos and Documents

 

HMCS FRASER H48

HMCS FRASER H48

Photo's from the Flickr collection of Ron Bell

HMCS FRASER H48

From the collection of Robert Macklem

Courtesy of Bob Macklem

HMCS FRASER H48 at Nanoose Bay, BC

From the collection of John James Ashworth Clarke

Courtesy of Eric Clarke

HMCS FRASER H48 at Victoria, BC

From the collection of John James Ashworth Clarke

Courtesy of Eric Clarke

Sailors from HMCS FRASER H48 ashore in Bermuda (pre-war)

Bill Gagnon 2nd from right

From the collection of William (Bill) Gagnon

Courtesy of Ian McDonald

HMCS FRASER H48 envelope mailed from Kingston, Jamaica 17 Feb 1939

From the collection of William (Bill) Gagnon

Courtesy of Ian McDonald

HMCS FRASER's mascot - date unknown

From the collection of Malgwyn Ford

Courtesy of Jerry Ford

Sailors in 9 Mess, HMCS FRASER H48 - Malgwyn Ford on right with no shirt

From the collection of Malgwyn Ford

Courtesy of Jerry Ford

Crossing the Equator on HMCS FRASER H48 - date unknown

From the collection of Malgwyn Ford

Courtesy of Jerry Ford

HMCS FRASER H48 iced up

From the collection of Malgwyn Ford

Courtesy of Jerry Ford

LTO Malgwyn Ford, HMCS FRASER H48, San Diego 1938

From the collection of Malgwyn Ford

Courtesy of Jerry Ford

HMCS FRASER H48

Photo's from the Flickr collection of Ron Bell

Memorial to those who died when HMCS FRASER K48 was sunk

From the collection of Arthur Gordon Banfield

Courtesy of Gordon Rhymes

HMCS FRASER H48

From the collection of Wilfred Bowen

Courtesy of Abbie Gourgon

HMCS FRASER H48 leaving Esquimalt Harbour 1937

From the collection of Jim Silvester

Courtesy of Jim Silvester

In happier times - HMCS FRASER sailors Seaman Kenneth Kyle (right) and friend Willie (William Goldsmith)

"Farewell to Seattle"

From the collection of Kenneth Kyle

Courtesy of Maureen Pepin

 

Below is an excerpt from a unknown newspaper:

 

"Netha Silver and Thelma Mc Donald, two Halifax girls, heard together the news that their fiances were missing. Dan Willis, of Hanna, Alta., and Ken Kyle, of Moose Jaw, had planned to be married in a double wedding when the Margaree arrived in port. Archie Kennedy, of Victoria, B.C., who was to have been best man, died in the FRASER sinking, which the two other sailors survived."

Article on the loss of HMCS FRASER H48

The Daily Colonist 29 Jun 1940

Article on the loss of HMCS FRASER H48

The Daily Colonist 29 Jun 1940, Pg 2

 


 

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