For Posterity's Sake
A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project
HMCS PRINCE DAVID F89
Former Canadian National S.S. PRINCE DAVID
Then Merchant Vessel CHARLTON MONARCH (1946)
Formerly a three-funnelled Canadian National Steamships liner, she was purchased on 19 Dec 1939, and after very extensive conversion commissioned at Halifax on 28 Dec 1940, as an armed merchant cruiser. After working up at Bermuda in Jan and Feb, 1941 Prince David was assigned to the RN's America and West Indies Station for the rest of the year. That December she was transferred to Esquimalt and in May, 1942, after refit at Esquimalt and Vancouver, joined Esquimalt Force. During her refit, scenes from the 1942 film Commandos Strike at Dawn were filmed using Prince David and Nenamook. From Aug to Nov she served under USN control in the Aleutian campaign. She then resumed her former duties out of Esquimalt until the beginning of Mar 1943, when she was paid off for conversion to an infantry landing ship. The rebuilding, which took place at Esquimalt and Vancouver, was completed that December, and shortly after re-commissioning she left for the U.K. via Cristobal and New York. Upon arrival in the Clyde in Feb 1944, Prince David joined Combined Operations Command, and landed troops in Normandy on D-Day. In Jul she left for the Mediterranean to take part in Operation "Dragoon," the invasion of southern France, on 15 Aug. She was extensive service in the Mediterranean until damaged by a mine on 10 Dec 1944, off Aegina Island, Greece. Repaired at Ferryville, North Africa, she left in Mar 1945, to refit at Esquimalt, but saw no further service was was paid off on 11 Jun 1945. Charlton Steam Shipping Co. purchased Prince David in Sep 1946. By Feb 1947 Prince David was in Britain undergoing conversions to her superstructure for passenger service. Renamed Charlton Monarch, she entered the immigrant trade and ran from Britain to Australia. Prince David seemed to be predisposed to striking underwater hazards: in 1932 as CNSS Prince David she spent six months hard aground on the North-East Breaker at Bermuda; in 1941, she was aground again in Bermuda; during her Alaskan tour, she struck an uncharted piling; and in the Mediterranean an exploding mine opened a 17-foot (5 m) hole in her plates. These events, plus the pre-war years of neglect, may have contributed to her early end. She lasted only 6 years and was broken up at Swansea in 1951.
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