RCN Memories


Section 2



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To submit a story, please email the webmaster.


Please keep in mind that some of the stories here are humourous and some of them are of a more serious nature where shipmates have lost a life while others may contain profanity.


Some of these events happened 70 plus years ago and may not be 100% historically accurate - they are from our memories as we remember them. 



HAIRCUTS OR CHASTITY BELTS - Submitted by Steve Hlasny


HMCS Crusader - During HMCS Crusader's deployment to Korea we were out on patrol and then back into harbour for some recreational leave. Three of our stalwartly seamen thought they needed a hair cut and decided on an a Iroquois hair cut - much to the displeasure of our XO. The next morning it was clear lower decks to the fo'c's'le and he began by giving the three a dressing down and 30 days stoppage of leave till their hair grew in. In reality this was no big deal as we were leaving next day back on patrol for another 30 days. The XO finished his comment by saying that we are not a Tribal class destroyer - with the ships name and badge "Crusader" - they should wear chastity belts when going ashore.



ONLY IN ENGLAND!! Submitted by Gerald Sullivan


HMCS Magnificent - 1953 Coronation, RCN on parade. In London on 72 hr, leave. Weather Friday to Sunday sunny & warm, day of Coronation, rain. City over flowing with visitors, Pubs filled to capacity. Warm afternoon we stopped at a Pub, patrons lined out the door, passed a Pound note through crowd for two beers, it made its way to the bar - two beers for Canadian sailors - beers passed back out to us with change. Only in England!!


RCN at the Queen's Coronation



BEER STORES SECURE - Submitted by Steve Hlasny


HMCS Jonquiere - Harry Reynolds and (Ike) John Templeton were my running mates. We  were all standing QM watches in harbour. One occasion when I was doing my hourly rounds going through the Mortar well, I noticed that while the space where the ships beer was stored was bolted and had the best of locks, the small hatch that the mortar bombs came though with butterfly nuts, had no locks. I couldn't wait for those two to get back from ashore. Neither Harry nor myself could get through the hatch, but our stalwart Ike, the skinny little bugger, fit through there like a glove. Problem solved, and we had cases of 24 to our liking for a few months. This came to an abrupt end when a muster was done - one of the engineers left a "residue" carton in the engineers ready use locker and of course it was picked up on rounds - and they found a big vacant spot in the rear of the beer stores. We were lucky and never accused in the incident. It was a shame though as we had to throw two full cases overboard.



THE UNSINKABLE PICKLE - Submitted by John D. Donaldson


CNAV Pickle - In 1965 the Pickle was at Shearwater and a group of us lived onboard before the start of our Communications Course in Ops Div. At that time her CO was LCdr Poole-Warren who was a NAMS officer noted for looking like the guy in the Gilbey's Gin commercials and driving a Rolls Royce to drag around his 12 kids (two marriages). The Pickle was unsinkable at that time as her bilges were completely filled with beer cans.





HMCS Sarnia - During the first week of July, 1945, Sarnia was the third ship off from the jetty, and Sackville was the fourth and another corvette was fifth. That was the manner in which ships were tethered, in between convoys, during the war, it being easier to re-provision even if gangway over other ships had to be arranged, rather than being at anchor in the harbour.


The war was over. I had survived two harrowing experiences. My wife had come to Halifax for a holiday. We had been married December 24, 1944,in Montreal. We had to plan on starting our life together and getting me back to second year Engineering at the University of Manitoba after a two years absence while serving in the RCNVR.


I had arranged ten days leave and booked a hotel in downtown Halifax.


We had access to the Waegwaltic Club, so had a canoe and enjoyed the Northwest Arm, where we climbed the Dingle. Another time went out to Point Pleasant Park and climbed the Martel Tower. Life was magical for us. We had lunch on board Sarnia and she met the captain and other officers of the wardroom. They took a picture of us on the boat deck, and Sackville can be seen tied up right next to us. I presented this picture to Sackville in the wardroom on July 7, 2008. BUT, I did not tell them the story that I am about to tell you now.


Lt. Bob Douty, captain of Sarnia, wanted to see a girl friend in St. Margaret's Bay, and had arranged a picnic for the seamen (so we could sail, of course).


He knew where I was in Halifax and came to me, ordering me to come on board the next morning, as we were to sail. He said we would be back by 20:00, but he needed me on the bridge because he was short of bridge officers, and I was navigating officer.


I protested as best I could, using all the arguments a junior officer could to his captain. I said my brand new wife had just arrived for a week, that we were counting on being together after 6 months of being apart....etc...etc. He said he didn't care about that, and that he needed me on board at 07:00 for sailing at 08:00 the next morning, and he did not care what I did with Marjorie. He then left.


This is the first time the story has been told.

I was in a dilemma. I left Marjorie and went down to the ship to find someone to talk to and found S/Lt Pat Salter, Engineering officer. His advice was: he had heard that Douty had arranged for some WRENS to come on board; it was a day cruise; yes, I was needed; and why not bring Marjorie on board and he would look after her until we got out past the gates. Besides, other captains were doing the same thing to keep the crews happy until the Japanese draft thing was finalized.


So I got her on board, handed her off to Pat Salter, who put her in his cabin, while I arranged things to get us out of harbour. The departure time was delayed because the WRENS were late arriving. We had difficulty then getting the harbour tugs to warp the outside corvette into the harbour and move it elsewhere, then move Sackville so that we could sail. Eventually by mid morning we were off.


Pat brought Marjorie up to the bridge, as planned, while I was still on duty there, and Douty laughed, and welcomed her on board.


Douty had arranged a picnic, and we anchored in the bay and used the sea boats to ferry the selected crew members and the WRENS to shore. There were lots of saved tots, and coke and lots of food. Douty set them up and disappeared. He sent word back with the Bosun's Mate, who shepparded the group, that he was not able to return until morning. So we had ladies on board in the messes, or maybe in the Captain's cabin overnight.


I was part of the skeleton crew that remained on Sarnia so I did not attend the picnic. Marjorie stayed with me in my cabin that night.


A unique story of ladies on board overnight on a commissioned Canadian Naval ship!





HMCS Sarnia - Sarnia had a cat nicknamed Huff Duff (or HF/DF for High Frequency Direction Finding). When we returned to Halifax harbour from convoy escort at the end of February 1945, Huff Duff jumped ship and two days later we had to sail again without him.


Well, there was a lot of rumbling from the crew - usually a superstitious lot - as they wondered whether the cat knew something bad about this trip and they were not aware. Five days later we returned and had to tie up three ships out from a jetty completely different from the one that we had sailed from.


At about 2000, the duty quartermaster rapped on the wardroom door to report that an AWOL crew member had returned and asked what should be done.


The duty officer went to the quarter deck and there was Huff Duff. To get to our ship, the cat had to pass over two other ships, as we were the outside ship, but also we were at a different jetty.


Huff Duff was brought into the wardroom, reprimanded by the duty officer for being AWOL, and immediately brought up to the captain's cabin, where Lieutenant Bob Douty solemnly conducted a hearing with the four of us from the wardroom as witnesses. When the order came to "off caps" the cap removed from Huff Duff's head was a rum tot measuring cap. Huff Duff was found guilty and the punishment was 30 days stoppage of leave.


On our next convoy escort, the whole ship was more at ease because Huff Duff was on board and at his post as usual.



THE PICNIC - Submitted by Liam D. Dwyer, ERA, PO, HMCS Sarnia 1945 (Liam D. Dwyer, All rights reserved)


HMCS Sarnia - The signal was received that all hostilities were to cease in the European theatre of War. The message read at 2:41 PM Central European Time, (8:41 AM Eastern Daylight Time in Canada). In Reims, France General Dwight D. Eisenhower accepted the unconditional surrender of the German Armed Forces May 8th 1945. The Captain of our ship ordered, "Splice the main brace," (double ration of rum). That night we could see the fireworks on the distant horizon - Halifax was celebrating V.E. Day.


There was jubilation on board, but not as much as expected. The usual men who would use any excuse to "tie one on" did just that. The mood on board was surprising. It was like the locker room after the final hockey game of the season. The adrenalin, dedication and camaraderie of the team had come to an abrupt end. The war had been the only thing that any of us had allowed into our lives. In a moment, the tension on the ship turned to a relaxed atmosphere.


In the Chiefs and Petty Officer's Mess most men sat quietly trying to digest the reality that the war was finally over. The men sitting around the table had seen a lot of war, most didn't want to talk. Some nervously blathered on about the great job that was waiting for them when they were discharged. In the back of every one's mind a silent prayer was being repeated, thanking God they had made it alive.


For weeks prior to the end of the war there had been an uneasy feeling on our ship. On April 16th we rescued the survivors of our sister ship HMCS Esquimalt, torpedoed at the mouth of Halifax Harbour. Forty four of its crew went down with their ship. We had attacked the U Boat dropping 21 depth chargers without success. This action had put our ship on high alert. The German submarines were still in our area, putting up a gallant effort to continue the war.


On this, what would be our final patrol, we had several action stations - no depth charges were dropped. Although no one spoke openly, it was always there, "God, I hope I don't get it before this damned thing is over." We all knew from reports that it was only days, perhaps hours, when Germany would unconditionally surrender. We knew that we still could be torpedoed. There is always the last ship sunk, the last soldier killed, the last airplane shot down. We prayed we would not be that statistic.


It was May 15th we were finally permitted to enter harbour. We tied up fourth ship out at pier five. This is when we learned the reason we lay off shore for so long. The civilians and armed service personnel had rioted when it was announced the war was over in Europe. Halifax had been trashed. The liquor stores were emptied; all the business establishments on the main street had been looted. Martial Law was in force. The stupidity of the decision to shut the city down tight when hostilities were declared over was inconceivable. Of all the cities in Canada, Halifax had experienced more of the war than any other place. The convoys that supplied the allies in Europe were assembled in the greatest natural harbour in the world, Bedford Basin. The war ships of the Allied Navies who fought the Battle of the Atlantic sailed from this port. The hundred of thousand of armed service personnel who fought the war to final victory were transported on troop ships that left from Halifax. The wounded soldiers sailors and airmen were now returning on hospital ships.


When V. E. Day had finally come, Halifax wanted to celebrate, but, an order to close everything down enraged the civilian and armed service personnel. When the first liquor store was broken into, it set off a grass fire that scorched the city.


All of us on our ship had been chomping at the bit to go into Halifax, have a decent meal and just enjoy the end of the war on dry land. Because of the riots we were confined to ship.


Lieutenant Schonfield, second in command of the ship, had a relative who owned a small farm near Chester, just a few miles south of Halifax. He convinced the Navy Brass that the ship's company was not about to cause any further damage to Halifax. He pleaded our case to the Port Commander if he would give the okay for the crew to be transported to the farm by truck, the ship's company could let off some steam and enjoy a well-deserved victory party.


A skeleton crew was left on board. The rest of us piled into trucks with the rum, beer and food the cooks had prepared. There was a feeling of euphoria in everyone from the officers to the lower ranks. It was a beautiful spring day; the farmer's field had trees along one side where the cooks set up shop. One officer was in charge of doling out the rum and beer. He soon gave up and we helped ourselves.


A navy fighting ship is a well oiled machine when action stations are sounded. Every component of the ship knows exactly what has to be done to engage the enemy. Each area of the ship the - engine room, the seamen, the signal and telegraph operators and the officers - has a loyalty to each other within their responsibilities. When in action they all come together as one to form a fighting unit. With hostilities ceased, this would be the last time these individual components would be together as a single unit.


We played (soft ball) those that could stand. We sang, we cried, we laughed and repeated stories over and over of, "remember when", this action or that action took place. There were times when each of us could recall vividly the gut-wrenching fear that gripped us at action stations. Each person had their version of the events, proving beyond doubt that reality is no more than perception.


About mid- afternoon when most of us were feeling no pain we were visited by three people - two elderly men and a grey-haired woman. They were from the town of Chester just down the road. One of the elderly men, the Mayor, asked to speak to the officer in charge. The Captain was in no shape to talk to anyone, so Lieutenant Schonfield came forward. The Mayor said hesitantly, if we would not go into town and wreck it like the riots that happened in Halifax, they would put on a dance in the town hall for us.


Trashing that little village was the furthest thing from our minds. Lieutenant Schonfield, agreed those who wanted to accept the town's hospitality would present themselves at the town hall at six o'clock.


There were about 25 or 30 half inebriated officers and men in dungarees, boiler suits, and out of dress uniform. The town hall had a small room which was probably used for meetings. The chairs had been pushed to the wall. When this motley crew entered the room, the 15 or 20 women of all ages and sizes, stood along one wall eyes-as wide as saucers. It was a comical scene. These poor frightened people had more compassion and good sense than the powers in Halifax, decided to help us celebrate the end of the war. They quickly discovered we were not Attila the Hun's Army here to rape their maidens and plunder there village.


Some of the women made vain attempts to dance with the men to a fiddler and an out-of-tune banging piano. We all soon decided it was not only embarrassing, but futile. The sun was setting, it was time to go back to the field and wait for the trucks to return us to the ship. There was great relief on the faces of the few brave ones who saw us out. The hilarity of these frightened women trying to dance with half loaded sailors was enough to keep us laughing for days. This little village in their wisdom had tried to show consideration for servicemen who had fought a war. The memory of that humorous occasion is a day never to be forgotten.


The laughter at Chester gave way to an eerie silence as the trucks rumbled back to the ship. It was then that we all knew it would be the last time we, who had survived a war as a unit, would never be together again.


If there can be an ending to anything, that picnic, (if you can call it that), was the end of the Canadian War Ship H.M.C.S. Sarnia and its crew. She had served her country well, in the Battle of the Atlantic, sweeping mines off the coasts of Halifax, and Newfoundland, convoy duty in the North Atlantic and rescuing men whose ships were torpedoed. A navy ship, without purpose and without brave men to give it life, becomes a rusting relic. The men of Sarnia would scatter to all corners of Canada and like their ship, become relics of war.



DON'T BEND THE BOLLARDS - Submitted by Andy Hoskins


HMCS La Hulloise - My recollection of sailing on La Hulloise in 63 as an OSSN was that other than standing our watches, working for the Buffer, eating and sleeping, there wasn't much time left in the day. We were still many years away from personal physical fitness at sea.


At that time onboard there was an exception. We had a Leading Seaman Shipwright who was a "body builder". He was built as one would expect huge chest, and arms. He had his work dress tailored to fit his body and at least one of his shirts were shortened so we all could marvel at his biceps. With this came a little "attitude". His nickname was" Charles Atlast" When not on watch he was always "working out' with springs; small weights and such.


Our Buffer was a great guy, jovial, hard working and drinking and a great sense of humor. As one would expect those days of Cape Bretoners. He was also short and heavyset.


After morning cleaning stations at sea, all the Bos'ns and the rest of us that worked "deck force" mustered on the Ax to be detailed off for jobs by the Buffer.

As the tasks were being given out, from below decks comes Charles Atlast. He started with a couple of flexes, then running on the spot and a few warm up drills. The Buffer didn't seem to amused. He them moved close to where we were fallen in, where there was a set of twin Bollards used for securing alongside. He lowers himself between them and starts doing pushups. After a minute the Buffer had enough of the distraction.


"Leading Seaman" (Charles stops and stands up)


"Yes Buffer?"


"I don't want you to do pushups on my bollards anymore"


"Yes Buffer but why?"


"Because you will bend them."



TARGET PRACTICE GONE WRONG - Submitted by Robert Ferrar


HMCS Gatineau - Well we were 15 miles away when that helo went off the bow of the Bonnie; we were suppose to be standing by her side while she had aircraft coming and going but the Captain decided he wanted to use his SMG and the trash over side for some target practice. He was in a bit of a pickle when call for help came in and we headed full steam to help. All we rescued was the life boat that I got a close look at fully inflated, you know the ones that are in those drums on all ships. As for the Helo crew the Bonnie rescued all 3 men and one I think lost a leg. this was in early 69.





HMCS Gatineau - We were heading for home and in a NATO convoy when a storm hit. All other Navies headed for ports like Boston and New York, BUT not the mighty Canadian Navy.  No sir we rode it out. As a curious lad of 18, I went up to the bridge to look out the windows. I asked the officer on duty for permission to come onto the bridge and he said yes but stay off to the side out of the way. Now as I looked out I was told that the waves were 40 foot and the swell was 40 foot, That means if both hit at peak it was 80 feet. I was scare to death but I held on. As I looked off to port I could see something that my brain could not relate too. It looked like a huge ball bobbing in the waves, coming towards us. I pointed and asked the officer what that was? He said shit and yelled hard to starboard!, Later he said to me glad you saw that because that was the sonar ball on the bottom of the Bonnie and she or us were a BIT OFF COURSE,.????.....YUP just another day in the Canadian navy...



SLOW AHEAD ON PORT, SIR - Submitted by Nigel Whiteley


HMCS New Waterford - During Exercise Yeoman in late Fall 1964, I was SSD OOW for the approach to Argentia USN Naval Base, when we were trying to park PROVIDER and nine frigates in a howling off shore wind. It seemed like hours to get the tanker alongside and she took all the tugs available. The first frigate alongside was in the dubious position of being about 60 feet off the jetty at the end of her berthing lines, wrestling herself alongside a few hard earned feet at a time.


NEW WATERFORD was told off to get alongside ASAP. Our approach was tricky in that we had to come through the lee of PROVIDER and then into the full blast of the offshore wind as we made our final approach. The Captain said he would do a fast approach and go full astern on the port engine to quickly swing the stern into the wind and take off the headway at the same time. Everybody in the chain of command from the wheelhouse to the engine room were briefed.


All parts of ship were standing by, fenders, heaving lines, hawsers passed outboard for rapid deployment to shore. In we came, eight knots, I think which is about four knots faster that the alongsides were normally done this close to the jetty. At the right time the “full” order was passed down the voice pipe. In all the wind and tension etc., not made any easier by the presence of FOAC and CANCOMFLT Admiral O’Brien on the jetty watching intently. The phrase “Slow ahead port on, Sir” came up the pipe. We ran out of time and distance at the same time. NEW WATERFORD touched the jetty with alacrity.


I remember spending an awfully long time producing CNS "Report of Collisions and Groundings." Six copies, all had to be identical, no photocopiers, no mod cons at all. Perhaps that is why my application to transfer to Supply Branch was so quickly managed, since the Captain had become my career manager after leaving NEW WATERFORD.


A Lady waiting for a nose job



THE PICKLE'S C.O. - Submitted by John D. Donaldson


CNAV Pickle - LCdr Poole-Warren was one of the memorable characters from my early years in the RCN. He was an Aeronautical Engineer at NAMS (Naval Air Maintenance School) and had a second marriage combining six and six into twelve kids, most of them going to Hampton Gray School on the base. He drove them around in a large square vehicle like a London Taxicab. I remember him keeping us in stitches when the half dozen or so of us lived on Pickle awaiting accommodation in Stadacona Wardroom for our long Communications course. While we never left the jetty it was one of the most entertaining week of my Naval career. LCdr Poole-Warren stood out as a unique character for one more reason - his striking resemblance to Commander Edward Whitehead who starred in the Schweppes commercials. 





(1) LCdr Poole-Warren  (2 & 3) Cdr Edward Whitehead.



THE GROUNDING OF HMCS JOLIETTE K418 - (The wartime memories of James Priel passed down to his family) - Submitted by Joan Hampaul


HMCS Joliette - James Daniel Priel - Able Seaman, Royal Canadian Navy Reserve, Apr 1943 - Feb 1946 Just shy of his 18th birthday with his dad's permission, our James Daniel Priel enlisted in the Royal Canadian Naval Reserves. After basic training in Cornwallis, on 06 Jul 1943 he was called to active service. First on HMCS Orillia (K119), then transferred to HMCS Joliette (K418). On 12 Nov deployed to the North Atlantic at the height of the Battle of the Atlantic.


A farm boy from Saskatchewan likely never travelled further than a barn dance a few towns over. Dad was stationed on the ship as a gunner until the ship was caught in a hurricane off the coast of Moville in Lough Foyle, Ireland and tossed aground in the storm.


This is Dads recollection of the events that took place:


On 22 Nov 1944 in the North Atlantic 2001 at 3 minutes after 9:00 am the ship was tossed aground, the NVR at the time was Captain George Downey. The crew had had yet to be called to general stations when the ship ran aground; Dad was off duty and sleeping in his hammock below deck. The sealed door was opened and the water rushed into the mess deck and crew quarters. The force of the impact made Dad slide down into the ropes of his hammock and was trapped. The lights went out and all was dark... the Leading Seamen (a giant of a man), flashlight in hand took charge of the crew quarters; detangled Dad from the ropes and cleared the deck in order. The hatch was sealed and bolted, and furthered shored up with 2X4s. Once the deck was sealed the crew was sent topside, and in dads' case, with nothing on but his skivvies. It was brutally cold. Fortunately dad had his coveralls and wallet at his station and that was all he was able to salvage.


The Captain ordered the crew not to abandon ship, as they would drown, freeze to death or be crushed against the rocks with the force of the waves. Once the ship was secure, the crew rode out the storm for two days. The ship was then towed to Londonderry and later to Belfast for repairs. The Stern was badly damaged on impact, and while in tow, the ship's bow was low in the water and the screws where out of the water. The crew was loaded up and sent to Belfast to wait deployment. While in Belfast, they were put up in an old house that was without water, heat or blankets for two days......


I asked him about this recollection of exact moment the crash occurred, he said "There are some things you just never forget' I asked how could they possibly sleep through such a harrowing storm, his response was 'storms and rough seas were the norm you got the sleep when you could.' I asked him if he was terrified…he said there was no time…you just did what you had to do. He was nineteen years old at the time and served until his discharge 11 Feb 1946.



A GOOD DEED REMEMBERED - (The wartime memories of James Priel passed down to his family) - Submitted by Joan Hampaul


HMCS Joliette - Another story dad told us was when he was on leave in Ireland he befriended a young man and his family. He met this young man and his friends in a pub and ended up staying with his family for 3 days sharing stories. This family welcomed him into their home with typical kindness, although they had little by way to share. Dad said they only had lanterns, little food , no coal, and meager possessions. Everything they possessed was given to the war effort.


On the third day dad went back to the ship and with the help of his ship mates loaded up a ‘taxi’ with bags of flour, sugar, coffee, tea bacon, vegetables and what ever else the ships cook and dads mates could get their hands on. Dad said the car was stacked to exploding at the seams, with barely enough room for him. He took the supplies back to the family; said after his good-byes amongst tears and gratitude.


Forty odd years later Dad received a letter from the estate of this man who had passed away. The young man and his family had never forgotten the generosity of Dad and his ship mates, for these provisions allowed the family to eek out a living by selling foodstuffs made with these provisions. Although they never spoke in all these years, each one in their way never forgot the 'cost' and ravages of war and that there are good people no matter where you come from.



THREE SHIPMATES REMEMBERED - Submitted by Edward Balkwill


HMCS NIPIGON operating off Bermuda.  On 07 Nov 1971, while working off Bermuda,  HMCS NIPIGON 's Sea King lost power to her engines and crashed into the sea at about 2200 hrs. The seas were heavy with no moon and a strong wind. There was a loss of three crew who were never recovered - Lt(N), Allan Edward Dick, Cpl John Osborne Ross McCrea, Lt Lawrence Michael Ostaficiuk. Only the navigator, Owen (Bud) McLean was found and rescued.


I was in the rescue boat when we pulled him (Owen McLean) out of the water. He was not in the best condition but recovered quickly. I think he was very fortunate to get out of the chopper when he did get out. He was at a depth that damaged his ears and was bleeding from ears, eyes and nose slightly. It's nice to know that he went on to a good career. He was aircrew so we didn't really get to know one another but I remember he seemed to be nice person. (by Edward Balkwill)


I was the diver that went out with the rescue whaler, a sad day indeed. The weather was fine when we launched from NIPIGON and shortly there after it changed for the worst. We picked Bud up, returned him to NIPIGON and continued our search. Our whaler engine and tiller broke down while we were doing our search away from NIPIGON R.I.P. my Brothers (by Leo MacMullin)


I remember Jack MacRae, Air Observer, lived in 8 Mess. He was planning on retiring after that trip...very sad, great shipmate. (by Merrill Gillis)


A hellish night to remember. I was about to be relieved at the wheel, but the OOW said, "Negative! Revolutions 232 (I think); Full Speed Ahead both engines. Starboard...". And off we went. Christ, what a night! I was relieved at the wheel when we arrived at the crash site. We started recovering pieces of the fuselage right away, so it was obvious something horrific had happened. The hardest thing for me was recovering a flight helmet with the straps attached to each other. We knew at least it was a spare, but it still gave me the willies. NIPIGON recovered the one survivor. To the rest of the crew who were lost: RIP, guys. (by Lou Dawson)


I was the Cox'n of the rescue whaler that went out that night in November 1971 night and remember the long night searching the waters for survivors. Although it was a somber night I remember that the cooks had hot soup ready for us when we returned to the NIPIGON. (by Chester Kingston)



HANDS TO DINNER - Submitted by Robert (Bob) Wallington


HMCS Kokanee sometime during WW II -  I do recall that each day someone was designated to draw our supper from the galley. Keep in mind the galley on a frigate was on the top deck and the Stokers' mess was two decks below; also the galley was mid-ship while our mess was forward (close under the twin 4” gun turret). Well, this day the sea was running fairly heavily making our footing 'touchy' and it was my turn to draw supper which unfortunately was good old red lead and bacon! I was ok down to the second deck and along the companion-way around the Officers' Mess then the ship lurched and I coloured the deck-head and bulk-heads a 'nice' shade of red!! Cleaning the mess up wasn't the problem (that was bad enough) but as you can realize we had limited provisions aboard so it took some persuading to draw a second supper for 20 hungry mouths! Thank goodness stokers and cooks got along well! That helped! 


I also remember the 'bread' that used to come aboard in 'Derry'; the first day you could wring water out of it! And the next day it was harder than a rock! As I recall some of the crew were allergic to it and broke out in hives! (I didn't, something to be thankful for!)



FIRST BREAKFAST AT SEA by Bill McKibbon, submitted by Gordon Longmuir


HMCS Ontario - Lately, I have found myself remembering events from my brief Canadian naval past in vivid detail. Last night, I found myself thinking about my first morning aboard the cruiser, HMCS Ontario.


I was 18 and had never before in my life been to sea, or, for that matter, seen an ocean. So, on a damp evening in January, 1956, along with my fellow officer cadets (Venture Classes of ’56 and ’57) boarded the cruiser HMCS Ontario in Esquimalt Harbour. As we steamed westward up the Strait of Juan de Fuca, we were directed below to a huge 60-person sleeping compartment. Next morning, after a surreal night sleeping in a hammock strung from the deckhead (another first), and after being awakened abruptly at dawn and directed to the upper deck, we were told to line up outside a metal box for breakfast which turned out to be our dining mess for the remainder of the voyage). The ship was rolling, rather disturbingly, from side to side as we began to encounter the massive Pacific ground swells.


Inside that metal box ‘mess’, we were issued a tray. Then we filed past a galley window where most of us, quite optimistically, piled on a substantial breakfast. I can recall that my tray included juice, oatmeal, milk, bacon, eggs, toast, pork and beans and coffee.



Three long tables, which were parallel to the ship’s fore and aft line, were bolted to the deck. There were ten metal-legged chairs on each side which were not fixed to anything, sixty in all. With some difficulty, I carried my loaded tray to the centre table and sat down midway along its length. After a short time, all sixty cadets were seated and digging in.


The ship’s degree of roll seemed to be increasing dramatically. I was having difficulty keeping the many items on my tray from sliding back and forth, toward and away from me. Peripherally, I could see that many of our guys, if not all, were having similar problems. To make matters worse, the trays themselves were also sliding toward and away from us. [Later in the trip, in similar circumstances, the tray-sliding difficulties would be mitigated by long damp cloth towels. We would also learn to keep our trays level by tipping them to and fro with one hand and eating with the other. But that bit of experience would come later: much too late for this fateful morning.


Suddenly the ship took a massive roll to port (away from me). My first thought was that this huge ship was actually going to capsize. As I pushed on the edge of the table to prevent myself from falling forward, my tray slid away from me and off the table on the far side. As did the trays of each and every other cadet on the ‘high’ side (s). Thirty trays, each laden with food, went over. Simultaneously, every cadet on the ‘low’ side (s) fell over backwards in their chairs, followed by their own trays (also laden with food). Then, as we on the ‘high’ side (s) of the table tried to push ourselves away, the ship rolled back again to starboard — and thirty more of us fell over backward.


It was all but unbelievable. There we were: sixty guys, sixty chairs, sixty trays, sixty breakfasts, all sliding back and forth under and around the tables.


It was chaos: slithery, slimy, chaos. Someone shouted “All out”.


We all scrambled, crawled, staggered, out. I don’t, even now, know where most of us went in the immediate aftermath, but I ended up clinging to a stanchion on the open deck about twenty feet from the mess, along with a few others, slightly nauseas and unexplainably, simultaneously hungry.


Fifteen minutes later, a kindly seaman emerged from the mess with a juice jug full of oranges, presumably for us. As I was admiring his ‘sea legs’, those same legs flew out from under him and he fell full out onto the deck on his back, his jug of oranges projected high into the air. He retreated quickly back into the mess and we saw him no more.


For the next hour, the dozen oranges rolled back and forth across the full width of the ship, only stopped from going into the sea by the deck lip.


That is how I learned why, in the navy, a dining hall is called a “mess”.



FOND MEMORIES - Submitted by Ray Paquette, LCdr, RCN


HMCS Saguenay - In mid August 1967 I was appointed directly off the Supply Officer’s Sub Specialty Course in HMCS HOCHELAGA to SAGUENAY as the Supply Officer, relieving LT Ian Clarke. The ship was alongside Expo 67 in Bickerdike Basin Montreal . The ship’s company was in the midst of the posting season at the end of the operational phase of the cycle. The CO, CDR D. Avery was replaced by the Executive Officer, LCDR L.A. Dzioba, for the return to Halifax at the end of August. On arrival in Halifax the ship was awaiting the announcement of the “out of port” refit for the First Escort Squadron (SAGUENAY, NIPIGON, KOOTENAY) which we were told was tied to the awarding of the refit contract for BONAVENTURE. When that decision was made, our squadron was awarded to Saint John Shipbuilding and Dry Dock. Shortly after that announcement, a new CO, Captain D.H.P. Ryan was appointed as CO and Squadron Commander. I served in SAGUENAY until December 1968 when I was relieved by Lt G. McKearney (sic). Despite the seniority in the CO’s rank and mine (I was a Sub Lieutenant) the professional relationship was one that I look back on with fondness when I remember my service.



THE LOSS OF HMCS SKEENA - Submitted by Brian Braun (from the memoirs of the late Bill Braun)


HMCS Skeena - I was the Upper Deck Stoker aboard the Skeena that fateful 24th day of October, 1944 and being the Upper Deck Stoker it was my duty to lower the anchor or anchors as instructed by the Officer of the Day that stormy night. I was order to lower only one anchor that night. I did not go down to my quarters after lowering the anchor as ordered, but slept on a life-jacket on top of a steam box until someone came over and yelled “Abandon Ship”. I looked and there was seawater on the upper deck. The two seaward life boats we shattered, to the best of my memory, by the high gale. As we lost three members from our float, we came back to the ship soaked in oil and seawater and almost frozen. We then got rescued by a Boson’s Chair from ship to shore and taken to Icelandic fishing homes. I remember being put in a round zinc tub of warm water beside a cast iron heater with my shoulders covered by a blanket. From there I was taken to a U.S. Naval hospital and then to their base until the balance of our ships took us to Glasgow, Scotland. From there we left on the Q.E. II for New York and Montreal where we were debriefed and sent home on Survivor’s Leave for 180 days, plus 60 days accumulated leave. We then went back to Halifax and more Navy duty. That fateful night still stands out very clearly in my memory as does the funeral for my lost shipmates as they had to help me from the hospital to the cemetery and back.



A WHALE'S TAIL - Submitted by Gerald Sullivan


HMCS Ontario - September of 1950 we were operating in North Pacific vicinity of the Queen Charlotte Islands. On this particular day it was extremely foggy, viability down to yards, moderate sea, just the large Pacific swells, we found ourselves surrounded by a group of migrating Gray whales. Apparently these whales grow up to 50 feet and a weight of 40 tons, running over one of them could cause damage to the ships rudder. Duty watch lookouts were detailed to the fo'c's'le with a hand powered phone to the bridge. I had the detail during the afternoon watch, 2nd & 4th hour, as far forward as a Hand could go, nose literally pressed against the Jackstaff. Ship surrounded by these large whales, we were proceeding dead slow. As the fo'c's'le deck was considerably lower, lookouts could see a little farther than those on the bridge. We could see them on both sides as they breached and breathed through their spouts, occasionally one of them would slap the surface with their tail. It is believed this may be a means of communication between the whales. Do not recall how long we were amongst them, but it certainly was interesting.


image of a Gray whale



MALASPINA MEMORIES - Submitted by Jim Silvester


HMCS MALASPINA - My time aboard the Malaspina was fairly short. The Mal was an old coal burner and was my first ship. She was used to check anyone coming into Esquimalt Harbour. Quite often we would stop a fisherman and check him out and they were always able to throw us a few salmon, which the cook would love, and we would have a good feast of salmon. When our coal supply got low we would head up to get loaded and our coaling party looked a lot like Al Jolson when we were finished.


Malaspina's coaling party



A SURVIVOR'S MEMORIES - Submitted by Rick Beresford


CPO Alfred Lapsley was the Ordnance Chief on HMCS Magog when she was torpedoed. Alf said he was in his workshop when they were torpedoed. It immediately flooded and the deck opened up above him. He swam up and climbed onto the deck cutting his hands. The stern section came back up and closed the deck where he had just got through. He had oil in his eyes. They took him to Sick Bay where the Doctor was working on another fellow. The Doctor treated him immediately and Alf said that he said "what about that guy ?" and the Doc said he wasn't going to make it. After the torpedoing he received some rehab leave. (Alfred Lapsley was a family friend of Rick Beresford's parents and Rick was fortunate to hear some of Alf's wartime stories.)




A SEA KING AND A KIWI - Submitted by Andy Hoskins


The South Pacific, early 1978 - HMCS Restigouche, HMCS Kootenay, HMCS Provider and HMNZS Waikato. I was on Restigouche for a pre-RIMPAC exercise. Ships that were part of this exercise included Kootenay, Provider, and a Leander Class Frigate from New Zealand, Waikato. The Squadron Commander was flying his pennant on Restigouche. Provider was sailing with an American Air Det at this time.


During FLY OPS with Provider's Sea King there was confusion in course direction by the participants resulted in the aircraft left without enough fuel to return to Provider. They jettisoned equipment to lighten the load and were preparing to ditch. Waikato was racing a full speed toward the Sea King. Their CO Cdr Ian Bradley offered the much smaller flight deck for the sea king to land on. Whether the aircraft was given permission is unknown. In marginal weather the aircraft landed safely diagonally on Waikato's flight deck with only seconds of fuel left.


Cdr Bradley was first commended for saving the aircraft, but then became severely criticized for endangering his crew and the ship. Investigations took place upon their return and I believe "disciplinary" action was taken. Cdr Bradley was a highly skilled officer. Most crews revered his actions and leadership. On a prior ship during the night at sea he went and informed only one officer and then slid over the side to test the LBS actions. He was released a year after the incident at sea under mysterious conditions. During the Falklands war another Sea King made an emergency landing, this time on HMS Minerva, also a Leander class.


- Submitted by Lorne Benjamin

I remember it well, Wilf Baur directed the helo to the Kiwi ship. He received accolades for his assistance. I still remember that Kiwi ship coming alongside with the Sea King athwartships. We listened to TG Tac while they made their decision. They jettisoned everything they could. A supply officer wanted an accounting for it all. The aircraft CO asked the supply officer, "How much do you weigh?" Good times.


- Submitted by Steve Foldesi, Capt, RCN / C.A.F. / RANR

This happened during RIMPAC 78; This was RIMPAC 78; I was D2 SOO and chaired the BOI. What actually happened was that the Met Tech screwed up his preflight brief and mixed up wind and sea. Normally sea is “to” and wind is “from”. After a three hour NORDO mission with a very low cloud base looking for Orange Force (happened to be the US Nuclear Navy: Enterprise, Long Beach, Bainbridge and Truxton), when he let down Provider was nowhere in sight (actual some 80 miles away) and he was at delta fuel. Kootenay being the flight follower picked up his squawk but we were too far away. Although we all steamed to intercept, Provider could only do 20 knots and the IREs were on single boiler with a max speed of 21. This is when Waikato came to the rescue. The helo was refueled and the USNR Ensign flew it back to Provider.


Ian Bradley did make four rings. I caught up with him later when as CTG on SouthPloy (PR and the Trg Sqn). We were in Auckland for the RNZN 50th Anniversary. He had been CO HMNZS Philomel and indeed he was fired. At the time of our meeting he had a wrongful dismissal case running. His crime was mouthing off against government policy while still in uniform. A most colourful fellow.


As an aside I sailed with Andy Hoskins. He was a P2 Bosun in Qu’Appelle when I was the XO.


The Sea King after it made an emergency landing on HMNZS WAIKATO F55 in Apr 1978

Source/Credit: South Pacific edition of Time Magazine



MAN OVERBOARD!! - Submitted by Bernie Quigley


HMCS Restigouche, HMNZS Waikato, HMCS Provider - a night RAS - I was on Restigouche in lifeguard station for the RAS and had just finished my watch in OPS. I went up the port bridge wing to get some fresh air. I was talking to the lookout looking out over the moonlit ocean when we noticed, passing down the port side, only about 10 feet away, a person waving his arms yelling "HELP ME"! We both screamed MAN OVERBOARD at the same time. I had chills down my spine for an hour! We picked up one of them and the Sea King from the Provider picked up the other. Both apparently we're on the bow of the NZ ship and got taken off by a rogue wave and no one knew. It was a very scary time! Made me wonder "What if that were me?"



PORT 10 - Submitted by Bernie Quigley


HMCS Saskatchewan - On the steamers one of the best things about OPS was not only did you have communication with the bridge but you could also hear in OPS the communication between the bridge and wheelhouse!


On Saskatchewan we had a brand new OS Bos'n fresh from training whose English was very poor from the back woods of Quebec. We'd sailed for a 3 month triangle trip (Esquimalt, San Diego, Pearl Harbour and back home). Young OS Portin went to the wheelhouse for his first watch. The Quartermaster ran thru the commands and answers to and from the Wheelhouse until he felt the OS had it down. He asked the bridge for the OS to take the Helm. Permission was granted and OS Portin stepped up to the helm.


In his broken English made his report "Bridge Wheelouse Houdinary Seamens Portin hon the elm, steering course 220 by forward Gyro, 150 revolutions on de counter, Master Seamens Todd his de QM." The bridge gave the standard "Very good" 


After a while the said "Starboard 15" The Helmsman repeat the command as per normal


Bridge then said "Midships " And again the command was repeated back.


The bridge then said "Port 10" And the Helmsman answered "Yes Sir" but did nothing, Again the bridge said "Port 10" this time more forceful! Again the Helmsman answered "Yes Sir" This happened twice more each time the bridge more frantic and each time the Helmsman more upset as well.


We in Ops were listening and wondering what was going on. Finally the OOW screamed into the mike "PORT TEN!!!" With equal force the Helmsman screamed back "YES SIR GOD DAM IT DIS HIS HOUDINARY SEAMENS PORTIN HON DE HELM!!!!"


We were pissing ourselves in OPS! The next command from the bridge was "Quartermaster take the Helm!"


It was a few weeks before Ordinary Seamen PORT 10 got to take the Helm again!



LIFE ON A WW2 FRIGATE - Submitted by Jim Stanley (Jim served in the frigates Magog and Waskesiu during WW2)


The ship was divided into three watches the Red, White and Blue watch. Each watch had two Radar ratings, two Asdic operators, a Wireless operator, Stokers, etc. The watches were: the First Watch 8 pm to 12 midnight; the Middle Watch midnight to 4 am; the Morning Watch from 4 am till 8am; the Forenoon Watch from 8 am till 12 noon; the Afternoon Watch from 12 noon till 4 pm; The First Dog Watch from 4 pm to 6 pm; and the Second Dog Watch from 6 pm to 8 pm - they swung the dog watches so each watch did not get the same duty time each day. We all hated the middle watch - didn’t get much sleep in your hammock if it was rough and you had the middle watch. The Asdic and Radar operators were lucky, we were in a warm hut but the poor seaman lookouts froze their balls off standing beside the Oerlikon gun trying to stay warm. My buddies name was Anton Fuch. He had chronic sea sickness. He was a lookout - I would bring him a crust of bread to eat when he was freezing on watch; he would spew it up on deck. He never ate till we were in harbor, he was a westerner one of the good guys. On a frigate stokers had their own mess separated by a watertight door on the lower flats forward to the seaman's mess. I always remember the bread, it came aboard in sagenet sacks and was stowed in the seaman's mess. After so many days at sea it would turn moldy so we would cut the mold off and toast the square. It was common to see some gannet toasting a 2 inch square of bread for breakfast (a gannet is a bird that is always eating and was part of navy slang – that and “dogs body’ were popular) Cigarettes were 10 cents a package . We always kept a couple of cartons in our attaché case when going on leave as they made good barter for anything! Especially in London,  the civilian population had nothing in those days.




A SURVIVOR'S MEMORIES - Submitted by Stephen Bailey (on behalf of his father Barney Bailey, CPO, HSD)


Dad never talked much about the war. What I do know is that he joined sea cadets at Royal Roads, near Victoria in 1935 or 36 and immediately went RCN when he turned 18. He was below decks down near the keel working on the "sword" or the "transducer" (whatever that means) of the ASDIC antenna pod when the torpedo struck. Apparently safety protocols required that all water tight hatches had to be sealed until the ship was safely anchored and inspected. He was trapped below decks for an extended period. Mom said he had nightmares for a very long time afterward. After recovery leave, he was sent for officer training which he completed just as the war ended. He elected to retire as a CPO because the benefits were better - or so he was told. He was never sure about that. (As of 24 Apr 2016, Barney Bailey is alive and well, living in BC)



MY CHINA PLATE - A tribute to Gilles Doutre - Submitted by Jim "Lucky" Gordon


On the passing of my dear friend Gilles Doutre, his daughter Angela an I exchanged personal messages to share our sorrow. In one message I wrote “Forever my old China Plate” to which Angela replies, “I don’t even want to know. LOL”. 


I responded, “I’ll explain it some time, it’s good” There are still a few of us old timers around who understand the term. Most don’t. I wrote this to Angela:


Dear Angela, A small tribute to my old China Plate.


I know you said, light-heartedly that you didn’t “even want to know, lol," however, I want to tell you. 


I first met your Dad early June 1965. I was just arriving from Canada, at HMS Dolphin Two, the tiny training annex to the larger submarine base, HMS Dolphin, in Gosport England for my basic submarine course. Your Dad had already been there on course for a few weeks. He was on watch at the main gate. I was only 20 years old and somewhat anxious about my entry into the ominous world of the submarine service in such unfamiliar surroundings.


He was genuinely pleased to welcome a fellow Canadian. That huge contagious smile, which I have enjoyed very much for over half a century, lit up the entire area and gave me confidence that I had at least one friend in that mysterious new world.


He introduced himself as Gilles but told me the Kippers, (Royal Navy sailors), had dubbed him ‘Pierre’. He took particular pride in that nickname. We exchanged pleasantries and ‘Pierre’ pointed out some of the buildings in Dolphin two and gave me some advice on how to survive being a colonial in the ruthless Royal Navy submarine service.


He told me that the senior rates called us “Canada” and friendlier junior rates called us “Oppo”, which he pronounced “Hoppo” with his strong French accent. He went on to inform me that it was short for “(H)opposite number” which meant friend. He went on to say that they also called him “China”, that also seemed to mean friend but he wasn’t sure how that translated.


As it happens, I was born a Cockney in The Bow, in London England during WWII. As I was growing up in Canada, far from The Bow, my Mom educated me on my roots and the rhyming slang of Cockneys. For example, Apples and Pears means Stairs, “a Butchers” or “Butcher’s Hook” means a Look, “Cock and Hen” means Ten, “Titfer” or “Tit for Tat” means Hat. I’m sure you get the gist. So I explained to Pierre that, in Cockney slanguage, China was short for China Plate that meant Mate, a common naval term for friend.


Pierre was thrilled with the language lesson and from then on I, and many others, would be greeted by Pierre, with that Cheshire grin and charming French accent, as either Hoppo or China.


Not long after meeting Pierre, he and I were posted to HMCS Ojibwa that was about to be commissioned as the first Canadian O Class Submarine. He very quickly became known as China for his constant use of that very British term of friendship.


Although there are still a few of us old timers who call him China, many of those who warmly knew him by that nickname have passed on. I can vividly see the revelry of China being greeted at the Pearly Gates by those old shipmates, messmates and brothers in boats.


And one day, when I arrive at that gate, China will be on watch, grinning from ear to ear, he will give me that familiar bear hug and say, “Jimmy, me old Hoppo, good to see you”, and I will know I still have that special bond with a true friend.


Forever, my China Plate.



HOW I MET MY WIFE - Submitted by Eric Ruff


Sailing Vessel Tuna, 1968 - LCdr. "Bill" Walker was the skipper of HMCS Pickle. He was also in charge of the Royal Canadian Navy Sailing Association (which looked after the former war prizes). As no one was looking after the Tuna, and as some of the Pickle's crew would be in Halifax for the next few months (on our Pre-Fleet Course), he let three of us (Chris Haines, John Jamieson and Eric Ruff) take over the Tuna. As we didn't know any girls in Halifax at that time, I called a friend, invited him out for a sail and asked him to bring along three ladies. My wife was one of those ladies - and I met her, literally, aboard the Tuna.



(The) WARTIME MEMORIES of George (Red) MacNair  - From the memoirs of George (Red) MacNair, published with permission of his daughter Sandra Lansing


HMCS PRINCE RUPERT K324 - After my training, I got drafted, the whole crew of a new ship about to be launched in BC, at Esquimalt; and we were shipped out seven days and eight nights by train. I’ve since been back by air. But the ship was delayed, so instead of being the second frigate [anti-submarine escort vessel] launched, we ended up being the third. We spent May, June and July and part of August [1943] on the west coast. Dropped into Prince Rupert for a kind of a dedication ceremony. One guy composed a song about “they gave us cigarettes, a washing machine and guitar, but that’s all they gave to the ‘Fighting PR’."


From there, we came through the Panama Canal, up to Halifax, some more training off of Pictou, and then onto Newfoundland and Escort Group C3, mid-Atlantic, Newfie - Derry Run. Four days in, turn around, and back. In March of 1944, we got assigned to go help the Yankee escort group; and we took part in the sinking of a German sub U-575 on March 13, 1944. We picked up 14 survivors: two officers, 12 men. I was a sentry looking after them a few days. Most of them could speak English, and we got quite friendly. You know, they had the common enemy, the sea, the same as us. So we had lots in common to talk about. I found a very intriguing thing that I never forgot. Two of them were Lutherans. I’m a Presbyterian by birth, and they had praying mothers at home just like I had.


HMCS STRATHADAM K682 - I got a rude awakening. We used to do supposedly 30 days out and four days in. But this time, we had gone 42 and we were due in that night in Londonderry [Northern Ireland]. We were coming up the Irish Sea, picked up a sub on the ASDIC, and carried out two or three attacks, when all of a sudden, one of our Hedgehogs [anti-submarine mortar], turned out in the inquiry that it was sabotaged. It exploded when it left the mount, put the paint locker and the forward mess on fire; killed six guys and wounded 12.


We went into Belfast, but they wouldn’t let us unload the dead and the wounded. They wouldn’t allow us to have permanent berth on account of the dripping explosives. Some of the bombs had shrapnel all through them. I got involved with going into clean up the mess. I grew up in the country; and I butchered beef and pigs, and chickens, but I wasn’t really prepared for something like that.


I was gathering up body parts in a dustpan and spewing in the other one. Could hardly stand up on that linoleum-covered deck for blood. I still wake up with nightmares; and smell that horrible stench of death and dismembered bodies. It leaves an awful imprint on you.



MY TIME ON THE VICKY - Submitted by Nelson Winterburn, ABVS1


HMCS Victoriaville - I served on the Victoriaville (the Vicky) from October 9, 1961 until September 19, 1963. The ship had recently been re-commissioned and was in the workup process. Ship’s captain was LCDR Rikely, the XO Lt. Oxley, and the Supply Officer was Lt. F.J Graves. Once ready for sea, the Vicky sailed all the way to St. Margaret’s Bay to practice action stations, and related drills. Most of our trips involved sea exercises between Halifax and the West Indies: Puerto Rico, Antigua, Virgin Islands, and repeated visits in and out of Bermuda. Other Atlantic ports of call were Fort Lauderdale, Boston, and New York (but never got past Halifax harbour entrance due to a mechanical breakdown). NYC came but 50 years later!


The longest trip from home port in both time and distance was the trip up the St. Lawrence River to present day Thunder Bay, four months and about 3,000 nautical miles each way. This was an incredible experience to travel the St. Lawrence Seaway, go through the Welland Canal, and the lock at Sault Saint Marie. Many towns and cities were visited in between: Port Alfred, PQ, Prescott, Toronto, Hamilton Windsor, Sarnia, Green Bay, Michigan, and Fort William/Port Arthur. (Now known as Thunder Bay). The main purpose of this trip was to escort the late Queen Mother Elizabeth on an official tour of the Seaway and secondly to provide sea training to Naval Reservists based in Hamilton. And in keeping with Royal tradition, the Queen Mother sent a signal to our ship that read: Well done, Ship’s company. Splice the Mainbrace.


Back in Halifax, the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 resulted in a general recall for all personnel stationed aboard a ship were ordered to return to their vessel immediately and rig for sailing by 0800 the next morning. Victoriaville's assignment was to relieve a sister frigate already on station in the North Atlantic that was shadowing a Russian trawler. During our period of observation a Russian mother ship arrived on scene to re-provision the trawler. After about five days we were stood down and sailed back to Halifax.



SAVED BY A CUPPA COFFEE - Submitted by Garry Weir


HMCS Margaree 230 - I was the RPO on HMCS Margaree in her final few months before she was paid off. We went on a trip down to Bermuda with CFAV Quest to take part in sonar trials with her. Our job in these trails was to drop SUS charges on scheduled intervals and Quest would be listening and recording to the results. There are probably much more technical terms but that was the just of it. Well, we got down to Bermuda and after a couple days alongside we were scheduled to sail in the morning to do the trials. When I woke the next morning the ship was bouncing about and I thought we were at sea. I got dressed and went straight up to the shack ... and found it was only 5 am ... we were still alongside the wall in the midst of a hurricane. Sailing was delayed but we managed to get off the jetty about noon and sailed into the storm to do the trials. Needless to say it was rather uncomfortable in that weather, especially once they stopped the engines for the trials. The ship was being tossed every which way and those not required on watch were in their carts. At one point, the steam line let go and crashed across the galley - luckily no one was hurt. During this, I was working in the Cox'n's office - and each day I would put out Routine Orders. I had my chair lashed to the bulkheads so it would not move and I could type. At one point I decided to go down to the Chief's and PO's cafeteria and get a coffee.  I closed the door to the office and when I came back a few minutes later, I could not get back in. The door was jammed. It took some work (and a few rolls of the ship to loosen things up) and I finally got back in. The "Captain's Table" - the podium used for defaulters, which had been lashed in the trunking above my chair in the Cox'n's office had broke loose and crash down on the back of my then vacant chair. Had I not gone for the coffee when I did, it would have come down on my head. From that day forth I have believed in the health benefits of drinking coffee.


HMCS Margaree alongside Bermuda in a hurricane



REMEMBERING JOE URIE, LSBN - submitted by Gord Senebald


HMCS Provider - This is what they thought happened after the inquiry in Joe's death was completed. Quitting time came along and we still had a forklift on the upper deck. Joe told all us young ODs and ABs to go below and shower and get ready to go to the Seaway Tavern (one of our favorite places to imbibe). Anyway, there was a 2 ton hatch cover amidships that housed a cargo elevator which we used to store most of the ship's non perishables in the decks below. They figured Joe opened that hatch and brought the elevator up to upper deck, put the forklift on the lift and proceeded to the lower decks to stow the elevator. When the lift gets down to a certain position it trips a switch that lowers the hatch cover and you can dog the hatch that would make it flush with deck. They figure that when Joe took the lift down, the hatch didn't come down all the way and stayed open about 2 feet. It appears Joe stood on the forklift and tried to crawl between the door and the deck instead of taking the long way around through the ship. The hatch closed, cutting Joe in half. We tried to rescue him but there was no hope. We were in the Halifax dry dock at the time. This is the saddest days of my 5 year term. That was over 50 years ago and I'll never forget that day. I think about Joe every day.



GOING ASHORE, D-DAY PLUS 7 - submitted by Mike Briggs-Lawrance (son of Graham Henry Briggs-Lawrance)


HMCS Georgian J144 - My dad used to tell us an interesting story (he has passed), at approximately D Day plus 7 a number of the officers went ashore to Omaha Beach where they had provided supporting fire. They went to check accuracy, and during exploring some of the bunkers they found a supply of standard issue German infantry mauser rifles. In addition, there was a great deal of ammunition, and to their shock they found that while the casings were metal, the bullets were wooden! Explanation from intelligence was that Germany was running out of metal, and that at the muzzle velocity of a mauser, hitting a man may not kill him, but would certainly disable him.



REMEMBRANCE - submitted by Fraser McKee, Cdr, RCN(R)


Remembrance Day Evokes Thoughts Of A Life Lost In One Blinding Flash On A Dark Sea

HMCS Vison, HMCS Shawinigan - On Remembrance Day or, for a naval veteran, Battle of the Atlantic Sunday in May, I am called upon to recall those fellow Canadians who gave their lives for us. At naval events the ships that were lost are frequently read out, but I have this vaguely detached feeling. I was never in a ship that was torpedoed, or even at risk, as far as I know. Nor did I serve in a ship and get to know her and her idiosyncrasies—one I could call “my ship”—that was subsequently lost. Assuredly, I appreciate the price paid, in lives, in ships, in aircraft, during the struggles. After all, we were in the same service, faced potentially the same dangers. But to some extent it’s a bit distant. It doesn’t affect me on a personal level, in my heart or gut. And this is probably true enough for many Canadians unless a family member was lost.


Then I remember one person, a young man about five years older than myself, with whom I spent a quiet but memorable afternoon 62 years ago. Nine months later he lost his life in the sinking of His Majesty’s Canadian Ship Shawinigan. Sub-Lieutenant Donald French was with me on board the armed yacht HMCS Vison. That’s who I remember on these occasions. memoir-remembrance.


In February 1944, Vison was at sea in the Bay of Fundy with a class of anti-submarine students, hunting a tame loaned-in Dutch submarine as part of their training. While it was cold, just above freezing, it was a lovely, clear, mostly calm afternoon. The drill was that the sub would submerge, then alter course. The class on the asdic equipment was in a small hut on top of the ship’s bridge, with concealing curtains drawn around its windows (not portholes! This was an ex-civilian 135-foot motor yacht!). They would try and locate the sub and set up a theoretical attack. The sub towed a “buff,” a small buoy, so we didn’t run into her. The exercise was without any kind of danger.


I was an ordinary seaman helmsman, about to turn 19. Don French, the officer of the watch, was 24. In a small ship like Vison we were alone on the bridge. The trainees above us simply passed orders for courses and speed down a voicepipe to the officer of the watch and he directed me what to do. Being both Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve members, and both from Ontario—Don from London, me from Toronto—and with similar civilian upbringing and schools, we chatted casually about our lives as we went about our uncomplicated tasks. No big deal, not memorable at the time. Just two sailors enjoying the pleasant afternoon. But in retrospect, a fond memory.


A few months later, Don, now an acting lieutenant, was appointed to the corvette Shawinigan of the Western Local Escort Force, patrolling and on convoy escort around Cape Breton. I went for a commission and after a brief familiarization month in the Reserve Division in Charlottetown began my sub’s courses. Then in November 1944, we were all shocked to hear Shawinigan had been torpedoed while travelling between Sydney, N.S., and Port aux Basques, N.L. There were no survivors. The U-boat—U-1228—had been sent into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, but was having snorkel problems that her commanding officer was unable to repair. Without it in those restricted waters, he resolved to return to Germany for repairs, and on the dark night by sheer chance encountered Shawinigan heading back to Sydney alone. He sank the corvette with a single acoustic torpedo. All 91 aboard were lost, before even the briefest message could be sent.


Then, and since, I remember that quiet, pleasant afternoon I spent with Don French in the small wheelhouse of Vison. Now he’d have no future, no return to the University of Western Ontario, no marriage to his fiancée Marion back in London. No life at all. His parents, William and Lily French, desolated at the loss of their son, with only his sister Frances left to them. I went on to serve for 32 years in the reserves, had jobs, a family, homes. But Don’s whole future, whatever it could have been, was lost in one blinding flash during a dark night at sea.


And that is what I remember. Not a distant thought of people I never knew, ships in which I’d never served. But a nice guy with whom I spent but an afternoon all those years ago.




Left: Armed Yacht, HMCS VISON was a former civilian motor yacht.  Right: Corvette HMCS SHAWINIGAN lost in the Cabot Strait 25 Nov 1944



HOW TO LOSE TRACK OF AN AIRCRAFT CARRIER - Submitted by Richard Larcheveque


HMCS Skeena - During a surface operations exercise in the North Atlantic we were tasked with shadowing HMS Ark Royal (R09) Task Force. I was a Signalman in those days and prior to go on watch (Last Dog 18:00 - 20:00 hrs) I decided to go up to the flag deck early enough to watch Ark Royal launching its F4G Phantoms and Buccaneers. We were approximately 4NM on Ark Royal starboard side and I had a great view of the ongoing flying operations with help of binoculars. We were also blessed with a very nice and sunny day. At times we got kind of too close to the Ark Royal that she warned us via flashing light to maintain a safer distance. We were standing 1 in 3 and my next watch was the morning watch (04:00 - 08:00 hrs). Around 03:30 hrs I went to the main cafeteria got myself a cup of java and proceeded to the bridge. It happened to be a moonless night and you couldn't see more than a few feet around on the flag deck. I asked the guy I was relieving if we were still shadowing the Carrier Task Force. His answer was "yes". I got a full turnover and the plotting sheet showed that the Ark Royal was on our port side at 6NM. We were to maintain position and we were also still under radio silence. Once the turnover was completed I sat down and got on with business. After a while, I decided to get up to stretch my legs and looked out through the window and noticed something not quite correct. Indeed, I could see navigations lights but not those associated with an aircraft carrier. I grabbed the binoculars and I couldn't see anything other than a single masthead, stern light and starboard navigation light. There were no visual signs of flight deck operations. The FLEX indicated that Ark Royal was to conduct night operations and safe distances applied. I had operated with carriers in the past and those ships are easy to distinguish from other surface combatants at night. I asked the watch officer to confirm that the Ark Royal was indeed on our port side at 6NM. He checked on the radar and said: "Affirmative". The watch officer was a competent officer and easy to work with. I told him that something didn't jibe. I stepped out to the flag deck and looked around to see if all the navigation lights corresponded with what I had on my plotting sheet and it did. I went back inside the bridge and told the watch officer that the contact on our port side didn't appear to be the Ark Royal. He grabbed his binoculars proceeded to the flag deck for a few moments came back in and said: "Gosh I think you're right!" He notified the Ops Room reported the discrepancy to see if they concur with the bridge. This is when the chaos started. The CO who had been in the Ops Room most of the night supervising barged into the bridge and questioned me and the watch officer about how we came up with such an erroneous observation. This guy had displayed an arrogant and abrasive personality from the time he took command of the ship. He was not a happy camper with me and the watch officer for sure. He didn't hesitate to let us know how he felt and even questioned our professional knowledge loud enough for all to hear. Fortunately for us and unfortunately for him the sun was soon to rise. As the sun rose the identity of the ship on our port side began to materialize. This ship was the fleet oil tanker RFA Olwen (A122) and the Ark Royal was nowhere to be seen. Somehow we had lost the Ark Royal and ended up chasing after the wrong ship for hours. I didn't know what caused this mess to happen nor did I care. But, I sure can tell you that I lost my faith in that CO that morning. Well, I guess this is the way things were in the Canadian Navy in those days.



MEMOIRS OF A BOY SEAMAN by John Clarke, CPO GI, BEM - Submitted by Eric Clarke


I was accepted into and joined the RCN on 1 March, 1937 at the age of 17 years and 4 months. Because I was under the age of 18 I was enlisted as a Boy Seaman and paid $.50 per day (for a 24 hour day). On entry we had to pass a written exam of English grammar and arithmetic. If we failed either we were not allowed to enlist and became rejects. Our exams were given by Mr. Hughes, the school master.


Once in we were issued uniforms, hammocks and blankets and allocated our barracks block, D2 in HMCS Naden. Our initial training was six months of seamanship, field training, gun drill and boat work. Our instructors for field training and gunnery were two Royal Navy Chief Petty Officer Gunner's Mates, CPO "Wiggy" Bennet and CPO "Jimmy" Green, both hard as nails and harsh disciplinarians.


For seamanship and boat work our instructors were Leading Seamen Bert Barker and Roy Bodger, they also acted as our "den mothers". I also forgot, our physical training instructor, Petty Officer Arnott and our torpedo instructor, CPO Cryderman.


Our day started at 6 am, wake up and wash, shave and make up hammocks until 6:30. From 6:30 to 7 am boat pulling in a 27 foot whaler or a 32 foot cutter, or physical training.


At 7 to 7:30 am breakfast and 7:30 to 8 clean quarters. At 8 am until noon either seamanship lectures or field training (parade ground bashing). At noon until 1 pm lunch, clean up dishes and relax.


From 1 pm to 4 pm more of the same; at 4 pm we had Evening Quarters when we were mustered in the parade ground inspected and then dismissed to await supper at 5 pm, then more clean up. Our hammocks had to be up and ready by 7 pm and at 9 pm "lights out".


After about two months our field training was increased to include rifle drill and bayonet fighting. Also we were introduced to gunnery practice 6" and 4" gun drill.


I forgot, each day at 9 am we "fell in" on the parade ground for morning divisions and "colours". During which the White Ensign was hoisted to the yard arm with appropriate bugle call and salute by the colour guard with rifles and fixed bayonets - very impressive!!


Of my salary of $.50 a day, $15 a month I was only allowed to keep $5, the other $10 had to be sent to my parents monthly or banked for me by the Navy.


We were not allowed leave except on Wednesday from 1 pm to 7 pm and on Saturday from noon to midnight. Once a month were allowed overnight leave but only if we had parents living in Victoria.


On completion of 6 months training and passing all exams were drafted to either HMCS Skeena or HMCS Fraser for sea duty. These two destroyers consisted of the bulk of the West Coast navy plus a couple of minesweepers.


I joined HMCS Skeena in September 1937 and shortly after set sail on Northern Cruise from Esquimalt to Powell River, Ocean Falls and Skidegate in Queen Charlotte Islands, (now Haida Gwaii). The trip through the Inside Passage was easy - calm water, sunshine, etc. but the trip to Skidegate was rough - heavy seas, fog, and rain. I was very seasick - at that stage not a very good sailor and completely useless!


We also sailed between Graham and Moresby Islands and anchored near Queen Charlotte City which turned out to be nothing but a few native Indian huts. I had a chance to buy some beautifully carved argillite boxes and totem poles for tins of cigarettes (my cost $.20) but felt the cigarettes were of more value to me! Fool that I was - today the argillite carvings would be worth hundreds of dollars.


After Queen Charlotte City we steamed down the west coast of Vancouver Island in very heavy seas and fog. The seas were so large that the ship sagged in the middle which tightened the wire between the funnels and used to sound the siren. Naturally each time the ship sagged on one of the huge waves the siren sounded. This went on for over 24 hours while I brought up everything I had eaten! The old salts said that you were OK 'til you felt hair in your mouth then you knew that you had brought up your rectum!


After our arrival in Esquimalt we spent a few days cleaning ship then off to Nanoose Bay for night gunnery exercises (4.7" full charge firings) and daytime depth charge and torpedo firing. Because money was tight we were allowed to fire only one live depth charge and two cement filled torpedoes.


The torpedoes had practice heads which caused the torpedo to come to the surface and give off smoke to enable recovery. Following our exercises at Nanoose, back to Esquimalt to make ready for the Southern Cruise in January. Our skipper was Commander "Scotty" Brodeur (a French Canadian), our first Lieutenant was Lt. Cdr. W.B. Holmes, a sadistic SOB who during WW2 as Captain of HMCS Iroquis had a mutiny and was relieved of command. We also had Torpedo Officer, Lt. H. Rayner who later became an Admiral and ended his career as Chief of Naval Service. He resigned during the Paul Hellyer Unification shambles.


In January 1938 we (Skeena and Fraser) set off on the Southern Cruise joining HMCS Saguenay and HMCS St. Laurent from Halifax. We sailed down the West Coast stopping at San Pedro, San Diego, Panama, Nicaragua, crossed the Equator on 4 February 1938 on route to the Galapagos Islands thereby becoming a "shellback". Leaving the Galapagos Islands the 4 Canadian destroyers proceeded to Callao, the seaport for Lima Peru.


While in Callao Peru some of us were sponsored by the English community in Lima to a trip by train up from Lima to Rosario in the Andes Mountains. The railroad ran parallel to the Rio Blanco River over suspension bridges with drops of hundreds of feet.


The journey through the Andes to Rosario lasted about 4 hours. A keg of beer had thoughtfully been provided but unfortunately because of the altitude we could not get it out of the keg - we drank it when we got back to Lima. We were in Callao/Lima for 4 or 5 days then up anchor and steamed back north for home with stops at Paita and Talara, Peru, Panama, San Diego, Vancouver and finally Esquimalt. We had been cruising for 3 months and arrival at our home port was welcome.


In Esquimalt the crew of Skeena was exchanged with that of St. Laurent so the East Coast destroyers were Skeena and Saguenay (same class of ship) and the West Coast destroyers became HMCS Fraser and HMCS St. Laurent (also same class of ship).


In 1938 it was fairly obvious that there would be war with Germany and new destroyers HMCS Ottawa, HMCS Restigouche and HMCS Assiniboine were being acquired from Great Britain.


Training was increased and more new entries to the Navy were authorized. To accommodate the sea training many of us left our ships and became land lubbers in HMCS Naden while new entries took our places in HMCS Fraser and HMCS St. Laurent.


HM King George VI and Queen Elizabeth paid a state visit to Victoria in early 1939 and I was a member of the Royal Guard of 100 men! The presentation of the King's Colours was held in Beacon Hill Park following which we marched back to Naden through the streets of Victoria with colours flying and bayonets fixed.


Shortly after the Royal visit I was selected to go to England for advanced Gunnery Training in HMS Excellent in Portsmouth. The Gunnery School was known as Whale Island and was reputed to be the "hot bed of British Naval discipline" - it was!


My gunnery course started in June 1939 and was to be completed in September. On September 3rd war with Germany was declared. My first war time duty was in HMS Wishart commanded by Commander Louis Mountbatten escorting British troops across the English Channel to France.


Later I also served as a member of the Royal Guard to greet the Duke of Windsor and Wallace Simpson (his wife) back to England from France. Canada meanwhile had acquired a new destroyer, HMS Kempenfelt (renamed HMCS Assinibone) and our Gunnery School classes were drafted to her to bring her back to Canada. One of our first tasks on joining was to load boxes of gold bullion from the Bank of England for transfer for safe keeping to Canada. The skipper of Assiniboine was Commander Rollo Mainguy (later also an Admiral), the first Lieutenant was Lt. Commander Jimmy Hibbert. We sailed from Plymouth and ran into a horrendous North Atlantic storm. A British battleship, the Royal Sovereign came into port with her steel guardrails bent and small boats smashed. At the height of the storm we made just over 70 miles in a full day of steaming.


Our mess decks were flooded and hot food was impossible. All our cups, saucers and plates had been smashed so life was no picnic. To add to our discomfort there was no heat in the ship, it was winter, and we lived in soaking wet clothing. Eventually we did make it to Halifax where the gold was unloaded under armed guards and we settled down in the hope of rest.


Rest? If I remember we had one day in port then sailed to escort a convoy - the first of many. On return to Halifax most of us were drafted to other ships. I went as a Seaman Gunner, Able Seaman, to HMCS Ottawa. My friend Fred Potts when to HMCS Restigouche and we did not meet again 'til long after the war. We spent early 1940 escorting convoys from Halifax out beyond Newfoundland.


For most of the trips the weather was brutal and the ship became heavily coated with ice. I was a member of B gun crew while at sea in Defense Stations, 4 hours on and 4 hours off. During our time "on watch" we spent most of the four hours on huddled inside the gun shield in soaking wet clothing trying to keep warm and dreaming of return to Halifax and warmth.


Spring finally came and our trips became a little more pleasant. Our Captain, GC Jones, later Chief of Naval Staff in Ottawa left and was replaced by Lieutenant Commander Rollo Mainguy who brought Assiniboine back from England. He was a fine officer, thoughtful of his crew but firm in discipline.


Our first Lieutenant was Phil Haddon, an amiable drunk, our Gunnery Officer was Lt. M. Medland, and the Navigation Officer a Naval Reserve Officer, Lieutenant Gus Boulton and our Torpedo Officer was Gunner Mr. Budge who in post war years became an Admiral.


In April 1940 we sailed to escort another convoy and while steaming down the harbor we collided with a tug, the "Surf", that crossed our bows and stove them in and we had to be dry docked for repairs. During our time undergoing repair to the Ottawa, I passed professional examinations for Leading Seaman.


The exams included "Power of Command"; Seamanship, Boat work powered and under oars and sail; knots and splices; Naval history; and Signals (semaphore, Morse code and flags). I was promoted to Leading Seaman with good conduct badge (single strip).


My duties on board ship were changed. The Captain insisted that the four Quartermasters be Leading Seamen so that if they fouled up he could dis-rate them to Able Seaman, a loss of prestige and pay.


Each day two Quartermasters were on duty, 4 hours on and 4 hours off except for Dog Watch, 4 - 6 and 6 - 8, two hour shifts. In harbor the Quartermaster was responsible to the First Lieutenant and/or the Duty Officer to use the Bosn's pipe to pipe the ship routine, to keep gangway watch, to mark time of day by ringing the ship's bell and to take messages. At sea again we were 4 on 4 off etc. and were responsible to be helmsman, i.e. steer the ship as directed by the Officer of the Watch. In harbor our routine was day on and day off which suited me fine. At sea we went into 4 watches, obviously with no time off.


In the fall of 1940, HMCS Ottawa sailed for duty in England as she was short of convoy escorts. We ended up stationed at Greenock, down the River Clyde from Glasgow. We were part of an escort group of 2 Polish destroyers ORP Garland and ORP B?yskawica, two Australian destroyers, HMAS Napier and HMAS Nizam and HMCS Ottawa, the Canadian contribution.


The war in the Atlantic was heating up, German U Boats were aggressively attacking convoys, and Italy also joined in the battle on the side of Germany so we were constantly at sea escorting convoys.


On November 6th, 1940 we attacked and sank the Italian submarine Faa di Bruno 120 miles west of Ireland. Our convoys were under attack not only by submarine but also by German Focke Wolfe long range 4 engine bombers operating from captured French airfields, this plus terrific winter storms certainly made life interesting.


In port there was little rest as Germany was mounting air raids on British ports. During one heavy air raid an oil tanker was hit, set on fire and threatened to sink thereby blocking the River Clyde so HMCS Ottawa was dispatched to go alongside the ship and push it out of the channel all while the air raid was going full blast - scary!


The port city of Greenock was also heavily bombed and we had to help in firefighting. To increase the horror of war the German bombers had hit several of the whiskey distilleries - the barbarians!!


After one trip I was posted from the Ottawa to HMS Drake (Royal Navy barracks) in Plymouth for advanced gunnery training. Canada had acquired a building in Devonport and named it HMCS Niobe ( stone frigate) and it was to there I was sent to await the start of gunnery classes.


It was in April 1941 and I arrived in Plymouth/Devonport just in time to be caught in the Blitz of the city which was virtually destroyed by German air raids. We spent our nights firefighting under air attack and our days cleaning up the damage from the previous night's bombing. I was blown through the plate glass window of a shop on Tavistock Terrace by detonation of a near miss bomb but apart from some hearing loss suffered no damage.


One night I was posted to the lookout post on the roof of the two story building to spot and report location of falling incendiary and high explosive bombs, not a pleasant experience! The bomb damage to Devonport was so severe that HMCS Niobe was to be closed and all personnel returned to Canada. By then I had completed my gunnery course in HMCS Drake so off to London to Canada House for travel back to Halifax.


I returned to Halifax in SS Ascania in July 1941 and was not sent to sea but on another Gunnery Course (3 months) in HMCS Stadacona. On successful completion of the course I was drafted to HMCS Hamilton, an ex-US Navy 4 stack destroyer of 1917 vintage. My duty on board was as Gunners Mate. My actual rank, as I had been promoted to Acting Petty Officer was A/PO QR1. We were employed escorting convoys between Halifax, Boston and St. Johns, Newfoundland.


I served aboard her 'til August 1942 at which time I received a posting to HMCS Athabaskan, a Tribal Class destroyer being built in the United Kingdom. I received 30 days embarkation leave and was about halfway through when I received a call from another Petty Officer, also a QR1 who wanted to exchange places with me as he wanted to go back to his fiancée in England. I was quite happy to change places and stay in Canada with my wife.


I was lucky - his name was Latimer and he was killed, as I would have been, when a flying bomb struck Athabaskan on the port side, travelled through the ship and detonated outside the starboard side. This was my third lucky escape, first when I was nearly killed by a bomb during the Blitz of Plymouth; secondly when I took a boat way from HMCS Hamilton to pick up survivors while under submarine attack and finally when Athabaskan was hit. My Guardian Angel certainly looked after me!


I was sent to barracks in Halifax to train new entries after I had been confirmed as Petty Officer and changed into "square rig" uniform. Shortly thereafter I was again selected for gunnery course in HMCS Stadacona this time a six month course to get to the top of the heap - Gunners Mate. I started as an Able Seaman/Seaman Gunner 3, then Leading Seaman/Layer Rating 2, then Petty Officer/Quarters Rating 1 and finally if I passed, which I did, to Petty Officer Gunners Mate. I had entered the Navy in 1937 as a Boy Seaman and by 1943, 6 years later I was a Petty Officer Gunners Mate. I am certain that my rapid promotion was result of the war for in the peace time Navy promotion was very, very slow.


I was posted as a Staff Instructor in the new Gunnery School in HMCS Cornwallis at Digby, Nova Scotia near Annapolis.


Cornwallis was a vast training base, at one time it was believed to have in excess of 10,000 sailors and WRENS on the base.


In 1943 I was selected to go to the Air Force Station at Rockcliffe, Ottawa to learn aircraft recognition and return to Cornwallis Gunnery School to set up a similar training and ship recognition for the Royal Canadian Navy.


While at Rockcliffe I was promoted to Chief Petty Officer/Gunnery Instructor. I think my pay including marriage allowance was about $120.00 a month, a big jump from the $.50 a day when I joined!


It was fairly obvious in late 1944, early 1945 that the war was winding down. Training had slowed down and there were very few opportunities for sea duty so all our thoughts and planning was toward the war's end and peace. I had decided that on release I would apply for a job in the Federal Civil Service using my Veteran's Preference which meant that any job in Government went to a veteran provided they pass the entry exam.


In the New Year's King's Honour List of 1944 I was awarded the British Empire Medal for Meritorious Service and became entitled to use the letters BEM after my name - I never did!


In August 1945 the war with Japan ended and Germany surrendered in May 1945 so in September 1945 I left Cornwallis and headed for Victoria to become a "civvy".


My release date was October 10, 1945. I was given 30 days leave to get established. During this time I heard that jobs were becoming available in the HMC Dockyard Esquimalt so away I went to see what was happening. Fortunately when I went to the Dockyard Civilian Personnel Office I was told that I could be interviewed for a job in the Ammunition Depot at Colwood. I was interviewed by Lt. H.S. MacDougall who had also been a Gunners Mate. I was hired as an Ammunition Checker (AMW 3) at $.70 per hour. Later, as people retired, I competed for and won the position of Foreman of Stores.


The post war building boom in View Royal, opposite the Ammunition Depot caused the Federal Government some concern in light of the explosion of the Halifax Ammo Depot in 1945 and damage to civilian housing so the Government acquired Rocky Point in Metchosin and built a brand new Depot - the largest in the British Empire - at a cost of 5 million. It opened on 5 June 1955, included were 17 married quarters. In 1955 we moved from Colwood to Residence No 1 at Rocky Point and lived there until I retired in 1984.


Mr. H.S. MacDougall the Superintendent died of cancer in early 1956 and I was appointed as acting Superintendent until a new Superintendent, Mr. C.J. "Tony" Smith was appointed in 1957. I became the Armament Supply Officer, 2nd in command of the Depot. In 1973 Smith retired and I was made Superintendent and served as such until my retirement in June 1984.


Counting my Naval Service and service with the Department of National Defense I served for 48 years 4 months and 27 days and they told me the job was permanent!!! In 1977 I was awarded the Silver Jubilee Medal for Meritorious Service.



SALVAGING THE SS IMPERIAL TRANSPORT - By Jack Tice, Lt, RCN. Submitted by Dave Chamberlain


HMCS Mayflower - It was a convoy (Convoy ON.77) - like hundreds of others. We aboard the HMCS Mayflower were westbound with 50-60 merchant ships of every nature. Our speed was officially 9 knots. We were making a good passage with remarkably good weather - for March. We were sliding down the great circle route with Newfie about 350 miles ahead and Cape Farewell - well astern. Mayflower was stationed on the port quarter by day and on a stern sweep by night. The Free French corvette Aconit shared the stern sweep with us.


During the 2nd Dog watch, we took up our position astern. It was at that time the Imperial Transport signalled that they were having engine trouble and they dropped out of position. By 2100 he was at least 4 miles astern of the convoy.


My watch was called 2330 (for the middle) and we gathered in the mess for the usual tea, bread and jam. Suddenly there was a thump! Thump! - torpedoes! We were on our way to action stations before the alarm bells rang. As I mounted the 4" gun deck there were two snowflakes streaking skyward. Our ship had made a 180 degree turn and we were heading back toward the tanker. We carried out an ASDIC sweep while the Aconite went in for survivors. The weather was still in our favour - calm seas - clear sky and no moon. We could actually read the name board on the Aconite as she came alongside to report that all survivors were recovered and there were no casualties.


Aconite proceeded to rejoin the convoy while we were instructed to stand by until daybreak and sink the derelict by gun fire. We gunners enjoyed the prospect of having a free and unlimited shoot.


At daybreak we circled the stricken ship several times. It was obvious that it had taken two hits on the port side. One hit before - and one hit aft of the bridge. Only the fact that it was westbound in ballast (empty) saved it from sinking immediately. No starboard tanks had ruptured. The bow was down and her foredeck was awash. The propeller was more than half out of the water. It had about a 20 degree list to port. Our skipper decided to put a boarding party over to assess the situation. The party consisted of 1 officer, 1 ERA, 1 Stoker, 1 signalman and five seamen.


We literally beached our seaboat on the foredeck and stepped aboard with dry footing. Within the hour the ERA figured we could counter flood (the starboard tanks) and trim the vessel from the port list. We began to open valves by hand on the starboard after tanks. In a matter of a few hours we had brought the bow up by 5-6 feet and settled the stern.


We had to get power to the pumping systems. This could not be done until we could start the main engine (diesel). Since it required 850 P.S.I. of air - to turn over the main engine we were in another fix. The big air cylinders were all flat. We had to fire up a small donkey boiler (in the engine room) to start the steam piston air pumps - to charge the air cylinders.


Lack of fuel - such as coal - we broke up anything that would burn. Chairs, benches, oars out of their remaining life boat and so on. We raided the crew's quarters and ransacked cabins for such items as drawers - which were a thin veneer and would make a good blaze. It was at this time that I came across 137 English pounds from one drawer (which translated to $608.00 Cdn.). Late in the afternoon the ERA had enough air built up to throw a charge into the main engine. This gave us auxiliary power to all the pumping systems. By midnight we were satisfied that we could get under way. All pumps worked on the port tanks to keep the flood level in check and the vessel was in good trim. We were drawing about 25' fore and aft. By the next morning (24 hrs. after boarding) we were cranked up to 11 knots and heading for Newfie.


We had to steer from the after steering position which was not aided by a steering engine (like no power steering). It was a large double wheel about 5' in diameter. It took 2 seamen to handle it. We stood 2 on and 2 off for the remaining time aboard. We took our course by hand signals from the bridge by day and by night we lined up the foremast and main on a given star. This proved awkward as the foremast had been damaged from the forward hit and it twisted out of line with the rise and fall of the ship in the seaway. Fortunately, the weather continued to hold in our favour.


During all this time the Mayflower was running around giving us a screen. There were dozens of signals back and forth between us and Mayflower. Our signalman (Bob Laceby) did not leave the tanker's bridge from the moment of boarding until we entered harbour. (5 days) Captain 'D' in Newfie was concerned about the Mayflower's fuel. They requested our position, course and speed in order to send a relief escort out to relieve the Mayflower. Our skipper proceeded to send in a position (about 25 miles off our true) and our course (about 2 degrees off our true) and our speed at 8 knots. (we were really doing 11 knots.). Since our reported track would require us to make landfall in about 48 hrs. at 8 knots. - it actually only took 32 hrs. at 11 knots.


Capt 'D' sent out a destroyer - who raced down the track we had given while we proceeded into Newfie - arriving a daybreak Apr.1/42. (50 years ago) The destroyer who had been thrashing about looking for us - was recalled. We were all very hungry and tired.


Additional data on Salvage, the HMCS Mayflower crew and life aboard the tanker. 


Salvage: By the laws of the sea - any abandoned vessel can be claimed by the first person to step aboard. In this case, it was the R.C.N. The boarding party was legally able to claim any removable article, while the ship became the property of the R.C.N. The value of the ship in no way was reflected in the 'salvage' money. Everyone of the Mayflower crew was treated equally with the boarding party. (Except we were able to keep the things we claimed) The split was as follows - the captain received 100 shares - 1st Lieutenant - 75 shares and so on down the line to 5 shares for A.B. We had no ordinary seamen. Each share was worth $1.65 and I received my cheque for $8.25 in Nov. 1947! This made my 137 English pounds look very good in addition to a tea service. I lost the cream and sugar, which I had stuffed inside my windbreaker - as I left the ship - via Jacob's ladder in Newfie. They slipped out and now repose at the bottom of St. John's harbour. The boarding officer and signalman did very well. They acquired chronometers, sextant, binoculars, signal lamps and many other goodies from the officer's quarters. The ERA and Stoker gathered a small fortune in tools, drill press, grinders, safety lamp and all manner of engineering equipment. We seamen ravaged the crew's quarters, mess and galley and discovered several cases of Johnny Walkers Scotch. This was later divided among everyone.


Life on board -  It seemed that we never slept. The adrenalin was running pretty high. We were standing watch on an exposed afterdeck - 2 on 2 off. In the off time we spent pillaging - eating and having a quick 40 winks. The main refrigerator and food stores had been flooded out so our diet consisted of powdered eggs, powdered milk, bread, jam and tea.


Boarding Party - Lt. H. Titus - R.C.N.V.R.; ERA Batchildor - R.C.N.R.; Stoker Harnish - R.C.N.R.; Signalman Bob Laceby - R.C.N.V.R. (later lost at sea); AB's - Tinker, Butland, Clark, McGinnis and Tice. Tinker, Butland, and Clark were former merchant seaman.


The Mayflower Crew - I have fond memories of this ship. It was my home for nearly 3 years. I joined as an A.B. and left as a Buffer. The crew was unique inasmuch as we had L/CDR Stephens R.C.N.R. 0.5.0. and Bar as skipper and two other R.C.N.R. officers. The Buffer was an ex-merchant seaman and so was the Cox'n. Several A.B.'s and Stokers and ERA'S were also ex-merchant. We didn't use the seamanship manual very often. It was done 'their' way. Stephens was promoted to CDR and later drove the St. Laurent. He is written up in 'Far Distant Ships' for one of his many outstanding feats. Lt. Titus was the biggest man in the RCN. At 6'7" and 275 lbs. we naturally nicknamed him 'Tiny'.




(1) SS Imperial Transport 25 Mar 1942 - 2 days before being torpedoed.


(2 & 3) SS Imperial Transport after being torpedoed     (4) The silver teapot salvaged by AB Tice, RCN



MEMORIES OF MY TIME IN THE NAVY - By Ivan Chamberlain. Submitted by Dave Chamberlain


Written: 06 Dec 2000 - Times and dates may not be accurate but they are as I remember them and they will be close.


HMCS Lindsay, HMCS Swansea - I joined the naval reserve in May 1943 at H.M.C.S. STAR in Hamilton along with two other friends. They were Joe Valliere and Dick Purdy. Joe was drafted to Prince Rupert on the west coast after basic training in STAR and Dick joined what was called Combined Operations. I never saw Dick again until I got discharged but I met Joe on the street in Plymouth, England and we sat on the curb and cried. We were so glad to see each other, it overwhelmed us. We had hitch hiked a ride on the Queen Elizabeth Way which by the way, you cannot do these days and arrived at the Naval Base known as H.M.C.S. Star where we were given a medical examination. The medical officer in charge told me I had an enlarged heart and they said I could not join. About a month later, they called me on the phone and asked me to come in for another medical review and when this medical officer saw me, he said my heart was OK for the size of me and they allowed me to join. The building was an old vinegar works alongside the train tracks near the train station and close to James St. in Hamilton. It has since been torn down and replaced with a larger base with a drill hail on the waterfront. We did our basic training such as marching and rifle drill at the new facilities on the water front. While there, we were asked if anyone had experience with playing in a band. I, along with others, signified that we had been with various bands and we were asked to form a band so that the recruits had something to help them march and keep in step. I had played the base drum in the 2/10th Dragoons reserve army and was asked to take charge of the band. There were about 23 of us at the time and our instruments were borrowed from the local sea cadets. We would march up the streets to Dundurn Castle and practice all day there. It was a place we could play our instruments and march without disturbing anyone. That lasted about three months and finally my draft notice was posted and I left for the coast by railroad. We travelled in antique railroad cars with plush seats and no berths and very little food. We did stop in Montreal for a few hours where we were able to get food and drink. More of the latter than we needed. Some had to be carried back to the train and were put on report by the shore patrol. I was lucky not to be one of them because the penalty was a few days of what was called No.11. That was running (at the double) with a rifle over your head around the parade square until you either completed it or dropped with exhaustion. It was not fun and there were even worse penalties but I won't get into that. I might add that I joined the navy because I had been a sea cadet in our local corps and I always dreamed of going to sea. Even to this day, I think I made the best choice of all the services. I have never regretted being in the navy. That said, I was one of the lucky people who survived without a scratch because many of them did not.


My next posting was at H.M.C.S. CORNWALLIS where I took more basic training and a gunnery course. My course was about three weeks long and I had past it with 93% and was the top of the class. We had to disassemble and assemble our gun and also took aircraft recognition because I was going to be an anti-aircraft gunner on board a ship. On completion of my course I was drafted to H.M.C.S. LINDSAY. When I arrived at the ship, I could not believe my eyes. She was beautiful. She was all freshly painted in camouflage colours and she would be my home for the next year and a half. I was met by the gunnery officer, Sub/Lieut. Leonard Brockington. He showed me around the ship and to where I was going to sleep and eat, which was in the forward mess deck. I was introduced to the rest of the gunner's mess and told where to stow my gear and hammock.


After I settled in, I was taken up to the bridge where I was shown my gun position. The port bridge Oerlikon. It was right beside the door to the ASDIC (antisubmarine detection) shack, so that every time we went to action stations, I could hear the ASDIC pinging as we tracked something submerged. It could possibly be a school of fish or worse, a submarine. We did a number of workups around Halifax for a short while. We were mostly a green crew with no experience, but like fine wine, we improved with age. Work-ups are described as; testing of ship's operational performances. The Lindsay was an increased endurance class of corvette which simply meant that a water tank was replaced by a fuel tank. This was done in order that it could cross the ocean without refueling as most previous older corvettes could not. Her design was such that her bow had a sharper angle and flare. She was a completely different ship than the original short fo'c's'le corvettes and was the forerunner to the frigate which was originally called a twin screw corvette. Winston Churchill called our type of ships "Cheap & Nasty". They were a very seaworthy ship and someone described them as being able to roll on wet grass. In any event, my first trip across the ocean started from Halifax and ended up in Londonderry, Northern Ireland with a stop in St. John's, Newfoundland on the way.


I remember it like it was yesterday. We left Halifax in daylight and I was off duty at the time. We could still see the outline of Halifax in the distance when I started thinking about sea sickness. My stomach started to roll and I was determined not to be sick. The duty watch was on the upper decks painting and as I went out to get some fresh air, I decided to paint along with them to take my mind off my stomach. I think I painted most of the way to "Newfyjohn" but I overcame my sick feeling and have never been sea sick again in my life. You have never seen waves until you have sailed the North Atlantic. In a ship that was 206 feet long, 33 feet wide, a top speed of 16 knots and with a crew of 103 bodies, she would ride up and down those waves like a cork. You could not walk along the waist of the ship without holding on to the life line. The worst part for me was climbing up the rope ladder to the crow's nest. You could only go up one step at a time when the ship was perpendicular. The rest of the time you hung on for dear life. It was very scary. It was lucky that I only got that duty a few times. It was not too dangerous unless there was a heavy sea. There were many times when the ship was rolling that all you could see underneath you was water. In convoy work, you took up different stations around the convoy at eight hour intervals. You were always on the lookout for ships or submarines. During a convoy you would be assigned starboard or port sweep at night time and then move to stern sweep during the day. The senior officer's ship was usually a destroyer or a frigate leading the convoy. There would be three other corvettes, one on either side, and one astern. If you had a ship that had difficulty keeping up to the speed of the convoy, which was always the fastest speed of the slowest ship, you had to leave it to his own devices and hope for the best. Usually the speed of the convoy was about nine knots. There were some real old tubs out there as they used anything that could float. You hated to leave them but it had to be done for the sake of all the other ships.


Arriving in Londonderry, to me, was the most beautiful sight anyone could ever see. You had to wait at Moville at the mouth of the Foyle River to refuel and wait for high tide. While waiting, the bum boats (row boats) would come out from the Irish Free State, usually with a father and son in a boat loaded with Irish whiskey and silk stockings. The father would stay in the boat and send the young lad up onto the ship to barter and trade items. The young lads could sing like birds and would steal anything that was not nailed down. We would trade seven pound cans of corned beef from our survivor's rations for silk stockings or anything else we could give the ladies. As rationing was not in force in the Free State, they had these things that were not available because of the war. They always claimed that the Free State was refuelling German submarines but we never saw any.


When the tide was high, we would proceed up the Foyle River to Derry. You could see the river bottom through the brown water and it looked like we would scrape bottom, but we never did. As we passed the Wrens barracks, they would lean out the windows and wave bed sheets at us. Welcoming us to Derry we would give them a blast on our ship's siren in return. They could tell it was a Canadian ship by the maple leaf painted on the funnel. By this time, I had become good friends to Jim Coleman and Bob Leshien and when we returned home to Canada, I brought them home with me. I am still to this day, in touch with Jim who lives in Maple Ridge B.C. and Bob who lives in Kelowna B.C. I am also in touch with many other crew members or their widows as a result of holding a reunion in September 1990. While in port in Londonderry, the dock yard installed four more Oerlikons before we went to sea again. We had pre-invasion work-ups out at sea near Larne, although we had no idea at that time that an invasion was in the future. We fired at towed targets out at sea, had radar exercises, hedgehog shoots and night shoots with star shells, rockets and 20mm Oerlikons. These exercises were conducted in company with MTB's (motor torpedo boats) and other newly posted RCN corvettes like Alberni, Port Arthur and the Trentonian.


We sailed for Plymouth but had trouble entering port. We went to tie up but were sent out again because we were not in the rig of the day. We were in blue jeans as we attempted to tie up at the dock and Plymouth was a pusser (regulation) port. The British would not tolerate us colonials in other than proper rig. We didn't care what we looked like as long as we got the job done. Canadian ships tended to be more casual than the British.


Sailing back to Londonderry from Larne at 12 knots we were in line abreast with Port Arthur and the Trentonian, with Alberni as senior officer. The Lindsay was last in the column we were in a collision with a civilian fishing trawler named the ST Springwell. We hit the trawler amidships but the damage was not serious and the trawler was found in the wrong. We had a wrinkled bow and had it repaired in Falmouth on the South coast. We were then posted to Milford Haven, Wales which is one of the biggest natural harbours in the world. Later it was obvious that we were sent there along with the Kitchener, Ville de Quebec, Algoma, Regina, Trentonian, Moose Jaw, and the Louisburg (2nd) because of the build up of the invasion fleet from the Bristol Channel and the convoys that were to be part of the invasion.


On June 6/44 we departed the Bristol Channel. There were 19 Canadian corvettes involved in the Normandy invasion and we were one of them. Having received our orders from a Fairmile we sailed to join an escort group known as 138th. The senior officer of the group was a British destroyer called H.M.S. Watchman. So there was the Watchman, two trawlers, H.M.T. Scalpay and H.M.T. Ganilly, and the Lindsay. We were escorting a convoy consisting of nine merchant ships. Twelve miles southwest of St. Catherine's Point, Isle of Wight when at 17:55 hrs., a plane later found later to be a U.S. Thunderbolt, crashed in the English Channel about one mile off our port beam. We observed that the pilot had ejected and as we watched the pilot parachuted into the water. The order was given to launch our whaler (life boat). I don't remember if I was ordered into the boat but I ended up in the bow of the whaler. Lieut. Brockington our gunnery officer was in charge and as we approached the pilot, I could see that he was drowning. His face was under water. I had hold of the boat hook and extended it out the starboard side of the whaler in an attempt to catch hold of him. Just as I leaned over the side to grab him, a wave pushed him into the steel end of the boat hook. It hit him just below the left eye. I thought I had poked his eye out for sure but on getting him into the boat, we found this wasn't true. But I had hit him under the eye.


We found that he had only inflated one half of his life jacket and for some reason he had not inflated the other half. That is why he was submerged when we got to him. His life jacket had two separate sections and was inflated by two cylinders of compressed air but only one was pulled. We got him back aboard ship and into sick bay. He survived that incident. We learned that his fuel feed line had been severed in a dog fight and he was trying to make it back to England. Somehow in all this excitement his .45 automatic disappeared from his holster and it had been there when we picked him up. Captain Thomson learned of this and threatened a search of the ship. He gave instructions that the gun should be given back to the pilot and no questions would be asked. This was done and that was the end of that affair. The pilot was treated for shock and immersion by our sick bay tiffy and was later transferred to a U.S. hospital ship at Omaha Beach. He was U.S. Lieut. Robert M. Meade.


At 2:25 hrs. a star shell was observed bursting above another convoy close ahead and our crew saw two vessels burst into flames. After being illuminated by a starshell high intensity parachute flare from H.M.S. Watchman (our senior officer) two German E-Boats were sighted by the Lindsay heading North East and making smoke to cover their retreat. The E-Boats were the equivalent to our Motor Torpedo Boats and capable of very high speed. They preyed upon shipping using quick torpedo attacks. During this engagement we were illuminated by an American cruiser by mistake and we were caught out in the open like a sitting duck. The skipper ordered full ahead in an attempt to save the ship and crew when our ASDIC operators heard the sound of torpedoes coming at us. The skipper gave a "hard to port" order and as he did, I noticed the track of a torpedo come down the port side of the ship. I hollered at Rocky Leonzio who was my counterpart on the starboard Oerlikon and told him what I had seen. He replied that he had seen the same kind of track on his side. It appeared that the E-boat had fired two torpedoes at us and one went down either side of us. The torpedoes wake was observed by both Leonzio and I and was also witnessed by Gordon Wright, our signalman. The ASDIC operators reported the two torpedoes were clear of the ship and had passed astern. The 4 inch gun crew and bridge Oerlikons kept up firing until the E-boats were too far distant. They were laying a smoke screen and had disappeared from sight. Lindsay resumed her station with the convoy after successfully repelling the enemy in this one and a half hour engagement. We arrived safely at the Omaha beachhead at 9:16 hrs. As a result of his quick thinking in this engagement, Lieut. Thomson was awarded a "Mentioned in Dispatches" for his role during the Normandy invasion. The citation for the award read as follows: This officer has handled his ship with considerable skill and shown unlimited zeal throughout operation "Neptune". As second Senior Officer, he has shown intelligent anticipation of the requirements, particularly during action with the five E-Boats in the early morning of June 9th, 1944. The ASDIC Operator that night, L/Seaman Alec Cameron was also awarded with the same medal by the French Government for his role in this engagement. For the next two days the Lindsay lay anchored and provided anti-aircraft fire against enemy air raids on Omaha Beach. At one time engaging three enemy aircraft during a large enemy air attack.


On June 11/44 the Lindsay returned to Milford Haven, Wales with the 138th Escort Group as chaperone for convoy EBC 1. This convoy encountered poor weather but arrived safely in Milford Haven on June 14/44. However there was to be no break for the crew of the Lindsay. We immediately left port and headed back toward the French coast with convoy EBC 12. The escort duties continued until June 20/44 when they were allowed to pipe liberty. For four days the ship was re-supplied with fuel and ammunition and underwent engine repairs.


On July 5/44 while escorting a convoy in the English Channel, Lindsay had been doing the starboard sweep (right side) during the night between midnight and 0800 hrs. and switched places with H.M.T. Ganilly. We had no sooner made the switch and Ganilly was taking up our former position when she struck a mine and broke in half. (This was later determined to be a torpedo sinking by U390).The bow and stem came up. The bow slid under and the stem showed that the screw (propeller) was still turning. She was only 200 yards away from us. She sank in 30 seconds. The other trawler Scalpay picked up the captain and three others from the water. There were no other survivors.


Lindsay was a lucky lady once again on Aug. 8/44. She was assigned duty with a convoy EBC66 but because of engine trouble she was replaced by the corvette HMCS Regina who was also based in Milford Haven, Wales. On this escort, one of the merchant ships was torpedoed off Trevose Head, Cornwall. However she appeared to be salvageable, so the Regina ordered a U.S. tank landing craft to take the merchant crew aboard and to prepare to tow the wounded vessel. The Regina was standing guard over the situation when suddenly a U-boat's torpedo struck her a fatal blow. The Regina went up in a terrible explosion and sank in seconds. Only sixty-six survivors were rescued, 10 of them seriously wounded. This could have been the fate of the Lindsay if the exchange with the Regina had not taken place.


In September to December of 1944, we ran convoys to Omaha Beach and then started taking convoys to Cherbourg to support the capture of this French port. Following that we were transferred operationally to Plymouth command running convoys from English ports along the confined space of the English Channel. Manoeuvring in such a restricted area we were prone to having a collision with other ships (we could show no running lights). So the obvious happened. On Jan.22/45 at 06:45 hrs. we were lead ship in a convoy HX 331 when our radar operator reported a ship bearing down on us from dead ahead at 5000 yards. It was dark but a clear night. As the oncoming ship was closing rapidly the officer of the watch gave the "Full ahead' order to the engine room. As the oncoming ship was on our port bow, it was their duty to give way. At 1200 yards our radar was blind and too close to give an echo. Our officer of the watch switched on our running lights and the other ship did likewise, showing her starboard steaming light on Lindsay's port bow. As the oncoming ship was still rapidly closing, Lieut. Casement, our 1st. Lieut. or known as "Jimmy the One" ordered "Hard to Starboard" and "Full Ahead". This was considered to be the only suitable avoiding action that could be taken. The Royal Navy destroyer "H.M.S. Brilliant" was steaming at 24 knots and apparently her radar failed to detect us. Before the siren could be sounded, Brilliants port bow struck the Lindsay on the port side about the bridge. Because of the Brilliants size, being much larger and higher than our corvette, her anchor was about flush with our deck and she tore a big hole in our superstructure. It took guard rails, Carley floats and guns off our port side doing considerable damage. The Brilliant was not too severely damaged but we had a ruptured steam line and lost way until it could be repaired. We received an order to abandon ship from our Commanding Officer but before it could be carried out, he rescinded that order as it was found that we were not taking on any water. All this time I had been sleeping in my hammock below and when Brilliant struck us, all the lights down below went out except the red exit lights. As I scrambled out of my hammock and hit the deck, I could only see red from the lights and I thought we were on fire, but that wasn't the case. I put on my life jacket and headed for the escape hatch which led to the 4 inch gun deck. It was a round hatch and with my jacket on, I was a tight fit until somebody gave me a shove from below and I managed to get through the hatch. I was running around with bare feet and received cuts to the bottom of my feet from broken glass. At 07:52 hrs. the steam was raised on one boiler and we set a course for Plymouth at 8 knots escorted by the French frigate La Decouverte. However, Lindsay was ordered to proceed to Portland, arriving at 1200 hrs. Luckily there no casualties on either vessel.


Four days later the Lindsay carried on to Plymouth under escort of a coastal minesweeper called the U.S.S Conqueror. We were to undergo sufficient temporary repairs to enable us to sail to Canada where major repairs would be made. Fortunately for us this collision happened in the English Channel and not the middle of the Atlantic because it would be questionable whether we could have made it to port in her damaged condition. The inquiry by the Admiralty concluded that HMCS Lindsay was not in any way to blame for the collision. The officer of the watch on board the Brilliant was court martialled or demoted and lost his seniority. There was about $75000.00 damage to the Lindsay and it would take ten weeks to repair her. Only minimal repairs were done in England. On Feb.20/45, Lindsay steamed to Londonderry on her own. From there we escorted a convoy back to Canada and Lindsay was sent to St. John N.B. to dry dock. I came home on a forty two day survivor's leave after which I returned to my ship. When I got there, I was told I was drafted to an old air force base called the "Y Depot" in Halifax. I was no longer part of the crew of the Lindsay. As it turned out, Victory in Europe was coming very soon and while in camp, I met a chap from Thorold whom I knew. He worked in what was called the drafting regulating office. He asked me if I would like to go to the Caribbean. I said I would enjoy that but first I had to sign up to go to the Pacific theatre of war. I did that and in a couple of days I was sent to join the crew of H.M.C.S. Swansea. She was a frigate and about half again as large as the Lindsay. She had been refitted and had air conditioning installed on board. She also had twin barreled hydraulic 20 mm. Oerlikons. She was twin screwed as compared to the single screw Lindsay, and faster. But I don't remember by how much. She had more sea boats and even a captain's cutter which was motorized. I was put in charge of it. With my sea time, I was a senior rating as opposed to most of the crew who had never been to sea before. We went to Bermuda for evolutions (time trials) and the weather was beautiful. We travelled southerly from there and visited the island of Dominica where I remember a party being put on for the crew members at a plantation. They even had girls brought in from somewhere for dancing. We had a great time. From there we went to Port of Spain, Trinidad, where we were given shore leave. During our days there we had to paint a new camouflage scheme on the ship. It was so hot, the guys on the gang planks that were hung over the sides to stand on feigned passing out and fell into the nice warm water. The only problem was that the paint cans and brushes also went into the drink. We lost more paint than we put on the sides of the ship. We left Trinidad and were heading for the Panama Canal when V.J. Day was declared and the war with Japan was finished. The skipper piped "Splice the Main Brace" which meant everyone got a double tot of rum. That was fine until we realized we were going in circles out in the ocean. When someone went to check, they found out the helmsman had gone for his tot and nobody was at the wheel. There was hell to pay for that indiscretion. We were ordered to return to Halifax where we were sent back to our home bases to be discharged. I returned to Hamilton and HMCS Star where I turned in most of my equipment. At that point me and the navy parted company.


A lot of corvettes were decommissioned and taken out of service and scrapped but the Lindsay had a future ahead of her. She was purchased from War Assets Corporation by the Clark Steamship Co. in Montreal and converted to a package and passenger ship and renamed S.S.North Shore. She then ran the North shore of the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Natashguan, Quebec. She later was purchased by the Typaldos Brothers of Greece and renamed Limnos. She ran between the outer Greek islands in the Mediterranean until 1972 when she was also scrapped. Swansea survived the war and due to the fact that she had been refitted with air conditioning for the Pacific theatre of war, she was used as a training ship by the navy.


Addendum: A case study of corvette operations in the English Channel during Operation "Neptune" from November 1943 to July 1945 and specifically H.M.C.S. Lindsay was authored by Wahly Leung. He was a young Chinese lad writing his thesis at Wilfrid Laurier University in l990. He contacted some of the available crew members to interview us. He and his family, who ran a restaurant in that town, live in Lindsay, Ontario and that is why he picked the "LINDSAY" for his topic.



RUSTYGUTS - Submitted by Bryan Watson

HMCS Restigouche - We were in Halifax Shipyards for Restigouche's IRE conversion and part of that was to acid wash the steam turbines to clean them, then afterwards they were supposed to be flushed out with salt water. After coming out of the shipyards, we were scheduled to go to sea within a few days and did sail but broke down in mid harbour.  We sat alongside for a long period of time and when the turbine casings were opened they were a rusty clump. I am sure this is where she was tagged with the name "Rustyguts".



HANDS TO BREAKFAST - Submitted by Peter Magwood

HMCS Algonquin - The rock ‘n’ roll issuing from a tinny, little transistor radio in HMCS ALGONQUIN’s crowded, steamy galley took on new meaning one long-ago morning in the Pacific Ocean.


The creaky, old destroyer was making its way north to San Francisco, en route to Esquimalt, B.C., together with CRESCENT and COLUMBIA, when they ran into some weather in the early spring of 1967. ALGONQUIN, with its Second World War hull and 1950s prototype superstructure, was no stranger to heavy seas and the three destroyers shouldered the swells, causing seasoned and green sailors alike to roll with the well-known momentum, known as “sea legs,” that would accompany us ashore days or weeks later.


ALGONQUIN’s cooks were no exception to the heaving decks and they continued to prepare breakfast with animation and dexterity. Lined up outside the galley, we could hear the chief cook and his duty hands struggling with clattering pans, trays, plates and utensils, muttering and cursing behind the shuttered servery. And the little radio continued to serenade us with some “hit of the ‘60s.”


Suddenly, the shutter went up with a zip and bang and we were presented a theatre of cookery that would amaze Danny Kaye: cooks struggled to keep their balance, with one hand on a stack of melmac plates that threatened to leap onto the deck while the other tonged out eggs, bacon and sausage from the steam-table trays. Another, clearly more agile than the rest, had his hands and spatulas full trying to keep dozens of frying eggs, bacon slices and sausages from sliding off the hot, black grill into a huge, untidy omelet on the deck. The chief cook supervised and assisted, bracing himself into a corner of the steam table as the destroyer continued to roll.


It appeared the serving was going to continue without undue difficulty and, soon, it was my turn. I presented myself, complete with appetite and smile, to the server, anxious to dig into the RCN “scran.” I was hungry, just coming off the middle watch, and the steamy smells were mouth-watering.


Suddenly, the ship rolled to starboard (No, it wasn’t “hands to breakfast, starboard 30”). In an instant, the stacks of plates toppled to the deck in a welter of broken pastel plastic; the tidy parade state of eggs, bacon and sausage slid quickly off the grill, by divisions, in a smart seamanlike manner; the cooks lurched into the nearest immovable object and we all struggled to regain our footing. Those seated at the cafeteria tables leaned and gripped their plates and cups as the ship rolled back again.


The chief cook, clearly annoyed, sprang into action.


“Zip, bang, click.” Down came the servery shutter in a chorus of oaths and maledictions from cooks and crew alike. “Cereal and coffee in the corner; we need some help in here,” yelled the chief cook, as he and his crew knelt down to pick up the mess of broken plates, cutlery and the newly-created omelet on the deck.


Only half of us got a hot breakfast that morning and even today, an innocent bowl of corn flakes reminds me of that funny morning meal in ALGONQUIN’s cafeteria so many years ago. Otherwise, the food was generally very good during the 6,900-nautical-mile journey, from Halifax to Esquimalt, in February - April 1967



ALGONQUIN’S LAST HURRAH - submitted by Peter Magwood

HMCS Algonquin - The famous, old destroyer looked forlorn, with rust-streaked sides and upper decks in disarray, as she lay in the icy Dosco drydock in north-end Halifax that February weekend in 1967. With no one about, except a cold quartermaster and bosn’s mate at the gangway, HMCS ALGONQUIN was high and dry for repairs to her port quarter after a mishap in Halifax harbor earlier that year. A large chunk of her hull had been cut neatly away, top to bottom, by dockyard workers and plates welded into place to make the ship ready for a final transit to the West Coast in February - April 1967. I joined her on a Saturday morning and we were to leave at 8 a.m., Monday, Feb. 27, with the destroyer escorts CRESCENT (DDE 226) and the newer COLUMBIA (DDE 260) for a 6,900-nautical-mile cruise to what was planned to be a new training future -- and lease on life -- for the three ships. I was a 22-year-old boatswain on continuous naval duty from HMCS CARLETON, Ottawa, and had only seen the RCN’s publicity pictures of the famous warship. But I was fascinated by her prototype, pre-205-class superstructure which contrasted sharply with her Second World War hull, with a twin, 3-in. 50-cal. gun forward and an older twin, 4-in. mount and two, triple-barrelled anti-submarine mortars aft. And there she was, in the shipyard, a special ship, unique, perhaps not as graceful-looking as the “Cadillacs” of the day, but she exuded power and history. I was proud to switch my CARLETON cap talley to that of HMCS ALGONQUIN. Looking back, it was like becoming part of history. I had joined more than 600 officers and men who had embarked in ALGONQUIN, under LCdr L. A. Dzioba; CRESCENT, LCdr R. G. Guy, and COLUMBIA, Cdr. R. D. Okros, along with some 163 other reservists and sea cadets from across Canada. Early Monday morning, and out of drydock, we freed the frozen manilla hawsers from the jetty and turned to form up in Bedford Basin, COLUMBIA leading, to salute the flag of the Commander Maritime Command on our way down the harbor.


Small groups of family and friends braved the chilly February morning air to wave farewell from the vantage point of Jetty 5. At 11 a.m., we were on our way south, at the stately speed of four knots allowed in Halifax harbor, for the kinder, gentler climes of the West Coast. The dartboard planners at MarCom had scheduled stops for us at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Balboa, Canal Zone; Manzanillo, Mexico, for fuel, and San Francisco, Calif. But there was an unplanned three-day call at the U.S. naval base at Norfolk, Va., for emergency repairs to some of Dosco’s welding work.


HMCS ALGONQUIN’S NOR’EASTER - Winter is always hard on ships in the North Atlantic and our trip down the eastern seaboard was no exception. Two days out of Halifax, we ran into a nor’easter that saw ALGONQUIN plunging into troughs and knifing through seas in the way her hull was designed to, throwing sheets of spray over the superstructure and soaking anyone caught on the open bridge. The upper decks were out of bounds and weather jackets, mitts, seaboots and long underwear were the order of the day for the deck watches. This was my first, real North Atlantic storm and I remember getting drenched one middle watch on lookout on the bridge. Standing on the port side, unable to see past the eyes of the ship in the pitch-black night off Boston, a large sea whumped into the port side of the destroyer and I tumbled hard into the bridge’s starboard side as the ship rolled and slid alarmingly in that direction. That was my first experience, in the open, with a “rogue,” or out-of-phase wave and I will never forget that hilly, black North Atlantic seascape and the dull shock of ice-cold seawater that soaked my parka, face, trousers and boots.


The killick of my watch, LS Bill Big Canoe, a taciturn, three-badged Ojibwa from Brantford, Ont., took the storm in stride and he was a welcome sight the next night while I was on lifebuoy sentry (usually on the quarterdeck but because of the weather the post was moved to just aft of the 4-in. mount) when he provided me with a warm pair of lined hunter’s leather mittens. The relentless, pounding North Atlantic was taking a toll on ALGONQUIN’s recently-repaired port quarter. I was bunked on the starboard side of 10 mess, just above the screws, and the guys on the port side were commenting about how the bulkhead was flexing as the ship pitched and rolled.


It was not long before D/C parties had shored up part of the 10 mess bulkhead with 4 X 4 timbers and by the time we were off the state of Maryland, we had more than a few inches of cold seawater sloshing around the deck tiles and bootlockers. It was a struggle, before going on watch, to put boots on while lying in the bunk, then having to splash around the deck to finish getting dressed, hoping most of the water would stay on the port side for a few moments. This probably was as close to life on a Second World War corvette as I was going to get, I thought.


The damage to the hull worsened, apparently, and it was decided to divert to Norfolk for emergency repairs for three days. We were berthed outboard a large U.S. destroyer while the work was completed, underwater and in our mess, and I became chummy with the side-armed Americans on gangway duty during the middle and morning watches. The Vietnam war, comparative life in the USN and RCN and, of course, California’s “Flower Power” phenomenon, were hot topics of conversation between me and my American colleagues.


Our runs ashore consisted of trips to the EM Club in the huge base where American-style hamburgers and cold cans of Carling Black Label beer were consumed in quantity by crew from the three Canadian DDEs.


Repairs completed, we were at sea again and, before long, the sea changed from slate-grey to blue-grey then blue as the air and sea temperatures began to rise. Soon the blue weather jackets, with RCN stencilled in large white letters across the back, were being hung out to dry before being stowed for future use as we headed up the Pacific.


Our freshwater was rationed but, fortunately, Fort Lauderdale, with its crowded, white beaches, bars and abundant night life, was only days away.


It was sunny and hot the day we arrived and remained that way for our three-day port visit – a far cry from the cold, grey North Atlantic of a few days ago.


We berthed outboard of CRESCENT and as soon as part-ship hands were secured, we flocked to the coxswain’s office flats to look at routine orders. Duty first day in. Rats. Standing on the brow for four hours at a time, with no sunscreen, gave my neck and shoulders that familiar, red rectangle known to all who wore 2As in summer or down south, and I was in a whole lot of discomfort until the peeling set in a few days later.


FUNERAL AND FIRE - On the day of the funeral of the governor general, Georges Vanier, in Ottawa, we lowered the flag to half-mast and I made an entry in the gangway logbook to that effect. Moments later, a fire alarm rang out in CRESCENT followed by the heart-quickening “Emergency stations, emergency stations! Fire, fire, fire! Fire in the radio room!” The alarm was repeated on the ship’s upper-deck broadcast and controlled pandemonium broke out. Although the fire was brought under control quickly and without injury, it was a graphic reminder of the importance of those innumerable fire exercises held without fail at sea and in harbor.


Despite CRESCENT’s fire and our water rationing and lack of air conditioning, we had a pleasant stay in the tourist city and after four days were headed to the Panama Canal.


The sea and air temperatures rose as we steamed around the Bahamas, through the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti and south past Jamaica towards the Canal Zone. The Caribbean days were constantly hot, bright and sunny and the nights, announced by spectacular sunsets, were of a black, starry quality I had never seen before.


The freshwater shortage became acute and every day at 4 p.m. we rigged fire hoses to receive 10 tons of fresh water from COLUMBIA. The chief ERA was puzzled at the loss of fresh water and tried to trace it with dye in the evaporator system. But the dye, injected at point A, did not emerge at point B and it wasn’t until a later investigation showed that an impeller, replaced backwards in the evap’s plumbing, was pumping the water overside.


Birdbaths were routine and every day, after topping up with freshwater, the pipe “hands to bathe” was made. The ship’s engines were stopped, the motor cutter was lowered with a crewman armed with a rifle as a dubious shark-protection measure, and we jumped or dove into the Caribbean from the low quarterdeck, usually while the ship still had way on.


We took about five days to cross the Caribbean and soon were at the northern entrance to the Panama Canal on a grey, overcast and very muggy March morning. The canal workers came aboard, with their trinkets and souvenirs, and did all the linehandling for us as we transited the huge locks and waterways, to emerge at the southern end of the canal, at Balboa - Panama City, about eight hours later. We stayed overnight at the U.S. naval facility and we were back at sea at 8 a.m. next day, heading north out of the Gulf of Panama to the Pacific Ocean and Manzanillo for fuel.


INTO THE PACIFIC We were joined by the destroyer escorts MACKENZIE and SASKATCHEWAN and the frigate BEACON HILL and the six ships made an impressive sight as we cleaved the blue-grey Pacific northwards to Mexico.


Six days later, we were alongside the fuelling jetty at Manzanillo, a well-known seaport with one ancient-looking Mexican gunboat that looked as if it had just emerged from the turn of the century. We topped up, slipped and were on our way to a gunnery shoot off the coast of California.


The day of the shoot, a few days out of Manzanillo, was windy, grey, wet and cool and I am sure the fates had tampered with the 3-in. 50-cal. mount. We banged off about two rounds before the gunners called it a day – a far cry from the old ship’s highly-accurate shore bombardment at Normandy 23 years before.


The sea and weather had turned noticeably cooler and the parkas reappeared as we made for San Francisco. We entered a dense fogbank outside the Golden Gate Bridge and a small flotilla of fishing vessels sailed past us as we steamed under the huge bridge. Moments later, the sun came out as part-ship hands were fallen in, wearing our No. 3 uniforms (“Dress for entering harbour: 3s”), and we neared the USN facility at Treasure Island.


Shore leave was granted and we all took advantage of the sights and fine night life of San Francisco of 1967. I wandered towards the Haight-Ashbury district to see the Flower Power people but I was not impressed with their scruffy appearance and, I am sure, they paid me little attention as I wandered about in uniform, cap and burberry.


I called my parents in Guelph, Ont., from a phone booth in downtown San Francisco to tell them where I was and that I was alright.


The day before we left was Sunday and we mustered for prayers on the jetty at 9 a.m. The navy blue congregation, from six HMC ships, must have numbered close to a 1,000 and the prayers and hymns that were offered up were powerful and moving. Indeed, I was thankful we had made it that far without major incident.


THE LAST RACE Soon, we were on our way again, on our final, four-day leg of the circumcontinental journey. The final parade, into Esquimalt harbor, was a day to be remembered.


The West Coast ships went ahead first and ALGONQUIN, CRESCENT and COLUMBIA, apparently not tired in the least after a 7,000-nautical-mile journey, gathered speed to race towards the harbor entrance with part-ship hands fallen in.


I was amazed, as a 22-year-old would be, at the intensely vibrating deckplates and the high rooster tail that whooshed above and away from our stern as we cranked on 31 knots, beating out the newer COLUMBIA and CRESCENT, to enter harbor for the last time as a commissioned ship.


Days and weeks later, the East Coast crew were drafted back to Nova Scotia; the West Coasters remained, reunited with family and friends, and I returned for six months of Centennial activities at CFB Cornwallis before returning to Ottawa and college.


On Sept. 23, 2001, I completed 30 years of regular and reserve service as a Lieutenant (N) in the Cadet Instructors’ Cadre. I was XO of 339 RCSCC IROQUOIS, Shearwater, N.S., for about two years but my fondest naval memories are as a young boatswain in the lower decks of such famous ships as ALGONQUIN and SWANSEA – the likes of which we shall never see again.


It was sad to learn that ALGONQUIN was paid off to the scrapyard and I still have pasted to the back of my framed ship’s portrait a clipping from Maritime Command (Pacific)’s Lookout, dated Thursday, May 13, 1971, entitled “Sayonara, Algonquin, Crescent.” The clipping’s yellowing photo shows the two DDEs being towed by “Daisy,” a Japanese deepsea tug, past H. M. Yacht BRITANNIA to a shipbreaking yard in Kaohsiung, Formosa. The last paragraph of the article says: “Now they are gone, and for those of us, who served on these forerunners of the 205 Class, in then unknown luxury, think it is a pitiful way for such ships to go.”



HMCS Algonquin departs Halifax




HMCS Algonquin - The dapper, distinguished-looking man, in his 80s, was the last to speak to a hushed, crowded room at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Monday, January 28, 2003, and he was unknown to many.


He was among an estimated 200 people who gathered at the museum on Water Street, Halifax, to hear journalist Stephen Kimber speak about his latest book, “Sailors, Slackers and Blind Pigs” (Anchor Canada edition, Random House of Canada Ltd. 2003. 342 pp.), a rich description of the VE-Day riots that rocked the Nova Scotia capital May 8 – 9, 1945.


Kimber had just given a one-hour presentation, complete with old National Film Board footage and black-and-white slides of wartime people, crowds and the damage of the end-of-war riots, and had opened the floor to questions. After about a half-hour of memories and queries, which ranged from an amusing anecdote of young, impecunious sailors assigned to guard the offloading of gold from a British battleship at Pier 21, to heartfelt pleas for people to record their families’ wartime memories, the crowd grew restive. It was 9:30 p.m., dark and cold outside, and after the obligatory book signings, we were thinking of getting the cars and trucks warmed up and on the way home.


But when this man stood to speak from the rear row, in a clear, confident and eloquent voice about his memories of May 1945, I turned to look at him and wonder which ship he was talking about. He spoke only for a minute but for me, they he had cast new light on the discipline and demeanour of the wartime ship’s company of HMCS Algonquin (R17).


“I wanted to add my few comments about our involvement on VE-Day in Halifax,” he began. “We were at D-Day, we spent countless months in the English Channel, we went to Russia and were across the North Atlantic countless times. After the war in Europe was over, we were told to get ready for the Pacific, which we did, and when we got to Halifax all the boys wanted was a drink – a cup of tea, a glass of milk, a ginger ale – and something to eat.


“But when we got ashore, everything was closed, including the restaurants, but there was a lot of beer and liquor flowing and a few (Algonquins) had some on an empty stomach. Well, you know that effect that would have.”


He did not identify the numbers involved but I chose to believe they were relatively few.


The speaker did not identify himself and as the crowd broke for home I went over to him, and inquired if he was talking about HMCS Algonquin. He said yes.


I thanked him and wandered away to get Mr. Kimber’s attention that, there, was a member of the ship’s company of one of Canada’s most famous wartime destroyers but he was busy autographing books.


I spotted this unknown man and his group again as the crowd began making its way out to Water Street and spoke again:


“Excuse me, sir, I just wanted you to know that Rear-Admiral Piers (Algonquin’s wartime captain) is one of my naval heroes,” I said, hoping he would identify himself.


“Really?” he replied with a smile. “I was his navigator.”


“You’re Steele; Commander Steele, I should say,” I replied.


“Yes, I am,” he responded, “and I see Admiral Piers every once in a while and, yes, he looks fine.” I told Cdr. Steele that I had served in Algonquin (DDE 224) in 1967, on her last trip from Halifax to Esquimalt. “She was a good ship,” he told me. I agreed, as a few scattered memories came to mind about my trip in Algonquin, 6,900 nautical miles form Halifax to Esquimalt, only a fraction of what the wartime destroyer would have steamed, and that my trip was exactly 36 years previously.


We shook hands and walked into the dark, starless night of the Halifax waterfront, cold and black as the North Atlantic in January. I was warmed by the thought, however, that I had just met the man who, equally and decisively, put HMCS Algonquin and her men in harm’s way – and brought them to safe haven again afterward. Godspeed, Commander Steele; it was a pleasure to have met you, sir.


Three outstanding naval officers, who served in Algonquin in 1944-45, live short distances from one another on the South Shore: They are: Rear Admiral Desmond Piers, captain, Chester; Commander L. B. Yenson, executive officer, and Lieutenant R./ M. Steele, Mahone Bay. All winners of the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC).



REMEMBERING MORELY HAYNES, Stoker 1c, RCNVR - Submitted by Dave MacLeod

HMCS Weyburn - Morley was a lodge-brother at Centennial Lodge in London, and in 1995 I was the Master. As that year marked the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II we held a special event, and I specifically asked Morley to speak about his experiences, which I will share with you now.


Morley joined the RCN in London, Ontario, and was on the original crew of the Weyburn when they picked the ship up in Port Arthur (Thunder Bay). He served with it in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and in the Western Atlantic as part of the convoy escorts. He was serving on the HMCS Weyburn when it struck a German sea mine off of Gibraltar. Morley was initially un-injured in the first explosion that crippled and sank the ship, but was badly wounded when two of their own depth charges exploded as the wreckage of the Weyburn sank. As a result he was returned to the UK and then to Canada and released as a wounded veteran - all within approximately two years of joining up. He was 23 years old at the time.


Morley was told he wouldn't walk again - he said to heck with that, and learned to walk again. Then they told him he would always require a cane - he said to heck with that (and I'm not just being polite, Morley didn't swear, so "heck" would probably be about as strong as it got) and walked without a cane. He did have a bit of a limp.


A few years ago I happened to see a copy of the photo of the crew of HMCS Weyburn on e-Bay, which I bought for Morley, and my father and I spent a very good afternoon talking with him about his experiences. He was easy to recognize by his big bushy eyebrows and his smile - unchanged after all those years. Morley passed away in 2010 in his 90th year, and at his funeral the photo was proudly displayed. I will see if I can get a copy for you, I scanned it at the time but can't seem to locate it right now.


I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to know Morley Haynes, and a number of his comrades who served in the navy, in the air force, and in the army. We owe a great debt to them, and for their service I am forever grateful




(First posted: Sunday, June 01, 2014 04:10 PM EDT | Updated: Monday, June 02, 2014 08:01 AM EDT)


On June 6, 1944, Gene Weber was aboard the corvette HMS Louisburg, escorting one of Canada’s “Prince Ships” to a small beach near the Normandy village of Courseulles-sur-Mer.


The “Prince Ships” were three Canadian-National-Railway steamships converted to military use. The Prince David, Prince Henry and Prince Robert were all steaming toward Courseulles-sur-Mer that morning. Webber was helping to escort the David.


Four-hundred-and-eighteen Canadian soldiers were aboard the David and there are various ways to describe what happened when they reached Normandy. Various ways to remember what we have come to call D-Day.


Let’s start with straight statistics. Three-hundred-and-forty Canadian soldiers would die on what we now call Juno Beach. Another 574 would be wounded.


Juno Beach was the second deadliest of the five beaches the Allies would invade that morning. Only the Americans, on Omaha Beach, would pay a higher price.


“It was crazy, what was happening that day,” remembers Weber, who turns 88 this year. “There were all sort of mines in the water, and soldiers were jumping in to try and clear them.


“But what could you do with the mines? There are ships and troops everywhere. No place to throw them. So I watched soldiers hold those mines until they went off in their hands.”


He remembers that. Remembers it well. Even though it has been 70 years since he saw it happen.


I ask Weber what he remembers best about D-Day, and his answer is something an old sailor might give (Weber would serve in the Canadian Navy for 27 years.)


“The bow wake that day was nothing but bodies,” he says. “You couldn’t really see the water for all the bodies.”


I try to picture a thing like that. But I can’t. What happened on Juno Beach 70 years ago is almost unimaginable, even though in a few short years we will have no choice but to imagine it.


There will be no more witnesses.


Before that day happens, here is the rest of the story of Juno Beach.


Although the Third Canadian Infantry Division was the last to land on D-Day — and although it faced some of the fiercest fighting — by the end of the day the Canadians had advanced further inland than any other Allied division.


Military historians have wondered for years why the Canadians had more success than the Americans or the British and the only thing they have ever agreed upon is this:


The Canadians were damn ready to go that day.


They were well trained, determined and under good leadership. The same kind of soldiers the Germans had called “shock troops” in World War One because Canadians only arrived when an Allied offensive was about to begin.


Canadians were a sign of imminent attack. Vimy Ridge. Passchendaele. We went to places like that.


Historians have concluded there was success on Juno Beach — despite the late start, despite the fierce German opposition — for likely one reason only:


The soldiers were Canadians.


It is fair comment to say that. It is not Pollyanna patriotism. It is not the easy answer to a hard question.


Anyone who was there is a hero. That’s an overused word nowadays, so I want it clearly understood that the word has been carefully chosen and deliberately used.




That’s what Gene Weber is. Although he denies it. Just doing what thousands of others were doing that day. That’s the way he sees it.


Although he does agree with me about one thing. Juno Beach says something about Canada. About the kind of country we are.


He then tells me a quick story about Canada and D-Day, what both those things mean to him and how they came together on June 6, 1944. Came together to leave him forever aware of what we have shared as a country.


For on the Prince David that day, were soldiers from Le Regiment de la Chaudiere, an infantry reserve unit from Levis, Que. The Quebec soldiers were some of the first off the boat.


I’ll let Gene Weber finish this week’s column:


“I’m from Saskatchewan originally, so I knew nothing about Quebec. I was probably even a little anti-French, but that morning, when we pulled into Juno Beach, I saw French soldier after French soldier in the water.


“All of them were about my age. All of them were wearing an insignia from Quebec. All of them were dead.


“I’ve never been anti-Quebec since D-Day. I’ve loved every part of this country since D-Day. I hope we have a great future together. I think we’ve earned it.


Link to the original article in the Ottawa Sun



(The) WARTIME MEMORIES of Larry Costello by Larry Costello (1924-2017)

HMCS Runnymede - I served on the HMCS Runnymede until the end of the war. And on the convoy escorts from Newfoundland to Londonderry, [Northern Ireland]. It was called the Barber Pole Squadron. We had a barber pole emblem on the funnel and it was a G5 escort and we escorted convoys from Newfoundland to Londonderry. The ship was one of the happiest ships I've sailed on. At the end of the war, I got out in 1946 but I went back in and I served until 1963. And it was one of my best experience in the Navy, of all my time in the Navy.


I will tell you about one experience when we took the [HMCS] Runnymede down to, we sailed her down to, up Bermuda but every ship, you have to have a workup before your ship goes into action, into the stream. And we were down off Bermuda and they had everybody overboard and I was running aft to get my life jacket. And I was knocked overboard and I went down twice. And thank goodness for two of my buddies, Ken Ostro and Burt Kindree, I don't know whatever happened to them, they were from out west. They knew I couldn't swim and they brought me over and saved me. Of course, when I got back onboard, I got reprimanded for not having, because at sea during the war, you're supposed to have your Mae West [personal flotation device] as it's called, was supposed to be right beside you. You eat and sleep with it. And I thank them for my life.


I was a quartermaster or a bosun [a ship's officer in charge of equipment and the duties of the crew], which would be a wheelsman and then quarterdeck watches. Our main job was steering the ship. See, in most of the ships, the steering column would be down below and the officers on the bridge would relay the order by the engine telegraph to 30 degrees to port or 50, you know, so on. And we would turn the wheel. They were the eyes and we were the action downstairs, down below, just steering the ship. My action station was on the depth charge throwers.


On the stern of every frigate and destroyers and that, they had two racks and each rack would have, let's see, there was four on either side, four depth charges and when they'd say, fire one, they'd roll off one off the stern of the ship, they'd go down in a pattern on the port and starboard side of the ship, they had depth charge throwers. There was two on either side so there was a pattern of eight. You never really knew whether you got one until - I know that's the way I figured it - until it was confirmed. Usually the admiralty would be able to confirm when there was different ships and different subs sunk and that.


But you never really knew, I mean, unless some of them, well everything came right up. Like sometimes, the subs would sort of fool you. They'd put junk, and put it in the chutes and shoot it up to the surface and then you'd think you had it. But half the time you didn't. That was sort of a gimmick they used. I am proud of the Royal Navy, although as Canadians, some of us didn't get along with the Royal Navy, there was, I don't know whether [they felt] we were taking over their tradition or what. But I believe that the Royal Canadian Navy played a major part in the Second World War with the convoys and that.


The Battle of the Atlantic was one of the longest battles of the war. And we worked as a team, the Canadian Navy and the British Navy. We knew we had a job to do; we were there to protect and bring supplies. I've got to tell you this little story - in 1993, I was sent over by Ottawa for the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic and I met with the queen [Elizabeth II] at the Bootle [Town] hall in Liverpool, [England]. I was like in charge of the seven, there was seven of us in our group and she said, it's so nice of the Canadian Navy to serve during the war and to work in conjunction with us ... And I said, well, Your Majesty, I said, we're Canadians, we figure we had a duty to do and we were pleased to do it.



TRIP TO ENGLAND - 1968 - Submitted by Philippe Frigault

HMCS Gatineau - In 1968 we went to England, Southampton, Devenport etc etc. We had the worst weather ever - waves way over the ship, sailors sick everywhere, only a handful were not sick, among them me and my brother. I remember we had to do double shifts in the wheelhouse. Once we were there, there were many ships from different countries all over the place. They were using a little type of tug boat to bring us ashore from the ships.  On day, as we were return to our ship, were coming alongside another ship - I think it was a ship from Norway - the tugs engine throttle got stuck and the tugboat could not slow down all the way. We hit the side of that ship, the tugs bow and ladder went flying and if I recall correctly, there were a few sailors hurt. After that mishap, I was a little nervous, let me tell you. But we made it back home all safe and sound and I was happy to go back at my favorite restaurant on Barrington Street " Chez Camille" to get a big order of fish and chips.


Webmaster's Note:  In 1968, HMCS Gatineau was the first Canadian warship to take part in the Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT).  "Chez Camille" as referred to by Philippe, was Camille's Fish and Chip's on Barrington Street in Halifax, right across from the entrance to the dockyard. It was also known as Mama Camille's.



(The) WARTIME MEMORIES of Nicholas Vukson - Submitted by John Vukson on behalf of Nick Vukson

At this point, in my life, I was still sixteen and when the war started I planned to join the navy at age 18. One day at work, I was transmitting a message and I was aware of an airman at the counter. When I looked up, I immediately recognized a friend from the Soo. He failed as a pilot and was sent to Trenton to determine another position for him in air crew. As he departed, he said "so long pal, I probably wont see you again. I said "you certainly will because when I turn 18 I am joining the navy and I will catch up with you overseas". He never survived the war.


In 1943 I reported to the Navy in Kingston for basic training. One day our officer asked the group if anyone knew how to send or receive Morse code, and if you can, would you volunteer for a special assignment. I put my hand up and realized I was the only volunteer. He asked me why I knew Morse? I told him I worked in the telegraph office and spent time practicing. He sent me to the Captain who asked me the same question, and then advised me I would be on a train tomorrow for Ste. Hyacinthe for training. I tried to ask a few questions but was told he was not in a position to say much more. Because of a change in plans in my training I missed the entire seaman training in Cornwallis N.S.


After completely my training in St. Hyacinthe I was assigned to HMCS Lanark, a brand new frigate named after a county in Eastern Ont.) as a Telegraphist (Special Operator) This operation was completely different from the regular communication room where all messages were copied and decoded. My job was to listen with a head set to two different high frequencies to the enemy transmitting messages to the U-boats. At the end of each message there would be a pause at which time a U-boat might jump in and send a short message to the home base. In a very short time we yelled out the frequency to the two other ships on our Radio telephone and took a bearing to determine the U-Boat location. This was done before on low frequency but never on a high frequency.


With a new ship and new crew Lanark sailed to Bermuda to put the ship and the crew through extensive excercises. From Bermuda we sailed alone to Londonderry Ireland to become the Senior Officer and Leader of Escort Group C-7 which escorted large convoys across the North Atlantic to a position about 100 miles off St. John's Nfld and were relieved by another Escort Group on the Triangle run – St. John's, Halifax and New York. After five days in port to repair any equipment, refuel and take on supplies , we sailed to our meeting point to escort an Eastbound convoy to the U.K.


Our Escort Group made 14 trips across the Atlantic. We ran into some trouble one sunny day while sailing in the vicinity of Spain. We just sat down to lunch and we all heard the dreaded K-boom. We grabbed our life jackets before the bell rang for action stations and ran down the narrow passage way to get out on the deck. A large oil tanker we assume was torpedoed on the port side. Very black smoke and flames reached up into the beautiful blue sky and the oil on the water created a burning inferno around the ship. The only unusual situation we had that morning was that we passed a group of Spanish fishing boats. They waved at us and we waved back. It was known that sometimes the U-boat was directly under a fishing boat. We barely got over the shock when another oil tanker exploded on the other side of the convoy. There were very few survivers from both ships. A frantic search for a U-boat failed to make any contacts. When the war in Europe was officially over, we were at sea with a Westbound convoy which would be our last one. Our Senior Officer decided that we should celebrate the ocasion by firing all our star shells or whatever you had on board to brighten up the sky. Every merchant ship had something also to offer. At the appointed hour the sky lit up and the explosives made an impressive display.


When we arrived in St. John's all those who volunteered for the Pacific left the Lanark and went home on leave. The rest of the crew stayed with the ship and sailed on to Vancouver for a refit and prepare it for the war in the far East. My orders were to report to St. Hyacinthe for further training Aug 1. Fortunately the war ended suddenly and dramatically. Most of the crew were discharged as quickly as possible and I went back to work in Toronto.


-  In 1998, Nick was interviewed by his granddaughter and the interview appeared in a local newspaper, the Mount Forest Confederate.  Click here to view the article



A SAILOR’S TALE: FROM ANSELL TO INFINITY - Recollections from the Second World War by Ivan (John) Krpan. Submitted by Stephanie McDonald on behalf of John Krpan.


Ivan Krpan, better known as John, was born in Croatia and came to Canada in 1933. At the time that World War II broke out, John, his parents and his siblings were living in the CNR Ansell railway station, located about 7 km west of Edson, Alberta. Following completion of high school in Edson, John went off to war. This is his story of his part in the war, as told some 50 years after the end of the war.


Adolf Hitler didn't know where Ansell was located but then again not very many other people knew that either. In any case, Ansell disappeared as a railway station soon after Hitler's life ended in his bunker in the heart of Berlin. It was Hitler who duped the people of Germany that he was a messiah who would deliver them from the disaster which followed the First World War. And once in power, it was he who led them and me on the biggest adventure of this century and of my life.


As an adolescent, I had no idea what the war meant to me but there was a suffused excitement in the air when young men could make choices to join in this adventure that was going on in some far off place. As our side suffered one disaster after another it became apparent that this adventure was going to drag on.


In 1943, my turn came to join in and the choice was between the Air Force and the Navy. The Army did not appeal to me because it always had to walk. I had heard that the Air Force was only taking people who wanted to be gunners and that I did not want. In the Navy that kind of choice did not have to be made until later. That is how I became an Ordinary Seaman in the RCNVR (Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve). For the duration of the war I would go to sleep in a hammock every night.


The navy is a military organization and the first thing you have to learn is obedience to the rules of the organization no matter how stupid they appear to you. We marched up and down the parade square, turned left, turned right, saluted everyone in sight and we did this day after day. This was done so that we would begin to look like we were organized when some big cheese came around for inspection. After a few months of this on the prairies, we finally were sent to Victoria where we could see a real ocean. Now we went on to learn some more marching, and in addition, we had to learn a new language: forecastle, quarterdeck, bow, stern; and we had to learn about ropes and knots and semaphore code and all that other stuff.


We were finally shipped off to Comox to learn some seamanship and we got to ride on a destroyer back to Victoria. Now the question came up, what do you want to specialize in? My choice was torpedo – depth charge when in war action and electrical work when not engaged in such. We had to learn about batteries for torpedoes, explosives for depth charges, electrical systems on ships, carbon arc lamps for ship to ship signaling and other things.


Finally we graduated and it was time to face the real world. Before I was assigned to a ship there came a request for volunteers for special duty with Combined Operations. Thinking that this would mean working with the fairer sex, i.e. the Wrens, I put my hand up. Soon the jig was up and we were headed back to Comox for commando training. It was more of the physical hard work: running, crawling through pipes, climbing up nets, shooting rifles, beaching barges and hunting for clams and oysters.


We eventually returned to Victoria and, while waiting for our assignment I worked on a garbage barge that took garbage out into the entrance of Victoria harbour and dumped it into the ocean.


Orders came for sailing and it was time to go to war. On the way to the east coast I had a chance to stop at my beloved Ansell, to see my Ma and Pa and also my little brother and sister who probably didn't know what was going on. Away I went all across Canada almost exactly ten years after I had traveled in the opposite direction as an immigrant. We boarded a troop ship in Halifax for our voyage to Britain. We had a very nervous trip across the Atlantic. There were reports of submarines and rumors of torpedo wakes and near misses, but nothing serious developed. You may not know this, but fast ships like transports did not travel in convoys because they could outrun a submarine. We traveled in a complete blackout as far as lighting was concerned and with radio silence. Earlier in that year the submarine wolf packs had devastated several convoys on that route. We arrived in Greenoch, Scotland four days before Christmas.


‘On shore’ as it is known in the Navy, we were given quarters aboard a decommissioned British battleship and that is where we had our Christmas dinner, far from home and closer to Hitler.


In the navy it is an old tradition that the officers serve the ranks on Christmas day and so it came to pass that we were served by limey officers as there were no Canadian officers there.


The Canadian navy had a barracks in Scotland called HMCS Niobe, to which we were officially assigned. In fact it was a small stone castle in which we stayed a couple of days on our way back to Canada. It was not a very comfortable place, but here I am ahead of myself telling you that I did come back. You can now stop wondering if I’m going to make it back.


We spent the first month of 1944 in a British navy barracks eating some of the worst grub we had so far run into. I think we did some learning about torpedoes and actually went out into the North Sea and shot off a torpedo. I don't know what this was all about - they must have known that we were heading for landing craft where there was no chance of rubbing shoulders with torpedoes.


The next destination was the south of Eng1and. We were getting closer to Hitler all the time. The place was called Tilbury, which was an extension of the port of London. This was where we met our little flat bottomed landing-craft.


Hello LCI(L) 135. The longer title is Landing Craft, Infantry, (Large). Here was assembled a crew of about 15, mostly young people with a variety of training, enough to make the vessel function as required. This was the equipment on which we would load 180 soldiers, take them across the English Channel and ram our boat onto the beach against Hitler's gang that was waiting for us with their guns loaded. Our only advantage was that maybe we would surprise them.


Our next destination was Southampton, where we would pull in every night after we sailed out of the harbour and made practice runs along the southern coast of England provided the weather was reasonable. Occasionally we would get a few days leave and head for London where all the action was. Southampton was badly bombed out but there were theatres and occasional dances we could go to. The whole country seemed to be wall to wall people; with Canadian, Australian, and American military people everywhere, and the Island seemed to be held up by anti-aircraft balloons. Every so often the sound of air raid sirens could be heard, sometimes nearby and sometimes in the distance. It was during this time that the "Buzz" bombs were being launched from northern Germany. The V1 buzz bomb was like a small plane without a pilot in it, and it was loaded with explosives. When the fuel ran out, the engine stopped and the bomb came down. The V2 was actually a rocket bomb which had a calculated trajectory. It traveled much faster than the V1 and almost silently. During one of our trips to London I had a brush with the latter type. Several of us were sitting in a pub {where we spent a lot of time} when we heard some air raid sirens. At this stage, no one paid much attention to them. Suddenly there was a deafening explosion. Some of the glass at the entrance to the pub blew in and everyone looked around wondering how bad it was. Someone cracked a joke and we laughed nervously as the dust began to settle. A local woman seemed to be quite upset for a while until the bar gave her a free drink.


On June 4th there was a great deal of activity at the docks. We got our allotment of soldiers, each one carrying his gear, his bedding, rifle and a bicycle. We also received a letter from the Supreme Commander, General Eisenhower, telling us that this was an historical event on which we were about to embark and that we had better be brave. I went and hid under my bed. We were to leave Southampton in the evening and travel during the night so that we would hit the beaches just after dawn.


Sometime during the day the weatherman was consulted and the departure time was postponed for 24 hours. This meant that we had that crew of soldiers on our hands for a full day. In any case we shoved off the next evening as did thousands of other craft.


As we headed for the coast of France the sea was still very rough. Our flat bottom ship would rise at the bow on a wave then slam down on the next one like the flat side of paddle. It seemed that they could hear us all the way across the channel. I remember having to stand at the front of the ship as we took turns as lookouts and pretty soon feeling very nauseated. This was the only time in my navy career that I felt seasick. Towards morning we could hear great thunder in the distance and we knew that our big battleships were pounding the coast.


With the light of dawn we could see the coastline approaching but we were traveling very slowly so that the craft would all be together. Before long the siren for battle stations rang out and every sailor took his assigned position. There were two of us who normally took turns at steering the ship but at action stations I drew the position of emergency steering. My location would be below deck at the very stern of the ship, just next to the rudder, where there was a wheel that controlled the rudder. This would be used if the remote steering in the wheelhouse was disabled.


When we hit the beach in Normandy, I was below deck listening to what was going on above me as well as listening to the activity on the bridge via sound powered headphones. I felt a thud as the boat hit the sand. The commotion was very audible, so I pushed up the hatch above me and looked around to see where we were. Many other boats also had hit the beach and some were farther back than we were. The ramps on either side of the craft were being lowered and the soldiers were all lined up with their bicycles and all their gear on their backs, shoulders and belts. A soldier carries all his belongings with him. To the left of us I could see a two storey house which looked unpainted and there were other buildings farther back. On the beach there were a number of people. I remember particularly a bulldozer which seemed to be working on a ramp to get off the beach.


The soldiers jumped into the water, which at our location was no more than knee deep, and marched off in single file towards the beach. Before long the beach was swarming with soldiers and the officers were sorting them out. It didn't take long to unload the army and our mission was complete. Hoist the ramps and stand-by the anchor winch. The anchor had been dropped when approaching the beach and was now used to help pull the craft off the sand bar.


I was up on deck by this time to see better what was going on. While on deck I noticed that the bulldozer was pushing on the boat which was next to us, apparently because their anchor was not digging in. I felt us coming off of the sand bar slowly and I thought we won't have to wait for the bulldozer. Then there was a horrendous sound and our ship seemed to be in motion. Everyone looked around with astonishment, not realizing what was happening. It became apparent very quickly that there had been an explosion directly behind us. The eventual conclusion was that the anchor had dragged onto a beach mine which had not been cleared. A survey of the ship revealed that we had been very lucky. The only damage was that our second officer had a sprained ankle and our starboard engine had a cracked drive casing which left us with one engine to go back to base with. Cautiously we worked our way out of the shallow water and headed back slowly. A PT boat approached and offered to escort us part way back.


After the explosion there was a bit of a commotion. Our skipper realized that my station was nearest the explosion and wanted to know if anyone had seen me.


I had to own up that I had been on deck and succeeded in getting a blast for not staying at my station until I was instructed to leave.


A little bit of historical background which I learned some time later is that we had landed in an area which was designated Juno Beach by the planners. The front was 26 miles long and Juno beach was positioned between two British spearheads with the U.S. forces further west.


After repairs to our ship, we continued to shuttle between Southampton and the various beaches delivering troops. I remember arriving at Omaha beach, which is where the Americans landed, and finding the p1ace littered with wrecked boats and other equipment. This area had high cliffs and these cliffs had been fortified with concrete bunkers that the bombardment had not touched.


Once port facilities were established (4 to 5 weeks) there was no further use for the kind of ships we were on. We were instructed to go to Cowes, which was on the Isle of Wight, for a week of rest where we enjoyed the sunshine, the bitters and the search for English girls.


Soon thereafter we said farewell to our little ship and drifted towards Canada. I know that we went to HMCS Niobe and to Liverpool where we caught a troop transport.


Only the gods of war know why, but this ship was going to New York. Many of us would have liked to visit there but they transported us directly to a train and pointed us towards Halifax. We were assigned to a barracks and granted two weeks leave.


In less than a year I was back at Ansell. I was coming home as a surprise but I was the one who was surprised. My mother and dad were in Edmonton, and a Croatian lady from Edson was taking care of Mike and Mary. Those kids must have been bad because she cleared out in a hurry and left me in charge.


Back I went to Halifax and HMCS Stadacona barracks. I took another course and qualified for a Leading Seaman position. After that there was more waiting. In the spring of 1945 an interesting situation developed in Halifax harbour. The naval explosives yard was located just across the bay. One day an accident or fire started the explosives blowing up. There was great anxiety in the whole city for the next day or two. It appears that during the First World War an ammunition ship blew up, leveling the whole harbourfront and causing many deaths and injuries. That night we had to haul our hammocks out of the building and sleep on the parade square.


The next big event came in May, VE day. The city declared a holiday and so did the Navy. On the base there was a canteen that served beer for a couple of hours only on holidays and that’s what they did that afternoon. I walked over to join the celebration. When the bar closed we were all disappointed. Some of the men got rough by throwing bottles around. Finally everyone was cleared out. Outside someone started shouting "Let’s go to the brewery" and the call was repeated without most of us knowing where the brewery was and what good it would do to go there. We filed out of the gate onto a main street. Soon a street car was stopped by someone pulling the trolley cable. In a minute or so the driver was kicked out of the trolley and after a few false starts it went on its way while the rest of us continued on foot. In due time we arrived at the brewery. It seems that the brewery was already open for 'business'. People were hauling out beer, some were passing out bottles to guys who were standing around. My friend and I got a quart bottle and opened it, but it was very warm and not very appetizing. Someone passed the word that the liquor store had been 'opened' so we proceeded to that place. Sure enough there were cases of booze being passed out. We got hold of a bottle of gin and away we went towards the park to celebrate. On the way we passed through some of the commercial district where the big plate glass windows were broken, but we had no interest in that so we went on.


I returned to the base before sunset, full of regrets, not because of stealing government whisky, but because I was in a very bad shape: "alcohol poisoning". Next day the papers had just as much copy on the 'Halifax Riots' as they had on the end of the war in Europe.


VJ day in August was much more subdued. It was time to start thinking of the future. Those wishing to catch the coming school term were given priority to leave. So I returned to HMCS Nonsuch and was given permission to enroll in a refresher course of ca1culus at the U of A. It was here that I learned about infinity. If you divide 1 by a number much larger than 1 you can get an infinitely small number but you will never get zero; so zero is not a number and it is possible that you will reach inverse infinity before you come to zero. You can also count forever, in other words, to infinity. The radius of a circle is 22 divided by 7 and that becomes 3.142857 etc. without end. Is that infinity? We had a professor who came into the classroom every day asking whether anyone had seen infinity.


Before I enrolled for the new term, my papers came through, I was ‘Discharged to Shore" by the RCNVR and thus ended my military career.


Many times since the war, especially in my older years, I have thought about the events of some fifty years ago and how it was possible that human beings would do such horrible and destructive things to each other. When you see and talk to people who fought on the opposite side, it makes it doubly hard to believe that this could happen.


Whenever I think of Ansell, I recall the innocent and carefree days that life represented at that time. Amen.


Originally typed and edited in 1995, by Ivan (John) Krpan, Ex; RCNVR. Subsequently scanned and edited by his brother Mike Krpan. After the war John obtained a B.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alberta and then worked and lived in Edmonton.



MY FIRST SHIP - submitted by Philippe Frigault

HMCS Chignecto 160 - I served as Reservist (RCNR) on the minesweeper Chignecto in 1967. This was my first ship.  I was stationed in Stadacona Block 1 back then and got transferred to her for a trip that I will never forget. I was SICK, really SICK. We departed Halifax; sailed to Saint John, NB; Souris PEI; and lastly Corner Brook, NFLD. On the way to PEI I was in the wheelhouse with a French LT and somehow I lost control at the wheel. SIRENS went on, the Captain calling the wheelhouse - there was a ship alongside us! That was the fastest 35 degree turn I ever did. Nothing happen - I was left with a good scare and did I ever pay attention to commands after that. Souris, PEI was where I meet in person Mr. Jean Beliveau and I will always remember that.

Philippe Frigault as a sea cadet just prior to joining the RCNR



LAST MAN ON BOARD - by R. Leduc  (note: this story was original published on a website on HMS Gambia that went offline in 2013. I've reposted the story here, hopefully with approval pending of Mr. Leduc, should he someday come across it here)


HMCS Quebec - I joined HMCS Quebec early in 1953, as the replacement for CPO. Ruthledge, as the Chief GI and for duty in the Commander’s Office. Captain Budge was being replaced by Captain Finch Noyce.


Commander Ralph Hennessey the Commander and Lcdr. I. B. B. Morrow the first Lieutenant.


I remained in the Commander’s office for the next three years until I left the ship in New York and proceeded to Victoria for prep school and on to Whale Island where I was fortunate enough to become a Commission Gunner.


On my return from England I joined HMCS Buckingham as the Navigating officer and enjoyed this ship immensely for the next year and a half. How does a Commissioned Gunner become a Navigating Officer? You may never know.


One morning prior to the Squadron sailing for exercises I was called to the Admiral’s office and informed by Admiral Budge that I was, as of today the 7th. Escort Squadron’s Gunnery Officer. This was quite an unexpected and rather surprising turn of events, especially when he informed me that the squadron had the distinction of having the worst record in gunnery possible and that I better move my butt and do something about it. But "Sir" I’m a Navigator. Those were the last word I uttered, before he told me to get out.


You have to understand that I was the trial officer for the famous 3.70" and had made my report that whoever decided to buy the 13 weapons should have their heads examined. (Not in those terms, but close). Reason why I was on board Buckingham as Navigating Officer.


The trial crew was a gathering of the best: CPO. Bud Flanagan, CPO. Gerry Lavery, CPO. Brimble and Cmd. Gunner Sid Brain


I was not very happy with this new and second string appointment. However I joined the ship and made it my home for a couple years. The Squadron Commander "Charlie La Rose" was being replaced by Commander Coulter who took me under his wing and thought me more during the next two years on how to handle a ship, which has served me well after my retirement from the service.


Just before the end of 1960, Fort Erie entered Sidney, Nova Scotia for a few days and behold on entry I spotted my old ship "HMCS Quebec". I remember looking at her and it was a sad moment to see her all rusty, masts cut off, no funnels and all boarded up.


"I had to visit her." I found out that the Commander of the dockyard was Commander Marcel Jette and I went to see him. I also found out that she was ready to be towed out the next day for passage to Japan and that the ship had been inspected and was literarily welded shut. I had served with the Commander in Nootka and D’iberville and I pleaded with him to let me go on board.


He called in someone who gave me a set of keys and a flashlight and told me to be careful.


The following experience will follow me for ever and believe me I will never do this again.


I entered the port side hatch just under the old hanger deck (Chief’s Mess) and proceeded to the starboard side, where the Commander’s Office was. The door to the office was open and I looked inside and it came alive. I could see Petty Officer Seabold typing away and on my desk the plastic sheet covering the Watch & Quarter Billboard was still there.


Upon further inspection I soon found out that all brass had been removed, telephones gone, the office was completely stripped. I had a bunk bed made during one of our refits that folded on the wall, it was still there. Then I heard Doc Savage call me from sick bay, just near the commander’s office, I answered him but got no reply. I left the office and in the dark proceeded forward. I could hear voices, I could hear the Master at Arms yelling at someone. The more I moved forward the more I heard voices; I ended in the fore messes and went below to the stokers messes.


I found my way to the Chief’s mess and when I entered they were all there. Gordon, Manderson, Le Page, Aldhem-White, Starky, Cruickshank, Martin, Jenkins and many more.


I found my way to the bridge and I could hear Lt. Cdr. Morrow ask when the coffee was coming up. I stood the morning watches with him for 3 years.


I got lost in the dark a couple of time trying to get to the TS. My old action station. It was empty, but I could hear Petty Officer Flanagan, holding a big stick, telling his gang to stop playing with the handles.


I had to visit Y turret. You remember it was the show piece of the ship, all the inside white with the brass polished and all guns named. I could remember the engraved brass plaques that were above each breach. YVONNE - YVETTE – YOLANDE Where are the brass plates now? Anyone!


The breaches had been cut and scarred badly by blow torches and all visible hydraulic and electrical line cut up. What a mess. I closed the turret door and locked it. I was leaving the ship, with a sense of pride for having served on her and also with a feeling of not doing enough to keep her. What could I do?


I stood on the quarter deck for a long time. Remembering all those that had been on board and some of the highlights of her career in peace time. All the young sailors we had trained and all those who had volunteered for the Sunset Ceremony and had performed this old tradition all over the world. The trip to South America in 1954, the African cruise in 1955. How many remember Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Mombassa and Port Said. Not forgetting the ship’s hockey team being trounced by the Johannesburg hockey team 9 to 11.


On returning on board I asked Commander Coulter if we could do something to see the ship off. When the ship was towed out the next morning the whole ship’s company at division paid their respect to H.M.C.S. Uganda/Quebec


I stood on the quarter deck until she was just about out of sight and as Officer of the Day I ordered her piped and gave her my last farewell salute and wiped the tears from my eyes.


To this day I regret going on board and at the same time I’m glad I was there for her. She had taken us thru a Hurricane, North Atlantic storms and safely thousands of miles and never let us down.



A FINAL VISIT - Newspaper article from The Hamilton Spectator (date unknown)


Halifax Veteran, aged 87, endures Ontario Heat to fulfill dream of revisiting his old ship, by Nicole Macintyre / The Hamilton Spectator. HAMILTON, Ont.


The Halifax war veteran was among the first crew members of the Haida when it was commissioned in 1943 to protect supply ships in the North Atlantic during the Second World War. Bittersweet voyage for an aging sailor.


Alf Shano's last wish was to return to HMCS Haida, the ship that carried him to war and safely home more than 60 years ago. At 87, with a weak heart and failing arteries, he knew time was limited and asked his son to book the trip from Halifax to Hamilton for the fall.


Doctors told him he couldn't fly. Driving wouldn't be safe either, so Shano booked a train ticket.


When his health began to fail, he bumped up the trip to July, mindful of Ontario's scorching heat this summer but more concerned about returning to Haida's decks.


"If the Lord keeps me going until I see the ship, I would be a happy man," he told his son Ron before they set off to Ontario with his wife Helen, 87, and daughter-in-law.


Dressed in his best, with medals hanging proudly from his jacket and a Haida tie around his neck, Shano used his cane as a pointing stick as he gave his family the grand tour Monday.


 "I love this old ship," he said with a wide smile. "She was so faithful and a fighter."


Pausing to rest on one of the ship's guns, the excitement and 33 C heat took its toll on Shano's frail body. He collapsed onto the deck and his son rushed to his side.


For a few breathless moments it seemed as though Shano's determination to fulfil his wish may have been too much for his heart to bear.


But quickly regaining consciousness as emergency crews arrived, Shano reassured onlookers he was just fine and would be back to finish his tour. 


"You can't keep a good man down," he quipped before he was taken to hospital.


A relative said Thursday night that Shano was released from hospital and toured the ship again the next day. 


Gail Shano said he was "worn down" from the long train ride and "all the excitement."


The Shano family were on their way back to Nova Scotia on Thursday and are expected to arrive this afternoon.


Shano was among the first crew of the Haida when it was commissioned in 1943 to protect supply ships in the North Atlantic during the Second World War. 


As chief cook, he was responsible for feeding the entire ship, a demanding task, especially when it came to bread. England provided pre-made bread, but it was terrible, recalled Shano. "Most of it went overboard," he said with a chuckle.


Shano took on the task of making fresh bread, drawing on the skills of a fellow crew member. Shano was responsible for carrying bowls of yeast up from a lower deck. The stairs were tiny and the handrail non-existent, Shano said, remembering his precarious balancing act with a laugh.


He stayed with Haida for a year, witnessing many battles and the loss of two crew members - killed by one of the ship's own guns. His memories, like most veterans', are mixed, but mostly he speaks of the positive. 


"There wasn't a bad crew member on the trip," he said, recalling the ship's return home after completing the notorious Murmansk run, to the Soviet Arctic port. 


"I was the first one off." 


The Murmansk convoys, around the northern tip of Norway, were exposed to one of the largest concentrations of German U-boats, surface ships and aircraft anywhere in the world.


Hearing Shano's stories gave Alice Willems, manager of the Haida site, goosebumps. She spends her days educating others about the ship, so it's a remarkable experience to learn more from a veteran, she said. "It's such a privilege," she said. "This ship is a structure, what brings it alive are people like Alf." 


Shano stayed in the navy until 1968, retiring after 27 years of service. He sailed with many ships, but often spoke of the Haida, said his son Ron, 60. "He never forgot this ship." 


With glassy eyes, Ron acknowledged this trip to Hamilton will likely be his father's last. They knew coming that he might not make it home, he said. 


"He came up . . . to say goodbye to the ship," he said.



D-DAY ON LCI(L)-295 - from the chronicles of Jack Rimmer, Gunner, Combined Ops, RCNVR. Submitted by his nephew Tim Johns


The 264 Flotilla was assigned to Gold Sector and arrived off of Jig Red Beach 2 miles east of Arromanches. We ran back and forth parallel to the beach a couple of miles out for about an hour before we got our beaching orders, as there was so much wreckage and debris on the beach that there was no clear spot for us to get our ramps down. Eventually we went in and had to maneuver between a tank landing craft and another LCI that was unloading.


The beach was a mass of wrecked army vehicles and overturned LCM’s and LCA’s and there was no way for us to reach the beach with our ramps, so our starboard ramp was lowered onto a tank that was damaged and stranded on the beach, while our port ramp was lowered into about 3 feet of surf.


All of our 197 troops got ashore safely. This was only hours after the initial landings and the dead had not been recovered yet; many were being washed back and forth in the surf.



A VERY SHORT SAIL WITH A LIFETIME OF MEMORIES - By Jim ‘Lucky’ Gordon, MMM, CD Chief Petty Officer First Class Retired Submariner, commissioning crew HMCS Ojibwa


Foreword: HMCS Ojibwa commissioned in September 1965, served the Royal Canadian Navy for 33 years out of her home port, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. She decommissioned in 1998 and was stripped and laid up at the Naval Armament Depot (NAD) in Dartmouth, across the harbour from the active fleet. She lay there rusting for almost 12 years, fate unknown, until the Elgin Military Museum embarked on Project Ojibwa, a program to acquire HMCS Ojibwa, transport her to Port Burwell in Ontario and set her up as a museum attraction. After 2 years of hard work they achieved their dream and initiated the transport of Ojibwa, by floating dry dock up the St Lawrence river to her final home. I went down to NAD on the day she was being loaded onto the dry dock for transport and wangled a ride from the inside chamber of the jetty to the dry dock cradle about 500 feet away on the other side of the jetty. I wrote an emotional account of my “trip” and posted it on Canadian Submariners Past and Present on Face Book. A number of friends have encouraged me to give it wider distribution. Hope you enjoy it.


A very short sail with a lifetime of memories


She had been laying here at Naval Armament Depot in Dartmouth, in the full view of all who crossed the Angus L MacDonald Bridge, since her decommissioning 14 years earlier. I would often catch a glimpse of her as I crossed the bridge. I always felt bad for her and pondered her fate. Having known her so intimately for so many years I hoped she would not suffer the brutal torches of the breakers yard. Having served so admirably, she deserved much better.


On this particular day, 26 May 2012, I would have the pleasure of simply sitting on the fin as she was loaded aboard the Heddle Marine Systems dry dock.


As I approached her my heart rose to my throat with mixed emotion. I walked slowly down the jetty past her and observed that sections of her casing had been removed. I could see the flaking paint and rust showing through on her pressure hull and tank tops. Torpedo loading rails were long gone and one of the berthing line stowage stag horns was broken off. The jet black of the remaining casing and her once dominant fin had faded to large blotches of grey and white with streaks of red rust. Her starboard after plane guard, well clear of the water, was bent down like a sad dog’s ear. She had been handled roughly by someone who was not aware of her many years of gallant service to her crew and country. Civilian riggers and seamen from Heddle Marine Systems were unceremoniously fitting her with unfamiliar rigging required for securing to the dry dock that would transport her to her final destination in Port Burwell, Ontario. She was sitting very high in the water, void of torpedoes, equipment, liquids and stores removed many years earlier. Ugly dry marine growth covered her ballast tanks up to her original waterline. Up close she was a dreadful and pitiful sight. I think she could sense I was there. I could feel her embarrassment. I could swear she hung her head to avoid my shocked expression.


Her appearance was far from what it was when she first entered the waters of Halifax Harbour on that cold windy day in January 1966. Even on that day she hadn’t looked her very best. The 11 day dived transit of the unforgiving North Atlantic, her first of many, had taken its’ toll on the linseed oil and lampblack mixture over flat black paint I had applied back in Chatham Yard after work-ups in Scotland. That treatment gave her the sleek, black messenger-of-death attitude she was so proud of. But on that special occasion, like a true warrior of the deep, she wore her sea scars proudly. I stood on her casing with heaving line in hand as she approached Jetty 5 with authority. I could feel her swell with pride when the Stadacona Band broke into a rousing rendition of Heart of Oak and the inboard berthing party and dignitaries applauded and cheered. On that day she was welcoming their inspection with all her glory. And my heart swelled with pride feeling honoured that she trusted me to be a vital member of the crew that gave her the eyes, ears and tender loving care essential to her future performance.


However, 46 years and 4 months later, I wanted to apologize to her for crossing her brow to invade her misery. I snapped to attention at the top of the brow and chopped off a salute aft, as I had thousands of times in the past. Normally a salute to our fine nation’s flag, today it was a mark of respect to her. I made my way up into the fin. I tried not to see the filth left behind by years of nesting birds. I was sorry to see that the deck of the bridge was gone. I paused for a moment at the top of the ladder to recall the many times I had stopped there, on my way below, with main vents open , to shut the upper voice pipe cock and then proceed quickly below through the conning tower as she slipped quietly into her comfort zone below the waves. And at the bottom of the ladder in the control room, watching the Diving Officer of the Watch in the tower I would repeat his report to the Captain, “Upper lid shut, one clip on, two clips on, ..upper lid shut two clips on sir”. I could still hear the wash of the sea into the fin and over the conning tower as we slipped into an expanse very few would ever have the privilege to know.


I now hitched myself up onto the top of the fin and sat just forward of where the attack periscope would silently slip out of its’ housing for the final attack set-up on the surface target or one last all round look before going deep. It didn’t take much imagination to see the compass repeat and the back of the Officer of the Watch’s head as he took a fix on an edge of land. Just for a moment I thought I heard the much anticipated request through the voice pipe, “Bridge, helm permission to relieve the lookout”. Great, my lookout watch is over. I can’t wait to get below for that hot cup of tea and to watch the movie playing in the forward torpedo room. Wow, I want to stay in this place I’m in right now. It’s disappointing to come back to ruthless reality of age and decline….for both of us.


Once again in the present, down below on the casing the Heddle crew were scurrying around, taking lines from the tugs and preparing to slip the berthing lines from the jetty. It looked disorganized and not very seaman like. Damn! I wish I could go down and take charge of that lot. But I closed my eyes to return to the past. Now I can see submariners in their signature white turtle neck sweaters smartly handling lines, and I hear the orders from the Executive Officer (XO) on the bridge at Harbour Stations, “let go four,… let go three,… hold two, heave in on the capstan, slow ahead port,…….stop together, starboard 10, slow astern together,… let go two, let go one,…. fall in the casing party, face to starboard.” I felt a rush as the last line was gone and the tugs were setting us free of the jetty. The tugs moved us out astern and began manoeuvring us out of the chamber and around the jetty. I swear I felt the guttural rumble and throb of the port donk (diesel engine) as it flashed up and belched beautiful huge white billows of diesel exhaust out of the surface muffler. Ahhhh, that sweet permeating smell of diesel.


As we cleared the north end of the jetty and moved south out past the Heddle dry dock I felt the strong south easterly wind on my face blowing up the harbour. I could smell the open sea. She smelled it too. We moved up ahead of the dry dock and they slowly began to move her astern into the cradle. She balked, reluctant to be pent up now that she felt the freedom. With a ships head of 120° she was pointed directly out to sea, past George’s Island, McNabs, Maugher’s Beach Lighthouse and gone baby gone! I felt her shudder and list, ever so slightly, to port. It might have been the little pup tug nudging her number 4 starboard main ballast tank to force her into position. But in my heart it was a shudder of eager anticipation. Like a energized steed champing at the bit. She was trying to break her reins and was snorting “Let me go. I yearn for the deep blue water where I relish and rule!”


My last harbour stations in this fine lady was truly an honour. It gave me excellent opportunity to reflect on the eternal esteem and comradeship that lies in the hearts and souls of my underwater messmates. I submersed myself in a flood of exciting memories afforded by this magnificent vessel. And I appropriately rounded off my time with her. From commissioning on 23 September 1965 at Chatham, England where she was built, to her grand entrance into Halifax Harbour 26 January 1966, throughout the countless weeks and months beneath the ocean surface, to the present day, 26 May 2012, the last time she would grace the waters of this historic sea port. She has always been such an important part of my life and who I am.


So now I am content that her life will continue in a new role that presents the legacy of an era of the brotherhood of Canadian submariners who served her well. She will represent the finest of professionalism and tradition as an example for the new breed to follow. Complete with a face lift, a little make-up and a fresh coat of flat black paint, she will stand proud at the Elgin Military Museum for all to see.


HMCS Ojibwa - Dolphin 1 a. - Your last surfacing was first class, and Dolphin 38 - Diesel Boats Forever



REMEMBERING DONALD METCALFE, CPO EA 3c - MPK 29 APR 1944 - by Kerrigan Pring


HMCS Athabaskan G07 - Writing this on Armistice Day 2017. I was aged 9 in UK 1943 when DON METCALFE, a State Saskatchewan ice-hockey player, Electrical Artificer 3c on HMCS ATHABASKAN, was billeted at our home in South Bucks, whilst training at the Admiralty Compass Observatory. He was with us over Christmas 1943. He made me a scale model some 3-feet long of the ship. We were devastated at the ship’s sinking and large loss of life, he being the only WW2 casualty amongst all our family and close friends. Ever remembered, recently aged 83 now I paid my first visit to Canada. In the short visit to Halifax, I was unable personally to plant a memorial cross there, but a kind volunteer in the Maritime Museum took it and eventually placed it at the Naval Memorial sending me photographs including one showing Don’s name inscribed on the Memorial. As is my custom, another cross will be placed at our village War Memorial tomorrow. Every blessing to all.





HMCS Iroquois 280 - The following is a description of the events during the HMCS Iroquois Shock Trials in September 1980. That event was 36 years before this narrative is being written. All this is to the best of my knowledge and memory. I was a stoker in the Engine Room. In the picture I am in the top left corner (# 149).  My navy buddy Dave Birtwhistle (# 145) is right next to me.


In September 1980 shock trials were conducted to find the weak points in the ship so they could better design the next class of war ships. It was to simulate a near miss from a very large explosive. We were told that approximately 1000 pounds of dynamite would be detonated at depths of 300 meters (Day 1), 200 meters (Day 2) and 100 meters (Day 3) and detonated as we sailed over it. Sounded like fun to me.


The civilian team came aboard in Halifax and spent 2 months running silver wire and putting vibration sensors on the hull, the support beams, engines, pumps, weapons systems, computers, etc.


We went out into the North Atlantic off of Halifax in September 1980 for the big bang theory. I was on board in the engine room and my job was to get the emergency diesel generator started when the lights went out. (air start diesel engine).


On day 1 the first explosion was minor and was like hitting a curb when you park your car. They used this to check the vibration sensors and give the ship's crew a preview of what the next two blasts were going to be like.


The second blast occurred on day 2 and it was much more intense. All the main engines on the ship tripped off line. I am sure that other things in the navigation and weapons systems had problems but that was not my worry or responsibility. (I was a newbie stoker in the engine room). We also broke a 6 inch fire water line somewhere in the ship. The Hull Techs were all over that. After we assessed and fixed all that was broken, we restarted engines and got ready for day 3-this big show.


I was 24 years old with a combination of fearless and clueless evenly distributed. The older guys on the ship were worried and even though that was a bit unnerving, I thought this would make a good story someday if I survived. We all suspected the Navy looked at sailors as expendable but we figured it would be too much paperwork if they killed us all.


The final blast on day 3 was absolutely nuts. It was like a train wreck. I actually felt a slight concussion - just like when you fell and hit your head on the ice when you were a kid. When I came to my wits after a few seconds, all the lights went out. It was dead quiet on the ship - like spooky quiet. I turned on my flashlight so I could find the controls to start the emergency diesel and all I could see was dust that had fell from the beams. All I could hear was water gushing in the engine room from the holes in the hull. The ship was 10 years old and apparently there was porosity in the original welds on the main hull which caused many joints to fail. Thankfully they had placed numerous emergency generators that were up and running in the flight hanger and many emergency bilge pumps that were strategically placed in the hull compartments in the bottom of the ship.


The ship was in such bad shape that we figured we would be towed to Halifax. In true Navy fashion they used it as a training exercise and we were expected to get the ship running and make it back to Halifax port on our own. They had to tow us off and on.


A solemn moment - one of the tow lines to one of the tugs snapped and killed a guy on one of the tug boats. Not much information was shared about this event.


It took about 18 hours to get the HMCS Iroquois running. The computers of that era controlled pneumatic (air) signals to open and close valves on the engines, cooling water, hydraulic steering, etc. The airlines in the ships compartments were stainless steel but computer cabinets had acrylic lines (state of the art in 1981) and all the acrylics shattered so it was strictly manual control on the way home. It took us 3 days to get to the mouth of the Halifax harbor. We were pretty cocky at this point and were sure we could sail right up to the dock but the harbor master would not give us permission to sail in the harbor due to the danger of collision with other ships. They had tug boats tow us alongside.


We went right into dry-dock at Irving Shipyard in Halifax. I remember looking under the deck plates in the bilges and seeing a lot of daylight from the cracks that gave way. It must have been a few months to repair all the damage. I signed off the HMCS Iroquois before she sailed again.


I joined the Navy for adventure and they did not disappoint. Very good memories.



MY FIRST VOYAGE (on HMCS IROQUOIS) - submitted by James Babin, OSER


HMCS Iroquois 280 - This is a brief account of my first voyage on the HMCS Iroquois in1980. A huge amount of alcohol research was carried out during this trip so this account of events is to the best of my memory:  Names have been eliminated to protect the innocent and deceased.


I got posted to the HMCS Iroquois on 17 September 1979. It was the most modern war ship the Canadian Navy had at the time. It was driven by gas turbine jet engines. We set sail in January 1980 for down south. Adventure was the reason I joined the Navy.


Before we left Halifax we had to load provisions. We loaded 14 pallets of beer. There was a beer machine in the hallway of the ship that was open 24 hours a day and it costs twenty-five cents a beer. Hard liquor was twenty-five cents a shot but was only served when in port. The boys would be too shit faced to keep the thing afloat if the hard booze was available at sea. We left Halifax mid-January and it was about -10 C degrees. We sailed for 2 days and hit the Gulf Stream. The temperature went up to 20 C in a six hours.


Our first stop was Puerto Rico at a United States Naval Station called Roosevelt Roads or "Rosy-Roads". It took us about two weeks to get there and we tied up alongside for two weeks to paint the ship. The smoke stacks on the ship were built at an angle. It was the most hated painting job because you had to go out on a Boson's Chair which was a rope chair. It beat the hell out of painting below deck in the engine room. I liked the sun. There was only one problem, I was afraid of heights and I'd have to be swinging on a rope a hundred feet above the deck. My partner Dave signed us up. I got a good buzz on whiskey it took some worry away-ha,ha. It was nice and hot in Puerto Rico that we started painting ship at 6 AM and knocked off at noon. We went to the beach on the base every afternoon. We drank and partied most of the evening and well into the night. Life was not going to deal me this kind of adventure every day so I didn't want to miss any of it.


I had bought a guitar and a couple of harmonicas before I left Halifax. I used to play the harmonica in the compartments of the ship (great harmonics). I started playing the harmonica with a guy in the bar on board ship. I honestly don't know if I played any good but they seemed to enjoy it. My harmonica had wooden reeds and apparently I had got a splinter in my lip. It was swollen beyond belief. I was told by the ships medic that some cuts usually became infected because the local environment was different than home and your immune system was not prepared for it (probably bullsuit). I went to the ship's doctor and got antibiotics for it. I was not allowed to drink. That day after painting we rented a car and took off for San Juan which was about 50 miles away. I was the designated driver because I was not drinking. Driving in Puerto Rico is not for the weak of heart. There was six lane highways with no speed limit, no traffic signs, no cops and no rules. I had a ball. The boys went to the bar/whorehouse for a short visit. It was a riot.


We actually tried to fly the kite out the hatchback on the freeway. I had to get out into the country side before we got arrested.


There was a dirt road leading up to the mountains and a sign said there was a tropical rain forest up there. I had to see this so away we went. We carry on up the mountain and Dave spots a huge vine hanging down in the middle of this cow path they call a road. He decides that I will pull the car up and he can climb on the roof and climb up the vine. I am to pull away the car and Charlie is to take a picture of Tarzan Dave. Everything goes according to plan until the vine breaks and Dave caves the roof of the car in. I decide to get the hell out of here so I put it in reverse and floor it. Dave flies off the roof and is left in a maze of vines on the road. I am laughing to kill myself and he is pissed off thinking I am trying to kill him. We boot the roof of the car back up and proceed on our mission.


When we get back on base the boys decide to go swimming at the beach. It is midnight. I stop at the beach but just watch these fools because I am sober. The next thing you know there is US Navy Seals in rubber boats with machine guns and spotlight all over the place. They think that it is an invasion. We were in big shit but they realize that we are harmless drunk Canadian Sailors and let us go.


The ship is now painted and we are going to play war games with the Americans for a week. We go out and have target practice with the 5 inch gun mounted on the bow. We fire about 100 rounds at a car on the beach of an abandoned island about one mile away. We may have hit it. We then get to fire our Sea Sparrow Missiles at a drone. This is a remote controlled plane that is towing a chunk of metal about ½ mile behind it. We fire at it 6 times and miss it every time. The Americans did not want to play with us anymore. We headed back out to sea.


Our next stop was Jamaica. On the way to Jamaica we stopped for a swim over the side of the ship. We had sharp shooters with rifles posted on the mast of the ship and in Zodiac Rubber boats because of sharks. I figured I'd never get to try this again so I went for it. It was long drop from the deck to the water and I was not the best diver so I jumped. I went down about 15 feet and when I came up I was about 100 feet from the ship. I never realized what a current was beside the ship. I dove underwater and the water was crystal clear. It was a greenish blue aqua marine shade. I could easily see the length of the ship, which was about 400 feet. I swam back to the ship and they had dropped a rope net over the side for us to climb up on. It was very hard on the feet and arms but I made it. Another first to chalk off my list. Woo Hoo


We sailed to and tied up a few miles from Montego Bay, Jamaica. It was and remains the most beautiful place that I have ever been. I may go back there some day. When we arrived the locals all came up and tried to sell you dope. It was everywhere. When the wind was blowing from the south you could smell marijuana in the air as it blew down from the mountain. I always stayed clear of dope on in a foreign country.


The navy gave us 4 weeks pay and let us loose on the town. We took a cab to town. It was a five-minute drive and he wanted $20.00. We thought that we were getting ripped off until we say the price of gas. It was $10.00 a gallon. We were paying about $1.00 a gallon in Canada. After that we walked to town.


I went to a topless beach that was full of Swedish tourists. It was a wonderful experience:. There was a place at the beach that rented seadoo's. Seadoo's had only been on the market for about one year at that time. They had four machines and no one was renting them. It was $20.00 USD for 10 minutes. That was a lot of cash in 1980 but I figured when I am ever going to get to do this again. I paid up and headed outside the shark fence that was guarding the tourists. I would get this thing going as fast as I could and stand up on the seat (that was the design in the day). Of course I'd fall off and the machine would automatically turn and come back to you. It took about 5 minutes to do this. I quickly realized that my time would be up soon. My next run when I fell off I would hang on to the handlebars and holler at the top of my lungs "Ya-Hooooo". It was not long before the tourists saw what a blast this was and they started to line up to rent these machines. The guy who was renting them knew a good advertisement when he saw one so he left me out there for an hour for the $20.00. I went at it until I hurt my ribs and could not continue. What a riot.

There is a saying in Jamaica that you have to bring your money and spend it.


Later that evening I helped a local guy change a flat tire on his car. This dude insisted on taking me to a local bar so he could buy me a beer. This was not your tourist trap kind of bar. There was a raunchy Rastafarian girl singing some type of Jamaican Blues-very cool. There were hookers galore. I refused to go down that road. The beer had lumps in it. I think it was homemade. I just smiled and strained it through my teeth as I drank it. Canadian Sailors could drink anything. I stayed at this local dive until closing time. The golden rule was to never go out alone and here I was alone, loaded and very lost. I firmly believe that there was a guardian angel watching over me during my early drifting years. I knew that I was up in the mountains somewhere and that if I stumbled downhill I would eventually come to the ocean. From there I could turn left or right and have a fifty-fifty chance of getting back to the ship. When I got to the shore I ran into some shipmates and stuck with them. Guardian Angel scores one.


We must have stayed in Jamaica for about 6 days. There was nothing diplomatic about the visit or anything. It was strictly a place to party. I was quickly running out of cash so the last few days I kept a low profile. There was a hotel down the beach and it was pretty reasonable compared to the others.


Next we were going to tie up in San Juan Puerto Rico but were delayed a few days while we monitored the movements of a Russian Submarine going to Cuba. This sub was a piece of crap, could not dive and was escorted by a Russian Destroyer. It broke down about every few hours and the Russian ship always kept sending people over in a small boat to fix it. They would wave to us. We had our five inch gun pointed at our own deck to show them that we weren't hostile. No sense pissing them off. We figured it was a training sub going to the Cuba Navy. After three days of this we reached Cuban waters and no way were they letting us in there. We proceeded to San Juan.


San Juan was a very rough place. We were warned not to go ashore unless in groups. There was a guy on our ship who never listened. He went ashore with a gold chain around his neck, He never got to the end of the dock before someone pulled a gun on him and robbed him. I never was that big on jewelry anyway. We went ashore that night with about 12 guys. It was a Saturday. We went to this real scummy bar on the waterfront. It had a horseshoe shaped bar and live sex entertainment. What a country.


San Juan was one tough place. We went exploring and I bought a walking stick for about two bucks. It had a snake carved in it. It made a good weapon just in case.


I went exploring and found a big fortified castle with cannons facing San Juan Bay. It must have been there for hundreds of years. The beach was beautiful and I spent the rest of the day there. The water was great for swimming. I dove in and watched the kids playing in the surf. The next day we sailed.


Our next port was Savannah Georgia. It was a real old town. The racism was alive and well in Georgia compared to Canada. I was not expecting that. I thought that was over years ago. The white people hated blacks. I went out with a buddy and we rented a car. Nobody had a credit card back then and the only place you could get a vehicle with no card was rent a wreck and believe me it was a wreck. It smelled like puke so we hosed it out and put some ship's deck soap all over the floor in the back seat. It was going through engine oil at about one quart an hour. It left an oil mark on the pavement wherever we went. We filled the motor with a mixture of gear oil cut with jet fuel from the ship. That slowed the oil leak down. We went on a grand tour of the countryside.


It was beautiful in the country. There were all these old southern plantations with the big pillars in front that reached for the sky. There were cotton fields and the bunkhouses alongside the field that definitely preserved the slave history. It was an unreal experience. We went through downtown Savanna and got a three flat tires. We abandoned the car and called rent a wreck to pick it up. From there we proceeded to check out the nightlife. There were lots to see. There were very old buildings and the clubs were very posh. We didn't get into too much trouble.


The next day we decided to go to the mall. It was at the other end of town and the best way to get there was the bus. We get on the bus and find out that white people don't take the bus. It was black people only and they looked at us like we were nuts. They were very nice. It was afternoon so it was family people on the bus. I made a mental note to take a cab and not the bus at night when the bad folks were about.


The next day we sailed to Mayport Florida. There was a huge US naval base here. We were on a Canadian destroyer, which was the best and most modern ship that the Canadian government had. Our ship was 400 feet long. We pulled up next to the US Aircraft Carrier Theodore Roosevelt and we looked like a rowboat because their ship was huge at 1300 feet. You almost broke your neck looking up at it. There was a crew of 5000 men on it as compared to 400 on ours.


Mayport was the first place we hit after the Canadians Embassy in Iran (led by Ken Graham) had smuggled out 7 US hostages from Iran during the Iranian Hostage Crisis of 1980. Canadians were considered as heroes in this time of US Crisis. We were astounded that people were coming up to us in the streets and thanking us for saving their people. They acted as we had saved them personally. I decided that I was going to be a proud Canadian during this port visit. The ship decided to give us 3 days off with double pay again. We had to leave a phone number where we could be reached in case of emergencies. What a joke. None of us knew anybody in Florida. I went to the phone book and gave them the number for a Therapeutic Massage Parlor. I thought that it was quite fitting. I wanted to go to Daytona Beach and party in the bars. Most guys were heading for Orlando to Disney World because it was Canadian Appreciation Week and the passes were free. I could not get my head around an amusement park. My buddy and I decided Daytona Beach it was. We were about 3 weeks late for the Daytona 500 but we were going to go bar hopping and see the beach. We went to rent a car and again we had no credit card. We told him we were members of the Canadian Navy and showed him our ID cards. He said how grateful he was for the Canadians saving the Americans in Iran and rented us a 1980 Cougar XR7 for the weekend and only charged us $30.00. Ya Hooo.


My buddy and I went to a bar that evening called PJ's - A Drinking Establishment. I liked the sound of it. Inside the bar I tell the waitress that we are Canadian Sailors and here to get good and drunk. She recommends the house special which has about 5 different types of rum in it. Sounds good. We were conditioned to hard drinking at this point. Soon everybody in the bar knows that we are Canadian Sailors and we can't buy a drink. The drinks came in a big plastic mug that you kept as a souvenir. The band even announced that we were Canadian Sailors and the place went nuts. It was a spectacular time. We shut the place down at about 4 AM. My buddy stopped drinking and passed out in the front seat because he had to drive that day. We had booze in the car and I just sat on the hood and admired the miles of sandy beach watching the sun come up. We went to see the racetrack at Daytona. It was huge. We slowly made our way back to Jacksonville Florida. We go drinking again in a bar and do the tourist thing at souvenir shops and check out the local beaches. There was so much to do in such a short time but we did what we could.


Next we sailed to Baltimore Maryland. There was a big celebration there planned for the Canadian sailors because of the hostage thing. We were real dignitaries. Ha-Ha. I was down the engine room when we entered port and managed to sneak away to see what the place looked like. We tied up at a shopping mall. There were hundreds of girls waving tiny Canadian flags screaming, "We love you Canadians". This was too good to be true. Usually the Americans wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire. Word got around that the Captain was having a big celebration in the flight hangar with all local politicians invited. There promised to be Senators, The Mayor of Baltimore and all his Cronies, etc.


The next day I was off. There was a Tall Ship tied up right next to us. It was a floating museum called the USS Constellation?? It was used during the Second World War and had communications equipment on it. The German U-boat submarines would not bother to waste their ammunition on it. Good old Americans, stupid like a fox. I found out where the term "to get fired" came from. If you pissed off the captain on the old ships they would tie you up in front of the cannon and BOOM, you were fired. I thought that was cool. They showed the galley down below where the prisoners rowed the ship with giant oars. There was a big line up of people wanting to get on our ship for tours so the second gangway was left up for the crew. My buddy and I would spy some pretty girls in the line and ask them if they wanted a private tour. We'd take them up the gangway without the lineup and show them the whole ship. The bar was open all day. The girls were mortified that we slept in bunks three high with 54 bunks in a room. We took them to the bar. I played harmonica with this air force guy who was on board to service our sea king helicopters. I couldn't buy a drink when we played. It was a real blast. The next day we sail back to Halifax. We had been gone about 3 months.


It was a real good time for my first trip at sea. I could not wait for the next trip.


Photos submitted with the story




(1) OS Babin loading beer in Halfax  (2) Skeet shooting down south  (3) Kite flying down south


Click on the thumbnails to view a larger image



THE FINAL SHUTDOWN - submitted by Doug McLeod, CERA, HMCS Kootenay


HMCS Kootenay - As Tony probably passed on, I was the last CERA on Kootenay. Our last deployment was down on UNITASD - around Cape Horn and as we were decommissioning, we were going to put out a de-commissioning book. The Explosion file was still onboard so I spent about 3 weeks at sea (nights mostly) digging throw the Board of Inquiry, witness accounts of the crew and other investigations as well as some media clippings to gather the whole thing together and wrote the account in the attachment I sent you for the book (which never got funded or done). It was later used by Public Affairs in Halifax to do a cross country tour remembering Kootenay, but I'm never heard much about it. You will read in the end of it that on our final shut down (18th Dec 1995) which was a Dependants Day cruise, I had some of the crew that were onboard during the explosion pull the final fires from the boilers. In the Engine room where most of the boys had died, one of the guys had brought down a bottle without me knowing about it. The entire shut down watch toasted the boys whose spirits would stay with the ship. It was a hell of an emotional day. Not all of the information that I garnered was in the story. S/Lt Riffenstein was so troubled by his part in trying to pull the emergency stops and that he would later commit suicide. I later worked with Bob Jones who took over from Al Kennedy (and I've also spoken to Al) and we discussed some very interesting messages that had gone between Bonny and Kootenay in the day's after the explosion - they actually made Bob sign a Supersession certificate "Subject to the conditions now extant" when he landed on Kootenay with the fire team and chemoxes from Bonnie.


Our last day at sea was 18 Dec 1995. Stbd Throttle was closed for the last time at 15:28:17, Port throttle closed for the last time at 15:22:27. We marched off the ship less than an hour later and a few weeks later on Jan 5th we became the Commissioning crew of HMCS Ottawa.



Looking at the history of any unit, it's important to look at both the high and low points to understand what makes that unit unique to it's own people and worthy of mention to others. Tragically, KOOTENAY has had dark days as well. On 23 October 1969, KOOTENAY lost nine of her own in one of the worst peacetime disasters ever suffered by the Canadian Forces.


At the time, KOOTENAY was steaming westbound out of the English Channel with Task Group 301.0. The Task Group consisted of herself and Her Majesty's Canadian Ships BONAVENTURE, TERRA NOVA, FRASER, ST LAURENT, OTTAWA, ASSINIBOINE, MARGAREE, and SAGUENAY. By today's standards it was a huge and powerful group and the new Canadian Ensign, the Maple Leaf, flew at their mastheads. About 200 miles west of Plymouth, KOOTENAY and SAGUENAY were detached at 0600 to conduct full power trials with orders to rejoin later in the day. Accordingly, they broke off from the Task Group on their own course.


Between 0600 and 0700, KOOTENAY maintained 25 knots "warming through" the plant and taking preliminary readings. Slowly, she started working up in speed until at 0810, the order "Full Speed Ahead Both Engines" was given. This wasn't customary for a full power trial, but there was no problem understanding what was required and again KOOTENAY surged forward.


So far, there was no indication of anything amiss. The Engineer Officer, Lt(N) Alan Kennedy, had just come back down to the Engine Room after a quick tour of the Boiler Room to make sure everything was OK there too. As engineers of all ranks have done for years, he walked around the space feeling the gearboxes for excess heat. They were warm as usual, but not so hot as to cause worry. He went forward to stand with the Chief ERA.


The Chief ERA, CPO1 Vaino A. Partanen, was on the deckplates just forward of the console with the watch. A big blonde man born in Finland, "Ski" was liked and respected by the crew as the picture of quiet professionalism and the consummate gentleman. The Engine Room I/C, C2 W.A. "Billy" Boudreau was there too, as were most of the rest of the watchkeepers. PO1 John MacKinnon was at the Stbd throttle. PO1 Eric Harmon at the Port. LS Pierre Bourret was keeping records at the console wile AB Michael Hardy and AB Allen Bell were recording the Main Engine Temperatures for the trial. LS Gary Hutton had just taken the Torsion Meter Readings aft of the console and come forward again while LS Tom Crabbe was down below working on the Fire and Bilge pump.


It was now 0821, eleven minutes after the "Full Speed Ahead" order was given, and disaster suddenly struck. A loud noise blasted from the after end of the Engine Room that sounded to the Engineer Officer like a welding torch. To Petty Officer MacKinnon it sounded like a crash. Later, Able Seaman Bell didn't remember hearing it at all. A man thought to be Able Seaman Hardy, still taking his readings on the Main Engine bearings, fell forward from the Starboard engine catwalk, his clothing in flames.


Instantaneously, the entire Engine Room was engulfed in intense heat and flames. Lt(N) Kennedy and Petty Officer MacKinnon immediately tried to close the throttles, but just as quickly it was evident that they had to either evacuate the Engine Room or die there. That first desperate effort on their parts would still have an important effect. Afterward, it was found that they had managed to close both throttles about three or four turns each.


The fireball burst up through the after Engine Room hatch and filled Burma room (the three deck flats) with both superheated gases and dense black smoke moving at gale force speeds. A few seconds after that first sharp concussion that rapped sharply on their ears, those in the Coxn's Office, the Planned Maintenance Office, and the Wheelhouse found their spaces uninhabitable. The main and C&PO's Cafeterias flooded with smoke almost immediately, trapping the Morning Watchmen inside. Several of the C&PO's managed to escape forward through their pantry hatch. PO John Gregory, standing in that cafeteria, had been knocked to the deck by the concussion, and now he tried to make it out by following the ventilator trunking forward. He collapsed but had made it far enough to save his life. He would be flown off that same day to BONAVENTURE waiting nearby to handle the injured.


Some of those in the Main Cafeteria got out by vaulting the Galley counter and making their way forward that way. About fifteen however, like LS Ashley Cheeseman, and AB MacEachern, remained on the deck in the dense smoke until a Damage Control Party could get through to them. In AB Nelson Galloway's case this would come too late, his body would be found later where he collapsed by the Main Cafeteria.


PO Stringer, trapped in the galley would make it out shortly only to die later of his injuries and smoke inhalation. The Navigating Officer, Slt Reiffenstien, would find him later as he tried to activate the Emergency Shut Offs for the Main Steam Stop and Fuel Shut Off valves using his diving gear to breathe with.


KOOTENAY was hurt, badly. The Captain, Cdr Neil Norton, could later write that a less professional crew could easily have finished the day in life rafts. The Chief ERA was dead and so too was most of the Forenoon watch. C2 Boudreau, PO Harmon, LS Crabbe, LS Hutton, and AB Hardy had all succumbed to the ferocity of the initial explosion and the furnace created as the steam driven lube oil pumps continued to feed the inferno, spraying lubricating oil into the flames in the Engine Room through the ruptured gearcase housing.


LS Bourret was dead also. He had made it to the top of the forward Engine Room hatch, only to perish before he could open the door and get clear.


So suddenly that the carnage struck, that the Boiler Room crew, occupying the space below the deck that the fireball had ravaged, had no idea of the severity of the damage, they continued to follow the last command given.


The concussion had been felt. The Safety Valves had lifted briefly and at the same time the fires in the Stbd Boiler were extinguished, but PO Boussier had immediately got them relit. Lacking any other orders, he kept his people close to the deck when the smoke came in, breathing through damp cloths as they maintained steam pressure still driving the ship onwards at better than 20 knots. At about 0900, forty minutes after the explosion, PO Boussier tripped the Main Steam Stop Valves to the Engine Room. Even then they didn't evacuate the space, but continued to auxiliary steam to supply the steam driven alternators until they were assured that the diesel generators could take the load.


The first indication that something was terribly wrong actually got to the bridge immediately. Reports came in from three different sources almost instantly. In the Wheelhouse, the Quartermaster reported that the Engine Room required an emergency stop engines. This was judgment call he said because the Engine Room reply gong had only rang twice. He knew that he had detected a change in speed. This was the result of PO MacKinnon's and Lt(N) Kennedy's desperate attempt to close the throttles as the flames engulfed them. The ships telephone rang on the bridge and was answered by the Bosn's mate. He couldn't understand the message claimed to be certain that it came from the Engine Room because he could hear the background machinery noises. Now too, the Lifebuoy Sentry called up to report smoke pouring from the Engine Room Intake Ventilators in the after structure. Immediately the Bridge ordered the Engine Room Telegraphs to "Stop." It would be another fifteen or twenty minutes, still charging at full speed ahead before it could be again occupied.


Two red flares arced into the sky, the international signal of distress. KOOTENAY was by herself and out of radio contact until the emergency generators could be brought on line and supply power. A tracker aircraft flying nearby alerted the other ships and the minute steering control was re-established, KOOTENAY shaped an intercept course for the Task Group.


The fireball had burned and charred flats. A sizable bulge was now beginning to form in the ships starboard side where the raging heat in the Engine Room was deforming the very metal of the hull itself. And in the Engine Room itself the fire still raged.


But KOOTENAY's crew was starting to fight back. C2 Hawkings had got LS McLeod into a Chem-ox before diving down the hatch to start #1 Diesel generator. Lt(N) Kennedy and AB Bell had after a brief appearance at the smoke filled area around Sick Bay dispersed, a badly burned Lt(N) Kennedy to the bridge, and AB Bell to the upper deck, escorted by LS McLeod in his breathing gear.


The Cox'n had cleared the forward area of the ship and was heading aft. Before collapsing from shock, Lt(N) Kennedy make it clear to those on the bridge that it was imperative that the Emergency Shut Offs had to be activated in the flats across from the C&PO's scullery. These would shut off the fuel to the boilers and stop the steam flow to the still charging engines.


Slt Reiffenstien, the navigator, was in the chart room when the explosion occurred, asking the Captain if there was anything he could do to help. He was sent to check the magazine spray for the after magazine located behind the Engine Room. When he returned, he asked if he could try to get to the Emergency Shut Offs. Putting on his diving tanks, he managed to crawl down through the passage way and find the box that contained the handles.


In heavy smoke, he couldn't see the locking levers that prevent accidental opening of the valves and his attempts to activate them were thwarted. But his bravery paid off, he found one man and got him forward to the wheelhouse from whence he could get clear. Again he crawled through the dense smoke to the Engine Room Flats hollering out "Anybody need help?"


PO Stringer responded, now so overcome that even the air in the tanks didn't help him and Slt Reiffenstien again removed him to clear air. Once more he was willing to brave the area, but now he wanted to try from aft. He had twice passed AB Galloway were he lay in the flats and the shock and conditions were taking their toll. With two other divers, Slt Cyril Johnston and Slt John Montague they again went forward to the Boiler Room and between them they managed to shift AB Galloway's body and get the hatch open.


Five men huddled below, their communications cut off from the explosion. Three of the men were convinced to leave. They had tried before, but smoke in the flats had driven them back in every attempt.


The firefighting was in progress now too. One party was attacking from forward led by Lt(N) Schwartz and another led by Commissioned Officer Moffat from aft.


The sky was black with helicopters bringing fire-fighting supplies and evacuating injured. On one trip at 0945 they brought with them another team of fire fighters and Commissioned Officer David B. Jones to take the place of the badly injured and already evacuated Lt(N) Kennedy.


Unremittingly, they would continue to fight. At 1015, one team with C2 HT H. George, had fought it's was into the Engine Room and to the bottom of the ladder but intense heat had forced them back. C2 George would stay in Chemox for several hours and keep fighting the fire until it was out and then help with the removal of the casualties. Later his courage and professionalism would be held up as an example to all.


It would be another 45 minutes before they would gain entrance and be able to stay. And it was just after noon, at 1215 that the Engine Room was finally cooled down enough to allow for the sad reflection of the days terrible cost.


After it was all over, the Investigations, the reports, the Board of Inquiry, and all of those things that take place after any tragedy of this extent, the probable cause was traced to a bearing that had been improperly assembled in the gearbox, and because of this, didn't get a sufficient supply of oil to cool it.


The board went so far as to specifically state that "No evidence of improper engineering practice by those serving in HMCS KOOTENAY has been found." This exonerated them completely but it was the dead and injured, and the outstanding heroism displayed by so many that was of most concern in both the reports and the papers. Nine of KOOTENAY's own had died and, on final count fifty three had sustained direct injuries. A media file was started and the plaintive transposition of KOOTENAY's proud motto; WE ARE AS ONE was changed in it's covering page to WE WERE as one, the loss of shipmates and the magnitude of the disaster clear in it's impact to those remaining. KOOTENAY was towed back to Halifax by a Dutch tug, the ELBE arriving in December, but by that time most of the crew had already arrived home.


Not all of them though, the rules on repatriating those that fell outside Canada had not been changed after the Second World War. Four of them were laid to rest in the Brookwood Commonwealth Cemetery in Surrey, England. That same day, the caskets bearing the bodies of CPO Boudreau, PO Harmon, and LS Hutton were carried from the church by the burial party from KOOTENAY and taken to HMCS SAGUENAY. At 11 a.m. she slipped from Devon Dockyard, and sailed slowly down the Estuary to Plymouth Sound as hundreds of British sailors lined their ships and hundreds more dockyard workers stood silently by the wharves paying their last respects. Throughout Plymouth, flags dropped to half-mast.


Standing out to sea, SAGUENAY steamed about seven miles before the sound of shots rang out from the burial party and the bodies were committed to the deep. LS Crabbe would also be buried at sea from Saguenay a few days later.


Of all those that died, only PO Stringer would come home to Canada. Because he died aboard HMCS BONAVENTURE, he would return with the ship. On November 1st, and Honour Guard escorted him to where he was laid to rest in Fairview Cemetery in Halifax.


POSTCRIPT; Going through the various files of this tragedy was a humbling experience. Examples of the heroism and grief at the losses saturate them all. Two examples;


The final paragraph of the new Engineer Officers report written in the evening of the same day. It reads as follows: "Engineering Personnel: -Eight dead, 5 severely burned and removed from the ship. 30 men remaining. Some of the remainder are still suffering from shock but are available for duty. In damage control, personnel were well trained and immediately responsive to all orders and requests. The individual bravery and dedication of personnel were outstanding."


The second was a segment written on the covering page of a media file that was compiled as a memorial for the dead and injured. It reads in part:




…The men we have lost will always be recalled by the crew for what they have given to their ship: their courage, their enthusiasm in work and the good spirit they have built up among us all. They are gone but their memories will always live for those who have known them."



On December 18th 1995, KOOTENAY's final day as a Commissioned Canadian warship, we went to sea once more for a final salute. When we returned, CPO1 John Gregory ret'd, the same man that had followed the ventilator trunking forward in the dense smoke 26 years before, pulled the final fire from KOOTENAY's Starboard Boiler. In the Engine Room, one of the Watch cracked a bottle of champagne and we raised a final glass to those nine men who would stay forever with our ship. Godspeed….



MY RETURN TO CANADA - Recollections of Donald McIntosh - Source: Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Accession Number: S2012.1424.1)


HMCS Regina, RMS Queen Mary - The following are my recollections of my return from overseas during WWII on the Queen Mary, September 1944 with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his cabinet on board.


On May 15, 1942 at age of 19, I joined the Royal Canadian Navy in Winnipeg. After training in Calgary and Esquimalt I was sent to Halifax for deployment overseas during WWII to be assigned to HMCS Regina K234, which was in Plymouth, England.


I was an Engine Room Artificer on board HMCS Regina (K234) which was assigned to Western Approaches English Channel) for D-Day activities. HMCS Regina was torpedoed August 8,1944 in invasion waters by a German submarine U667. There were 30 sailors lost, 60 survived. The survivors were sent to the Canadian Navy Base HMCS Niobe at Greenock, Scotland.


On September 1, 1944 I was one of 18 survivors from HMCS Regina who were in good enough shape to be returned to Canada. We were taken on board the Queen Mary, which was tried up at Greenock docks. We waited on the Queen Mary for several days. No one told us why we were waiting and it seemed that we were the only people on the ship beside the crew and navy DEMS (Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships) (Navy Gunners). At approximately 5pm on September 5, 1944 we heard a great flurry of activity on the dock. While standing at the ships rail we saw a number of people boarding the Queen Mary and we all recognized British Prime Minister as Winston Churchill as one of them. We sailed almost immediately after Churchill and his staff boarded. There was great fanfare with huge ocean liners, liberty freighters and boats dipping their flags and blowing their horns as the Queen Mary sailed from Greenock, Scotland. We arrive in Halifax, NS four and one-half days later on September 10,1944.


During the crossing the weather was good with calm seas, bright sunshine and a constant wind on the upper deck. A large battleship about a mile ahead of her and two destroyers, one port and one starboard about one-half mile away escorted the Queen Mary. These destroyers were changed off about every twenty hours because they consumed so much fuel while steaming continuously at 30 knots. At that speed, the destroyers’ bows looked like they were under water. Other than these escorts I did not see any other ships as we crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Although I had suffered from the traumatic experience of being torpedoed on HMCS Regina, I felt very secure and safe on the Queen Mary. I know she was the fastest shipin the world and I could see the heavy escort accompanying her. The Queen Mary was heavily armoured, particularly for repelling aircraft. My personal observation was anti-aircraft guns located on either side of the bridge. These guns were located in tubs on extension arms from the bridge. There was a six-inch gun on the stern. For wartime purposes, the Queen Mary had been converted to a troop ship. All the elaborate décor was stripped and stored during the war. The outside of the ship was painted grey, the hull, funnels and superstructures. With her speed and grey colour the Queen Mary was commonly referred to as the Grey Ghost.


After lunch each day we saw Prime Minister Churchill and many of his staff walking in a roped off area on the starboard promenade deck. Although we never spoke to him, he would wave to us, touch his cap and give us his 'V' for victory sign. When I saw him he always had a big cigar in his mouth. Churchill walked with a woman dressed in a navy Petty Officer uniform. We were told that she was his daughter. Two Royal Marines armed with automatic rifles stood at each end of the rope barrier .On the first day a Royal Marine officer said to us, "Touch that rope and you are dead. If you don’t believe me, try it. Churchill is the most important man in the free world." Tow lifeboats reserved for two Royal Marines guarded Churchill and his staff at all times.


I had a small cabin on A deck, port side, stern. My bunk was a canvas stretched between a steel frames. It had a white sheet, a pillow but no blankets. I found this bunk very comfortable and always got a good sleep. We ate twice a day, at 8 am and 7 pm in a large dining room. What I remember about the meals is that they were quite good, especially the bread from the ships bakery. There was always lots of coffee, tea and jam for the good bread. The PX canteen sold American cigarettes for 10 cents a carton as well as coke and cartons of Hershey chocolate bars.


As we continued to heal from the shock of our ordeal we spent most of the time on the ship just relaxing and I remember we slept a lot. On the their day of our crossing, a group of us were sunning ourselves on an open deck stern of the ship when British Admiral Cunningham approached us. We all jumped up when we saw him. He soon put us at ease saying that he had been advised of our misfortune of being torpedoed and he wanted to meet us. We all shook his hand and chatted with him. He told us that he had joined the navy at age 13 and recommended it as a rewarding career for a young man. He was first Lord of the Admiralty and we were most impressed by the amount of gold braid on his uniform and his pleasant manner. I felt very fortunate to have met and talked to him. In recent years I have several biographical books on his career and life. I realize what a great man he was and his contribution to the war effort.


On September 10, 1944 at about 3 pm the Queen Mary arrived in Halifax, NS and tied up at Pier21. I well remember the ship slowly steaming from the entrance of Halifax harbor to the dock and seeing thousands of people and cars all along the Halifax shore waving and cheering. It was an unforgettable sight. Churchill and his staff left the ship as soon as she tied up. They boarded a waiting train enroute to the Quebec Conference for a meeting with world leaders about WW11 affairs. We could clearly see all this activity from the deck of Queen Mary. For security reason, we were not allowed to go ashore and were told that the ship would be sailing to New York. Within the hour we left Halifax and sailed to New York. This turned out to be a real bonus because it was a spectacular view slowly steaming up the Hudson River and observing the skyline of New York. Fortunately, a Queen Mary crew member who had made this trip many times was beside me at the ship rail and pointed out the various buildings and highlights as we sailed into port. It was early evening when the Queen Mary docked at Pier 90.we spent the night on the Queen Mart and the next day were taken to an adjacent U.S. Navy base for lunch .A bus then look us to Grand Central Station where we boarded a train and returned to Halifax. Having been granted two months leave, I continued my trip home to Saskatoon, SK.


When I read that the Queen Mary was a 'floating hotel' in Long Beach, California, I sure wanted to see it again. In February 1997, my wife Sharleen and I took a holiday and spent three days on the Queen Mary. We had an on A deck - the same deck that I had been during the crossing in 1944. The ship had been restored to her per- war glamour with beautiful woodwork, chandeliers, artwork and many other magnificent touches. A highlight for us was having a formal dinner in the Sir Winston dinning room. Although the ship looked quite different then it did during the war, it brought back many memories for me. It was a wonderful, unforgettable trip.



A GIFT REMEMBERED - A SAILOR NOT FORGOTTEN - submitted by Bill Stasso on behalf of his mother Nellie Stasso (nee Zochinsky)


HMCS Guysborough - During the war Nellie Zochinsky was living with her sister Stella, in Windsor, Ontario while Stella's husband was serving with the Canadian army in Africa and Italy. Nellie worked at a restaurant called the Quick Lunch which was near her sister's home. She was only a teenager and while working there she came to know William Sorrell who was a regular customer. William had joined the RCNVR and was serving in the minesweeper HMCS Guysborough.  On 18 Mar 1945 HMCS Guysborough was sunk by U-878 and William Sorrell was one of the 53 officers and men who died that day.  Some time after the ship was sunk Nellie received a scarf from William with a depiction of the ship drawn on it - a parcel that would have been sent just prior to the Guysborough's final voyage.


To this day Nellie has kept this memento of her lost friend - she is now 92. In addition to the scarf, she also cut out and carefully saved the article which appeared in the Windsor Star paper which identified William as having been lost at sea with the ship's sinking. 




(1) Nellie Zochinsky - 1945  (2 & 3) HMCS Guysborough scarf sent to Nellie by William Sorrell


(4) Nellie Stasso (nee Zochinsky) - 2018  (5) Newspaper article on William Sorrell's death



BIG BIRD - Submitted by Paul Prudhomme


HMCS Fraser - The year was 1980 and I was sailing on HMCS Fraser as a brand new Killick. We had been deployed as part of the Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT) for the next 6 months. We met up with and were accompanied by Hr.Ms. Van Speijk, HMCS Annapolis, HMS Juno, FGS Schleswig-Holstein, USS Sellers, FGS Lubeck, NHP Correia, KNM Oslo, USS Valdez and Hr.Ms. Overijssel.


Ports of call during this deployment were Skagen, Aarhus, Trondheim, Antwerp, Brest and Portsmouth, if I remember correctly. For some reason I keep thinking of Copenhagen and Helsinki as well… but I’m not sure which NATO deployment those were on, now that I think of it.


But we were up in the North Sea and it was night. There was a young lad onboard who, being so thin and tall, when we first saw him in his wet weather gear, everyone called him Big Bird. Like all nicknames earned in the service, his stuck with him. It seems a shame that these days I cannot for the life of me remember his real name. He was a terribly nice fellow. I can’t really recall what evolution we were involved in, but both of us happened to be on the flag deck and were proceeding towards the mast. He would have been a bunting tosser, if I recall correctly. But we were both climbing the short ladder that led up to the platform forward of the mast, when Fraser took a mighty roll to port. Big Bird was ahead of me and lost his grip on the handrail. Before I knew it, I had his entire weight against my chest, plus the incredible gravitational pull of the ship’s list to port pulling on me as well. I could only tighten my grip on the handrails and pray that I could hold on until Fraser came back to level. Through it all, I could only manage to grunt: “Don’t worry, Big Bird… I gotcha…I gotcha…”. This was sheer bravado of course, because I was pretty sure we were both going overboard. Nobody would have seen… nobody would have known, until hours later. In the dead of night, in the North Sea… Yeah, good luck ever finding our bodies. It seemed to take an eternity, though it was probably no more than 25 seconds, before the ship came back to an even keel. I could feel my knees wanting to give out, once the danger had passed. We were both shaken by the experience. “Thanks”, he said. “I don’t know…”, his voice trailed off. I knew what he wanted to say. “Yeah, I know… but we don’t have to worry about that now, right?”, I said, trying to make light of the situation. There were few times during my life when I have ever been so scared.


I believe he bought me a beer after our watch was over. We never mentioned that incident again. It was simply something that any other person would have done, had they been there at the moment. He left the Navy a year or two after that incident. Years afterward, I was leaving the Grace Hospital in Halifax, after having assisted in the delivery of my daughter Anna Kate Maxwell. My car had been illegally parked as there was no free legal space available near the hospital itself. I rounded the corner just in time to see a Commissionaire writing out a ticket for my vehicle. “Hey… hey, wait!!”, I called out to him. I ran to close the distance between us. As I got to him, he turned around to face me. “Big Bird!??!!”, I laughed. In spite of the circumstances, I was genuinely glad to see him again. “This your car, P.O.?”, he asked in his most authoritative voice. “Yes…”, I replied sheepishly. “Just came out of the Grace. I have a brand new little girl”. He smiled, folding the ticket and tucking it into his pocket. “This’ll keep”, he said. “You have yourself a good day. P.O. And congratulations on your new little girl!” I thanked him profusely. He grinned and said: “It’s okay, Paul. We’re even.” We both smiled at this and returned to our lives. I never saw him again after that day. Helluva nice guy, that Big Bird…



HMCS HURON AGROUND OFF KOREA - 13 July 1953 - by Daniel Kendrick (Source: The Memory Project)


HMCS Huron - I was commodore’s coxswain in the dockyard, the Commodore Engineering, Commodore Porteous. And, I thought I wasn’t meant to be working in somebody’s house, I was meant to be out at sea, so I’d asked to be moved out. So they put me on the Huron. And we were heading for Korea, and we went to Korea and we left Halifax and my wife was pregnant again with our second child. And I - just one of those things. But we went through the canal, Panama Canal, and up the coast and then worked our way across to Hawaii.


And we started our tours at Korea and we would go, we started on the west coast first, and did [aircraft] carrier patrol. And we were watching over the carriers for two things – that nobody attacked them, and the other part was if one of them crashed, we would go in and pick up the survivors or whatever, if they did. And then we’d go back into Sasebo [Japan] for a few days – not very long – and refuel and restock for the food and stuff. And then we’d go to the east coast and that was where you did train-busting in support of the army.


At night, and in the dark, and they’d shut down everything onboard the ship and just glide along the coast of Korea, and then you’d – the personnel, a lot of them would be up on deck listening to see if they heard a train or whistle or whatever. And if they did, and they did, they fired a star shell on it. First time I saw a star shell light up, oh boy, it really lights up, it comes down on a parachute, floats to earth, but it just lights up everything, and as soon as they see the train, then they start shooting at it, trying to hit it before it heads into a tunnel. And the trains were carrying ammunition and vehicles and everything for the North Koreans coming back down into fight our guys. So you wanted to try food and rations, and whatever. And all you wanted to do was make sure that you stopped them. And the light went out before we knew what, whether we had got it or not but, yeah.


And then, the one time we went up one of the rivers, I don’t know if it was the Yangtze River - one of the rivers in North Korea, to provide support to the army, the American and Canadian army, and we’d just got up there aways and the fog settled in, and we couldn’t see where we were going and of course the radar being as bad as it was then, we tried to get back out of the river before somebody started blowing us out of the water. And we made it, and we got out of it okay.


The night in March* that we ran aground, and we were doing train-busting, and then we went out and then we were called to come back in and watch, or guard, Pang [Yang]-do Island, and, a lot of us were asleep, but the shifts that were working – I heard all sorts of stories about what happened. The captain had, and what we heard, had finally said, well, he’d thought it was pretty easy now because we were just going to go and do patrol around this island. And, he went to bed. And the young officer took over – a couple of them, and, I know for a fact because I know one chap and he lives right here in Ottawa, that was on the radar and that, and they had told him that we were heading for shore. And, he ignored it and said, “No, your readings are wrong.” And we were going, not full steam, because of the fog we’d slowed down a bit, but the watchmen had seen the land ahead and we ran right into this island we were protecting.


And like all the rest of them, we started running up to the upper deck to see what was going on. And, the engineering officer got a hold of me, Lieutenant-Commander Minogue, got a hold of me and he asked me to go down into the forward hold where the damage was. And I remember going down in there and looking and all I could see was big black rocks and black water and a great big hole. And, I went, “wow!” So anyway, I went up and told him what it was, and we’d have to do some shoring [up] to protect the plates from being pushed further apart. And then I went to the engine room and I looked after the evaporator, because I had knowledge of evaporators, and they took the senior guy, I guess, and I had, that was to make fresh water. So I did, been all shook up with the jolt. And I was, being in the engine room, I was watching what was going on with the engines and the engineering officer and the Chief ERA and chief stoker we were, they were all in there. And, we waited for the tide to come in, and when it lifted us high enough, we started full steam astern to try and pull ourselves off the rocks and it wasn’t working so what they did was shut one engine down and got the other one up to running level and pulled that way and then stopped it and pulled the other one, so we wiggled ourselves off the rocks. And then we pulled around to the side of the island where we were away from the shore batteries. And we went up and shored up the damage in the mess deck and the forward end.


I think that was one of the strangest feelings in a sense, thinking that, “Wow, there’s all those ships and aircraft out and a horseshoe behind us, and if the shore battery had opened up, they would have lambasted them and blown them right out of the …”


So we’d shored up the ship, and then, we tried to go ahead, but because the plates on the front fo’c’sle had been pushed back and the water was pushing them back more and tearing more of the plates off, so they stopped - we stopped, and an American tug tried to blast the ASDIC dome that had dropped down, they tried to blast it off with dynamite, and it didn’t work which scared us onboard because it shook us. And then they took a big wire and attached it around it, and onto one of the tugs and then took a ram out and tried to break it off that way. Just about took the front end of the ship off and scared us again. They said, “That was enough of that.” They went and they brought a Landing Ship Dock. The first time I had ever seen one. It’s a big ship, but it’s got an open back, and then they almost sink it down with, the bridge is high on it, but they sink it down in the water and then tried to get us up into it, to look at some of the repairs or what they could do out there. And because of the dome being down, we couldn’t get into it, so that took that out of it.


And then there was two tugs, American tugs. One towed us and we went astern, all the way from Korea back to Sasebo, Japan. And, we got to the gates at Sasebo, and the captain, he was a good guy. We really liked him. He was for the men. We stopped and he wouldn’t let them tow us in to harbour. So we turned around and went into Sasebo Harbour on our own.



SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO - submitted by Bill Dibben


HMCS Margaree - Let me start by saying I loved the life, the ship and the shipmates, I even thought Cornwallis was a great time so I must be nuts right. I still remember how I liked go up and stand on the brow in rough weather and take breath of fresh air and watch the horizon appear and disappear going from trough to crest of the waves. Being young and stupid I was pissed off because Captain Heitsman did some strange things to us. It started with one cruise when we left Halifax on a Sunday morning. It didn’t bother me as much as some of the married men. They said, if it was true I don’t know, we were the first RCN ship to leave on a Sunday since WW2. We were leaving the harbour and there was some kind of a problem I don’t remember what it was and we had to return. Everyone was happy figuring we were tying up for the night but the captain decided we should do an exercise all night anchored off the Fleet Club with divers trying to board us and leave Monday morning. Then he decided to take away the pipe down for the morning watchmen which made for long days and short rest periods. Everyone thought he was trying extra hard to stand out for a promotion and didn’t like it at all so I put in for my release. With all that the releases were taking so long I figured I would have 6 months or so to cancel it and stay in. We went to the Fleet Club a few months later for a few beers with a friend who was in the release center and I told him I thought I would be in the navy rest of my life. The very next morning I was piped to the coxswains office and told to start my out routine. So being young, stupid and in another bad mood that day I left. To this day I still smile when I think of all the crazy crap we did and got away with and wonder about my decision to leave.



BEARDS, BEER, AND MOPEDS (in Bermuda) - submitted by Bill Dibben


HMCS Margaree - We were at sea three weeks doing a NATO exercise (1969) and they thought a beard growing contest would be good for morale, as I said before it was low at that time. After completing the exercise we stopped in Bermuda. We could go off the base only if we shaved our scruffy beards. We soon found out none of the guards on the gate cared if we had a beard or not. A bunch of us rented mopeds and went into Hamilton to enjoy a few Heinekens. Later that night we decided to have a race back to the ship. I must have been the drunkest because I was way out front until I came to a really tight turn across the bay from Hamilton. I leaned too hard and caught a foot peg on the road and slid into a seawall scrapping a lot the skin off my thigh and arm then flew over the top of it. I was lucky enough to land hitting the rocks with my head so I didn’t get hurt, only about 5 cuts that needed 2 or 3 stitches each to close. Whether it was the beer or the impact I was pretty groggy but knew I had to climb back over the seawall to flag down my buddies behind me. They had seen the moped and had already stopped so we flagged down the first car that came by for a ride to the hospital. I can remember bleeding all over a back seat of a nice Mercedes on the way so he was probably pissed he stopped. The funniest part was the next day when I headed back to the ship. Remember I wasn’t to be ashore with my half grown beard. I raced past the brow into the head and stood in front of the mirror trying to shave around all the cuts and scrapes on my face it looked pretty funny when I was done. I’m sure everyone knew what went on but it was a good enough job to keep me out of trouble. The worst thing was the leg got infected and had to have the bandage changed and be scraped every day for a week and did that hurt.



A CHRISTMAS POEM AT SEA - submitted by Ron Larsen


HMCS Cayuga - While serving on HMCS Cayuga in the winter of 1959-60 we were at sea on Christmas day. Our Captain commissioned a poetry writing contest to cheer up the lads. The winner would get a bottle of his own personal wine. Having never written a poem before I thought I had little hope of winning but put forth my best effort anyway. I thought I would just write about my own feelings at that time. Here is my poem - it won the prize. There were seventeen of us in our mess deck so the Captain gave me two bottles to share with the lads. He also asked if he could keep a copy of my poem. I was flattered.


A Christmas Poem At Sea By OS.LM Ron O. Larsen, 39824-H 

Aboard HMCS Cayuga - December 25, 1959


Christmas comes but once each year

Bringing happiness and cheer.

With bright lights, red and green and white

To brighten up the darkest night.


Sleigh bells ring and spread the joys

Into the hearts of girls and boys.

They seem to over boil with glee

To see wrapped gifts beneath a tree.


Relative sand friends unite

Tossing their carols through the night.

The city streets are white with snow

Which sets your heart and soul aglow.


There’s one place that we’d like to be

Of course it’s home with family.

Where friends we know will come and call

And wish good cheer to one and all.


But some of us must stand on guard

And never let our ranks retard.

It’s best that just a few should stand

Than have cold fear spread through our land.


We should be proud at Christmas time

To let the bells of freedom chime.

Our friends at home live joyfully

While we stand by to keep them free.


So let the Christmas spirit abide

Among us here who ride the tide.

It’s our turn now, someday we’ll go.

We’ll see the days we used to know.


It’s better to give than to receive

And Christmas is no time to grieve.

So lift your hearts ye men of war.

Some day our sons will do this chore.



HMCS CORNWALLIS - submitted by Ron Larson


HMCS Cornwallis - Following that (A Christmas Poem at Sea) I never wrote another poem for forty years. One day I was feeling a bit melancholy, and sat down and wrote one about Cornwallis. Cornwallis was paid off and having visited there several times since my service days I just felt like she deserved better than just shut down and left to rot. I wrote this poem about Cornwallis.


H.M.C.S. Cornwallis

By R.O. Larsen, September 12, 2006


There’s a place that I find in the back of my mind

Where the maples grow down by the sea.

And the sights and the sounds that would cover the grounds

Through the years still come back to me.


There are few things on earth of comparable worth

To our Canada, proud, strong and free.

But to keep this grand prize of considerable size

Would take men trained to fight on the sea.


So the site was prepared and nothing was spared.

What a grand and a glorious place.

Then the men from the fleet with experience replete

To train and to toughen and brace.


Then the call went abroad to this land under God

Send your young men faithful and true.

For the mad dogs of war stand and bark at our door

And your country’s depending on you.


They came from the land where the Douglas firs stand.

And they came from the prairies broad plain.

From Ontario’s lakes to the tide water breaks

Some would never go back home again.


But with duty in mind they began the long grind

That awaited at Cornwallis Base.

And with vigour and strength they emerged there at length

With the look of success on their face.


The men who wore blue, and the Wren’s were there too

Still remember those days of great trial.

As they learned the routine to spit-polish and clean

And do all that they did Navy Style.


It was hard and quite rough but there are those with enough

To endure the heartache and pain.

Though the daily routine was a ridged machine

Still the valiant just bounce back again.


I was plain that the plan was to turn out a man

From the boy that came through the gate.

Some would falter and fail while others prevail

But it wasn’t a deal set by fate.


There are those who would yield under stress in the field.

They would twist and bend until broke.

But the task was to find mid the poplars and pine

To reveal the heart made of oak.


Now Cornwallis has stood as all patriots should

With her head held high in great pride.

Because it was she that trained our men of the sea

With fifty two years on her side.


Now the sun has gone down on this ship of renown.

There’s no flag on her mast anymore.

There’s no sailors and band and divisions so grand.

There’s no sea boats tied up at her shore.


There’s no sound from her square ‘cause there’s nobody there.

Where once there were thousands of men.

Gone too is the knell of her polished brass bell.

And it never will ring out again.


But her memory lives on in those who have gone

From the lad to the sailor you see.

It’s God’s honest truth those who came in their youth

Preserved life, not to die but live free.


So a tribute I toast and perhaps even boast

Of the glorious days that she shared.

And thank heaven above for it’s mercy and love.

May her memory live in us who cared.

May you always have fare winds and a following sea.



SOUTH AMERICAN TOUR (a RN Memory) - Submitted by Ken King, Submariner, Royal Navy


September to December 1965 - The following ships left Portsmouth, England. HMS TIGER, HMS LONDON, HMS LYNX, HMS PENELOPE, HMS/m ODIN, on a good will cruise of South America. The squadron, under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir Fitzroy Talbot, visited ports in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.  On route to the Panama Canal, the flotilla was sailing in line breast several hundred miles off Bermuda when it was approaching an upcoming storm.


The admiral in charge of the flotilla flying his flag aboard HMS Tiger radioed all other ships. The message read: "Am prepared to keep 28 knots to outride the storm’, Do you wish to accompany me?" Odin's maximum speed on the surface was about 15 knots.


When the message was delivered to our captain, as he smiled he said to the POtel (Communications Petty Officer) - "Radio Halifax (the nearest submarine base) and get permission to dive". (note: When a submarine dives protocol is to radio nearest submarine base and give their position, direction, speed and depth in the event of an accident). Shortly thereafter permission was granted.


Our captain said to the POTel - Radio Tiger with the following message: "Am preparing to dive, do you wish to accompany me?"


The answer came back in one word "NEGATIVE"


We met the rest of the flotilla four days later in Bequia, West Indies where we stopped for a rest prior to venturing on our mission.


I served on HMS Odin for two years in the 1st Submarine Squadron at HMS Dolphin in Gosport, England.


Great boat, great crew and super captain by the name of Lcdr Mann.



MARGAREE MEMORIES - Submitted by Bruce Hillaby, RCN


Spring Cruise to Mazatlan, Mexico, 1963 - This cruise was just before the aft gun was removed for refit into a helicopter hangar. Panabaker was like no other skipper I sailed with. Only two as it turned out; I was also on the Mackenzie. Panabaker had the hull fitters remodel the gun emplacement into a swimming pool and it was used frequently off the Baja peninsula. I have pictures somewhere of the show. Panabaker on several occasions had the boats crews launch so he could get closer looks at marine life. One time it was turtles.



IT'S A BIRD ... IT'S A PLANE ... - Submitted by Gordon Pimm, Tel, RCNVR


HMCS SASKATOON accompanied by a minesweeper were heading to New York to pick-up a convoy as escort. SASKATOON was the lead ship with the minesweeper following astern.  The SASKATOON's CO was a CN skipper before the war and was not known for his sense of humour.  After a bit, the sweeper started falling astern but the CO did not order a change in speed to allow her to catch up.  As the sweeper fell further and further back, the CO ordered me to pass a message to the sweeper.  It read:  "Its a bird.  Its a plane.  Its Saskatoon".  The sweeper fell slowly astern and disappeared from our view. And that was the extent to our CO's humour.



THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE - Submitted by Arthur Hastings


HMCS ST CROIX - I served as an ROUTP MARS II trainee in her for a training cruise from Esquimalt to Sacramento and return during the summer of 1974. As we passed under the Golden Gate Bridge for sea, we headed into a brewing gale. The Chief Boatswain Mate dismissed the Officer Cadets from the foc’sle before the anchors were secure as the bow was heaving up and down in building seas. For a bit of Lower Deck humour, the Officer Cadets were invited to watch the movie Poseidon Adventure in the Main Cafeteria. The motion the ship in the waves kept the screen swinging throughout the movie.



CINCO DE MAYO (or Man Overboard) - Submitted by Gary Davis


HMCS MIRAMICHI - A few decades ago when I was Captain of one of Canada's mighty minesweepers, HMCS Miramichi, an Army cook had the good fortune to be posted aboard. He had never been on a ship before, so everything was new to him. It was a fun place to be posted, especially for an Army guy.

On this occasion Miramichi was berthed on the Esquimalt side of the harbour to have some work done on the ship. Normally the little sweeps were on their own on the other side of the harbour, far away from the glaring looks and pusser attitude of the destroyer crowd, but in this case we were right in the thick of them.

My new Army cook, after his first run ashore in Victoria, was coming back to the ship late at night, somewhat under the weather, and while attempting to board the ship, he fell in the harbour. The sailor manning the upper deck, the Duty Watch, was watching TV through a hatch and didn't notice the cook (we subsequently named him Flipper) going in the chuck. Flipper, in the water, started calling for the sailor, but the sailor couldn't figure out where he was. Eventually Flipper was found and helped out of the water into a warm shower.

The small crew (24) were all very amused with Flipper and his lack of savvy on how to get the Duty Watch's attention when he fell in.

The next night was Cinco de Mayo and we were having a party on the upper decks of our little sweeper to celebrate. Late in the evening, my senior signalman (Yeoman in Navy ease), after a couple libations, decided he would demonstrate, for Flipper, the proper way that a person should get the brow staff's attention should they fall over the side. Aiming for realism, the Yeoman stripped off his jacket and jumped over the side in the middle of the party. Upon hitting the water, he caught his breath and let out, with a thunderous roar that could be heard around the harbour, "Man Overboard!"

The routine in Naval ports is that when one ship has an incident, all the ships respond, ready aye ready, to lend a helping hand should the need arise. In keeping with that routine, the training ship berthed ahead of us sounded the general alarm and piped "Man Overboard on Miramichi".

Following that, every ship in the harbour, and they were all home, went to Emergency Stations in support of my poor Yeoman's Man Overboard demonstration. It was a tremendous display of solidarity amongst the ships of the fleet. Ambulances arrived, firetrucks rolled, and police attended. Flipper was amazed at the huge response to a single sailor in the drink (pun intended). In minutes the Yeoman was safely brought back onboard, and a series of quick phones calls from me put the rest of the fleet back to their normal state of readiness.

I am happy to report that the Admiral found the story amusing when I answered his summons, sword, medals, and number ones the next day. The Yeoman survived to buy many beers, Flipper never fell in again, and I kept my job and got a good Cinco de Mayo story out of the incident.



YES, WE HAVE DUCKS IN THE CANADIAN NAVY - Submitted by Butch Boucher, retired C2HT


HMCS MACKENZIE - I was in the Hull Tech workshop when I heard the pipe: "Petty Officer Boucher, CO's Cabin."

Upon arrival I was met by the CO's steward and he escorts me to the CO's guest day cabin where Commander Sea Training, Cdr Carr was sitting in a chair. He points to his Pullman's berth and says there are no securing brackets attached to the bunk and he would like me to get them fabricated.

It was February 1980 and the Mackenzie was undergoing workups. We had already completed five days of lectures alongside and we were now commencing Week Two transiting to Whiskey 6-01, and at this time of the year it would undoubtedly be rough. I appreciated Cdr Carr's request and said I would have new brackets fabricated and installed within a few hours.

I returned to the shop where my two best Hull Techs, Dave Lindsay and Dave Schindler were having coffee. They heard the pipe and asked what's up? When I explained the situation they said, no problem Butch, we'll get right on it. The time was approximately 1030. Knowing the job would get completed to a high standard by the two Dave's, I went down to the Chief and Petty Officer`s cafeteria for coffee and making small talk with a few of the Sea Training staff, C2RP Dale Nordstrom, and C1HT Ray Sawyer.

At noon it was time to go to dinner. I no sooner sat down when once again the pipe was made: ``Petty Officer Boucher CO's Cabin." I'm thinking what now? But this time the CO's steward says go right in and as I enter I see both our CO and Commander Sea Training are sitting in the settee area.

Commander Sea Training gets up, doesn't say a word, I follow him to the day cabin. There is a pause and he points to his Pullman berth and says: "Is this some kinda joke?" I can see he is royally pissed. It was hard not to laugh. What the two Dave's had made and installed were two half inch plywood brackets (each approx 2 ft x 1 ft) large enough to ensure a person would not tumble out of his berth in rough seas and in the shape of rubber ducky heads. They were sanded really nice, even around the edges and lightly sprayed with a coat of lacquer on them.



Cdr Sea Training goes on to say (by this time we are joined by our CO) "I'll have this ship at workups for 24 hours.`` My CO (I could see a slight grin on his face) says, "PO, he just wants a good night's sleep." I replied," yes Sir I'll ensure this gets rectified properly." As I'm leaving the CO's cabin I can feel someone's eyes on my backside.

I arrived at the Hull Tech workshop and both Dave's are already there, chuckling. When they heard the pipe calling me to the CO's cabin, they anticipated me returning to the shop. So, they asked what happened?

I repeated what occurred and as I was doing so, they picked up two aluminum brackets they had previously made as they suspected the wooden ducks would not have sufficed. I asked them how did you guys install the wooden ducks onto the berth with both CO's in attendance? They said they went and saw the CO's steward ahead of time and asked if by any chance both CO's would be leaving and sure enough they had already departed for the bridge. They then installed the wooden ducks in quick fashion and waited.

As an aside both Dave's were two of the best Leading Seaman Hull Techs that ever worked for me work hard, play hard! But unfortunately they were like the bobsey twins always getting into mischief. And I enjoyed trying to get them out of their mischievous ways……maybe in some ways they reminded me of myself. Dave Schindler left the navy and was working on an oil rig ship and while on leave in Victoria lost his life in a motorcycle accident, while Dave Lindsay also left the navy, started a wild salmon fish farm in Atikokan, Ontario and is now semi-retired.

Workups were completed successfully with no after affects and shortly afterwards I was drafted to the Fleet School.



THE BOSTON BRUINS PLAY GAMES ON HMCS CAPE SCOTT - Submitted by Butch Boucher, retired C2HT


HMCS CAPE SCOTT - I was an East Coaster 63032-H from 1965 to 1970 serving on Cape Scott and Fraser and after my stint, got out and became a fireman in Churchill Falls, Labrador. Upon re-entering I got drafted to the West Coast in 1972. I was reminiscing recently with a number of former HMCS Cape Scott buddies and a few stories were rekindled, and thought I would share this one with you.



Circa late November1968 and the Cape was tied up in Boston. A lot of the crew went to a Saturday night hockey game at the old Gardens and were sitting right behind the player's bench. A number of them got chatting with some of the Bruins and invited them to visit the ship and sure enough the next day the majority of the team (Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Eddie Shack (and Slim Ayers C2HT had a test to see who had the biggest nose), John McKenzie, Derek Sanderson, Ron Murphy, Ed Westfall, to name a few) arrived, right before tot time. When the CO was informed who was onboard he ordered a 60 oz bottle of pusser's rum and 11 cases of beer be issued on behalf of the guests. When the beer ran out our canteen server LS Cote ended up giving out a total of 33 cases of beer. (He also got in the shit with the ole man.)

The Bruins were drinking throughout the ship, main cafeteria, shipwright's mess, stoker's mess, electrician's mess and got absolutely shit-faced. Ron Murphy was twisting fingers with a big stoker, Bob Hunt (ABER) in the main cafeteria and Ed Westfall asking Terry Meloche (ABET) "hey, where do you sailors get all the fat shirts?" It must have been from the 2 cans of beer per man, per day…...perhaps. Another incident involved Eddie Shack who was drinking in the P2's mess and he signed the tick sheet on the beer fridge and at the end of the visit there were 24 ticks next to his autograph. Some hours later when the Bruins were ready to depart, some of them were having a pissing contest to see who could piss the furthest off the upper deck and out to the jetty to hit Eddie Shack's parked Mustang. He was pissed and so was his car in a manner of speaking as he tore down the jetty in his mustang.

No doubt those Bruins would have made really good hairy-bags! (a slang we use for Canadian sailors)



COMMUNIST CHINA AND SCRIPT MONEY - Submitted by Butch Boucher, retired C2HT


HMCS PROVIDER - The squadron was deployed on a Far East trip in 1983 which included Shanghai, China a communist held city. When the Provider arrived we were anchored out in the Huang Pu River and we were ferried from the ship to shore.

Shanghai was then a city of 8 million mostly poor people with little freedom. One of the activities in the evening was bicycling. You could hear the bike bells constantly ringing……. so much for communist rule.

Only script money (which we exchanged with our Canadian dollars onboard) was accepted in the city as no other currency was any good.



We were taken on controlled tours. On one particular tour, we visited a needlepoint factory, a communal farm and a medical facility where John Huzinga, C2ER had acupuncture done on his weakened knees.

But what really stood out was the following: "Curly" (Mike) Timoshyk (MSER) collected military uniforms and during our visit he managed to purchase a full communist Chinese army and a navy uniform (the complete rigs!!)

We were at sea doing a RAS (fuelling) with the Americans. Picture this: the Yanks saw 3 people on the upper deck of the Provider; one fully dressed in a communist Chinese army uniform (MSER Curly Timoshyk) and another (MSER Andy Wysman) in a communist naval uniform. In addition P2BN Al Payment was attired in white bed sheets. Now Al was dark complexioned and also had a heavy dark beard and was dressed resembling an Arab. He had a rope around his mid-drift and also on his forehead and he looked exactly like you know, an Arab.

So what the Americans saw was Curly, binoculars around his neck while the other two had a pad of paper and pens. Curly would look across at the American ship being refuelled; the other two would pretend to be writing something down. Next thing you know the Americans are signalling our bridge (you know how Sigs do their communicating) with arms flaying around with flags in hand going helter-skelter asking us what's with these people? This is my version as it could have been more profound!

Our CO, Captain Jan Brent, was taken totally unaware of the activities according to our learned colleague (Looking Around), Dale Crewe (Leading Seaman at the time) happened to be a Special Sea Dutyman on the bridge. I guess you had to be there to witness this event as it was quite comical especially if you were not on the receiving end!



BLACK ANGUS ISN'T A COW - Submitted by Butch Boucher, retired C2HT


HMCS CAPE SCOTT - Back in the day 1965-1970 era the East Coast navy participated in the annual Maple Spring Exercises which took place from early January to late March. Cape Scott would always leave for San Juan, Puerto Rico about two weeks earlier than the rest of the Fleet which would leave Halifax and participate in various exercises while transiting to Bermuda. Upon arrival at the American Naval Base it was time to paint the ships and there was always stuff happening during our paint ship routine.

For example, drunken sailors would drive their rented mopeds into the water off the jetties adjacent to their parked ships. Of course after retrieving them they would have to pay extra for any damages resulting from this act of bravery. In Hamilton, the capitol city, there were signs posted on lawns that read: "KEEP OFF THE GRASS"/No dogs or Canadian Sailors. Ya, we were a hit for sure. After our stint in Bermuda we were off again conducting more exercises and headed for the American Naval Base in San Juan, our base off and on for the next coupla' months. As a matter of note: in the early 70's the Fleet would relocate from the American Naval Base in San Juan to Rosie Roads (Roosevelt Roads).

Upon our arrival in San Juan there would be a brief period of R&R and also at this time each of the ships would complete their own repairs. However if you were on the Scott, you were either Factory Staff or Ship's Staff; the difference being factory staff would do repairs on the other ships in the Fleet, while ship's staff would be responsible for the Cape's maintenance and repairs.

When the Fleet departed for exercises along with the Americans, Cape Scott would stay alongside Alcoa Pier in San Juan for the whole three month period. The Fleet, comprising of two squadrons of DDE/DDHs, Submarines, the Provider and our aircraft carrier the Bonnie (Bonaventure).

It so happens that during one stay alongside, 3 Killick Shipwrights (Sandy Graves, Ed Cain, and Peter Lemieux) from Cape Scott made an arrangement to renovate a bar, the Pier Deck Bar, located right outside the gate. The arrangement was labour for booze. Simple enough! Most of the renos such as woodworking and some minor metal work were done after hours on the Cape using pusser equipment and upon completion would be transported to the bar. During the renos the bar owner would be plying the boys with drinks and more drinks. Well when it was all said and done the 3 Hull Techs owed the bar money, so that was the end of that venture. 


Pictured above are Sandy Graves (L) and Peter Lemieux at the Pier Deck. Butch Boucher (L) and Bob Verge at the Chicago Club. A local would go from bar to bar and take a Polaroid shot for $1.00 each.


As you can appreciate Old San Juan had numerous bars mostly located on Luna Street and frequented by both American and Canadian sailors. Well-known bars like the Chicago Club, Old City Bar, Black Angus (also known as Black Fungus), and Lucky Seven had ladies of the night and cost five and two ($5.00 for the lady and $2.00 for the room), while the Riviera Club, more high class, was fifteen and five. Those days we weren't paid much.

But in '68 when Sea Pay was initiated at $15.00 per month, I was spend-thrift and visited the Riviera.



TALES FROM THE LIARS TABLE - submitted by Mike Becevel, P2CT, ret'd


In June of 1968, I joined the newly established Canadian Armed Forces, shortly after Unification. I was twenty years old and still a virgin but living in hope. 


Now jump ahead forty years! 


Every Friday, a bunch of us “old cronies” meet at the Chief and Petty Officers mess in Esquimalt for a couple of cold beers and catch up on the bits of gossip and occasionally find out who is no longer on the right side of the turf. The gathering place is a large oval table affectionately known as “The Liars Table.” No one has accurately explained the reason this handle has been bestowed upon the beautiful massive piece of furniture but I suspect that it’s because of the many outrageous stories told here and the speculation fact verses fiction. Having conveyed a few stories of my own, I vote for the former rather than the later. After a career of 25 years in the mob, I can say that I have experienced, been part of, witnessed or just plain heard about some of the most unforgettable and funniest stories that tend to linger in one’s brain for a life time. “Heard about stories” that cannot be verified by anyone present, are just as entertaining because often others at the table have heard about them also from an alternate source and of course we play the odds that everyone knows that these sort of things don’t happen to the average Joe on civy street. However, I am not alone when it comes to funny stories to remember and things can easily snow ball. This happens when a group of “old sailors” gather and start bullshitting. Someone will say “I remember the time when” or “do you remember so and so?” Invariably one story leads to another and another and so it goes at “The Liars Table.”



A BOX OF ASPARAGUS - submitted by Butch Boucher, retired C2HT


....  I felt a tap on my shoulder and the words, "Butch you started a fire!" Holy f..k I said to myself, I'm in the shit!


HMCS PROVIDER - We were off Manila (Far Horizon March-June 1983) this one calm weekday, I thought I'd complete an outstanding work order that was on file in the shop, specifically to remove a steel oxy-acetylene rack that was no longer required. It was located exterior starboard side mid-ship on the Cargo Deck. Following proper protocol, I filled out the burning and welding chit, gave a copy to the OOW (Officer of the Watch) on the bridge and had my fire sentry, Pierre Charest go to the Stores Office to get the key to open Number One Provision Storeroom which was the other side of the job being done. Pierre comes back and says they can't find the key. I said no problem, stay here as my sentry "it'll only take a few minutes" to cut off the brackets. To eliminate grinding after the cutting job was done, I cut a little too-o-o close to the bulkhead and the transfer of heat ignited a few cardboard boxes in the provision storeroom. They contained asparagus.


It was then I felt a tap on my shoulder, "Butch you started a fire!"


What transpired next was a text book case of "following proper procedures when a fire at sea occurs." The pipe is made "Emergency Stations" and the bells are ringing. The Rapid Response Team arrived at #1 Provision Stores and the fire hoses were laid out and charged. Pierre also took evasive action by taking a fire axe from its rack and using the pick end breaking the brass padlock off #1 Provision Stores and I thought this would be a good time to tackle the fire with the charged hose. Pierre slowly opened the door and while in the crouched position I could only see a little smoke so I sprayed a small amount of water onto the asparagus cardboard boxes, putting the fire out. I'm a hero more or less.



Not wanting to be the person of interest I returned to the job site on the cargo deck and who should come walking-by but the CO, Capt Jan Drent and the Engineering Officer, LCdr Bill Hilts. The EO says: "yes Sir, it seems a complete disregard of care and attention."


Now I know I'm in the shit.


About an hour later I'm in the C&PO's lounge having a pop (hey, I may as well enjoy it as I could be a Killick) again. In comes the ship's senior firefighter, Sgt Desilits laughing. Oh this is a good sign! He sits next to me and tells me what occurred as he, along with Glen Shipham, the Liquid Cargo Officer (he's also my divisional officer), and the XO, Cdr Taylor, were completing the Ship's Fire Report. The XO, Cdr Taylor says: "we should compliment PO Boucher for putting the fire out." Glen says, "Sir, we can't do that.....yes, he put the fire out BUT......he also started it."


The end result: after being chucked shit at for a few days and also being comically referred to as Sparky and Flash, the fire report did not leave the ship and fortunately for me I carried on as a PO2.



The QUINTE's List  - submitted by Norma Baillargeon (as told to her by her husband Ray Baillargeon)


It was Jan/Feb of 1961 on board HMCS QUINTE. They were on trials out off of Liverpool N.S. I believe. They were suppose to go back to Halifax and a storm came up. They were going to stay in Liverpool but the powers that be decided they would head for Halifax anyway. The seas became very rough and the Quinte started to list to one side. She was vibrating so much the refrigerator left the bulkhead. The crew put on their lifejackets and prayed. She kept veering to that side until, thank God, a big wave came and knocked them upright and they proceeded to Halifax. Not a nice experience!



A BEER AND A HAIRCUT TWO BUCKS submitted by Mike Becevel, P2CT, ret'd


September 1986 on HMCS YUKON, we were a just a few days out of Esquimalt heading to Australia. Hoagie, a transplanted east coaster, set up his barbershop in the bosun’s work shop in the mortar well. He was relatively new at this hair cutting business but felt the money to be made was too good to resist, besides, all of his hair cuts were buzzes anyway, a foolproof method to be sure. Simply clip on the hair rake and buzz away. Because he was new to the ship, he had to entice his clientele and what better way to do that than with a cold beer, compliments of the house. The problem was that Hoagie would partake in a libation along with his customers because it wouldn’t be right to make a man drink alone. All this is fine and dandy except that after ten or eleven customers, Hoagie is starting to feel a little loose and so halfway through his last customer, he says to Miley K., “you gotta finish this guy off man, I’m too pissed.” Miley who just happened to be keeping him company during the evolution and was just as pissed as Hoagie said “this is fuck all, I’ve been watching you all nigh.” He jumped in with much relish. The customer didn’t mind, he drank his beer.



MY "HOUSEWIFE" SAVES THE DAY - submitted by Butch Boucher, retired C2HT


HMCS FRASER - I got a pier-head posting from the Cape Scott to the Fraser in October 1966. Fraser had come from Esquimalt and was undergoing a refit in Vickers Shipyard in Montreal. During the refit she was converted to a destroyer helicopter escort which included a new helicopter hangar and landing deck. As part of the skeleton crew, we were to undergo sea trials and upon completion transit down the St. Lawrence River to Halifax where an extension of the refit would be completed by dockyard shops. We only had 4 Hull personnel, C2HT Gus Cournoyer (WW2 Vet), LSHT3 Claude Lavoie, ABHM2 Thurlo Munroe (recent re-entry) and myself OSHM Butch Boucher.


Fraser was the envy of the Fleet for a number of reasons which I'll explain. I think it was 1968-69 an experiment onboard the Fraser that both three and four messes would be solely killick messes. I was in three mess and it comprised about 90% engineering with the remainder other trades. John Bowes (LSWS3), a salty and very senior gunbuster, was our killick of the mess. At sea, the very first thing in the morning, John would go to the settee area (forward part of the mess) and have a fag. He would cough, sputter and cough some more until he finished his fag and then his day would begin. I often thought his poor lungs were even blacker than the interior of our ship's boilers. John was under the old RCN 25 year plan, upon retiring he didn't last long, wonder why?


The Fraser had a very good Cox'n and an even better XO, LCdr Hayward. Hayward was a Kipper, quite short, about 5'2" tall with red hair and a big, bushy red beard. He was admired by all the ships company unlike many of the ex-Kipper officers the Canadian Navy had at that time. Many, with their arrogant and superior attitudes, thought their shit didn't stink. But I digress....


Thurlo Munroe, a killick shipwright, fabricated a mahogany kidney-shaped coffee table for the settee area along with two mahogany saloon doors (just like you see in Western movies) and upon entering the settee area you would go through the swinging doors which also provided some privacy. We also had our own free standing fridge and because we had both canteen servers living in our mess. It was always full with beer. We ensured that this privilege was not abused at sea, however in port it was an entirely different matter.


Our squadron, comprising St. Laurent, Gatineau and Fraser and accompanied by Bonaventure (Bonnie), were in Portsmouth England (more commonly known as Pompeii), and we were tied up within the Shipyard. A killick shipwright who shall remain unknown (name to protect the innocent) picked up a honey, her name was Sue, outside the main gates of Portsmouth, brought her down to the ship (3 mess) as his guest and proceeded to get her tipsy. It was tot time and she got spillers and along with our mess beer, it didn't take Sue long and she was well on her way. Well she decided to plant her feet onto the mahogany coffee table and asked if anyone had needle and thread because she wanted to sew some rips in her pantyhose.


Being the obliging sort, I went to my locker and retrieved my housewife and she proceeded to patch up the rips.



 The story doesn't end there. Sue was convinced to come with the killick shipwright to the forward seaman's wash place. Why you might ask?


Because they were going to have a communal shower, and that's what they did. While doing so there was a young Air-Type doing his personal dobey in the small washing machine that all wash places had, and with his mouth aghast couldn't believe what he was seeing! Suffice it to say, Part Two is for another day!



JETTY JUMPING ... IN BERMUDA  - submitted by Norma Baillargeon (as told to her by her husband Ray Baillargeon)


I believe it was the Columbia.  They were in Bermuda abd the crew could rent motor bikes there if they chose to and tour with them. Ray and his buddy preferred to walk which they often did while in port. They were on their way back to the ship and heard someone hollering Help! Help! .They looked over the side of the jetty and there was on of their shipmates hanging on to a peg for dear life with both hands, feet swinging in the air. The ladder to get up to the jetty was about a foot away from him. They convinced him to reach over and get on the ladder and climb up to the jetty. He had been drinking, of course and had rented one of the bikes and drove it off of the jetty. Ray told me that happened often there. Many of the bikes were driven into the drink. Bermuda was a common place for the ships to go in those days.



WHERE IS THE HURON? - submitted by Norma Baillargeon


Where is the Huron?.......It was Oct.1962 Ray left home to go to work for the day. He did not come home when I expected him to. I waited for a while ,then I called the ship, no answer. Waited a while longer and called the contact number I had to find out where the Huron was.  The answer I got was" We have nothing on the Huron" First time that ever happened. Turned on the news, nothing on there. Got the children ready and went to bed. The next day came and still nothing on the Huron. Apparently the crew did not know where they were going either until they arrived at their patrolling stations. Ray went up on deck and found they were surrounded by Russian Trawlers. The crew was informed then about what was going on. "The Cuban Crisis" was all over the news then. I can't remember how many days they were gone along with several Canadian ships. I only know how thankful and happy I was when they pulled into Halifax Harbour and we were waiting on the jetty to greet him.



TERRY FOX, THE GG, A SUBMARINE AND RUM - submitted by Marcel (Rene) Simard


HMCS OKANAGAN - On Jun 28 1981, The Day Terry Fox Died, OKA was at sea on a Day sail with the Governor General Ed Schreyer and his son.


We returned to periscope depth after a bit of high speed maneuvering to check the latest broadcast when OKA received a Priority message informing the Gov General
of the passing of Terry Fox. We then dived deep again, full speed ahead, group up, surfacing near Chebucto Head and going full speed in the Inner harbour.


I can still remember the Radio Call from Halifax Traffic on the VHF asking OKA if we were aware of speed restrictions in the Inner Harbour....  CO's Reply (LCdr Sherber) : Are you aware of the ID of the VIP on board my vessel , HFX Traffic reply - Ahhh Roger that Captain, we will ensure the way is clear to your berth... OUT  (I was a young RP back then recording visual fix in the fixing log while at Harbour Station)


Our XO at the time was a LT (N) RN exchange Officer.   During the return trip we convinced the GG's son to ask his father 'what is the meaning of Splice the Main Brace".  We then called the XO and asked him not to be a Brit and stand by the CO.  We got an ugly look from him at bulkhead 49, but he did.  When the GG's son asked him what it meant, he repeated the words of his son "Splice the Main Brace" and our very British XO said "Aye Aye Sir.  Splice the Main Brace!"





(GG01) Governor General Ed Schreyer with OKANAGAN's CO LCdr Scherber  (GG02) Ed Schreyer's son trying on a submarine escape suit  (GG03) LCdr Scherber and Gov. Gen. Ed Schreyer reviewing an OKANAGAN photo album


Photo credit: The Naval Museum of Halifax

Courtesy of Brian Lapierre



THE XO AND A PRACTICAL JOKE - Submitted by Alan Mathieson, Lt (N), C.A.F.


HMCS QU'APPELLE - In 1982 I was a PO2 CommTech (252) when I was nominated and approved for the Commission from the Ranks program. After successfully completing MARE/CS Phase VI Ashore training I was posted to HMCS QU’APPELLE in the summer of 1985; at the time I was a Lt (N). One story I remember is when the junior officers under training filled the XO’s cabin, which at the time was occupied by LCdr Bill Poole, with confetti and balloons. Of course the XO wanted the names of the guilty officers, however the ship’s officers told them to stay quiet because it was such a good lark. Needless to say LCdr Poole was not having it so each morning all ship’s officers not on watch were ordered to partake in an exercise routine on the quarterdeck. Lt (N) Dave Ireland (CSEO) didn’t have any running shoes so he did his exercises in stocking feet. The nonskid quickly made short work of his socks. After 4 or 5 days of this foolishness the responsible junior officers identified themselves, perhaps because Dave had run out of socks, to the XO resulting in some form of punishment.



NOV 7th IS A LOT TOUGHER THAN NOV 11th - Submitted by Martin Miller, PO1, Av Tech, Ret'd


The Crash of HMCS NIPIGON'S Sea King


HMCS NIPIGON - On 07 Nov 1971 we were night flying and as an air frame/aero engine mechanic I was working the flight deck. The helo had just landed on board and was secured to the flight deck, then the aircrew changed out. A fresh crew took control of the helo replacing the returning crew. Once the crew was switched about the returning crew handed over of all relevant information. This took place with the aircraft engines running and the rotor blades turning. This was known as a hot refuel. We pulled the fueling hose out to the helo, carried out the mandatory water and contamination test on the fuel supply hose and hooked up to the pressure fueling connection and refueled the aircraft .


When the pilot signaled the bird was full we disconnected the fueling hose and secured it at the edge of the flight deck and I performed a “walk around visual inspection” with a flashlight looking for any obvious leaks, damage or discrepancies. Having not finding any obvious issues. I gave the pilot a “thumbs up” and I returned to the hangar.


The helo had an uneventful take off. Inside the hangar we had a speaker mounted on the bulkhead and we could monitor communication between the helo and the ship. After a couple minutes we heard pilot say “Skirt 20" (the helo’s call ID) we have lost power in #1 engine, are jettisoning fuel and are RTB (return to base - the ship in this case). That was the last we heard from them. We went to emergency flying stations hoping against hope they would make it back. Not to be. I always felt I might have missed something on that walk around. It appears the engine just “packed it in”. 


Nov 7th is a lot tougher for me than Nov 11th.



ADRIFT ON LAKE ONTARIO - Submitted by Rick Butler


HMCS PORTE ST JEAN - I believe it was the weekend of September 24,25 and 26th. On Friday we bussed from HMCS YORK to HMCS STAR in Hamilton to board the ships. The crew was made up of us reservists, a few Sea Cadets and the regular staff on the St. Jean. I was assigned to the PORTE ST JEAN. The idea was to do some exercises on the lake and then head for Rochester Saturday afternoon and have Saturday night in Rochester. We were allowed leave, but as most of us we quite young we had to be back aboard by midnight.


On Sunday morning we woke up to quite a storm. We left Rochester harbour as far as I remember just after breakfast. The rumours we left the harbour against two warning flags for the storm. About 1 hour outside of Rochester the main engine on the PORTE STE JEAN quit (I'm not sure of the reason). The storm was quite bad at that time. We were later to know they estimated the wind at over 50 miles per hour and the waves at 15 feet. We were then asked to raise two large black balls on the mast. Myself and another fellow were asked to do it. They tied us off with ropes held between the shelter near the bridge structure and the door to the men's mess. We were able to do this. When we finished we were then asked to assist in trying to get a tow line from the PORTE ST LOUIS. I can remember standing by the main mast when the ST LOUIS came close to fire the line for the tow rope. We were at the bottom of a wave the St. Louis was at the top. I looked up and could actually see the propellers of the St. Louis as it crested the wave. They tried this few times before we could actually get the tow rope attached. The St. Louis tried to tow us but I believe they could not make any headway due to the storm.


I am not sure how long this was but a Canadian Coast Guard cutter came across the lake late Sunday night/early Saturday morning, secured us and towed us back into Rochester. Late Monday we were bussed back to YORK. When we got back we found out that at one point we were within a quarter mile of the American shore before the Coast Guard got to us. The local radio stations apparently reported we were "lost" at sea at one point. It was the second or third weekend after, repairs were completed and we were asked to go back to Rochester and sail her home. We all did.


I believe the Governor General of Canada issued a unit Citation for the three ships involved.



YOU MUST WEAR A TIE - Submitted by John Gervais Jr., Radar Plotter 


HMCS NIPIGON - I remember when the NIPIGON went to Bermuda. It was 1978. My shipmates and I had a bunch of beer on the beach with beer from the ship (as it was cheap). We then headed to the Princess Hotel in Hamilton Bermuda. We were in all sorts of civilian clothing when we showed up at the club in the hotel that evening. There was a person in an expensive suit eyeballing us with disdain at the door who said with a very stuffy British accent, “one must wear a tie to enter this establishment”. One of our shipmates (name not to be mentioned) said, “so if I find a tie I can come in”? Stuffed shirt responded in the affirmative! So our shipmate told us to wait there and disappeared for awhile. When he came back he had a big grin on his face and was wearing a set of battery charger cables wrapped around his neck tied in a knot. We exploded in laughter! Apparently after not finding an actual tie he had a moment of brilliance and borrowed the jumper cables from a cabby out front of the hotel who was boosting another cab. Sooo he approached stuffed shirt and said with as straight a face as he could muster, “ok I found a tie, so now you have to let me in and you can’t CHARGE me”. Ha ha ha! We all laughed our face off even harder and told stuffed shirt to….get stuffed and to have a nice evening…and went to the nearest pub! What a night!



NOW THAT'S PERFORMANCE - Submitted by Steve Foldesi, Capt, RCN, C.A.F., RANR, ret'd


I was in EastLant on SNFL when I needed to send a Canadian Eyes Only message to MARCOM and NDHQ. The NATO ship-shore via Norway was not working - atmospherics. My only option was to button it up on ADONIS and go CW through Dakkar Senegal. It took a young AB an hour and a half to tap out the 3,500 groups and it broke at the receiving end the first time. Now that is performance!



WOODEN SHIPS AND IRON MEN (AGAIN) by C1GI Gilbert Short. Submitted by Ed Paquette


"A true story of the navy during wartime." by: Gilbert E. Short, Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Gunnery Instructor, RCN, ret'd

CMTB-1:  The ice was beginning to form in Rimouski Harbour, when the motor torpedo boat #1 - officially known as MTB 1 (formerly V205 of the Royal Navy) left mooring and headed out to the St. Laurence River at approximately 8:00 A.M. It was a cold late November day, in 1940 and its crew of eleven weren't especially looking forward to the days journey, except that it would bring them one day nearer to their home base of Halifax, Nova Scotia.


The ship had been accepted a few days before at the Canada Power boat in Lachine, as a welcome addition to the Royal Canadian Navy. In addition to the three officers and four ratings of the RCN there was also on board three civilians from the British Power boat company and one young Canadian Navigator, originally with the Lady Boats.


Travelling at 44 knots the M.T.B. ate up the miles toward the scheduled stop of the day, Gaspe, Quebec and was ahead of schedule.


At approximately 4:00 P.M. the Captain, Navigator and Coxswain where in the wheel house with the Coxswain at the wheel when the navigator said "Captain we are ahead of our schedule, instead of going into Gaspe, let us travel into Shediac, New Brunswick." The captain was not against the idea, but the Coxswain spoke up, "that would be ok but there is snow ahead" at this time the Navigator said, "that's not snow but a low lying cloud." I've navigated around the River for the past two years and I'd say it is a cloud. Well the Coxswain observed, "I have been in the Canadian Navy for eleven years and I have spent a lot of time in the North Atlantic and the Gulf and I say it's snow."


The captain decided to go on to Shediac and the crew started taking turns having a meal before night fell.


One hour later, the M.T.B. hit the snow storm and had to reduce speed to 25 knots, motor torpedo boats knock the hell out of you at 44 knots, but at 25 knots in a storm they are very hard to handle and all on board were getting thrown around quite badly. The speed was increased to forty knots with the captain (an RCNVR Lt.) handling the wheel. At 7:30 P.M. the Coxswain came up to the wheelhouse to take over from the Captain, who instructed him to "steer by Compass" as the storm has made it impossible to see out of the "clear view screen," then went below to get a cup of tea, leaving the Coxswain and the young Navigator in the wheelhouse. There was silence for awhile then the Coxswain who didn't have much regard for the Navigator said, "we're heading through the Northumberland Straits. If you hit anything hit P.E.I, because they grow a lot of potatoes there, and we could hit mud." The navigator in an angry voice said "We're not going to hit anything."


Five minutes later the navigator ordered "Hard a Starboard," full speed astern, anyone having any knowledge of boats, know that on a two engine boat, you have to bring the throttle back to normal, brings the engines to stop, then put the engines to astern and put the throttles back to full speed, at the same time try to turn the ship 90 degrees to the right, then the MTB piled high on the sand stopping just a few feet from a fisherman's hut. The Coxswain casually said to the navigator "Looks like P.E.I." It turned out later that this -was one of the highest tides of the year and we had beached on a small Island off Richibucto, New Brunswick.


The engine's were now useless as the batteries are only good enough for two attempted starts, and the crew climbed over the bow, and dropped onto the sand and headed into a fisherman's hut to talk things over. It was decided, if we could get the MTB refloated, possibly we could get the engine going. So the three Canadian officers stripped and holding a kedge anchor, above their head, waded out into the freezing water up to their chins and threw the anchor as far as they could then we all heaved, but to no avail, the boat was high and dry, when you consider the temperature was 18 below Fahrenheit and the water very near to freezing the Coxswain commented "it was one of the bravest things I've seen in my time."


After making a supper of tea made by melting the snow on the Island, and fried pork chops that were cold before you could eat them, fried on the small stove left by the fisherman who owned the hut. The crew settled down, some in the hut, and some in the bunks aboard the boat to try to get a nights rest, however, with the very low temperature, it was a very restless night.


The next day, the crew checked the Island for any method of transportation, as they could see smoke coming from the chimney from a hut on one of the other small Islands. A small row boat was found, and it was decided that two men would try to get over to the Island, where someone was still living. It turned out later that he was in charge of the lighthouse at the entrance to the Harbour and would only be there for two more days. It was now starting to get dark, and they watched with anxiety as the boat made slow progress through the broken ice, until suddenly they saw a light blinking in morse code asking for help but this was an impossibility as there was no other mode of transportation on the island, and they reluctantly had to leave the shore to try and get another night's sleep.
On the morning of the second day a freighter was seen off the harbour, very close to shore, and they repeatedly signaled it to send some help, but the messages were either not received or they were ignored.


They then saw a small row boat about 150 yards from shore, and they found now that the heavy tide of the night before had recessed and they could walk out to the boat, only to find that the boat was empty, this of course saddened them as they had no way of knowing what had happened to the two men, and they went back to shore to spend another night.


The next morning the crew went about collecting wood, etc., to make sure they could keep the fire in the old hut going, because they felt it would be awhile before the crew could get off the Island. However, early that evening an RCMP boat from Richibucto arrived bringing some much needed cigarettes, and the crew heard the story of their two men who had gone to try to get to the other Island. Apparently, the tide had gone out leaving them sitting high and dry in the ice and they made their way across the ice to the Island where the smoke had been seen. Both had been very badly frost bitten in their face, hands, and feet, however, they had kept each other awake by slapping each other in the face every once in awhile.


They got to the hut and found a man there who tended the lighthouse, who made them warm food and got them wrapped up and gave them a warm spot to sleep for the night, but he told them he could not leave the Island until a boat came in the following day (the boat we had seen earlier that day), which incidentally did not get into harbour because of the harbour freezing over. However, as soon as the boat turned away the man took the two men over to Richibucto where they reported to the Mounted Police about the M.T.B. crews plight on the Island. The next day they were all taken into a small hotel in Richibucto where they were treated royally. A meeting was held by the officers and the English civilians and the Navigator, as to what happened on the first night, and the Navigator was heard to say that the Coxswain was at fault and the Captain said that if they had listened to the Coxswain in the first place, we would have gone into Gaspe Bay, and even though an inquiry was held, when the crew returned to Halifax, the Coxswain was not asked to attend the inquiry.


Some interesting side notes is that the boat was refloated by digging a long channel out to the sea and towed off the shore by a corvette and was put on active duty after minor repairs. It was reported later that the main light house had not been turned on the night the M.T.B. went ashore, as the lighthouse keeper had died of a heart attack while riding his bicycle through the storm to get to the lighthouse.


Two Freighters collided in the Northumberland Strait that night so it could have been a blessing that the M.T.B. went ashore on a sand bar Island with no loss to the crew.


The aircraft searching for the M.T.B. passed over the Island a few times, but a light grey boat sitting on sand and surrounded by snow would be hard to see. The Crew was eventually sent to other ships where they continued their service to the navy.


The three RCNVR Lieutenants returned to live in Toronto, after the war, although news came later that the Captain had lost a leg in a Corvette sinking. The Navigator returned to Halifax where he died a few years ago. The whereabouts of the rest of the crew is not known by the author.


This is a true story in the annals of the Royal Canadian Navy, although, it was never published at any time during the war, the only mention being in any dispatch was that the Admiral in charge at Halifax, was worried about an overdue torpedo boat. I know that this is a true story and I know that there was much heroism shown on a small island off Richibucto, because I was the Coxswain of that torpedo boat.



NO MORE DUTY WATCHES - Submitted by John Bell


HMCS SHEARWATER - I was an Naval Airman in the early 60’s and was stationed in Shearwater and later on the Bonnie. While waiting to go on course at NAMS we did all the crappy jobs and stood the duty watch in Warrior Block. Most of the time I would get the 12 to 4 watch which we all hated. As an OD we would try to get out of work at every opportunity. I was assigned to the regulating office to sweep the floors. The person who was in charge of me was a 20 year AB named Joe and who I had already experienced his wrath on another occasion and was a bit afraid of him. While sweeping up I noticed a board with a lot of name tags on it and was divided into the four watches. I quickly found my name, and I wondered what would happen if I took my name off the board. My fear of Joe almost prevented me from removing my name but in the end the tag went into my pocket. From that time on I never stood another duty watch at Shearwater.



WHEN WERE YOU BORN - Submitted by John Bell


As an OD I was too young to get into the bars in Halifax but that didn’t stop me from trying. I would lie about my age saying I was born in 1941. Never worked.  Then one day I lost my ID card. I was sent to dockyard and the clerk did the paperwork for a new one. When she asked when I was born I said 1941 without thinking. A couple of weeks later back came a new card with a whole new birth date. No problem with the bars after that.



FUNDY TO THE RESCUE - Submitted by Gerry Wood


HMCS FUNDY - The year was 1968, just 2 years after I landed in Canada as an immigrant. I was the 22-year-old Canadian Sales Manager for Canada Yacht & Boat in Toronto and O'day Yachts Canada. I qualified for these positions because I was an Alumni of H.M.S. Conway, a naval training college situated in North Wales. In addition, I was a crew member on a 40' racing sailing yacht called "Truant V" owned by Monty Simmonds, a real-estate developer in Toronto.


Monty decided that we would enter the "Onion Patch" series of team yacht races in and around Long Island Sound, culminating in the famous Newport to Bermuda Ocean Race. There was a crew of 12 on board. Monty and the navigator who did not stand watch and the 10 remaining were split into 2 watches of 5.


As fate would have it, the second Hurricane of the season named "Brenda" appeared in June, just before the start of the race and, for the first time in the history of this classic race, the organizers postponed the start for 24 hours. The following day we made a good start albeit in huge seas. We, aboard Truant, settled in to make the 640 or so miles to Bermuda in the quickest time.


There were some 170 or so yachts competing in this famous race and as was usual, there were several naval vessels that patrolled the race fleet to the North and South of the Rhumb Line. I do not have the exact number, but I believe it was 5.


Just after the halfway point, I was on the helm at around 4 am, just before sunrise. The 5 of us on watch were aware of a whale that had been swimming with us - first showing up to Starboard, then coming up on the port side. We were very much aware of his presence by the foul smell when he exhaled - typical of whale "bad breath". Despite our sailing on a Broad Reach at a very good rate of speed, he seemed to have no problem keeping up with us.


Suddenly, I was aware of us "sitting on something soft" - almost like grounding on wet mud. We later concluded that he had miscalculated and surfaced right under us. There was no commotion or excitement. We continued on this broad reach for a short distance and then Truant started to come up into the wind. When I applied Port rudder to counter this, nothing happened. I looked astern and there was our rudder floating away from us. Truant "laid flat" which awoke all crew below. We were stranded. We downed sails and "wallowed" for the next 24 hours!


We had a newly installed VHF radio on board. We decided to send a May Day. After much coaxing we concluded that it hadn't been installed incorrectly and was useless! Later in the morning a racing yacht appeared on the horizon and diverted to us. They didn't stop but said they would report our position. The yacht was owned by one of the DuPont family. Regrettably they gave our position some 160 miles from where we were! Sometime later another yacht sped by us and this time they gave our position accurately.


Day turned to night without any rescue. Then in the middle of the night when we were all asleep below "the world lit up". We went on deck and discovered the newly launched coast guard cutter "Dallas" was standing by and she was pointing her massive search lights on us. Dallas stayed with us for the rest of the night, illuminating us every 15 minutes.


Just as dawn appeared, another ship came on station. It turned out to be HMCS Fundy - a Canadian mine sweeper. Dallas departed. Fundy positioned herself up wind of us and drifted down onto us making no way. As our midship gunwales came close, each crew member threw his duffle bag onto the Fundy and jumped. All 12 of us made it aboard without incident. I cannot remember the name of the Skipper of the Fundy, but he was there to greet us. As Monty landed on deck there was a cry of delight. The skipper and Monty were old friends from way back. What a small world!


At the pre-race skippers meeting, it was decided that each of the escort ships would carry a special 3-part towing harness. Once we were safely aboard Fundy, the bosun boarded Truant with the harness. One part around the mast and port and starboard parts taken back to the cockpit and secured to the main Barient winches. Once he was back on board, we set sail for Bermuda with Truant in tow. The race rules required that under these rescue conditions the closest port would be the destination. Idle speed for Fundy was about 7 knots. This meant that Truant took a beating in the huge seas that were still present from Hurricane Brenda.


We the crew "hot bunked" with Fundy's crew who were on watch. At this time, Rum ration was still a daily tradition in the Canadian Navy and we were asked to participate! Wow was that good rum. 3 days later we arrived in Hamilton Harbor with Truant in tow - still floating but a little more worse for the wear.


Monty had a difficult time getting Truant back to Canada due to the lack of a rudder, but she eventually arrived back in Toronto where a new rudder was installed. I went on to crew on other racing yachts on Lake Ontario.



140 LITRES IN . . . 140 LITRES OUT - Submitted by Garry Weir


HMCS TORONTO - This is one of those memories that pops into my mind every now and then ..... HMCS TORONTO - OPERATION SHARP GUARD Aug 94 - Jan 95: I was in the C & POs mess one evening and the CERA came in looking a little tired and frustrated. He sat down and I asked him what is going on in the engine room as the stokers were putting in a fair bit of overtime. He said they had a bit of a hydraulic problem. So I asked what the problem was. He said "well, we put 140 litres of hydraulic fluid in and we get 140 litres of hydraulic fluid out." My comment was "mathematically that adds up, what's the problem?" His reply .... "It's not supposed to come out."



THE BONNIE AND THE MEDICINE MAN - Submitted by Chuck MacDonald


HMCS BONAVENTURE - In the fall of 1968 BONAVENTURE was deployed to European waters with port around the UK. At home, a local First Nations chief had found himself being reported in the Herald that there was going to be a significant (disastrous) event occur to BONAVENTURE. This reporting caused serious concern to the families back in Halifax and as you might expect the story was reported to the ship. Everyone was looking over their shoulder but nothing really happened in Europe.


My memory is that we steamed to the Bermuda waters to join a MARLANT type EX with other Canadian ships in Bermuda waters. Once the exercise completed we were to steam back to Halifax in company with other Canadian ships and as I remember it was to be a 4 day transit. I remember that the morning of the first day of our transit was an almost calm sea, no wind and few clouds. The time on the ships clock was moving toward 0700 hrs which would have brought the WAKIE WAKIE pipe and activities throughout the ship would have begun. However, out of the calm sea came a massive wave which struck BONAVENTURE in the port forward quarter. When the wave struck, it threw people out of their bunk, knocked people over and woke everyone. We were immediately back into a calm sea which made the whole event seem surreal and other than a few bruises nobody was hurt.


Once the Engineers did an assessment, I remember that they found that it had affected SEVEN ribs and that the ribs ran thru one small mess deck.


The event of the wave confirmed the story by the Medicine Man for everyone and we all thought we dodged the bullet! We continued our sail home in light seas. The night before arrival in Halifax the final little celebrations were occurring throughout the ship. On our second last day we had launched all of the aircraft back to Shearwater and so began the tiding up. One of the chores was to dump all the AVGAS then vent all of the compartments. The device used was a fan device with a tube going into the compartment and another going overboard to get rid of fumes.


Some time around midnight a sentry transiting the starboard boat deck, found the device which was on fire on the outboard side. The sentry grabbed the device and thru everything over the side. Someone had reported the activity to the Command Platform so ship went to Emergency Stations. This was stood down very quickly.


So I believe that this was the event the Medicine Man was forecasting and we were all especially happy to see Jetty 4.



FLIGHT DECK TROUBLES - Submitted by Chuck MacDonald


HMCS BONAVENTURE - The fall of 1964 we were coming out of a St John refit and conducting sea trials for the ship and the “new” Sea King. The Sea Kings would land and launch about level with the light sponsons. On this particular day a Sea King launched as normal going to a hover at about 50 above the flight deck. Shortly after gaining the hover they encountered a power failure and crashed abruptly to the flight deck and fortunately did not injury anyone on the deck. I don’t remember any injuries to crew.


The next one I think was Fall 68 and we’re doing exercises in vicinity of Bermuda in company with several destroyers. The air operations were conducting Touch and Go for the Trackers onboard with several aircraft secured on the foredeck. A Tracker in the process of flying touch and goes, struck another aircraft secured on the foredeck with its right wing tip. The Tracker remained in the air. The collision caused damage to the aircraft‘s right ailerons, not sure if both sides or just right. This effectively limited the pilot’s ability to finely control the flight path and as a consequence the aircraft had extreme difficulty lining up with the arrestor wires on the flight. Over the course of about an hour several unsuccessful attempts were made to recover the aircraft. After one such attempt that brought the aircraft dangerously close to the superstructure and other aircraft, it was decided to ditch the aircraft. The crew recovery would be conducted by ships in company. Bonaventure was standing off about a mile from the planned landing area giving us a front row seat. The whole event was textbook! The pilot landed so smooth, crew got out on the wings, boats recovered them all without injury.