For Posterity's Sake
A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project
HMCS DOMINION / HMCS NIOBE (2nd)
and HMCS NIOBE (3rd)
HMCS DOMINION / HMCS NIOBE (2nd) - By late 1940 nearly all RCN destroyers were based in Britain on loan to the Royal Navy, and the RCN corvettes were expected in Britain a few months later. But there was no RCN manning depot in Britain, so relief personnel for RCN ships had to come from the RN.
After the sinking of HMCS Fraser, it became quite apparent especially when they needed to post the survivors either to another ship or to a Depot Ship that something needed to be done. On October 1st, 1940 HMCS Dominion was commissioned. They had a hard time finding a permanent location for Dominion and it moved around, first it had rooms at the Stoke Dameral School and later moved to a private house at 6 Havelock Terrace also in Devonport. It finally landed at the Royal United Services Orphan Home for Girls at 1 Albert Road. This establishment combined the new manning pool and the RCN pay offices already in Britain.
By March 1941, the name Dominion was proving to be something of a problem as it was being confused with the cable address of the High Commissioner, "Dominion London." Dominion was paid off and re-commissioned as HMCS Niobe.
By June of 1941, however, the effective range of German U-boats extended across the North Atlantic. Most of the RCN's destroyers and corvettes were needed back in Canada to protect vital shipping. It was felt that the manning depot was no longer needed in Britain and Niobe was paid off.
Due to the large number of sailors in the UK awaiting new ships, or waiting for ships to come out of refit, or becoming part of the Mid-Ocean Escort Force, the need to re-open an shore establishment in the UK was realized. Because Canadian ships typically used Greenock or Gourock as a berthing place, the search for a site in Scotland began. After some time negotiations for the Smithston Institute, which was the local poor house and insane asylum, a deal was struck and HMCS Niobe was commissioned again on December 15th 1941. HMCS Niobe would serve as a parent ship to all HMC Ships in UK waters. It functioned as an accounting base, manning pool and hospitalization centre for all RCN personnel in England. HMCS Niobe (Greenock) was paid off on 9 February 1946.
Photos and Documents
HMCS NIOBE (3rd): Commissioned: 09 Feb 1946 Paid off: 01 Apr 1966 retroactive to 01 Sep 1965
HMCS NIOBE, London, England - After the Second World War the relationship between the RCN and the Royal Navy in Britain remained important, even if they were not coordinating their operations as closely as they had been in wartime. It was decided to station a Senior Canadian Naval Officer in London. This officer served as the senior naval attaché and advisor in the UK, the primary link between the RN and the RCN, and as the commander of all Canadian naval personnel in the UK. This officer was accordingly commissioned as the "ship" HMCS Niobe. As part of the process of the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces, this role became part of the Canadian Defence Liaison Staff. HMCS Niobe was paid off on 1 April 1966, but the date was made retroactive to 1965.
Photos and Documents (below)
Badge for HMCS Niobe 3rd
Courtesy of the office of the RCN Heritage Officer