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22 October 2010

Former Wartime Adversaries Connect by E-mail
A Canadian naval veteran of the Second World War and German U-boat sole survivor have made contact by e-mail 67 years after HMCS Ville de Quebec rammed and sank U-224 in the Mediterranean Sea in January 1943. Read their story in the Vancouver Sun.


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8 May 2010

Goodbye Maritime Command, Hello Canadian Navy
A group of parliamentarians are pushing to restore the name "Canadian Navy" to Canada's navy, known officially as "Maritime Command" since the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces in 1960s sought to break down the traditional service identities. Read the Globe and Mail story here.

16 November 2007

PEI U-boat Riddle Solved
Historian Richard Mayne has laid for rest once and for all the myth of a German U-boat sunk off North Point, Prince Edward Island, in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. PEI locals have long maintained that they witnessed warships carrying out attacks off North Point in May 1943. Reports by a diver in 1989 that he had discovered a sunken U-boat off North Point in 90 feet of water convinced many of the truth of the legend. In an article in the latest issue of Canadian Military History (Vol. 16, No. 3), Mayne demonstrates that locals witnessed US Navy escorts carrying out gunnery and depth charge trials on that day in May 1943, and the diver's U-boat is two submarine shaped boulders on the bottom.

7 May 2007

Official Book Launch
A Blue Water Navy was launched at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. The second part of the second volume of the official history of the Royal Canadian Navy, it tells the story of the RCN in the Second World War from 1943 to 1945. Learn more about it here.

20 December 2006

War Museum Exhibit Features Battle of the St. Lawrence
An exhibit opening 22 December 2006 at the Canadian War Museum will feature the U-boat campaign in the St. Lawrence. "Canada Under Attack: The Battle of the St. Lawrence (1942-44)" tells the story of the naval battle fought on Canada's doorstep and its impact on coastal communities. Prepared by the Naval Museum of Quebec and the Musée de la Gaspésie, the exhibit will run in Ottawa until April 2007. See the War Museum web site for more details.

5 December 2006

USS Intrepid Freed for Overhaul
Stuck in the mud of the Hudson River for 20 years, a volunteer crew freed the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid from its berth in New York so it could receive essential repairs. Six powerful tugs failed on the first try but the second attempt succeeded. Intrepid, which receives 700,000 visitors a year, will receive a $60 million overhaul in Bayonne, New Jersey. More details at CBC.ca.

7 November 2005

U-boat Victim found in St. Lawrence
The Department of Fisheries has discovered what is believed to be the wreck of the first ship sunk in the St. Lawrence by German U-boats during the Second World War. SS Nicoya was torpedoed and sunk by U-553 on 12 May 1942. The DFO hydrographic service's imaging equipment detected a shape which clearly resembled a wreck of a ship off the north coast of the Gaspe peninsula. The identity of the British freighter, incorrectly described as a Canadian ship in the CBC story, has not yeen been confirmed by divers. Read the full CBC story.

16 October 2004

U-215 Discovered off Nova Scotia
The discovery of U-215 in July off the coast of Nova Scotia marks the first certain discovery of a U-boat on the ocean floor in Canadian waters. Located about 200 miles south of Shelburne, it was discovered by a team led by diver Mike Fletcher who said it was his most challenging dive. After identifying the general coordinates of the sub from archival records, his team used sonar to scan Georges Bank to locate the exact position of the sub before diving. They found the mine-laying U-boat, completely intact, in about 90 metres of water. It had been destroyed by HMS Le Tigre, a Royal Navy trawler, on 3 July 1942, with the loss of all 48 men on board. Click here to read the original CBC story.

18 June 2004

More Ado about the shelling of Estevan Point
Norm and Carol Hall stirred up some Canadian naval history controversy with their speculation in The Beaver that an American warship shelled the lighthouse on Estevan Point, Vancouver Island in June 1942 at the request of Prime Minister Mackenzie King to drum up public support for conscription. The big problem with this conspiracy theory is that the facts don't fit, but that seldom has much impact on conspiracy theorists. Some years ago Michael Whitby investigated these claims and completely refuted them. A Japanese submarine had been in the area and shelled the lighthouse as a scare tactic or for target practice. The political claims also do not hold up. King had all the evidence he needed to convince Quebec of the necessity of conscription much closer to home with the opening of the German U-boat campaign in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in May 1942. Apart from having the advantage of being real, it would have had much greater influence on public opinion in Quebec. U-boats in the St. Lawrence River were not something that could be ignored by the local press. This time, W. A. B. Douglas and William Schleihauf have taken up the challenge and refuted the Halls' claims in letters to the editor in the latest issue of The Beaver. To subscribe, click here. We should also note here the appearance of a new series in Legion Magazine by Marc Milner on the history of the Canadian Navy. His latest instalment traces the First World War experiences of the RCN cruiser HMCS Rainbow. Read all about it here.

26 January 2004

New Reviews of Canadian Naval History Books
An excellent scholarly review by Lt-Cdr G. A. Hannah of No Higher Purpose: The Official Operational History of the Royal Canadian Navy in the Second World War, 1939-1943 appeared in the latest issue of the Canadian Military Journal. Hannah states that the book "puts the Canadian contribution to the Battle of the Atlantic into its proper historical perspective. It makes no apologies for the well-known poor performance of the RCN on Atlantic convoy runs from mid-1941 through December 1942. It shows that the RCN made every effort to meet the need for convoy escorts at critical times – often to the detriment of its own long-term operational efficiency". Click here to read the full review online. Another new book describing Canadian-American strategy and operations in the Aleutian Islands in the Pacific campaign also receives an outstanding review in this issue of the CMJ: Stepping Stones to Nowhere by Galen Perras. Jack Hyatt describes this work as an "well written, well argued, and an astonishingly interesting read"! Apparently he did not expect that much from the subject at hand! Click on the below at right to buy the affordable paperback edition or here to read the review for yourself.

28 December 2003

SS Collingdoc Casualties Update
Billy McGee of the British Merchant Navy at War 1939-1945 web-site has provided this additional biographical information about the two sailors killed in the loss of Paterson Steamships' SS Collingdoc on 13 July 1941 by enemy mine:
WILSON, First Engineer Officer, WILLIAM MARTIN, S.S. Collingdoc (Fort William. Ontario). Merchant Navy. 13th July 1941. Age 51. Son of John George and Margaret Ann Wilson, of South Shields; husband of Alice Jane Wilson, of Simondside, South Shields. Buried South Shields (Harton) Cemetery Sec. 9 Grave 8107. STUTCHBURY, Second Engineer Officer, WILLIAM EDWARD, S.S. Collingdoc (Fort William, Ontario). Merchant Navy. 13th July 1941. Age 33. Son of William and Catherine Stutchbury; husband of Olive Stutchbury, of Boldon Colliery, Co. Durham. Commemorated Tower Hill Memorial Panel 31.

20 December 2003

Response to No Higher Purpose
The first part of the official history of the Royal Canadian Navy in the Second World War, covering the years 1939 to 1943, was published by Vanwell Publishing and the Department of National Defence earlier this year to favourable reviews. Authors W. A. B. Douglas, Roger Sarty. and Michael Whitby tell the story of the RCN's wartime operations, expansion, and growing pains. Click here for an online review by Stone books. We will have to wait until next year for the academic reviews to appear in print.

10 May 2003

Revision to the Record of SS Collingdoc
Dr. Neil Stutchbury, who recently photographed the sand-covered remnants of SS Collingdoc at Scapa Flow, reports that his father has located the grave of First Engineer W. M. Wilson of the Collingdoc in a South Shields cemetery. This increases the number of deaths from one to two. Stutchbury's grandfather William E. Stutchbury, the Second Engineer, was also killed. Some early Canadian sources had reported no deaths in the loss of this ship by enemy mine.
Official History of the RCN Launched!
No Higher Purpose, the first part of the official history of the RCN in the Second World War, was launched 1 May 2003 by Vanwell Press and the Department of National Defence at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. The long awaited volume covers the RCN from 1939 to 1943 and is available from the publisher now.

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