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HMCS Naniamo.  Included on this dedicated page is the story of HMCS Naniamo, written by Lorne Norman.  Battleships-cruisers would like to thank Lorne for allowing us to display this great work and we hope you enjoy what we have presented here.   We have also provided a message board for ex-crew members, families and naval historians.


HMCS Naniamo.  Thought to be around 1944 - 45.  Sent in by Lorne Norman.


                                         H.M.C.S. NANAIMO: Her Wartime History

NANAIMO at anchor 1942

Anyone wishing to contact the author may do so by email at or or by mail at Box 247, Radway, Alberta, Canada T0A 2V0.  He can also be reached by telephone at 780-992-6709 or 780-736-6377.  I would like to correspond with anyone who can identify any of the men in the pictures or who has other information regarding NANAIMO or Lew Norman.  Thanks

Lorne Norman

This book is dedicated to my father, his shipmates and "his ship"!

Lewis "LEW" Charles Norman


        This History is dedicated to my father, Lewis (Lew) Charles Norman, who seldom spoke of his time in NANAIMO and the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve, and to those who served in NANAIMO. Dad served in her when she was commissioned, was drafted to H.M.C.S. STADACONA on course but was returned to "his ship" when the crew asked that he be returned.  He stayed with her until 1943.  Special mention is given to my Uncle, Raymond (Ray) Norman, who served in her when she was decommissioned, 28 September 1945.  This book is also dedicated to Leslie (Buzz) Horne, the man for whom the authour is named.  He was a close friend of my father and was lost when he was a member of a boarding party from NANAIMO while aboard a torpedoed freighter, PORT NICHOLSON.   Dad never really got over the lost of Buzz and never spoke about the incident. 




     This is the story of a ship and her crew.  She was typical of most of Canada's wartime navy.  To the casual observer she had very little glory, stayed in the background and seldom gained the recognition she deserved.  Yet, like the navy she was part of, she did the job she was given with little thanks.  This too was typical of Canada's Navy as a whole.  In the early years Canada provided the men and ships so necessary for the Battle of the Atlantic and gave the Britts and Americans time to build and train their naval forces. 

            During this crucial time Canada's Navy served as the drudge and plodded on under unbearable and unrelenting adversity only to be scorned by both the Royal Navy and the American Navy.  Both seemed to see the R.C.N. as inept; even as a joke!  Yet, the R.C.N. saved the day and went from an insignificant force to the third largest navy in the world and a truly international power by the close of the war.

            When the British were sinking subs in 1943 the Canadians were fitting out with new equipment and training those who served in ships too long at sea with too little maintenance.  This lack of maintenance was precipitated by carrying a very heavy load during the early part of the war with little or no assistance. 

            This early situation allowed the British and Americans time to train crews and fit the latest equipment in their ships.  Politics, misunderstandings and downright stupidity gave Canada's fledgling wartime navy a bad name, which took most of the war to live down and was most undeserved! 

            While the British and Americans got first "dibs" on new equipment, Canada had to wait; partly due to politics of where the equipment should come from and partly due to the error of not recognizing that better equipment could be obtained from places other than Canada. 

            This is the story of H.M.C.S. NANAIMO, a flower-class Corvette, and according to the "Trident" of Maritime Command, she was the Royal Canadian Navy's first Corvette.  While her being first may be open to debate she was without a doubt one of the first to be built in Canada for the Royal Canadian Navy.  This is also the story of those who served in her.  Her story is not outstanding.  She never sank a "U" boat and never took part in any great sea battle.  Still, like the Navy she was built for, she did her job and did it well.  She, like the R.C.N., grew from an untrained, poorly equipped and diverse group to an entity unto itself.  The ship and her crew became one!  Here begins her story.          Spring of 1940 saw the beginnings of a proud, new ship.  She was conceived April 27, 1940 and just one year less a day later she was commissioned "His Majesty's Canadian Ship NANAIMO".  She was named for a city in the province in which she was born.  Shipyard workers seemed to put loving care into her.  Like a child in the womb she grew from conception to birth!  Finally, on the October 28, 1940 she slipped off the ways to begin her life.   She had a name but, as yet, was not christened.

            Like parents investing time and love into the rearing of a child.  There was evidence of the extra time and effort put into her construction.  Unlike later ships built for the war effort, she had trimmings that were usually reserved for liners and the like.  NANAIMO was described as a very "tidily ship" by those who served in her. 

            Ray Norman recalled, when asked what he remembered about NANAIMO, that, "She was exceptionally well built and that someone had tried to make her look like something.  Her bulkheads weren't just welded; she had mouldings and such just to tidily her up a bit!"

            According to Puffy, Wilford J, Somerfeldt this was true of most ships built on the west coast.  He felt that the workers there had "some consideration for those who would have to live in her".  He used the example of a pipe that had to go through a living space.  He said that the workers on the west coast would bend it onto a bulkhead or deck head, so that it would be a bit out of the way.  He went on to say that those built elsewhere that same pipe would be run straight through the mess deck regardless of the discomfort or inconvenience this might cause the crew. 

            Almost exactly six months had passed from the time of her conception to her launch.  With her commissioning on April 26, 1941, she joined the ranks of the Royal Canadian Navy.  The day was drizzly with intermittent cold, gentle rain.  A somewhat dreary setting to begin her life with Canada's wartime fleet.

            Now, the ship received her lifeblood -- her crew.  It was also the time that Lewis (Lew) Charles Norman officially came aboard "his ship".

            It was during the next few weeks the ship and her crew got to know each other.  She began her naval career with a shakedown cruise.

            One way the crew got to know each other could be characterised by the following story told by Puffy Summerfeldt;


                        When I joined NANAIMO, the first time we went out, I was pretty seasick.  I remember Red; the big bastard; he never got sick.  He cut the fat off a pork chop and tied a string to it he'd swallow it and pull it back up.

No doubt this impressed a sea sick young Puffy!

            During this cruise she sailed right by the town, who's name she carried, and then northward to Prince Rupert.   Like any new born, NANAIMO and her crew had to learn to crawl before they could run. 

            One of her first problems was a seized H.P. piston on her main engine, which kept her at anchor off Cape Scott for twenty-four hours while her crew managed repairs.

            Bob Reedman remembers this cruise as being rough and the portholes leaking.  He remembers waking up in the morning and finding water sloshing around on the decks and being terribly seasick.  He says: "I thought the ship was sinking and I just didn't give a damn"!  Sounds like he and Puffy had something in common during that first trip.  Having served on small ships in Canada’s Navy himself, the author knows just how Bob, Puffy and undoubtedly many more of the crew, felt!

            There was time for the odd night ashore as well.  Hugh (Red) Ashcroft tells of his first time ashore with Lew.  He says he remembers that we all got into our "tidily" uniforms (number one or dress uniform) and went ashore.  Only to discover after sometime that Lew had neglected to put on dress boots and was found to be just a tad out of "the rig of the day"!  Quite a contrast, number one uniform and greasy, steaming boots!  The situation most surely earned a good laugh to his shipmates and some consternation to Lew.

HMCS NANAIMO on commissioning

HMCS NANAIMO off British Columbia 1941

            Bob Reedman, another shipmate, tells the tale of another night ashore and of a Totem Pole that was borrowed.  This happened during NANAIMO's second cruise up the coast to Prince Rupert.  It seems that some of the boys, went ashore in Prince Rupert and spied a small totem pole.  They decided that the totem pole would be a fine piece of mess deck decor.  So, as any good scrounge would do, they "confiscated" the appropriate specimen and threw it into the stoker's mess.

            Next morning the local constabulary (Royal Canadian Mounted Police [R.C.M.P.]) apprehended the totem pole and returned it to its proper place.  Bob goes on to say one of the Officers, he can't remember just which one, commented he wished he had been there.  Because, if he had, they never would have got it back.

            Nevertheless, the totem was returned; but, in the process the bill from the totem was broken off and, through some quirk of fate, remained with the ship.  The bill was fastened to a board and then to the bridge.  It remained with the ship till it was lost in a storm on a trip between Newfy John and Iceland.

            All the while the ship and crew were becoming a unit, a single entity made up of many.  Like a growing, learning child, NANAIMO and her crew grew more competent and became proficient in their duties.  Still, she remained childlike in many ways.  She had yet to have her baptism.  It would come in time.  She was innocent and had many hard lessons yet to learn.

            She then returned to Esquimalt after her shakedown and, on 30 May 1941, in company with H.M.C.S. TRAIL, another of the B. C. built Corvettes to carry the name of a town in the province of her birth, sailed for the Panama Canal and Halifax.  Halifax was where her life as a part of the Navy would begin in earnest!

            Both ships visited San Pedro, California, near Los Angeles, on June 3, 1940.  This visit gave the crew yet another chance to relax and see the world.  All too soon the leave was over and NANAIMO sailed for Panama and the Canal.  Red Ashcroft remembers Panama and some shore leave.  Red tells of how he and Lew, dressed in whites, made a foray into the wilds of Panama City's night life and how they got "drenched" in a down pour.  So much for the nightlife!  Red told the author, they were probably "all wet" to begin with anyhow.

            NANAIMO sailed from Panama City and entered the canal on June 14.  The United States was not in the War at this point, thus being a neutral country she sent armed Marines aboard both ships as they transited the canal.  This was done just to provide an escort for the two ships.


Shore leave

            The next port of call for the two intrepid corvettes was Kingston, Jamaica, a tropical port that must have seemed truly exotic to the young crew.  They spent four days in Kingston and managed to clean boilers while there.  Not a pleasant task yet it kept the ship in port in this beautiful, green country. 

Lew and Unknown Jamaican 1941

            NANAIMO bid a fond fair well to Kingston with the tiller flat full of pineapples.  Its little wonder that according to Red, "I haven't been too fond of pineapple ever since"!  Food was one thing that many seamen learned to dislike due to having to eat too much of the same thing day after day.

            Like Red and Pineapples, Lew often told his children, when they complained about their food, that we should be glad for what we had as he and his shipmates had to eat "red lead and beans for weeks at a time” red lead being stewed tomatoes.  Like Red, Lew didn't like beans and tomatoes very much after that either. 

            They arrived in Halifax on June 27 just in time for Lew to celebrate his birthday the next day.  NANAIMO took on stores and after storing ship she spent the next three months carrying out local duties.  By this time her armament had been fitted and she was "in all respects ready for sea".  All the while the crew became a "fighting unit" and became ready as well.  A far cry from those seasick sailors on their shakedown cruise.

            One of these local duties was to form part of the escort group for the ships involved in bringing Churchill and Roosevelt together for "talks", which resulted in the Atlantic Charter.  Interestingly, this operation is still "classified" and information cannot be acquired from Canada's National Archives about this part of world history.

            Here is a brief run down of some of the events surrounding this meeting as told by several of the crew of NANAIMO some fifty years after the fact.  Some of the information was also obtained from personal research and study of other volumes written about the conference. 

            Roosevelt left New London, Connecticut under the guise of doing some deep sea fishing in POTOMAC, the presidential yacht, but he transferred to U.S.S. AUGUSTA once out to sea.  Roosevelt arrived at Placentia Bay, Newfoundland in AUGUSTA, a heavy cruiser, with an American group, consisting of U.S.Ships ARKANSAS, a Battleship, AUGUSTA, TUSCALOOSA, both Cruisers, MacDOUGAL, MAYRANK and RIND, Destroyers, which left New London, Connecticut on August 3, 1941. 

            H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES sailed from Scapa Flow for Newfoundland on August 4, 1941.  On the August 5, 1941 she and her escort ran into heavy weather.  As a result the escorts were forced to slow down.  Given the option of slowing down and keeping her escort or proceeding alone and maintaining her speed PRINCE OF WALES went on alone at high speed as per the wishes of Churchill.  She arrived on Saturday, August 9, 1941. 


HMS Prince of Wales off Argentia, Newfoundland as seen  from NANAIMO

            On the May 8, 1941 NANAIMO was one of the escorts, which joined H.M.S. PRINCE OF WALES when she arrived off St. John's carrying Sir Winston Churchill for his famous meeting with Roosevelt at Placentia Bay.  A total of twenty-eight warships were involved in the operation.  The author was only able to identify some of these ships.  They are: H.M.Ships PRINCE OF WALES, a Battleship, REDDING, RIPLEY, Destroyers, HAFALOCK, HESPERUS, ROYBY, probably Corvettes, H.M.C.Ships SAGUENAY, ASSINIBOINE, RESTIGOUCHE, Destroyers, NANAIMO and the previously mentioned American ships.

            This conference lasted from August 9-12, 1941.  While the conference lasted until August 12 it was not until the fourteenth that the agreement was made public.

            Red Ashcroft kept a journal and from this journal he related the following to the author: NANAIMO went aground on Fox Island at 0610 on the May 9, while entering harbour at Placentia Bay; no doubt with great consternation and embarrassment to her skipper.  A passing destroyer, H.M.C.S. RESTIGOUCHE, sailed by while NANAIMO was on the rocks.  Typical of many arrogant destroyer-men her skipper sent a "nasty" message about being out of the rig of the day and that: "the crew looked like a bunch of fishermen".  After the Commanding Officer checked the navy list and discovered that he had seniority over the skipper of RESTIGOUCHE, he sent back an "appropriate reply" (Red Ashcroft).  No doubt the "appropriate" reply was not one to be repeated in cultured society.

            Red, who was on watch below decks, remembers the grounding itself this way:


"While the ship was entering harbour Lew and I were on watch in the forward boiler room.  Lew was at the air hatch and looking out at the scene of the group entering Placentia Bay while I was below writing a letter home when the ship went on the rocks.  Gee whiz!  The first thing I knew the boiler dropped about a foot; we hit the rocks with such force.   Lew yelled down to me when she struck "Red what are you doing down there""!  "The first thing that I remember doing after she struck was putting the top back on the pen I was using to write my letter". 


Keep in mind he had to take the time to screw the top on unlike today's pens.  Red seems to have kept his calm and at least some of the crew retained a sense of humour!

            Bob reedman tells the same story with himself as the one who yelled down to Red.  Fifty years tends to cloud memories.  Never the less, the story it self seems accurate.


            Artificers from PRINCE OF WALES made temporary repairs following the grounding.  The damage was not serious, however, and NANAIMO was soon under way again for more permanent repairs in Halifax.   The grounding had damaged NANAIMO's A.S.D.I.C. and surrounding hull area.  NANAIMO arrived at Halifax on May 15.  "This "allowed a spell of leave for all of us", as Red, one of Lew's wingers, put it.

            After repairs in Slackers, Halifax, she was assigned to convoy SC 49 and the Newfoundland Command.  She sailed from Halifax on October 10 for this assignment but had to return to Halifax as a result of faulty degaussing gear. Just another reminder that, while she may have been in all respects ready for sea, she was still growing up.  She managed to sail the next day and join the convoy on the thirteenth.       Much to the dismay of her crew NANAIMO received a message the same day advising them that the previous convoy had lost thirteen ships.

            Among the ships attacked in this previous convoy were: U.S.S. GREER and KEARNY as well as H.M.C.S. SHEDIAC.  KEARNY was torpedoed but she did not sink.  The others were attacked without success.

            One of NANAIMO's characters was a stoker named Courtney.  He never slept below decks when the ship was at sea.  Instead, he slept on the gratings just inside the engine room hatch.  It may be safe to say that the news, if not the grating may have caused him some trouble sleeping!       The German Navy was at its peak and news of this kind was a common thing in those hazardous, early days of the war.  NANAIMO spent three days in and around Reykjavik, Iceland.  She "fuelled ship" and took on some stores from H.M.S. HELCA, a depot repair ship, during this time. 

            Task Unit 4.1.16 consisting of H.M.C.S. ST. FRANCES, MAYFLOWER, EYEBRIGHT, LETHBRIDGE, NANAIMO and KENOGAMI sailed from Reykjavik at 1930 on October 26 to join westbound convoy ON 29.  Although ST. FRANCES was part of the group she did not sail until the next day.  They left with three merchant ships; however, due to unfavourable weather and low visibility they were separated from the escort and it was later reported that they had returned to Iceland.  Unfavourable must have been an understatement!

            MAYFLOWER, EYEBRIGHT, LETHBRIDGE, NANAIMO and KENOGAMI joined ON 29 at 1700 two days later.  NANAIMO’s officers reported the convoy as being "off course".  Whether the convoy was, in fact, off course or it even was the NANAIMO is uncertain but it is a well-known fact that compasses in many "Corvettes" of the time, especially Canadian, were very inadequate.  Moreover, difficulty in locating the convoy, as happened with this one, was not an isolated nor uncommon occurrence.  Furthermore, finding a convoy in heavy weather was no small task.

            MOOSEJAW, part of the mid-ocean escort force, remained with the convoy following the relief of this force and the convoy, of which she was a part, consisted of twenty three ships. 

            Three ships became stragglers.  On the night of October 29/30 S.S.TRONDHEIM fell astern of the convoy and a search failed to locate her.  The following night RAMAVA and ANASTASSIUS PATERAS also became stragglers.  The former was found by ST. FRANCIS and given the convoy's course, route and speed.

            After bringing the convoy to Western Ocean Meeting Point (WESTOMP) NANAIMO was relieved and met another convoy.  This convoy too was reported as being "off course".  However, after meeting the convoy NANAIMO and the group sailed through the Straights of Belle Isle and on to St. John's the next day.

            For the next few weeks NANAIMO worked around Newfoundland spending the odd night in such exotic places as Harbour Grace and the ever-welcome "Newfy John".

            November 18 saw NANAIMO sail from St. John's to make contact with an eastbound convoy bound for the British Isles.  She arrived in and fuelled ship at Reykjavik harbour in Iceland.

An eastbound Convoy photographed from NANAIMO

            NANAIMO, KENOGAMI, PRESCOTT and LETHBRIDGE sailed from Reykjavik to join westbound convoy ON 42 on December 4.  LETHBRIDGE was reported as adrift on 10 December.  At this time she sent an R/T message to MAYFLOWER stating she was with ON 41. 

            NANAIMO joined the convoy next day with MAYFLOWER (SO) sailing from Iceland at 0900 to join.  MAYFLOWER joined the next day and took over the convoy from the previous escort at 1000 / 7.  SORREL sailed to join the convoy at 1700 the same day that MAYFLOWER took over the convoy.  DUNVEGAN sailed to join ON 42 at 1600 the following day.

Survivours from BENCLEUCH picked up by NANAIMO

            NANAIMO was dispatched to the aid of PT 46 BENCLEUCH. She picked up 10 survivors, six officers and four crewmen, from BENCLEUCH, a freighter out of Lieth with a cargo of munitions and whisky, bound for Singapore.  A tanker ATHELVISCOUNT was able to pick up the other three lifeboats and the rest of the crew, including the master.  Not a sole was lost!

            NANAIMO stayed with the furiously burning ship but maintained a safe distance so as to minimize the chances of discovery by a "U" boat.  Perhaps the same "U" boat responsible for the loss of BENCLEUCH.  The freighter continued to burn and emit frequent explosions through the night and into the next day. 

            Thankfully, the weather was poor and the visibility worse.  NANAIMO even lost sight of the stricken ship for about an hour early in the evening.  At about 0600 the flaming ship suddenly disappeared and by 1200 NANAIMO had found wreckage and ascertained that the BENCLEUCH had certainly sunk; moreover, wreckage was retrieved to verify the loss; the Navy needed proof, you see, that BENCLEUCH had indeed sunk.  Sabotage was suspected; however, this was never proven.

            NANAIMO's report of proceedings of the events are included here for the reader and were reported as follows:


                                                    H.M.C.S. NANAIMO


                                 REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS AFTER BEING

                              DETACHED FROM ON 42 UNTIL REJOINING.

                                SUBJECT:  SINKING OF S.S. "BENCLEUCH".



                        11 December 1941


            1755z   Whilst screening convoy ON 42 in station K. D.L. course 227 degrees, speed 6 knots, (Wind: westerly, force 7, Visibility: c 4-5, sea and swell: 76) received orders from Senior Officer Escort H.M.C.S. "MAYFLOWER", to proceed with utmost speed to assistance of PT 46, S.S. "BENCLEUCH", on fire and abandoning astern of the convoy.  Proceeded immediately on reverse course to convoy at maximum speed.

            1830z. On port bow sighted freighter stopped with tanker stopped in immediate vicinity.  While maintaining course made frequent attempts to establish V/S communications with tanker and freighter but received no reply.

            1900z.  Sighted one life boat about 2 miles from the vicinity of freighter and tanker.  Stopped vessel immediately and picked up one boat load of survivors consisting of 6 officers and 4 seamen from S.S. "BENCLEUCH".  Contacted tanker at once by V/S and ascertained that she was "ATHELVISCOUNT" (PT 36 from ON 42) and had picked up 3 boat loads of survivors comprising the remaining 49 members of the including the master.  She stated there were no serious injuries aboard.  Immediately "ATHELVISCOUNT" discovered naval vessel was in the vicinity and that all survivors had been picked up she proceeded on course toward the convoy.  V/S communication was maintained with "ATHELVISCOUNT" till all necessary information had been exchanged.

            2100z.  Contact lost with "BENCLEUCH" due to poor visibility.

            2200z.  Contact regained, at which time the vessel was burning furiously.  Contact maintained at a safe distance throughout the night during which time the vessel continued to burn furiously and to emit intermittent and violent explosions.


                        12 December 1941


            0615z.  Flames from burning ship suddenly disappeared and vessel was presumed to have sunk.  NANAIMO closed position; but, due to snow squalls and greatly reduced visibility NANAIMO remained in vicinity until at

            1150z. conclusive evidence of final sinking was ascertained by the presence of large clearly defined patches comprised of rafts, boxes, cases (general cargo), mess room tables, wooden bulkheads, name plates, car seats, hatches, lifebuoys, and other wreckage, in position 55 10 North, 38 00 West.

            1200z.  Proceeded to join convoy ON 42, course 222 degrees, speed 14 knots, after being positively convinced that vessel had sunk at 0615z.


                        13 December 1941


                                    Proceeding on course of convoy at maintaining distance in order to send W/T messages.


                        14 December 1941


                                    Rejoined ON 42 after survivors report and other W/Ts on from S.O. escort had been dispatched.


Figure 1 Flotsam from a sunken cargo ship possibly BENCLEUCH as seen from NANAIMO

Another shot of the wreckage          

Bob Reedman relayed what wasn’t mentioned in the report to the author some fifty years later.  This is what Bob reported:

                        "After the sinking there was this great pool of flotsam and jetsam in the water, all these boxes and crates.  The crew, we had picked up, had said they were headed for Singapore and the scuttle butt was she was carrying Teacher's Highland Creme, guns and lorries (Trucks).

                        The Old Man steamed right through this stuff, He wouldn't stop of course, never the less, we tried to grab some of the stuff.  We didn't get anything of course".


            What a stroke of luck it would have been for the ship and her crew had they managed to snag some of that Highland Creme.  Never the less, it was worth a try.

            NANAIMO's skipper was later censured by the powers that be because he didn't verify that the log and confidential books from BENCLEUCH had been disposed of properly.  It seems a little absurd to think that he should have sent someone aboard the stricken and burning ship to rescue the books.  Further, the master of BENCLEUCH was aboard the ATHELVISCOUNT, who rejoined the convoy.  Given the confusion, the need for radio silence, the little time NANAIMO was in company with ATHELVISCOUNT and the poor visibility, it is of little wonder that NANAIMO's skipper could not ensure the proper destruction of the books.  On the other hand, NANAIMO's Captain did comment that he had acquired all necessary information from ATHELVISCOUNT in his report of proceedings.  In addition, with suspicion of sabotage and the sensitive nature of convoy information contained in the confidential books there was certainly a serious concern.

            NANAIMO arrived in St. John's on December 16 and sailed to join another convoy bound for England on the December 22.  The ship would spend Christmas at sea.

Figure 2 A good example of ice on the foc’sle looking for'd from the bridge.

            Christmas this year was spent at sea and Puffy Summerfeldt remembers Christmas as being somewhat less than merry.  He tells of going to the galley and getting Christmas dinner in an enamel tin, the ship being covered in ice and everyone having to get out and chip ice after Christmas dinner.

            This was not an uncommon thing in a corvette and the crew had to use everything and anything that would chip off the ice.  This was done to prevent the ship from becoming top heavy and turning turtle (rolling over) and everyone had a turn.

            This was her third trip to Iceland and the day after New Years, she challenged a tramp steamer named the "JESSIE MAERSK".  This tramp steamer was crippled out of Iceland and may have been returning to Reykjavik for repairs.  She purportedly had dropped out of convoy ON 5.  NANAIMO arrived in Iceland on January 3, 1942 and anchored in Hvalfjordur Fjord. 

            Next day, the boys got to go ashore to the canteen.  Not much of a break but welcome none-the-less after fighting the sea and watching for German "U" Boats!   Within a week NANAIMO would know what fighting the sea was all about! 

            Fighting the sea was especially true for "Corvettes" as they were known to "roll on wet grass".  While, the rolling may have made things uncomfortable, the stubby little corvettes were marvellous sea keeping ships.  They often survived storms that larger ships could not.

            On January 8 NANAIMO sailed from Hvalfordur Fjord to join a westbound convoy running right into a storm, which damaged the A.S.D.I.C.

            Damaged equipment was not an uncommon thing in those days.  Ships lost these essential pieces of equipment due to failure, water, storm damage or even damage from their own depth charges.  Often several escorts in the group would be without A.S.D.I.C., radar, such as it was, or HF. DF.

            Here is a first hand account of some of the lessons on fighting the sea that NANAIMO would learn.  At 1400 on January 8, 1942, task group 4.1.16 consisting of H.M.C.Ships LETHBRIDGE (SO), NANAIMO, GALT, NIAGARA and MATAPEDIA along with H.M.S. DIANTHUS, sailed from Hvalfordur Fjord to join a westbound convoy ON 54.  H.M.C.S. NIAGARA was designated as an extra and sailed with the task group. 

            They met ON 54 during a force eight gale during which H.M.S. DIANTHUS' log describes the next four days:


            January 9, 1942                        0900 - GALT and NANAIMO parted company with the convoy.

            January 10, 1942                      0900 - LETHBRIDGE and MATAPEDIA parted company with the convoy.

            January 11, 1942                      0900 - DIANTHUS lost the convoy.

            January 12, 1942                      Force twelve gale from the southwest. 

            DIANTHUS reported that the sea had smashed her forward wheelhouse windows and flooded the compartment along with the radio or WT office.  The starboard plating of the wheelhouse was buckled and the bridge rails were carried away or flattened.  The breakwater was set back and two holes were torn in the foc'sle.  The gun shield on her main armament was also buckled.  As a result of this damage DIANTHUS was without radio communications and forced to heave to and returned to the United Kingdom.

            On January 12 the convoy, unable to overcome the storm, was hove to at position 54 38'N  25 32'W and was scattered badly as each ship fought its own battle with the sea.  This individual battle lasted for another day.

            During the next two days the convoy slowly came together and the convoy reassembled as the bad weather abated.  To further complicate things the convoy was reforming in fog!   The visibility was a mere five Cables.

            On the January 17 the convoy reported the following weather and position report to C.O.A.C.: Position 047  02'N  038 20'W a gentle breeze was blowing and visibility was not five miles.

            NANAIMO arrived in St. John's for repairs on January 19 after weathering the storm.  Anyone who has sailed the North Atlantic during a winter storm knows the fury and damage that can be inflicted by the sea!

            By February 1942 she made a move to Escort Group 16 and made her only Trans-Atlantic crossing.  She picked up a slow convoy, SC 68, out of Sidney, Nova Scotia and escorted it to Londonderry, Northern Ireland.  The convoy made contact with the enemy, or perhaps more correctly, the enemy made contact with the convoy on the February 8 and NANAIMO dropped a total of eighteen depth charges without results. 

            Perhaps the phrase without results is a misnomer.  While no "U" boat was sunk she may have forced the submarine to keep her head down, thus saving losses to the convoy.  After all, this was NANAIMO's job; to protect the convoy.

            While on the return trip she escorted ON 68 and on March 4 action stations were called.  More than fifty depth charges were dropped and a possible kill of the submarine was reported.  Red Ashcroft corroborates this episode, as it was recorded in his journal.

            The weather deteriorated much to the benefit of the convoy, initially at least.  By March 6 a full-blown gale was in progress.  For the next three days the storm raged on.  As with the storm in January, the convoy dispersed in an attempt to win their own battle with the sea... "The Cruel Sea".

            Red Ashcroft describes the storm this way:


            "During this storm the weather was so bad that the watches could not be changed as it was worth your life to venture above decks.  With her short foc'sle NANAIMO's decks were constantly awash.  Food couldn't be brought from the galley and water was everywhere in the ship.  The mess decks were constantly wet with water entering every hatch and door.  In order to get to the boiler room the crew had to negotiate via the boat decks.  The storm was so fierce that the force of the water broke up the lifeboats and the Carley floats were torn away.  All this damage was happening on the boat deck.  This is where the crew had to try to negotiate a passage from one end of the ship to the other, with nothing but a flimsy life line to hold on to".


            NANAIMO arrived, storm battered, at St. John's on March 9, 1942.  Her next major move was to Western Local Escort Force commonly referred to by any and all who served there as the triangle run.  As J.E. Lamb put it "... no seaman in the Halifax groups would dream of such a reference, Western Local Escort Force.  For him and for crews of escort ships everywhere this was the "Triangle Run"".  Short, quick runs up and down the coast from Boston and New York to "Slackers" Halifax, Sydney and "Newfy John", St. John's, Newfoundland.  Then after a one or, if you're lucky, two day stop over and back again. 

            Alex Bretenbach, a stoker, commented on "The Triangle Run" by saying, "I never though we were in water that was deep enough to drop depth charges in".  An apt tongue in cheek description of how the average seaman viewed the assignment.

            NANAIMO made a round trip from St. John's to Halifax and return during March.  It was during this brief stop in Halifax that Wilfred "Puffy" Summerfeldt likely joined NANAIMO.  He tells this story that begins here and ends some years later on another ship:

                        "I went aboard NANAIMO as an A.B. and those things (corvettes) took at least twenty four hours to get steam up.  My assignment was to get the steam up and I started about 1600 I guess. 

                        I stumbled down to the Boiler room and it was a shambles.  They had just finished Boiler cleaning and bits of pumps were here and there.  Oh, hey, I was putting it together as I was flashing it up.

                        Cripes, I look up and here's this bloody Commander Engineer coming down the ladder!  He took one look around and blew a fuse.  He asked: "are you the Petty Officer of the watch"?  I said: "No sir".  He said: "are you a Leading Seaman in charge of the watch"?  I said: "No sir".  He shouted: "Good God man what the hell are you"?  So I told him I was a stoker one and had just finished the PO's course.

                        "I want the duty Petty Officer,” he says.  I says: "There isn't one sir".  "Well", he asks, "who's in charge?"  I answer: "I am sir".  He says: "You can't be in charge you're a stoker first class".

                        Well any way he left in a fume and I guess there was all hell to pay the next day on the ship.  But, luckily enough I'd got the place reasonably cleaned up so they could stand up and the steam was up.

                        So when we commissioned the WARRIOR she carried a full commander.  Any way a few months after we commissioned I was put in charge of oiling and water and all that crap.  I went into the office to report I'd finished fuelling to the Chief Stoker.  I looked around and here was this commander "E", the same one who'd given me the trouble on NANAIMO.  I didn't say anything and I guess he didn't recognize me.

                        Well after some time I got pretty close to the Old Man because he wanted all the reports direct to him and not through the Chief Stoker.  I was to report to his cabin every day. 

                        So one day I worked up enough courage to ask him if he'd remembered boarding NANAIMO.  "Oh", he says, "That was a disgraceful exhibition"!  I says, "I was the poor Stoker One you were yelling at"!

                         He laughed like hell and, Oh, he was a good old scout".

            Then she joined convoy ON 78 along with H.M.S. VETERAN (SO), MONTGOMERY and H.M.C. Ships OAKVILLE, NIPIGON.  They sailed from St. John's to pick up a Halifax bound convoy and were known as TU. 24.18.6..

            On April Fool's Day the Task Unit picked up convoy ON 78 1430 and H.M.S. VETERAN took over as Senior Officer.  NANAIMO and NIPIGON were dispatched with the Halifax portion of convoy ON 78 at dusk on April 6 and landed in Halifax on the next day.

            One day later, NANAIMO had a new skipper; his name was T.J. Bellas (LT) and he retained command until August.  NANAIMO then had a chance to take part in some much-needed training exercises off Halifax.  This training consisted, for the most part, of gunnery practice according to Red Ashcroft.

            On April 20 NANAIMO sailed out of Halifax harbour bound for St. John's again.  She arrived three days later.  NANAIMO sailed from St. John's again and, along with H.M.C.S. HALIFAX, was detached from ON 86 at 2000 on April 28.  They were to escort the Halifax section of the convoy consisting of fifteen ships.  HON 86 arrived in Halifax on April 29.

            From May 6 to 10 NANAIMO worked out of Halifax and in the Gulf of ST. Lawrence near St. Pierre and Miquelon.  NANAIMO returned to Halifax on the tenth.

            On April 14 NANAIMO sailed from Halifax and the next day was fired upon.  A "U" Boat fired two torpedoes at her but they missed and NANAIMO escaped unscathed to enter St. John's again four days later.  This incident happened just off "Slackers".

            She made many a trip to Boston or New York and Lew tells of one visit to New York and Coney Island.   Lew and some of his wingers tried their hand at a shooting gallery.  In the end, Lew was paid to leave as he was winning most times he shot.  He took with him a Browning pump action 22 rifle, which was given to the author's mother and remains in the family to this day.  Suffice it to say, growing up on the prairies did not hinder Lew's ability to shoot straight.

            On a cool morning in mid-May NANAIMO slipped from Halifax bound for St. John's and another trip on "The Triangle Run".  A “U” boat fired NANAIMO on the next day, May 15, 1942.  Two torpedoes were fired, but NANAIMO was not hit nor was her attacker destroyed.


HMCS NANAIMO at anchor 1942

            During another trip on "The Triangle Run", and exactly one month to the day later, the enemy attacked again, this time in the evening at approximately 21:30 June 15.  Two ships in the convoy were torpedoed.  One was the "PORT  NICHOLSON", a freighter, and the other was the U.S. troop ship "CHEROKEE".  There were eighty-three survivors from PORT NICHOLSON and twelve from CHEROKEE.  NANAIMO picked up seventy-nine of the eighty-three survivors from PORT NICHOLSON.  As she did not sink immediately, NANAIMO remained with the ship throughout the night.

            The next day a sea boat was sent from the NANAIMO with two of the freighter's officers and five crewmen from NANAIMO, one officer and four ratings.  These men were Lieutenant Wakely, Leading Seaman; Aubrey Pickles, Signalman; Jack Tedford, Able Seaman; Lorne (Buzz) Horne and an A.S.D.I.C. operator named Pat Ginevin.  They went to see if the ship could be salvaged. 

            The sea boat made its way to PORT NICHOLSON and tied up near her bow.  The boat's crew and the two officers from PORT NICHOLSON had to climb about fifteen feet to gain the deck.  After the boarding party was aboard the PORT NICHOLSON the boat's party went below decks near the bows of the ship leaving only Jack Tedford above decks.  Jack was standing at the ship's side where the sea boat had been secured.  NANAIMO signalled, by light, that the ship was sinking by the stern.  Jack commented that he had not noticed it as she was going down very gradually.  Jack then ran to the hatch and yelled to the others.  He commented that some of them got up and some of them did not.  The after bulkhead gave-way and the ship went down by her stern very quickly. 


Port Nicholson sinking by the stern as seen from NANAIMO

            The rest of the story will be told in Jack's own words as he described them to this writer almost fifty years later.


                        "The boat came right up.  It was maybe fifteen or twenty feet to climb on to the ship but when we went to get into the boat it was right at our feet.  As a matter of fact it swamped and went under.  I know I got my feet caught in the falls from one of the ship's boats.  I kicked my rubber boots off and when I came up I looked around and there was Pickles on a Carley Float, a life raft, that had fallen down off the foc'sle of the PORT NICHOLSON.  He hollered at me and said, "Over here, come on over here Ted".  I had a life jacket on so I swam over".


            Jack went on to say that the A.S.D.I.C. rating Pat Ginevin was also picked up with Pickles and himself.  The two officers from PORT NICHOLSON, her skipper and executive officer did not even get above decks before she went down.  Lt. Wakely and Buzz were able to get above decks; but they were unable to get clear when the sinking ship struck and swamped the sea-boat.  As a result they were lost. 

            Puffy Summerfeldt remembers the situation and tells this small addition to the story:



                        "We wanted to put a line aboard and they wouldn't let us, probably somebody in Boston.  They detached a deep-sea tug. Well there was a heavy swell running.  Finally, her main bulkhead broke and she went down.

                        They took everybody off.  They lowered the boat and took the skipper and I guess the Chief Mate.

                        One signalman got pulled down with it but his sea boots came off and he managed to pop to the surface.

                        We laid right in the middle of where she'd gone down there.  Her boilers blew and she covered us from stem to stern with soot!  We picked up eighty seven, I think and took them into Boston".


Figure 4 Ship’s whaler alongside what could be PORT NICHOLSON

            PORT NICHOLSON was a steam ship of 8,402 Tons.  NANAIMO arrived in Boston, Mass. with the survivors from   PORT NICHOLSON later in the day.

            The loss of Lt. Wakely and Able-Seaman Horne was traumatic for the crew.  NANAIMO received a message from the Commander of the Task Unit congratulating her on her efforts and her skipper on his "...bold and skilful handling of the ship...".  In addition, he sent, on behalf of the remainder of the group, deepest sympathy for the..."loss of good shipmates"!

            On a more personal note, Lew took the loss of his friend "Buzz" very hard and until the day of his death he never spoke of the incident, even when asked.

            A copy of this message was given to the author by Jack

Tedford, the signalman who went aboard the PORT NICHOLSON that fateful day and is included here for reference.

Survivours likely from Port Nicholson


            NANAIMO sailed from Boston for Halifax on the June 17 and arrived June 19.

            NANAIMO took part in local patrol duties until two days before Lew's birthday, June 28, and then she went into refit at Halifax.  The refit took two months to complete and included repairs and replacement of electrical and mechanical gear.  Red Ashcroft left the ship during this refit.

            E.U. Jones took command on August 21, near the end of this refit.  He was related to the C.O.A.C., who was Commodore G. C. Jones and was constantly in hot water.  He retained command for about a year being relieved on October 10, 1943 by J.E. Hastings, Lt..  His antics kept NANAIMO tied to the *trot buoys and not alongside, which was a sore spot with the crew.  Still, he got away with many of his "little tricks". 

            Pat Hennesy told one example of his little tricks to the author.  He said that while racing another corvette NANAIMO ran onto a sand bar and went right through, just kept on going.  That seems to be one way to clean the bottom, as no doubt there were few barnacles left on the ship's bottom.  This little prank took place in St. Margaret's Bay, Nova Scotia. 

            H.N.M.S. LINCOLN, H.M.C.Ships KITCHENER, NANAIMO and ALGOMA sailed at 0830 on September 9 to join a westbound convoy, ON 125, which was bound for New York.  The escort group was known as TU 24.18.1 and joined the convoy at 2200.

            TU 24.18.1 left the convoy at 1400 September 12 after arriving at Ambrose Light Vessel and arrived at Staten Island at just over an hour later.

            NANAIMO arrived in Halifax on September 21 in company with H.N.M.S. LINCOLN and H.M.C.Ships ALGOMA and KITCHENER after escorting convoy HX 208 from New York.

            NANAIMO must have made a quick run up to St. John's as she was dispatched from there on September 29, 1942.  She sailed in company with H.M.C.Ships ORRILIA (SO), DIGBY and CHICOUTIMI to relieve the Task Group escorting ON 140.

            The group joined the next day.  They were to join at 79 19' N   47 16' W at noon; however, they did not join until 1500 at 47 15' N  47 45" W  some considerable distance from the described meeting place.  B.4 group transferred the convoy papers at 1530 and detached for Argentia.

            At 1300 on October 4 H.M.C.Ships ANNAPOLIS (SO), DIGBY, CHICOUTIMI and NANAIMO, who were detached from ON 140 earlier, arrived in Halifax.

            NANAIMO, refuelled in Halifax, sailed to join ON 133 the next day with a full gale blowing.

            As it sometimes happens, especially when steaming in close formations such as a convoy, ships collide.  Just such an accident happened to "MILLCREST".  It was October 7 and the convoy was making its way northward in a full gale, when MILLCREST was rammed.

NANAIMO was part of the escort of ON 133 when she stood by MILLCREST.  She took aboard forty-seven survivors and landed them in Halifax.  Only one of the crew of MILLCREST was lost; he was presumed drowned. 

            When NANAIMO first came upon MILLCREST she reported that MILLCREST was down by the bows and that her number two hold was flooded and that number one hold was covered by canvas only. 

            EMPIRE LIGHTNING of an eastbound convoy SC 104, who passed within four to twelve miles, rammed MILLCREST.  It must have been a very close four miles.  MILLCREST was a straggler from ON 132 and did not even belong to the convoy NANAIMO was escorting.  GEORGETOWN was dispatched to pick up survivors and she met NANAIMO and MILLCREST at 0917 and found MILLCREST settling slowly by the bows with her foredeck awash.

            MILLCREST's master reported number two hold flooded and that she may remain afloat if her number one bulkhead would hold.  The weather was reported as wind force 4-5 and freshening.  At 1142 MILLCREST sank and by 1315 NANAIMO was in Halifax dropping of the survivors.

            NANAIMO must have left almost immediately as she was part of the escort force for ON 133 along with CALDWELL, CHICOUTIMI and KENORA.             NANAIMO joined the convoy, which was west bound in very bad weather, at 1830 on October 8.  Much to the consternation of those in the convoy, there was a lone merchant ship identified as IRISH POLAR following at visual distance with all her lights on.  She was told to stand clear and not use her R/T on penalty of being boarded.  IRISH POLAR made no attempt to over take the convoy and must have been a source of some worry to those responsible for protecting the convoy. 

            The convoy was diverted through Long Island Sound at 0300 on October 10, 1942. 


            On October 10 NANAIMO, in company with H.M.S. CALDWELL and ROXBOUROUGH and with H.M.C. Ships CHICOUTIMI and KENORA, was reported as escorting convoy ON 135 but there is almost certainly some error here as she was also reported as escorting ON 133 at the time.  The reports of ON 133 are much more mentioned and the convoy numbers may be incorrect or the dates could be wrong.  However, NANAIMO may have simply been re-assigned from ON 133 to ON 135 while at sea.

            NANAIMO sailed from Halifax at 2330 on October 27 in company with CHICOUTIMI and at 0426 next morning NANAIMO sent a message indicating she expected to make contact with the convoy, ON 130, at 1300 and that she had CHICOUTIMI in company.  H.N.M.S. LINCOLN, a Norwegian warship, and H.M.S. ROXBOUROUGH were ordered to sail from Halifax at 1000z October 27 but, due to defects, did not sail until 0130.  NANAIMO and CHICOUTIMI sailed as ordered and made contact with the convoy at 1400 and joined the New York bound convoy, ON 130, some two hours later.  KAMSACK was dispatched to Halifax with the arrival of the two ships.

            The convoy was released on the thirtieth after reaching Ambrose Light Vessel at 1800 and the escort arrived at Staten Island shortly thereafter.

            H.M.C.S. ANNAPOLIS joined convoy ON 141 at 42 00' N  64         21' W about 1000 November 7.  H.M.C.Ships NANAIMO and CHICOUTIMI were already in company as they had sailed earlier with the Halifax section of the convoy.

            There was some problem joining the main section of the convoy, as it was some thirty miles off its estimated position.  As a result the main section of the convoy was astern of the HON section with NANAIMO and CHICOUTIMI escorting. The two groups joined with the help of an R.C.A.F. Hudson.  The HON section was turned back by R/T transmission and joined between 1700 and 1800.

            NANAIMO began an attack on an underwater target on November 8.  The target was later identified as fish.  Next day, in early evening, ANNAPOLIS attacked an under water target.  This target too was later determined to be fish.

            The group passed Ambrose Light Ship at 1100 next day with forty-five ships and entered New York Harbour later in the day.  The group stayed in "The Big Apple" for seven days and each watch was given forty-eight hours leave.  While the ships were there they all had their boilers cleaned. 

            NANAIMO sailed from New York for Halifax on November 17 where, Pat Hennesy joined the ship.  He commented to the author, "she was all froze up" due to lack of steam???

            H.M.C.S. QUESNEL, part of the local escort for ON 146, sailed from Halifax on December 2,1942 to join the convoy.  The remainder of the group, which included NANAIMO, was to sail the next day.

            H.M.C.Ships DIGBY (SO), NANAIMO, CHICOUTIMI sailed from Halifax to join convoy ON 146 at 0644.  The 6,089-ton steamship EMPIRE DABCHICK, who was straggling from the convoy, was torpedoed the same day.  Her position was reported as 43 00' N  58 17' W when she was torpedoed by a "U" boat. (His Majesty's Stationery Office, British Merchant Vessels Lost or Damaged by Enemy Action During Second World War, London, 1947.) 

            On December 7, H.M.C.S. ARROWHEAD (SO), DIGBY and CHICOUTIMI sailed from Halifax, to join ON 149, at 1600.  NANAIMO already at sea, joined the convoy from the southeast at 1720.  She signalled ARROWHEAD that she only had thirty percent fuel remaining   and was immediately detached for Halifax with orders to rejoin as soon as possible.

            H.M.C. Ships COLUMBIA (SO), FENNEL, COWICHAN, and DUNVEGAN were to be relieved by "H.M.C. Ships DIGBY, NANAIMO, ARROWHEAD and CHICOUTIMI in position 43 20' W 58 10' W at 1500.  The convoy was about seven hours late and the relief did not happen as was planned.

            On December 9 COLUMBIA sent, by R/T, an amended position to the relieving escort and to Captain "D" Halifax.  NANAIMO joined the convoy around 1000 at 43 16' N  58 10" W and signalled by V/S to COLUMBIA that DIGBY was in the vicinity.  NANAIMO was ordered to take up station astern of the convoy by SO in COLUMBIA.  DIGBY joined at 1330 the same day.  With the arrival of NANAIMO, FENNELL and DUNVEGAN were detached to Halifax at 1110. 

            Several ships bound for the West Indies were also detached without escort that evening about 2000.  A few minutes later NANAIMO lowered a sea-boat to transfer an injured rating to COLUMBIA.

            COLUMBIA detached from the convoy for Halifax, on December 10, with serious condenser problems.  Once the whole relief group joined NANAIMO took station on the port bow by day and the port beam by night at 3 - 5000 yards.

            After Christmas in Halifax and home port, a none to frequent occurrence, NANAIMO sailed from Halifax at about 1400 December 29 with the Halifax section of convoy ON 155.  She was to join the main portion of the convoy with H.M.C.Ships COLUMBIA, QUESNEL and COBALT.  NANAIMO joined at 1100 on new year's eve 1942 convoy position was 45 56' North 48 42' West.

            The following is a verbatim report of the proceedings of the convoy as reported by the skipper of H.M.C.S. COLUMBIA:

             - - REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS - CONVOY ON 155 - -


            1.         COLUMBIA slipped from H.M.S. GREENWICH at 1415z December            29, the delay being due to the incompletion of repairs to A/S set.


            2.         Immediately upon passing out the gate COLUMBIA commenced to take station ahead of the convoy. 


            3.         During the night of the twenty-ninth, the St. John's section of four ships became separated due to poor visibility and heavy seas. 


            4.         The next morning at 0900z/30 COLUMBIA closed a tanker belonging to that section.  At 1030z/30 COBALT with one                                        merchant ship joined COLUMBIA.  The later then told the COBALT to take the tanker and merchant ship and steer south for thirty miles.  An R/T signal was received from QUESNEL at 1100z/30 stating that she was in company with the commodore and her position.  COBALT spoke to COLUMBIA by R/T at 1205z/30 stating she had steered south for thirty miles as ordered and that H.M.C.S. NANAIMO was now in company.  During this period COLUMBIA was travelling alone endeavouring to round up the section.  H.M.C.S. QUESNEL with the commodore and another merchant ship were closed by COLUMBIA at 1315z/30. 


            5.         At 1434z/30 Polish destroyer BURZA gave COLUMBIA a bearing and at 1730z/30 stated her estimated position to be 46  07' N  49 16' W. 


            6.         COLUMBIA proceeded ahead at 1440z/30 to contact the main convoy, H.M.C.S. QUESNEL remaining with the other two merchant ships.


            7.         At 1715z/30 COLUMBIA met THE BURZA in position 46 11' N  49 17' W.  Shortly after H.M.C.S. QUESNEL with two merchant ships joined and at 1955z/30 COLUMBIA took over as Senior Officer from BURZA.  COLUMBIA took station on port bow and QUESNEL on starboard bow.  At 2145z an RDF contact was obtained with H.M.C.S. NANAIMO.  COLUMBIA now took station ahead, NANAIMO port bow QUESNEL starboard bow. 


            8.         The remaining two ships of the Newfoundland section were contacted at 0533z/31 at a range of 5 1/2 miles, H.M.C.S COBALT joining with them at 0615z/31. 


            9.         Day stations now COLUMBIA ahead, COBALT astern, NANAIMO port wing, and QUESNEL starboard wing.  Night stations were, COLUMBIA starboard bow, QUESNEL starboard quarter, COBALT port quarter, and NANAIMO port bow. 


            10.       At 0251z1 NANAIMO's RDF broke down and for this reason COLUMBIA remained in the van during the dark hours. 


            11.       At 2300z/1 the two ships for Guantanimo were detached.         


            12. H.M.C.S. NANAIMO and two ships, which got ahead of the convoy, were closed at 0950z/2.  By 1100z COLUMBIA had rejoined the convoy and the other vessels rejoined at 1130z/2. 


            13.       HON 155 was sighted at 1140z/.  This section had joined by 1215z/2 in position 43 30' N  61 00' W.  Convoy sailing orders were passed by flashing to H.M.C.S. BRANTFORD, Senior Officer of the relieving escort, and the latter vessel took over at 1240z/2. 


            14.       Shortly after COLUMBIA closed PT22 (S.S. HERCULES) to transfer her medical officer, the chief officer of the HERCULES having suffered a stroke. 

            15.       The three ships for Halifax detached at 1400z/2 and a quarter of an hour later the commodore detached the HERCULES to Halifax for medical reasons, COLUMBIA's doctor remaining on board the former.


            16.       COLUMBIA escorting the HERCULES overtook the Halifax section at 1600z/2.  A Canso aircraft and a Lockheed Hudson appeared over the section during the early part of the afternoon.  Two yellow parachute flares were sighted ahead while proceeding towards Halifax, approximately 15 miles ahead at 2330z/2. 


            17.       COLUMBIA passed through the gate at 0335z/3 and secured alongside NIAGARA at No. 3 jetty at 0423z/3. 


            18.       Asdic conditions during the end of December and the first few days of the New Year were fair.  Average echo range being approximately 1700 yards and range reverberations roughly 2000 yards.  H.E. was good. There was no evidence of skip distance. 


            19.       All R/T messages were coded   

            NANAIMO was detached from ON 155 at 2030 on January 3 with the arrival of COLUMBIA and QUESNEL.

            NANAIMO (SO) and H.M.C.Ships QUESNEL and COBALT sailed from New York with another convoy.  They remained at sea until January 17 when the task unit arrived in Halifax.  During this convoy the escorts had an opportunity to practice an A.A. shoot and Star shell illuminations.  The only excitement occurred when one of the ships of the convoy S.S. ROXBURG CASTLE reported sighting a submarine.  The escorts were sent to investigate.  They found the sub all right except it turned out to be a fog buoy.  Never the less, it broke the monotony no doubt.

            In the early hours of January 31, H.M.C. Ships NANAIMO, MONCTON (SO), and LACHINE escorted the Halifax portion of ON 160 out of Halifax to join the main part of the convoy.

                        H.M.C.S. COBALT (SO), MONCTON, NANAIMO and LACHINE sailed from New York on the eight of February with Convoy HX226.  They remained with this convoy for three days before turning it over to another escort.  During this time a straggler reported sighting a periscope; however after investigation the report was considered erroneous.  While on their return to Halifax on the February 12, the ships were ordered to proceed independently after reaching Chebucto Head, due to a moderate gale and dense fog, an unusual combination.

            In February 1943 NANAIMO assisted in the tow of U.S.C.G. CAMPBELL seven hundred and fifty miles to St. John's following her ramming of U606.  CAMPBELL was in escort of ONS 166 with Escort Group A3 at the time.  This job was done with HIS MAJESTY's ROYAL TUG "TENACITY".  What follows is a blow by blow description of events of the sinking of "U 606" and the aftermath, which, save for the efforts of a couple of unsung heroines in the form of TENACITY and NANAIMO, nearly cost the loss of U.S.C.G. CAMPBELL.

            CAMPBELL made radar contact with the enemy at 2010 on Valentine's Day, only fifteen minutes after her radar had been repaired; it had been out all day.  While trying to ram the "U" boat CAMPBELL was gashed by the "U" boats hydroplane.  In the process a fifteen-foot gash was made in the fuel tank and into the engine room below the water line.  CAMPBELL attempted to make her own repairs during the next four days, while other escorts of the group stood by.   Interestingly, they were all Canadian except for the BUNZA.

            NANAIMO became involved when she was dispatched from St. John's at 1352 on February 23 to join the crippled U.S.C.G. CAMPBELL.  

            Meanwhile, BUNZA, a Polish destroyer, and H.M.C.S. SALISBURY stood by CAMPBELL, as did H.M.C.S. DAUPHIN.  All three took fuel from her.  DAUPHIN took fuel on February 24.  Next day, DAUPHIN signalled CTF24 and Escort for ON 167 that her "prudent limit of endurance was 1400 on the February 26".

            SALISBURY took 100 tons of bunker fuel from CAMPBELL the following day giving her seventy six percent and at 1920 she signalled NANAIMO alerting her of this as well as giving course speed and position and indicating she would join ON 168 when relieved by NANAIMO.  However, this was not to be.  SALISBURY was told by COMTASK 24, the commander of Task Unit number twenty-four, to, "...Remain with CAMPBELL until prudent limit of fuel or until detached by me".  Message repeats were also sent to NANAIMO and DAUPHIN.

            At 0312 February 26, NANAIMO signalled the three ships with CAMPBELL that she found no trace of survivors, gave her 2200 position as 46 25' N  39 34' W and her course of 080 and a speed of 13 knots.  She also signalled her ETA as 1700.

            With the arrival of TENACITY at 1230 DAUPHIN was detached to St. John's for fuel.  H.M.R.T. TENACITY took CAMPBELL in tow and H.M.C.Ships SALISBURY and NANAIMO continued to screen.

            SALISBURY sighted a "U" boat on the surface at 1415 and gave chase.  The "U" boat submerged and got away but had no opportunity to inflict further damage.

            At 1645 NANAIMO, SALISBURY and DAUPHIN received a message from admiralty that "U" boats were in the vicinity of CAMPBELL or possibly in the vicinity of DAUPHIN.

            At 0100 February 28 SALISBURY detached to St. John's with 30% fuel remaining.  Her relief H.M.C.S. GEORGETOWN sailed from St. John's at noon the same day. 

            This left NANAIMO and TENACITY to fend for themselves with "U" boats having been sighted as well as being reported in the area.  A most tenuous situation.

            On the March 3, 1943 in the early evening TENACITY arrived at St. John's with CAMPBELL in tow escorted by NANAIMO and GEORGETOWN, who had joined the group sometime earlier.

            The following is a typical convoy report.  NANAIMO was part of the escort force and the report was submitted by Lt. Commander G. H. Stephens of H.M.C.S. COLUMBIA, Senior Officer of the Task Group.  The report was submitted January 6, 1943:




                        - - REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS - CONVOY ON155 - -



                        1.         COLUMBIA slipped from H.M.S. GREENWICH AT 1415Z December  29, the delay being due to the incompletion of repairs  to A/S set.

                        2.         Immediately upon passing out the gate COLUMBIA commenced to take station ahead of the convoy. 

                        3.         During the night of the twenty ninth, the St. John's section of four ships became separated due to poor visibility and  heavy seas. 

                        4.         The next morning at 0900z/30 COLUMBIA closed a tanker belonging to that section.  At 1030z/30 COBALT with one  merchant ship joined COLUMBIA.  The later then told the  COBALT to take the tanker and merchant ship and steer south for thirty miles.  An R/T signal was received from QUESNEL at 1100z/30 stating that she was in company with the commodore and her position.  COBALT spoke to COLUMBIA by R/T at 1205z/30 stating she had steered south for thirty miles as ordered and that H.M.C.S. NANAIMO was now in company.  During this period COLUMBIA was travelling alone endeavouring to round up the section.  H.M.C.S. QUESNEL with the commodore and another merchant ship were closed by COLUMBIA at 1315z/30. 

                        5.         At 1434z/30 Polish destroyer BURZA gave COLUMBIA a bearing and at 1730z/30 stated her estimated position to be 46  07' N  49 16' W. 

                        6.         COLUMBIA proceeded ahead at 1440z/30 to contact the main convoy, H.M.C.S. QUESNEL remaining with the other two merchant ships.

                        7.         At 1715z/30 COLUMBIA met THE BURZA in position 46 11' N  49 17' W.  Shortly after H.M.C.S. QUESNEL with two merchant ships joined and at 1955z/30 COLUMBIA took over as Senior Officer from BURZA.  COLUMBIA took station on port bow and QUESNEL on starboard bow.  At 2145z an RDF contact was obtained with H.M.C.S. NANAIMO.  COLUMBIA now took station ahead, NANAIMO port bow QUESNEL starboard bow. 

                        8.         The remaining two ships of the Newfoundland section were contacted at 0533z/31 at a range of 5 1/2 miles, H.M.C.S COBALT joining with them at 0615z/31. 

                        9.         Day stations now COLUMBIA ahead, COBALT astern, NANAIMO port wing, QUESNEL starboard wing.  Night stations were, COLUMBIA starboard bow, QUESNEL starboard quarter, COBALT port quarter, NANAIMO port bow. 

                        10.       At 0251z1 NANAIMO's RDF broke down and for this reason COLUMBIA remained in the van during the dark hours. 

                        11.       At 2300z/1 the two ships for Guantanamo were detached.

                        12.       H.M.C.S. NANAIMO and two ships which got ahead of the convoy were closed at 0950z/2.  By 1100z COLUMBIA had rejoined the convoy and the other vessels rejoined at 1130z/2. 

                        13.       HON 155 was sighted at 1140z/.  This section had joined by 1215z/2 in position 43 30' N  61 00' W.  Convoy sailing orders were passed by flashing to H.M.C.S. BRANTFORD, Senior Officer of the relieving escort, and the latter vessel took over at 1240z/2. 

                        14.       Shortly after COLUMBIA closed PT22 (S.S. HERCULES) to transfer her medical officer, the chief officer of the HERCULES having suffered a stroke.

                        15.       The three ships for Halifax detached at 1400z/2 and a quarter of an hour later the commodore detached the HERCULES to Halifax for medical reasons, COLUMBIA's doctor remaining on board the former.

                        16.       COLUMBIA escorting the HERCULES overtook the Halifax section at 1600z/2.  A Canso aircraft and a Lockheed Hudson appeared over the section during the early part of the afternoon.  Two yellow parachute flares were sighted ahead while proceeding towards Halifax, approximately 15 miles ahead at 2330z/2. 

                        17.       COLUMBIA passed through the gate at 0335z/3 and secured alongside NIAGARA at No. 3 jetty at 0423z/3. 

                        18.       Asdic conditions during the end of December and the first few days of the new year were fair.  Average echo range being approximately 1700 yards and range reverberations roughly 2000 yards.  H.E. was good.  There was no evidence of skip distance. 

                        19.       All R/T messages were coded.

            Some time during 1943 Ray Norman first went aboard NANAIMO when both he and Lew Norman were trying to serve together in her.  This was shot down due to the R.C.N.'s policy of nepotism or not having two members of the same family serving in the same ship.

            At 0600 April 6 H.M.C.Ships CHICOUTIMI, QUESNEL and NANAIMO sailed from St. John's to join ON 175.  H.M.C.S. MILLTOWN developed gyro problems while slipping and was delayed; however, she sailed later and joined the convoy before the remainder of the group.

            NANAIMO, CHICOUTIMI and QUESNEL Joined convoy ON 175 at 1900/08 some ten hours late.  The group used HF/DF homing and joined from the south on a steady bearing.  H.M.S. MONTGOMERY remained with the convoy and assumed temporary command of the group.

            The next day H.M.S. LORD MIDDLETON and CAPE MARIATE joined as additional escorts at 2200.  Prior to MONTGOMERY's leaving the convoy she screened S.S. EMPIRE BAFFIN for about five hours.  This ship had to stop due to engine problems.

            May 16 found NANAIMO with H.M.S. MONTGOMERY (SO), and H.M.C.Ships FENNELL and NORANDA relieving the Mid-Ocean Escort Force ships of convoy ON 182.  This convoy consisted of fifty six ships in fourteen columns.

            NANAIMO in company with GOTHLAND, the rescue ship from ON 182, sailed for Halifax at 1210/18.  GOTHLAND ran into an iceberg at about 0130 on May 16, 1943.  Her position at the time was 48 00' N  47 37' W.  She had stove in her bows and both *hawse-pipes, making the anchors unserviceable.  Her forward accommodations were also made unliveable.  At 2045 three coastal ships joined the group.

            GOTHLAND secured at the Pickford and Black pier about an hour before noon on May 19. It is assumed that NANAIMO arrived at Halifax as well but she may have released the GOTHLAND and returned to join the convoy. 

            W9 sailed from Halifax at 1700 on June 22.  NANAIMO stayed behind to sail following her DF calibration.

            The next day H.M.S. ROXBOROUGH (SO) and CHELSEA with H.M.C.S. LEAMINGTON and BURLINGTON relieved the escort of convoy ON 188 at 1354 in heavy fog with a visibility of only two cables.  The convoy was supposedly some 80' astern of her reported position.  NANAIMO joined the convoy at 0000 due to a delay in getting her DF calibrated.

            The group arrived in New York on the June 26.  NANAIMO was the last of W9, her escort group, to secure and she tied up at Pier 9 Staten Island at 1845.

            NANAIMO sailed at 1600 on July 8 to join convoy ON 191 she had H.M.C.S. BURLINGTON in company.  H.M.C.S. SUDBURY and H.M.S. ROXBOROUGH were delayed by defects and joined the convoy later.

            NANAIMO never reached the convoy as she was ordered back to St. John's by *F.O.N.F. the next day.  She was detached from the unit at 0330 in heavy fog.  BURLINGTON relieved the Mid-Ocean Escort Force at noon and took over escort of ON 191.  H.M.S. ROXBOROUGH and H.M.C.S. SUDBURY joined the convoy the following day.

            H.M.S. MANSFIELD and the Canadian ships NANAIMO, BURLINGTON and SUDBURY sailed from Halifax in dense fog on July 30; however, by the time they had reached number four buoy the fog had cleared and the remainder to the voyage remained clear.  Just outside Sydney harbour the convoy known as SC138 formed up.  Forty-eight ships sailed for the U.K.  During this trip the escorts practised the transfer of depth charges from S.S. KINSWOOD.  They arrived at St. John's just before midnight on the third of August.

            October and November found NANAIMO in refit at Lunenburg and, as happened during the last refit, she received a new skipper.  He was, J.E. Hastings (LT) RCNR took command from E.U. Jones. On the October 11 and retained command until October 9, 1944.

            During this refit NANAIMO fell off the slips.  This incident happened just after completion of repairs while she was being refloated.


            Alex Bretenbach tells the story this way:


            "Norm Parkes was standing on the stern.  She just broke lose slid down on an angle right off the slips.  They brought about three tugs from Halifax.  They even had divers there.  They worked half the night and when the tide came in pulled her off the slips.  Then took her to Shelburne, Nova Scotia to get the bottom and propeller fixed". (Pat Hennesy, Alex Bretenbach)

            Alex Bretenbach joined the ship during this refit.

            About one month following this refit NANAIMO in company with SAULT ST. MARIE (SO), NORANDA and BURLINGTON sailed from Halifax at 1050 January 27, 1944 and at 1315 cleared the sweep channel and forming a line abreast to port set course for convoy ON220.

            The next day the convoy was sighted and the relief was completed at 1315 with SUALT ST. MARIE taking over as senior officer.  The convoy was badly organized, no doubt due to the unfavourable weather, and consisted of thirty-two ships.  Sixteen of these ships were stragglers and not in company with the main portion of the convoy.

            Mid afternoon saw NANAIMO ordered astern to round up the stragglers.  Two hours later a snowstorm reduced visibility to less than two cables and the convoy became even more broken up.  In fact, only sixteen ships remained with the main portion the next day.

            On January 29, 1944 the weather cleared and by early evening forty ships were again with the convoy.

            Two more stragglers rejoined the convoy on January 30.  Further, air cover was available long enough to carry out Operation Crocodile with the escorts.  The operation had a range of twenty miles.  Operation Crocodile seems to have been a screening operation to detect "U" boats in the area of the convoy and was carried out as a joint effort between the air support and the escorts.

S.S. WM. E. PENDELTON rejoined the convoy on January 31.  As with the previous day aircraft and escorts carried out Operation Crocodile, this time with a range of fifteen miles.  The aircraft remained with the convoy for four hours.  In addition to the shore based air cover  S.S. EMPIRE McABE launched one aircraft.

            At about 1830 NANAIMO detached with the St. John's section of the convoy.  NANAIMO sailed with this section to St. John's then detached and sailed for Halifax.  She arrived in Halifax on February 2, after leaving her charges from ON220 in St. John's.

            February 12 found SAULT ST. MARIE (SO), NANAIMO, NORANDA and PORT ARTHUR sailing to join convoy ON222.  The group remained with this convoy for four days leaving on February 16, 1944.

            NANAIMO was operating with H.M.C.S. COLUMBIA (W10) when she rammed a cliff at Motion Bay, Newfoundland, due to faulty radar and fog, killing two of her crew, but she never touched bottom. (Pat Hennessy, K MacPherson and J. Burgess)

            NANAIMO in company with RED DEER (SO), PORT ARTHUR and PORT HOPE sailed on March 1, 1944 from Argentia, Newfoundland at about 1830, formed a line abreast and made for *WESTOMP.  The convoy was in contact with enemy subs on and off most of the day and radio restrictions were in effect to minimize the possibility of "U" boat detection of the convoy by means of radio direction finding equipment.

            Radar contact with ON225 was made at about 1300, but due to weather, visibility and radio restrictions responsibility was not turned over till after 1800.  F.F.S. LOBELIA, from B-5, remained with the convoy and joined W-9 under the direction of RED DEER but she only remained with the convoy till the following morning.

            H.M.C.S. RED DEER developed circulator and condenser problems that necessitated stopping of the ship to repair the damage.  This was most assuredly a time of great concern for the crew as the convoy had been in contact with the enemy throughout the previous day.  Stopping a ship in mid-ocean would make her easy prey for a marauding "U" boat who might happen to stumble upon her.  She didn't rejoin the convoy till March 5.

            In the mean time, very heavy weather was experienced.  In fact, on March 4, RED DEER's *W/T office was flooded by a large wave which poured water down the ventilator trunk and made her PV 500 H transmitter unserviceable.

            Convoy ON225 was badly broken up due to heavy weather.  NANAIMO was alone with four ships, separated from the convoy, endeavouring to overcome the heavy weather and make contact with the main portion of the convoy.  However, the weather was so bad that the convoy was never successfully regrouped.  During this storm JOEL POINSERETT, a merchantman, broke in two.  EMPIRE CHIVALRY stood by the wreck.  It wasn't mentioned in the convoy report whether JOEL POINSERETT sank or was salvaged.  However, it was noted that one ship was lost and several more damaged.

            NANAIMO remained with her little portion of the convoy, of between four and eight stragglers.  Interestingly enough, NANAIMO pasted the main body of the convoy in the night and arrived in New York on March 8 ahead of the remainder of the convoy.

            NANAIMO, NORANDA (SO) and PORT ARTHUR left Halifax on March 18, with four ships in three columns to join ON227.

Two days later they joined the main body of the convoy consisting of fifty-one ships in ten columns.  Unlike the first part of the voyage for this convoy, where PRINCE RUPERT sunk a "U" BOAT, this part of the trip seems to have been relatively quiet till just before the group entered New York Harbour.

            PORT ARTHUR reported an *A/S contact at about ten in the morning and began an attack.  NORANDA and NANAIMO both closed to assist only to find that PORT ARTHUR's attack with hedgehog was a success.  In fact, large numbers of herring were coming to the surface.  While the contact was not a submarine, it was, never the less, devastating to the school of herring and no doubt a relief to those in the convoy who had been shadowed by "U" boats from the beginning.

            NANAIMO, SAULT ST. MARIE (SO) and NORANDA sailed from St. John's Newfoundland to join ON230 on April 8.  As it happened, they arrived at WESTOMP twenty-four hours late and had to increase speed in order to catch the convoy.

ST. CATHERINES was relieved of the convoy at about 2200 the next day.  H.M.C.S. FRONTENAC remained with W.9 and the convoy.  In addition, H.M.C. Ships DRUMHELLER and FRONTENAC remained with W.9 for one and two more days respectively.

            FRONTENAC was reported in contact with a "U" boat at 041 55' 047 22' on April 10.  NANAIMO was ordered to remain to assist as *A.S.D.I.C. aboard SAULT ST. MARRIE was inoperative.

W.9 was relieved of the convoy on April 13, and SAULT ST. MARIE and NORANDA escorted the Halifax and Bay of Fundy portions of the convoy.

            NANAIMO remained with W.6, the relieving escort group, until the next day at dawn when she sailed to rejoin W.9.  She rejoined the rest of her escort group at about 1400 and entered Halifax harbour about midnight.  As it seemed to happen on many occasions NANAIMO and the convoy experienced heavy seas and high winds.

            Lew left his ship on April 16, 1944.  It was a sad day for him.  He had been rescued once before, but he was not so lucky this time.  Lew went to H.M.C.S. COBALT after taking a course at "STAD" (H.M.C.S. STADACONA).

            April 19, 1944,  W-7 sailed from Halifax and while enroute to join ONM231 carried out A/A and 4" shoot. The following day they relived W-6 H.M.C.S. WALLACEBURG (SO) and took over escort duties for ONM231.  Six of the sixty-eight ships detach for Boston on April 22, without escort.  Two days later five more ships are detached for Baltimore, Philadelphia and Norfolk, Virginia.

            H.M.C.Ships NANAIMO, SAULT STE. MARIE (SO), SHERBROOKE and DAWSON, known as Escort Group W-7 or simply as W-7, as well as two American ships SC1338 and SC1350 sail from New York with convoy HXF290, May 5, 1944.  The weather was fine, but visibility was poor and deteriorated with heavy fog for five days.  There were reports of icebergs in the area causing the commodore to slow the convoy.  The two American ships left the convoy when it is out of American waters.  Seventy-one ships left New York with W-7 and twenty-two joined from Halifax at HOMP.

            May 9, the H/F D/F ship S.S. CAIRNESK reports a "U" boat transmission estimating her to be some thirty miles from the convoy.  A liberator aircraft that was providing air cover investigated, but saw no sub due to the fog.  CIC later noted that the bearing was extremely accurate, but the range was probably short as the "U" boat was more likely between thirty and sixty miles from the convoy.

H.M.C.Ships DUNVER, HESPELLA, ROSTHERN, NAPANEE, NEW WESTMINSTER and DAUPHIN relieve W-7 May 10 and the following day NANAIMO and the rest of W-7 enter harbour.

            H.M.C.Ships SAULT SAINT MARIE (SO), NANAIMO and SHERBROOKE relieve ST. CATHARINES and C-2 of ONF235 at 0635 May 14, 1944.  TRANSCONA detaches with four ships for Montreal and the following day, after H.M.C.S. MATAPEDIA joins the convoy, NANAIMO detaches from the convoy with ships for Halifax, St. John, New Brunswick and Boston.

            NANAIMO forms up her convoy and sets a zigzag course of 283 and a speed of ten knots.  As the convoy was formed during the night her skipper J.E. Hastings sends a recommendation that henceforth convoys be formed up during daylight hours prior to detaching from the main convoy.

            At 0430 the Halifax section is detached from the group.  About 0900 in the morning NANAIMO checks up on her convoy and finds one ship S.S. GEORGE WATTON missing from the Boston section and reports to C in C.N.A.  By 2100 in the evening the Saint John portion is detached and on its way.  The Boston section being detached about 1800.

            At 0350 May 17, action stations are sounded and a radar contact is investigated.  Four Star Shells are fired and the contact is lost.  NANAIMO continues to patrol the area for about half an hour before returning to Halifax, passing the harbour gate at 1610.

            During this convoy a swordfish aircraft from S.S. ADULA from the Boston section of the convoy was lost.  The fishing schooner KASAGARA commanded by a Mr. Parks picked up the aircrew.  He transferred the three crewmen to H.M.C.S. SHERBROOKE.  Mr. Parks received a commendation for his seamanship and prompt action.  In fact, the skipper of ADULA commented that his men were in such fine shape they were ready to go back to work as soon as they were returned to his ship.

            H.M.C.S. NANAIMO and TRAIL leave Halifax with twenty-six ships at 0700 May 29.  The convoy is known as HHXF293.

 Next day after delivering the Halifax portion of the convoy NANAIMO and TRAIL leave the convoy at noon and return to Halifax.  One of the ships carries the personal effects of a German submariner, an engineer, who's body was picked up by W-4 while escorting the convoy proper.  The idea was to get the effects to Ottawa as soon as possible so as to gain any intelligence possible from them.

            NANAIMO and TRAIL arrive in Halifax June 1, after leaving HXF293 at HOMP (Halifax Ocean Meeting Point).

After four days in Halifax, W-7 and H.M.C.S. TRAIL depart with HHXS294 consisting of twenty-seven ships just after noon on the fourth.

            The group relieved H.M.C.S. TIMMINS, June 5, 1944, and joined the convoy, now designated as HXS294, with a total of one hundred and one ships.  Trail was detached at 1800 to join ON238.  The following day H.M.C.S. BRANTFORD is detached for Newfoundland.  She is probably part of the previous escort group as she was not part of W-7.  The Sydney section of the convoy joins on June 7 and next day, after H.M.C.S. FOREST HILL, of escort group C-3, (mid ocean escort) and the Newfoundland section of the convoy join HXS294, H.M.C.S. AGASSIZ leaves for port.  The total number of ships in the convoy is now one hundred and sixteen.  W-7 turns over the convoy to H.M.C.S. PRINCE RUPERT (SO) of C-3, but due to "exceptionally thick fog" the convoy was badly scattered at the time of turn over.  Reports do not mention the next port of call for NANAIMO.

            NANAIMO in company with H.M.C. Ships SAULT ST. MARIE (SO), DAWSON and NORTH SYDNEY as well as an American escort U.S.S. SC1350 and SC1335 sailed from New York at 1930, June 23, to join HXS297, consisting of 83 ships.  The American SC1335 is detached at 0600 with broken down A/S gear just one day out of New York.  The following day the other American escort is detached.

            W-5, with H.M.C.S. PORTAGE as senior officer, relieved the escort force at 1440 and the escort group sailed for Halifax.  They arrived in Halifax at 0745 on June 28, 1944.

            W-7 sailed from Halifax leaving harbour at 0800 July 5, with twenty-five ships of HHXM 298.  Escorts for the group are SAULT ST. MARIE (SO) NORSYD and NANAIMO.

            Next day the group relieved W-4 with the senior officer aboard H.M.C.S. ST. BONIFACE; however, the group remains with the convoy at extended screening stations.  The ships from Halifax added to the seventy nine ships from New York brings the convoy to a total of one hundred and four ships and the convoy now becomes known as HXM 289.  To this are added twelve ships from Sydney and one from Newfoundland and when C-4 with H.M.S. WENTWORTH (SO) relieves W-7 the convoy has one hundred and seventeen ships.

            On the morning of July 9, Escort Group W-7 arrives in St. John's, Newfoundland.  Two days later W-7 consisting of H.M.C.Ships SAULT ST. MARIE (SO), NANAIMO, NORSYD and DAWSON sail from St. John’s in company with H.M.C.Ships SWIFT CURRENT and STRATFORD and H.M.S. FLIORIZEL to join ONM243.  Short-range weapons, equal speed manoeuvres and signal exercises were carried out before joining the convoy the following day.

            The convoy consisted of ninety ships.  During the next three days SWIFT CURRENT and STRATFORD are detached with seventeen ships bound for Sydney and the Gulf of St. Lawrence and H.M.C.S. WALLACEBURG is detached with seven ships for Halifax.  The Boston and St. John sections are detached with NIPIGON as escort as well.

            Two days out of New York S.S. SAN AMANDO and S.S.CLIONA are detached for Curacao and on July 18, 1944, W-7 arrives in New York.  Both NANAIMO and SAULT ST. MARIE experienced radar trouble during the trip; however, the group radar officer was transferred at sea and soon had the trouble fixed.

            NANAIMO as part of W-7, which sailed from New York, July 24, 1944 with two American ships for SC985 and SC1013.  H.M.C.S. NORSYD is delayed owing to defective boiler tubes and does not join the convoy until the twenty-sixth.

            Convoy HXM301 forms up with one hundred and ten ships and proceeds at a speed of ten knots.  The two American escorts are detached on the twenty-seventh and return to New York.  On the twenty-eigth, W-3 relieves the escort group and adds eighteen more ships to the convoy.  NANAIMO escorts S.S. NORRIS, who has a broken piston, and S.S. N.B. McMANUS, who has boiler trouble, to Halifax while NORSYD pays a state visit to North Sydney, Nova Scotia and DAWSON remains with S.S. GULF COAST who was stopped for repairs to her condenser.  On the way to Halifax NANAIMO sends a message to CIC Halifax stating her ETA as 1500 July 28, and requesting "urgent repairs" to her four inch gun's lifting shaft and pinion elevating gear.  NANAIMO and SAULT STE. MARIE arrive at Halifax with S.S. NORRIS at 1645.

            The convoy known as HXF302 sailed from New York on August 3, and consisted of sixty-eight ships.  H.M.C.Ships WALLACEBURG, SASKATOON, DUNVEGAN, OAKVILLE and one American ship of SC1350 escorted them from New York.

 On the sixth, these ships were relieved by SAULT ST. MARIE, NANAIMO, DAWSON, AGASSIZ, and NORSYD, who joined the following day.  Next day W-7 left the convoy, probably bound for St. John's.

            Ten days later NANAIMO (SO) with MELVILLE and BROCKVILLE sail from Sydney to join SHX309 at SOMP (Sydney Ocean Meeting Point).  NANAIMO remains with the convoy to WESTOMP (Western Ocean Meeting Point). 

            A signal sent from NANAIMO indicates she is, in company with BARRIE and SHAWINIGAN, making for Sydney, Nova Scotia with a defective stop valve, the number one boiler main feed pump is unserviceable and her bilge pump is inoperative.  NANAIMO indicates that both BARRIE and SHAWINIGAN have defects as well.  ETA for the group is 2230.

            At 0100, August 24, 1944, NANAIMO now part of Escort force W-8 sailed from Sydney to rejoin the convoy.  The senior officer was aboard H.M.C.S. SYDNEY and she was in company with H.M.C.Ships SHAWINIGAN and BARRIE.  The group sailed with heavy fog as cover.

            H.M.C.S. MELVILLE joins the convoy with ships from Sydney, Nova Scotia and is designated as Senior Officer.  NANAIMO probably left the convoy at this point; however, the authour could find no record of this.  Never the less, she was at sea in the St. Lawrence River on the night of August 30.

            Four ships of W-7 patrolled between Red Island and Father's point in the St. Lawrence River on the night of August 30 - 31, 1944.  They were AGGASIS, NANAIMO, DAWSON and TRURO.  They met their convoy QS 88 August 31, and later in the day joined ONM 249 where they took up extended screening stations.  QS 88 arrived in Sydney on September 2.  NANAIMO was reported to need a reducing valve on the starboard generator.  Just another sign of her age and wear and tear from more than four hard years at sea.

            NANAIMO, NORSYD, DAWSON and AGASIS (SO) sail from St John's, Newfoundland at noon to join ONF255.  They sail into the teeth of a heavy southerly gale.  The convoy is met and C-5 is relieved of 83 ships.  GULF COAST and FISHER AMES are reported as stragglers.  JOLIETTE and LUNNENBURG remain with the convoy.  JOLIETTE investigates a life raft, but finds it empty.  The raft was marked BELLY SUNDAY.  At 2000 EMPIRE SATURN drops behind the convoy to enable engine repairs.  She is screened by NANAIMO.  At 2200 JOLIETTE and five ships bound for the Gulf of St. Lawrence detach.  H.M.C.Ships WESTMOUNT and NIPIGON join at HOMP and the Halifax section of the convoy, consisting of seven ships, is detached under escort of NIPIGON and LUNNENBURG.  Just before midnight WESTMOUNT and seven ships for The Bay of Fundy are detached.  One ship, JOHN CATRON, is detached as per C.E.S.F. orders.

Escort Group W-7 enters harbour ******* Boston.

R.C. Eaton (LT) RCNVR took command on October 10, 1944, from J.E. Hastings until he turned command over on 22 Mar 1945.

            NANAIMO, NORSYD, DAWSON and AGASIS (SO) Rendezvoused with convoy HX314 abreast of Ambrose light ship at 1045, October 15, and take up steaming stations.  Four ships of the Delaware section join at 1700.

            Three days later, HHX314 joined from Halifax and W-3 relieved W-7, MIDDLESEX taking over as senior officer (SO).  NANAIMO remained with the convoy until the following day at 1000.  NANAIMO detaches from the convoy on the nineteenth and makes for Halifax.

            DAWSON, NORSYD and NANAIMO sailed from Halifax at 1755, October 22, 1944 and on the twenty-third W-7 join HX315 and relieve W-2.

Next day the Sydney section SHX315 joins the main convoy.  AGASIS, with nothing but bad luck, joins after having been delayed in sailing and then strikes a submerged object, which put her ASDIC out of commission.  Her Asdic dome was fractured and her oscillator shaft was bent.

H.M.C.S. HAWKSBURY with one ship in convoy WHX315 joins the convoy on the twenty-sixth.  Later in the day, C-7 joins and takes command.  H.M.C.S. LANARK is senior officer.

            W-7 takes up extended screening stations and begins refuelling from the escort oiler NORFJELL.  After all of W-7 have their fuel tanks topped up they set their course to intercept convoy ON260.

            ON260 is the last convoy NANAIMO was to escort on the east coast and at 0150, October 27, 1944, H.M.C.Ships NORSYD, NANAIMO and DAWSON join ON260; however, they remained at extended screening stations until dawn when they relieved B-2.  AGASIS joins the convoy, October 28, after having her ASDIC repaired in St. John's and resumes (SO) duties.  NORSYD gains an under water contact, in mid-afternoon and attacks with depth charges.  AGASIS joins in the hunt, but both ships lose the contact and rejoin the convoy.

            NANAIMO with six ships of convoy ON260 detached from the convoy at 1800 on October 29, 1944.  NANAIMO, who had long been at work without relief and little re-fit, was beginning to show her age.  She finished this convoy with the following defects:

                                                1. 271SQ radar unserviceable

                                                2. #1 and #2 fan engines unserviceable

                                                3. Distiller tubes unserviceable

                                                4. Evaporator coils unserviceable

            NANAIMO and her charges entered Halifax harbour gates around five in the afternoon of October 30.

            The defective radar was removed prior to her sailing for the west coast.  Rather than repairing obsolete and ineffective radar set, the set was simply removed and the more efficient 253 radar was fitted when she arrived on the west coast.

            During November NANAIMO made the trip back to the place of her birth.  Once again she transited the Panama Canal; however, in contrast to her first transit of the canal, this time she was no longer like a child; instead she was a tried, tested and proven "lady".

            December 7, NANAIMO tied up in Esquimalt harbour.  Here NANAIMO under went re-fit that lasted till February 25, 1945.  Pat Hennesy was drafted off on PO's course in Naden during this refit.


HMCS NANAIMO May 1945 off BC coast



HMCS NANAIMO of British Columbia Coast just before being paid off         

NANAIMO was paid off on September 28, 1945.  She was just five years five months and one day old and all but forgotten save in the minds and hearts of those who served in her.   To them she will live on and to them and to this great lady the author wishes to give his thanks.  It is hoped that with the printing of this history she and those who knew her will not be forgotten.

            This last small story might be a fitting way to close the cover on this volume.  When NANAIMO was taking her last trip, from Esquimalt to Lynn Creek near Vancouver for disposal, Ray Norman, Lew's brother and the author's uncle, was aboard her.  He told this story.



            "We could pretty much do as we wanted at the time.  I was up on the forward gun with some other fellows when we went under the Lions Gate Bridge.  They used to have a searchlight on the bridge.  I guess it was to identify ships going through.  We had the breach open and were looking through the barrel of the forward gun.  We trained the gun on the light and it sure went off in a hurry".


            NANAIMO, truly a heroine of the war, may have given her last act of defiance at being paid off. 

            8 Oct 1945 was the date of NANAIMO's last log entry and signals the close of her career with Canada's Navy.  Like so many of her counter parts with the end of the war they were gone.  Only H.M.C.S. SACKVILLE remains and she too would be gone save for the efforts of those who spent years at sea in these jaunty little warships that won The Battle of the Atlantic!


            In 1953 NANAIMO was converted to a whale catcher in Kiel and was renamed RENE W VINKE and sailed under Dutch flag.

            NANAIMO was sold to a South African company for scrap and was subsequently broken up in 1966.





            It is with heartfelt thanks that the author acknowledges the help of the following people:

Hugh (Red) Ashcroft, Bob Reedman, Jack Tedford, Wilfred (Puffy) Summerfeldt, Alec Bretenbach and Mrs. Fergie Dowding, who gave of their time and knowledge from firsthand experience.

            Thanks also to my uncle, Ray, and to my mother for their help; especially to my mother who gave me the courage to get started.

            I would also be remiss if I did not acknowledge the time and patience of Jody Bohle, who spent so much time proof reading and correcting this work as it progressed.


                                         OFFICERS H.M.C.S. NANAIMO


COWAN,  Kenneth  According to his son Kenneth, he was the communications officer.

WALKLEY, John (LT)                                                Lost 15 Jun 1942



            From Montreal.  Lost when aboard PORT NICHOLSON as part of a salvage crew.

BRIDGEMAN, Montigue (LT)xo         Apr 1941

            From the Victoria area and was sick when he left the ship.  It is reported that he died either during or just after the war of illness.  He had a china shop in Victoria on Government Street prior to enlisting.

KIGHTLEY, (LT) navigator RCNR       Apr 1941

FOWLER, William Horace

                        Joined the R.C.N.V.R. October 17, 1941 as probationary sub-leutenant: served in H.M.C. Ships CATARAQUI, KINGS, NANAIMO, CHALUER, STE. THERESE, YORK:  was demobilized October 23, 1945; joined the R.C.N. January 3, 1947, as instructor Lt.-Cdr.; served in YORK, STADACONA, ROYAL ROADS, NADEN, BY TOWN, CORNWALLIS; at his last appointment STADACONA as Officer-in-Charge Academic Division and on Staff of Commodore Personnel Atlantic Coast as Staff Officer Academic Training; commenced leave retirement leave January 3, 1964 and retired on May 26, 1964.

(THE CROW'S NEST January 1964, Vol. 16 No. 1)

LORT, Tony  (Slt)

TEAR, Roy  (Lt)                     

            1944                            1945

TRAYNOR, John  (Lto)                                   1945


            Was the "Jimmy" on NANAIMO during the time of the sinking of the PORT NICHOLSON.  He later took command of H.M.C.S. VILLE DE QUEBEC where he asked for Jack Tedford to join the ship as his signalman.

                          COMMANDING OFFICERS H.M.C.S. NANAIMO


H.C.C. Daubeny (Lt. Cdr)RCNR

26 Apr 1941    7 Oct 1941

            First ship's Commanding Officer.  Thought to have served with the British Columbia Police or as Chief of Police in NANAIMO B.C.. 


T.J. Bellas (LT)

8 Oct 1941                  20 Aug 1942

            He reportedly lost his command for going on the rocks while entering harbour at Conception Bay, Newfoundland while forming part of the escort force for those signing the Atlantic Charter.

E.U. Jones (LT) RCNR

21 Aug 1942                10 Oct 1943

            He was a real character and was related to COAC while he was in command.  Some of his tricks kept the ship tied to the trot buoys instead of alongside when she was in harbour.  He liked to race the ship.


J.E. Hastings (LT) RCNR

11 Oct 1943                9 Oct 1944


Reginald C. Eaton (LT) RCNVR

10 Oct 1944                22 Mar 1945


W. Redford (LT) RCNR

23 Mar 1945                28 Aug 1945   




Adrift                                                   Absent without leave

Afters                                                   Desert

Andrew Miller                                      Royal Navy

Beach                                                   Land, hence a run on the beach = shore leave.

Burgoo                                                 Porridge

Belly robbers                                        Victualling Assistants

Blacklistmen                                         Defaulters

Bone butcher                                        Medical officer

Bottle / Blast                                         A rebuke

Bow waves                                                      A green seaman

Brigg                                                    A ships cells / military prison

Buttoned up                                          Finished

Button it up                                           Be quiet / stop talking

Button your flap                                    Be quiet / stop talking

Bunting tosser                                       Signalman

Blue light                                              Warrant gunner

Calk                                                     Sleep

Chips                                                   Ship's carpenter / shipwright

Chicago piano                                      Multiple Pom Pom

Chief Buffer / Buffer                  Chief Bosun's mate

Clinker Knockers                                 Stokers

Charlie Noble                                       Galley Funnel

C.O.A.C.                                                         Commanding Officer Atlantic Coast

C.T.F.                                                  Commander Task Force

C.T.U.                                                 Commander Task Unit

Curly navy                                            R.C.N.V.R.

Dechho                                                            Let me see / Show me  (from hindustani)

Dohby Day                                                       Wash day (from Hindustani)

Ditch                                                    The sea

EASTOMP                                                      Eastern Ocean Meeting Place

Fanny adams                                        Canned beef

Flaked out                                            Asleep

Flap                                                                 A commotion

F.N.O.F.                                                          Flag Officer Newfoundland Forces

Foc'sle                                                 An abbreviation for forward castle.  In the days of wooden ships it often resembled a castle.  In modern usage the forward part of a ship, usually raised from the main deck. 

Get my / your head down                      Going to bed / sleep

Grog                                                                Daily issue of rum or another term for rum

Guns                                                                Gunnery officer

Get cracking                                         Get on with the job

Gibby                                                   Cap

Gun busters                                          Ordinance artificers

Have a look see                                    Investigate

Hard tack                                                         Sea biscuits

Hawse-pipe                                          A pipe that the anchor chain goes through before going below decks to the chain locker.

Irish mail                                               Potatoes

Jaunty                                                   Master at Arms

Jeeps                                                    Volunteer reservists

Jimmy the One                                      Executive Officer (First Lieutenant)

Jimmy                                                   Executive Officer

Jimmy Bungs                                        A cooper

Jack Dusty                                           Victualling assistant

Kye                                                                  Cocoa

Kip                                                                  Sleep

Killick                                                  A leading seaman (for the rank badge, an          anchor or killick)

Liberty Boat                                         The official name for the boat to take those with leave / liberty-men ashore

Limeys                                                 British seamen (from lime juicers)

Lower deck Dit / Buzz              A rumour

Like tiffles tea                           Weak

MAC or MAC ships                            Merchant aircraft carrier, usually a freighter with a floatplane launched from a platform and picked up from the sea after landing on the water.

Make and mend                                               A day off to allow seamen to make or mend clothing / gear

Makee learn                                         A beginner

Matlot                                                  A seaman

Mic                                                                  A Hammock

MOMP                                                                        Mid-ocean Meeting Place

Mouldies                                                          Torpedoes

Number one                                         Executive officer (First Lieutenant)

Oil-fuel attendant                                  A stoker

Oldman                                                            The Captain  (Skipper)

Pan                                                                  Bread (From the French "Pain")

Paybob                                                            Paymaster

Pack the cackle                                    Stop arguing

Pilot (Sky)                                            Chaplain

Pilot                                                     Navigating officer

PF Blokes                                                        Permanent forces personnel

Pongoes                                                           Soldiers

Possie                                                  Jam

Plue                                                                  Tea

Poultice whalopper                               Sick berth Attendant

Pukkah                                                 Real / top notch (from Hindustani)

Pusser crabs                                         Naval issue boots

Pusser dirk                                           An issued seaman's knife

Pusser                                                  Navy style / as per regulations (From purser)

Quack                                                  Medical Officer

Rockies                                                            R.C.N. Reservists

Scaly backs                                          Stokers

Scran / Pusser Scran                 Food / Food prepared by the ship's cook

Scran Bag                                                        A bag in which articles found laying about were placed.  It usually cost the seaman a small fine to retrieve an item from the "Scran bag".  Originally it was soap that was used, in turn, to clean the ship.

S.O.                                                                 Senior officer

Stretch of the land                                 Sleep

Stow it                                                 Stop talking / keep the noise down

Slushy                                                  Cook

Snotty                                                  A midshipman

Sparkers                                                          A Wireless telegrapher (A radioman)

Show a leg                                           Get up

Salt and beef Squire                  A warrant Bosun

Splice the main brace                The issue of an extra ration of rum

Sun's over the yardarm             An invitation to have a drink

Seven beller                                          A cup of tea

Tiddley                                                 Extra smart / well turned out

Tiffy bloke                                            Engine room artificer

Tizzy snatcher                                       Paymaster

Tin fish                                                             Torpedo

Torps                                                   Torpedo officer

Trot Buoy                                                         Usually a pair of buoys in mid harbour used to secure a ship fore and aft to prevent the ship from turning with the current or wind as would happen if she were placed at anchor.

Wavy Navy                                                      Anyone from the Royal Canadian Volunteer Reserve, or more properly the reserve force itself.  R.C.N.V.R.

WESTOMP                                                     Western Ocean Meeting Place

Wooden handled                                              A Cork tipped cigarette




                                           CONVOY DESIGNATIONS

HJ                    Halifax to St. John's

SB                   Sydney to Cornerbrook

SPAB              Sydney to Port Aux Basques

QS                   Sydney to Quebec and up river ports

ON                  United Kingdom to New York

HX                   New York to United Kingdom

GU                   Gibraltar to USA

GS                   Greenland to St. John's

GN                  Guantanimo (Cuba) to New York

GK                  Guantanimo (Cuba) to Key West

GI                    New Guinea to Philippines

GJ                    Guantanimo (Cuba) to Jamaica

GAT                Guantanimo (Cuba) to Trinidad

FTT                 Freetown to Trinidad

FON                ON convoy to Halifax and /or St. John's

FH                   St. John's to Halifax


The following letters added signify the convoy's relative speed.

S          slow

M         medium

F          fast


Anyone wishing to contact the author may do so by email at or or by mail at Box 247, Radway, Alberta, Canada T0A 2V0.  He can also be reached by telephone at 780-992-6709 or 780-736-6377.  I would like to correspond with anyone who can identify any of the men in the pictures or who has other information regarding NANAIMO or Lew Norman.  Thanks


Lorne Norman





Ship’s company June 1941 in Kingston Jamaica


Ship’s company 1942


Engine room crew


Some of the crew with the film crew whom made K-225.  Lew is in the centre of the back row with his shirt off.


Some unknown crew members.  Trident asks for information about these fellows.



Lew Norman and some of the crew on the boat deck.


1.         ANDERSON,  (Seaman)

                        Possibly Fred who lives in Sutton West, Ontario. He was a red head.

2.         ANDERSON, Frank    Nov 1940                    Oct 1942


3.         ANDERSON, Frederick (ASDIC)    1941       1943

                        See number 1.

4.         ARTMOT, JOE


5.         ASHCROFT, Hugh RED (St)   Apr 1941        13 Aug 1942


                        Hugh joined with the rank of Stoker 2/C and retired with the rank of Lieutenant-Commander.  He lives in Nova Scotia.


6.         Axel


7.         BAKER, Gordon (GORDIE) (St 2/C)

            Joined the same time as Bob Reedman and Hugh Ashcroft and was from New Westminster, British Columbia.

8.         BARNES, Philip

            He was a religious type who eventually became a conscientious objector.


9.         BAXTER, BILL


10.       BELL,  (Ldg St)

            An American who was trying to gain a transfer to the U.S. Navy.  He suffered from some kind of an ear problem.


11.       BERRY, BOB


12.       BERTHELET Alfred Z August 15, 1943 - January 24, 1944


            LSRM III Now lives in Vanier, Ontario.


13.       BOND, Bill

            Was a stoker PO, but due to his shore experience had his own watch.  He worked in the Ogilvie Flour Mills in Edmonton before the war.


14.       BRETENBACH, ALEC           Oct Nov 1943              1944

            Alec now lives in London, Ontario.


15.       BRODIE  (Sick Bay Tiffy)

16.       BROWN,  Possibly an officer

                        Still lives in Victoria and runs a real estate firm on Blanchard Street.

                        Puffy Summerfeldt was never one of his favourite people as Puffy puts it because of the following incident as described by Puffy:


                        We were fuelling ship and he had been having a shower.  He came out. --- In those days when we fuelled ship we took the tank top off so we could see the oil coming up.  And I don't know for some reason or another they couldn't get the valve shut and we flooded his cabin.  Well, he came out of the shower and stepped into this oil, phwut, he fell on his ass.

17.       BURGESS, TITCH   (Ldg Telegraphist)

            He used to write poetry.


18.       BURGESS,  (Seaman)

            A Newfoundlander with red hair.  He was a comical type.


19.       BURTHELET, Alfred  (LS) 15 Aug 1943  24 Jan 1944


20.       BYERS, Ken   (Signalman)

21.       CANDOW, Bob

            Worked as an engineer with the coast guard after the war.


22.       CHAMBERS,


23.       CHALMERS



24.       COGHILL, George (Wireless operator)

                        Presented the city of NANAIMO with a scale model of NANAIMO.  Still may live in or around Victoria.          

25.       COLLINS,


26.       CONNOLY, ?? Tom ?? E.R.A.

            Possibly know as SPLIT-PIN.  From Ontario; maybe Hamilton or Toronto.


27.       CONWAY, TOMMY

28.              COURTNEY, Archie (St)



            He was another character.  He was in the Salvation Army and played trumpet in a band.  He would never sleep below decks while the ship was at sea; instead, he slept on the gratings just inside the engine-room hatch.


29.       COWAN,  Kenneth     (CODER) Communications Officer


30.              CROFT, Ivan  (Seaman)


            Ivan was from Lunenburg, Nova, Scotia and died in 1990.


31.       CROWE, Dave  (Ldg St)

            He was a member of the regular forces before the war.


32.       CURRY,  Stoker

            From Calgary.


33.       DEMSEY, BOB


34.       DOUCETTE, Charles J  (AB)  Dec 1942         Nov 1943

            Now lives in Aylesford, King's County, Nova Scotia


36.       EVANS, TAFF  (Seaman)

            He was a tough guy, who kept losing his ID card.  He finally sewed it into the back of his jumper.


37.              FARRELL, POP  (seaman)



38.       FULLERTON, Bert  (ERA)

            Almost lost him when he fell between NANAIMO and another corvette while they were tied up on the south side in St. John's, Newfoundland.

39.       GARVEY,

            (Alcohol... became mentally ill ... possibly committed)


40.       GARVIES, CPO COX

            Joined the ship as Seaman PO and served as Coxswain.

41.       GINEVIN, PAT

            He was an asdic operator and part of the boat's crew who went to PORT NICHOLSON to see if she could be salvaged.  He was picked up along with Jack Tedford and Aubrey Pickles.

42.       GILPIN Fred E            1945

            ERA 3 presently living in Delta, British Columbia.

43.       GLISTER, (Ldg St)

            An Englishman


44.       GOLDFINCH,  (Seaman)

            Was in the same new entry class as Bob Reedman and Hugh Ashcroft in H.M.C.S. NADEN.


45.       HANNAH, GINGER  (Victualling Assistant)


46.       HARKISS Ken (cook)



            Possibly still around Victoria.

48.       HATCHER, BRUCE


49.       HAWTHORNE, Edward J       Jan 1943                      Jan 1944

50.       HENNESY, PAT            Dec 1942                     Dec 1942

            Presently living in London, Ontario.

51.       HODDING, Aubrey  "DAISY" CPO ERA

            Mr. Hodding was the first chief ERA to serve in NANAIMO.  Before the war he worked on tow boats hauling ore somewhere on the northern coast of British Columbia.  He attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander and served as engineer on yard craft in Esquimalt after his retirement from the navy.


52.       HORNE, Lorne BUZZ             (AB)                Lost 16 Jun 1942

Buzz Horne


                        From Winnipeg, Manitoba.  He attended Ralph Brown, Issac Newton and St. John's Tech schools.  He was an avid soccer player.  He played on the Manitoba All Stars Team that met the Charlton Athletics of the English League.  He also coached several soccer teams for youth.  In addition, he was a keen golfer.      Described by all I communicated with as a "great guy".  Lost when the PORT NICHOLSON sank.  Had a lake, in northern Manitoba, named for him, according to Mrs. Pennington the second wife of Buzz's brother-in-law.  She also states that he was drafted aboard the ship to replace someone whose mother was ill.

53.       HOWARD,  (Seaman)

            From Edmonton, Alberta.  He remained in the reserves after the war.  He may have worked for an Edmonton newspaper (The Edmonton Journal??).


54.       HUTCHINSON,                     (Ldg/Sig)

            Was regular Navy.


55.       HUGHES, BUBBLES  PO (St)

            Bubbles was from St. Catherines, Ontario and was quite a character.  He used to tell stories by the dozens.  Was a regulating P.O. and used to relieve the E.R.A's.  He worked on the locks on the Welland Canal.


56.       HUNTER,   (St)

            He was from Windsor, Ontario.


57.       ISNOR, James David  (AB)                 1942                1943


58.       KIRKBY,        (Seaman)


59.       KIRKPATRICK, Bill (AB LTO) Jul 1945        Aug 1945

            From White Rock, British Columbia

60.       KORDYBACK,  (Seaman)

61.       La'LIBERTY,  (Ldg St)

            From Quebec.


62.       LARTER, Ches  (Seaman)



            Ches and Aubrey Pickles were good friends.  He is now thought to be living in the San Francisco area.


63.              LITTLE, Bill  (St 1/C)


            Was the engineer’s storekeeper and had a finger missing on his right hand.  He had a brother, George, also in the R.C.N., a gunner's mate.  Bill was from Vancouver, British Columbia.  Worked in the mills in British Columbia after the war.


64.       MacKENZIE, CHUCK   (Ldg St)

            From Vancouver, British Columbia.  He worked in the shipyards before the war and it is believed he started his own repair yard after the war.


65.       MacARTHUR,   


66.       MATHERS, George


67.       McCORRISTER, Loyd V  (SIG)         Aug 1942         Sep 1945


68.       McDONALD,             (Telegraphist)


69.       McFARLAND, SPIKE Walter  The following is, for the most part, an excerpt from TRAILS AND RAILS NORTH; History of the McLennan District.

                                                He was born in 1910 and raised on a small farm in Pugwash, Nova Scotia on Northumberland Straight.  He was educated there but moved west during one of the harvest excursions of about 1928.  He went to Edmonton where he had uncles and cousins.

                                    Things were really tough in those days but Walter was a good worker and he always managed to get by.  He found work with The Canadian Pacific Railway, at saw mills etc.  During this period he took out a homestead in Rocky Rapids near Drayton Valley and got title in three or four years.

                                    In 1930 he got a job as a locomotive watchman with the Northern Alberta Railway Company and headed out to the area from Hythe to Dawson Creek, where the railway was exrending the track.  During the next few years he worked in many places on the railway, but made his home in McLennan, until joining The Royal Canadian Navy in 1941 and went off to the east coast.

                                    While in the Navy, Walter spent most of his time on corvettes in convoy duty and saw a lot of the world before getting his dischargein 1945, when he returned to McLennan.

                                    Walter was promoted to engeneer in 1946 and railroaded until the middle of the sixties when he left to farm a section of land on White Mud Creek, just south of the Little Smokey River south west of McLennan.  He enjoyed life out there and had a lot of good neighbours, such as the Arndt boys and Wilf. Reids.

                                    Walter was a good legion member and when he passed on in 1972 a legion service was, of coruse, held for him.

                                    The one escapade which involved Walterin his railway career was the rather famous occassion when a "caboose got away".  The crew was made up of Walter as Engineer, Smokey Dupuis as Fireman and Scotty Hall as Conductor.  They had brought the train up the hil to Judah, put the train on the siding and were going to take the caboose back to Peace River to get more cars.  In the process the caboose got away and there was no way they could catch it.  The crew boarded the engine and headed slowly down the hill after it, expecting to find the caboose of the rails in the bush, before they had gone far.  But, lo and behol;d, the the cabose never derailed.  It sped down the hill, through Peace River and across the river on the narrow railway bridge, which at the time, was used by both trains and vehicles, continued up the hill on the other side until it finally stopped.  Its stop did not last long as it then began to roll back down that hill, across the bridge again and comming to the station, the night operator managed to board it and put on the brake and put out a small fire which had started when one of the coal oil lamps fell on a bed.  While the railway bridge had a roadway on it to take other traffic, there was no room for trains and vehicles at the same time.  It was a miracle that the little red caboose didn't meet any traffic on its two mad dashes across the bridge.  It could have been a real disaster.  A lot of people feel that the caboose could have been travelling at seventy five or eighty miles per hour, and on those sections of curving, rising, track the speed limitwas fifteen miles per hour.  The end result was a humourous story instead of a tragedy.  The incident was kept secret from Railroad officials for, I believe, several months.  Of course, after they heard about it, those judged guilty were presented with demerit marks.


70.       McGEACHY, JOCK  (Ldg St)

            Jock was from Ponoka, Alberta.  It is thought he worked at the Ponoka Hospital prior to the war.


71.       McKAY, RED (St)


72.       McKENZIE,


73.       McIVOR, 

            An ASDIC Rating.


74.       McNEVIN, Sydney R (LS)      Jan 1943                      Jun 1943

            ?Anti Aircraft gunner?


75.       McCRAKEN,  Chief ERA

            He relieved Aubrey Hodding as Chief ERA.

76.       MONTIGUE, B ???

78.       NORMAN, LEWIS (LEW) C (St) 25 Apr 1941         16 Apr 1944


Lew Norman July 1942

Lew in round rig 1944


Lew relaxing in a ventilator on NANAIMO

Lew Norman in Jamaica 1941 with an unidentified man


            Joined as Stoker 1/C due to his shore experience at the Archer Memorial Hospital in Lamont, Alberta prior to the war.  After leaving NANAIMO Lew went to trade school in H.M.C.S. STADACONA where he took an SPO's course and then was drafted to H.M.C.S. COBALT another corvette.  In June 1945 he was drafted ashore to STADACONA, then on to PEREGRINE and finally NONSUCH for demobilization on 4 July 1945.  Lew, his wife and two sons returned to his home in Lamont, Alberta, following the war.  He and his brother Ray started a plumbing and heating shop, which they ran for some years.  The partnership broke up and Lew ran the business himself for some time.  Meanwhile the family grew by two more girls, both born in Lamont.

                        Lew and his family built a new home with the help of V.L.A..  This home was built on acreage just south of the town of Lamont.  Lew worked in Edmonton and commuted back and forth each week while Dorothy worked as a switchboard operator and raised chickens.  (25 - 3500 of them for eggs).  All the while Lew was taking night school and correspondence courses.  Interestingly, when he died he had six valid trade certificates.  He held certificates of qualifications as a steam engineer, an electrician, a linesman, a plumber, a tinsmith and as a radio and television technician.

                        Lew and his family moved from Lamont to Edmonton and back two times before the family moved to Grande Prairie.  During this time Lew had many and varied jobs always seeming to be unfulfilled in his work.  After moving to Grande Prairie Lew seemed to have found his job and special niche.  He often remarked that when you came over the hill towards Grande Prairie you didn't have to wonder where the town got its name.  Lew lived in Grande Prairie until he died in 1981.  When he passed away he was one of the partners in Frontier T.V.. 

                        Lew was an avid fisherman and hunter.  There was little doubt as to why he enjoyed the area as much as he did.  It abounded with good hunting and had several good fishing lakes within driving distance.

                        Lew was also very musical and played the guitar, banjo, ukulele and base guitar.  He taught Hugh Ashcroft, as Hugh put it, "The only guitar chords I ever knew"! 

                        Lew was the author's father and he died in Grande Prairie, Alberta, in November 1981.



79.       NORMAN, RAYmond                                                 Sep 1945

            Ray decommissioned NANAIMO and was in her when she arrived in Vancouver to be paid off in 1945.  He remained in the navy and served in H.M.C.S. CAYUGA during the Korean conflict.  He went to work for H.M.C. Dockyard in Esquimalt following his release from the Navy and lived in Victoria, B.C.    Ray passed away in 2000.  Ray was the uncle of the author.


80.       O'FLINN, Harry   Leading stoker


81.       PARKES, NORM

82.       PICKLES, Aubrey (LS)

            Aubrey was from Port Arthur, Ontario.  While in NANAIMO he was captain of the guns crew and remained in the service after the war.  He served with Hugh Ashcroft in 1959-1960 and again when he had command of H.M.C.S. NEW GLASGOW.  Hugh Ashcroft served under him as engineering officer in NEW GLASGOW.  He retired with the rank of Lieutenant Commander.  He died in the Toronto area in the late eighties.

83.       PILKINGTON (ERA)


84.       PLAXTON   A stoker PO


85.       POFF, RUSTY   (Cook)


86.       RAYNER, Frank  (St)

87.              REEDMAN, BOB


Bob by the forward gun showing off the gun shield

            From Kamloops, British Columbia.  Joined the navy the same day as Hugh Ashcroft, 15 July 1940.  When Hugh sent this information to me he wrote "I'm looking at a maple tree we planted about forty four years ago in the back of our lot".


88.       ROBSON, GILL

            From Winnipeg.


89.       RODEN, Bennie  (an ASDIC rating)

            He worked in H.M.C. dockyard, Halifax, after the war and was from Halifax, Nova Scotia.

90.       ROWAN, Tommy


91.       RUST,


92.       SELLICK, STAN

            Presently lives in Calgary, Alberta.


93.       SHEPHARD,   (Signalman)

            Possibly from Winnipeg.


94.       SILVER, Normand Nathan (Sto 1) Apr 1945   Sep 1945


95.       SMITH, Jim

96.       SMITH, James John, Chief ERA


97.       SOMMERVILLE, Wilfred J PUFFY  (Ldg St)

                                                              Mar 1942 - Nov 1943

                        Joined the ship as she was coming out of a boiler clean in Halifax.  He joined NANAIMO as a stoker first class but had finished and passed his stoker P.O.s course in October of forty two he was promoted to a leading hand.  NANAIMO went into refit, Puffy had been doing P.O.'s duties for quite a while and his acting P.O. came through, and he left the ship. 

                        Now lives in Esquimalt near Victoria, British Columbia. NANAIMO was the only corvette he ever served in.  He went on to serve in H.M.C.S. PUNCHER, WARRIOR, commissioned the SAULT SAINT MARIE, SOIUX, CRUSADER, STETTLER, CAYUGA came off her qualified as a Chief E.R.A., served in SOIUX during the Korean Conflict, re commissioned SUSSEXVILLE as Chief E.R.A., JAMES BAY, served a year on a diving unit and finished in CAPE SCOTT.  He was the first, and only, chief stoker on the west coast to gain his charge ticket and resulting chief E.R.A. status.  He mentioned that it was possible to get Chief Petty Officer second class E.R.A. or C2E.R.A..  He said he studied "like hell" for the test.  He tried for provincial stationary certificate and acquired second class certification.  When he left the navy he did so as a Chief E.R.A. and decided not to follow the career of a steam engineer.  He went on to do accounting for twenty years.

                        Tells the following story of NANAIMO entering St. John's, Newfoundland under the command of T.J. Bellas.


                        There were two of them, both R.N. or R.N.V.R..  Bellas and Kitely were on the bridge when we were going into Newfoundland one time.  I'm sure they were both "p____d" out of their minds.  They were arguing; we were in a heavy fog; one yelling "Newfoundland is over there", the other returning with "No its right here".  Luckily we finally did find the opening for Newfy.

                        Puffy also spoke about a signalman who slept under the boilers and was sea sick from the time they left harbour till they were tied up again.  He was finally drafted ashore by the Old Man, but, Puffy can't remember his name.


98.       SERENKO, Bill (Leading seaman)

99.       SOUBLIERE, George  A stoker PO

            Was regular navy and served prior to the war.


100.     STRONG,  (Seaman)

            He had relatives in Jamaica, came from Regina, Saskatchewan, and used to get very sea sick.


101.          SWIMM, Waldo G  (Seaman)


Waldo Swimm by the 4” gun shield

            Waldo was from Clark's Harbour, Nova Scotia, and was a lobster fisherman before the war.  Waldo, Hugh Ashcroft and Lew Norman were wingers.  He still lives in Clark's Harbour.

102.     TEDFORD, JACK  (Signalman)

            Born in Truro, Nova Scotia, one of six brothers, he tried unsuccessfully to join air crew and later joined the Navy on 30 June 1941.  He enlisted as an ordinary seaman for visual signals.  He was sent immediately to signal school without basic training.  This training was done at "Stadacona II", which was located at the corner of Almond and Windsor streets in Halifax.  On completion of the course he was sent to St. John's, Newfoundland with other signalmen and drafted onto NANAIMO 19 November 1941.  Jack comments, "At this time, although I was a maritimer, I didn't know the front end of a ship from the back end.  When I reported aboard and the quartermaster told me to report aft to the cox'n; I was completely lost". 

                        Jack served in several other ships including:  VILLE DE QUEBEC, CANSO, DIGBY and MIRAMACHI.  He spent his longest tour, some sixteen months, aboard NANAIMO.  Jack left NANAIMO in March 1943.  Jack signed up for duty in the Pacific after VE day; however, while he was on leave, before reporting to signal school in St. Hyacinth, P.Q. VJ day was declared.  During this leave Jack got married.  Jack reported to Signal school and was then sent to H.M.C.S. PEREGRINE for demobilization.  Jack reached the rank of Ldg/Sig VS3.

                        Jack worked for a while in Truro then decided to use his rehabilitation credits by going to university.  While he was attending Acadia University the Korean War broke out and Jack enrolled in COTC, Canadian Officer's Training Corps, and finished his university.  By this time Jack's family had increased to four. 

                        He went to Korea and also served in Japan.  Jack remained with the army and retired with the rank of Major in March 1971.

                        After retiring Jack went to work for D.S.S. in Halifax.  He now lives in Halifax and curls with Hugh Ashcroft.  Neither knew the other had served in NANAIMO at the same time until 1990 when the subject came up, over a few drinks, while the two were at a bonspeil.  He was one of the sea boat's crew that went to PORT NICHOLSON.


103.     TENNANT,     (Telegraphist)


104.     TWIST, W G (ERA5)  7 Aug 1942      3 Sep 1942

            Possibly Roger.

105.     WALLACE, Danny

            An ERA, who was a signalman before the war.  He taught Hugh Ashcroft a lot of engineering mathematics.


106.     WEEDEN,  (Seaman)


107.     WILLIS, Thomas H     Mar 1943                     Jun 1943

108.     WYLIE, Herb

            Living in Granby P.Q. as reported in Trident Volume 5 number 8, April 22 1977.


109.     Tommy BULLDOG


110.     MOOSE Possibly HARGRAVES.



Out And About:  Photos Of  NANAIMO And Crew

Unless identified the men in the pictures are unknown to the author but were a part of my father’s collection of photos taken while he served in NANAIMO

There are some photos provided to the Author  by Red Ashcroft and Bob Reedman.


Depth charges astern of NAMIAMO


A “green one” coming over the side








Bill Little giving  Bob Reedman a haircut.


Iceland as seen from the deck of NANAIMO

Signalman at the Aldis Lamp

Ship’s mascot  NANAIMO or HMCS Cobalt


A sinking freighter identified as possibly Bencluch; however,  she is not on fire as reported in the report of proceedings so there is some doubt about the ship’s identity.


Another view of the same ship


Three amigos

The Baptism



In the Gun Tub

A recovered bomb

A handsome foursome


Fun in the sun


Just goofing around

“Pop” Farrell or possibly Bill Little

Some of the crew (Signals I think)

A good view of the gun deck and gun shield

The gun’s crew closed up and ready for action

Having a beer in New York

Semifore to go

Some of the boys at the bofour


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