Royal Canadian Navy Photos, 1939-1943

Random Library and Archives Canada Photos of RCN sailors in action during the Second World War.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3571738)

Ratings holding up a codfish which was killed by the explosion of depth charges dropped by the Fairmile motor launch ML 052 of the Royal Canadian Navy off Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 17 November 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3566799)

HMCS Acadia whaler, November 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3566840)

Ratings scrubbing plating in engine room of HMCS Assiniboine, November 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada, MIKAN No. 3566523)

Chief / Yeoman and sailor / signaler looking at signals from another ship from the bridge of HMCS Assiniboine, September 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3566833)

Leading Stoker Henri LeClair bringing up a shell on HMCS Assiniboine, November 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4950881)

Lt. William P. Hayes, HMCS Iroquois Anti-Aircraft Officer, in anti-flash gear, April 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3566492)

Rear-Admiral Percy Walker Nelles, RCN, Chief of the Naval Staff, September 1940.

Admiral Percy Walker Nelles, Companion of the Order of Bath (CB) (7 January 1892 – 13 July 1951) was ain the RCN and the Chief of the Naval Staff from 1 January 1934 to 15 January 1944. He oversaw the massive wartime expansion of the RCN and the transformation of Canada into a major player in the Battle of the Atlantic. During his tenure U-boats raided the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canadian Northwest Atlantic command was created, and the RCN provided up to 40% of all escort forces in the North Atlantic. His handling of the RCN's war effort had its opponents however, and he was removed from his post as Chief of the Naval Staff in January 1944. He was sent to London as Overseas Naval Attaché, coordinating RCN operations for Operation Overlord. He retired in January 1945 as a full admiral.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4233402)

Hospital Ship Letitia, crew taking a sighting, c1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3566442)

Ratings hoisting practice torpedo aboard HMCS Ottawa, July 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3566831)

Ratings carrying supplies aboard HMCS Restigouche, 1 July 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3644079)

Captain's Requestmen aboard HMCS Assiniboine. Leading Stoker Henri LeClair at left. Officer behind table is Lieutenant J.H. Stubbs, November 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3525063)

A group of RCN ratings eating a meal aboard HMCS Agasiz, Esquimalt, British Columbia, Canada, February 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3576681)

Personnel preparing to fire depth charges as the destroyer HMCS Saguenay attacks a submarine contact at sea, 30 October 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3524827)

Off-duty personnel holding a singsong aboard the destroyer HMCS Ottawa at sea, 22 November 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3200680)

Commander Hugh F. Pullen, Commanding Officer, mending his minesweeper's mitts on the bridge of the destroyer HMCS Ottawa (2nd) at sea, 22 November 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4950863)

Signal Lamp and rating on a Fairmile motor boat, 1943. The Officer is Albert "The Beard" Morrow Co of MTB 726 of the RCN 65th MTB Flotilla. The most photographed officer in the RCN during the Second World War. They operated in the Med. (T.L. Logie, from The Champagne Navy)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4950839)

Able Seaman Enio Girardo, rescued from the sea by shipmates, in front of the forward gun - HMCS Edmundston.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3587248)

Lieutenant J. Korning, HMCS Ottawa, 22 November 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3238884)

RCN sailor on watch aboard HMCS Iroquois at sea, 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225382)

Lieutenant W.E. Harrison, Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR), using a sextant, Halifax, Nova Scotia, , December 1943.

A sextant is an instrument generally used to measure the altitude of a celestial object above the horizon. Making this measurement is known as sighting the object, shooting the object, or taking a sight. The angle, and the time when it was measured, can be used to calculate a position line on a nautical or aeronautical chart. A common use of the sextant is to sight the sun at noon to find one’s latitude. Held horizontally, the sextant can be used to measure the angle between any two objects, such as between two lighthouses, which will, similarly, allow for calculation of a line of position on a chart.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3404668)

Naval recruits with fixed bayonets, HMCS Cornwallis, Deep Brook, Nova Scotia, June 1943.

(Armémuseum Photo - The Swedish Army Museum)

They appear to be armed with the "United States Rifle, cal .30, Model of 1917", an American modification and production of the .303-inch (7.7 mm) Pattern 1914 Enfield (P14) rifle (listed in British Service as Rifle No. 3). These rifles were manufactured in the USA on British orders for the First World War, then were supplied to Britain and the Commonwealth under Lend-Lease in the Second World War. (Bob Cerovich)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3566836)

Leading Stoker Henri LeClair in the engine room of HMCS Assiniboine, Halifax, Nova Scotia, November 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3396583)

Ratings mustered along the starboard side of HMCS Assiniboine at sea, ca. September 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3194364)

The Right Honorable W.L. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada, inspecting the Ship's Company of HMCS Assiniboine, 19 Oct 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3566842)

Ratings polishing searchlight aboard HMCS Assiniboine, November 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3396583)

Ratings mustered along the starboard side of HMCS Assiniboine at sea, cSep 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3224949)

Mail from shore is transferred from a ship joining convoy to the Canadian destroyer HMCS Assiniboine. A line is shot across the gap between the ships and the bags of letters and official messages are hauled in by men to the gun platform upper left, Dec 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3396601)

The destroyer HMCS St. Francis, which is escorting a convoy, prepares to take on fuel from a tanker at sea, 7 November 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3571772)

Ratings clearing ice from the forecastle of HMCS Lunenburg, Halifax, Nova Scotia, January 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3398558)

Forecastle of the minesweeper HMCS Lloyd George off Halifax, Nova Scotia, June 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3567353)

Personnel handling a damaged mine and its cradle, Naval Armament Depot, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, 16 March 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3211346)

View from the minesweeper HMCS Lloyd George of the minesweeper HMCS Llewellyn off Halifax, Nova Scotia, June 1943.  

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3526104)

Commander Clarence A. King, D.S.O., D.S.C., c1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3304797)

Commander Hugh F. Pullen, Commanding Officer, on the bridge of HMCS Ottawa at sea, 22 November 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3576697)

Mate A.F. Pickard and Chief Engine Room Artificer W. Spence, St. John's, Newfoundland, 1942. Both men played key roles in the corvette HMCS Chambly's sinking of the German submarine U-501 on 10 September 1941, the Royal Canadian Navy's first confirmed submarine sinking of the Second World War. Pickard received a Mention in Despatches and Spence received a Distinguished Service Medal for their actions.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3572365)

Able Seaman George Howard (left) and Leading Torpedoman Charles Skeggs of HMCS Oakville, standing in front of a depth charge launcher. They took part in the sinking of the German submarine U-94 on 28 August. Halifax, Nova Scotia, 17 October 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3576681)
Personnel preparing to fire depth charges as the destroyer HMCS Saguenay attacks a submarine contact at sea, 30 October 1941.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3331327)
A Canadian machine gun crew aboard HMT Empress of Canada, which was taking part in Operation GAUNTLET, the Spitsbergen raid, en route to Spitsbergen, ca. 19-24 August 1941.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3393539)
Firing of a depth charge from the corvette HMCS Pictou at sea, March 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3572303)

Royal Canadian Navy Air Raid Precaution (ARP) squad, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 4 November 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3334300)

Gunnery School, HMCS  Cornwallis, Deep Brook, Nova Scotia, December 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3613049)

RCN sailors manning a 4-inch gun in the forward "bandstand" on a Flower-class Corvette.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3396602)

RCN sailors firing a 4-inch gun on an RCN Corvette during working-up exercises off Pictou, Nova Scotia, 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3572367)

DEMS (Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships) personnel taking part in gun drill aboard an unidentified merchant ship, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 29 November 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3567312)

RCN ratings manning a four-inch gun aboard HMCS St. Croix at sea, March 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3566994)

Able Seaman J.P. Clements, sighting his Town class destroyer's US pattern 4-inch/50 gun.  He is wearing woolen clothing supplied by The Canadian Red Cross Society, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 5 February 1943.He is wearing woolen clothing supplied by The Canadian Red Cross Society, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 5 February 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3566724)

RCN rating painting the pendant number (H00) on the stern of HMCS Restigouche during her refit at Halifax, Nova Scotia, October 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3396585)

RCN naval ratings painting the destroyer HMCS Restigouche, Halifax, Nova Scotia, October 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3309141)

Commanding Officers of three Royal Canadian Navy destroyers, Plymouth, England, 2 June 1940.  Harry DeWolf, Captain of HMCS St Laurent, Horatio Nelson Lay, Captain of HMCS Restigouche, and Jimmy Hibbard, Captain of HMCS Skeena. All rose to flag officer rank.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3201279)

Commander H.G. DeWolf, Commanding Officer, on the bridge of HMCS Haida, England, 18 September 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3571311)

RCN naval rating arming a two-inch anti-aircraft rocket projectile fitted to defensively-armed merchant ships. Halifax, Nova Scotia, June 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3571149)

Royal Canadian Navy ratings with a boxkite, Halifax, Nova Scotia, April 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3526669)
Lieutenant E.T. Simmons, RCNVR, Commanding Officer, HMCS Port Arthur, April 1943.  On 19 January 1943, HMCS Port Arthur sank the Italian submarine Tritone.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3455875)

R. Cosburn and Lieutenant F.A. Beck (right) at the Asdic set on the bridge of HMCS Battleford, Sydney, Nova Scotia, November 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3567195)

Personnel servicing torpedoes at the Royal Canadian Navy Torpedo Depot, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, March 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3567196)

Personnel servicing torpedoes at the RCN Torpedo Depot, Halifax, Nova Scotia, March 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3567054)

Naval ratings studying the components of a torpedo at the Royal Canadian Navy Torpedo School (Royal Canadian Navy Schools), Halifax, Nova Scotia, January 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3567270)

Naval ratings unloading a torpedo before the refit of an unidentified Town-class destroyer of the Royal Canadian Navy, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, March 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3567295)

RCN ratings with a mine aboard the minelaying vessel HMCS Sankaty off Halifax, Nova Scotia, March 1941.  HMCS Sankaty was an ex-PEI ferry with a wide flat stern and rails for minelaying.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3567291)

RCN rating adjusting the wiring of a mine aboard the minelaying vessel HMCS Sankaty off Halifax, Nova Scotia, March 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225340)
Naval personnel aboard S.S. Miss Kelvin (Harbour Craft 79) witha recovered mine, St. John's, Newfoundland, 13 July 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3394484)

RCN ratings loading a Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar during trials aboard the Corvette HMCS North Bay, Halifax, Nova Scotia, November 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3394476)

RCN ratings loading a Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar during trials aboard HMCS North Bay, Halifax, Nova Scotia, October 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3571062)

RCN rating manning a .50-calibre machine gun aboard HMCS St. Croix at sea, March 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3525061)

20-mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft gun and its crew aboard HMCS Morden (K170), Halifax, Nova Scotia, 3 August 1943. This a good look at the guide template used to prevent gunners from shooting into the ship’s superstructure. (Sandy McClearn)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3204508)

Twin 220-mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft gun aboard amotor torpedo boat of the Canadian-manned 29th MTB Flotilla, May 1944.  

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3394409)

RCN naval rating loading an ammunition drum onto a Hispano 20-mm anti-aircraft gun on his ship, Halifax, Nova Scotia, May 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3566434)
RCN ratings manning a two-pounder anti-aircraft gun aboard HMCS Assiniboine, which is escorting a troop convoy en route from Halifax to Britain, 10 July 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3571188)
DEMS (Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships) gunners passing ammunitionfor a Bofors 40-mm anti-aircraft gun aboard an unidentified merchant ship atsea, 5 May 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3571186)

DEMS (Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships) gunners manning a Bofors 40-mm.anti-aircraft gun aboard a merchant ship at sea, 5 May 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3398979)

Transmitting Station, HMCS Ottawa, October 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3572818)

RCN Lieutenant watching an Electrical Artificer working on electrical equipment in the Electrical Artificers' Workshop, HMC Dockyard, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 18 November 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3396599)

Survivors of a torpedoed merchant ship, St. John's, Newfoundland, 15 September 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3566457)

RCN diver putting on his suit, Halifax, Nova Scotia, August 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3572290)

Diver preparing to check that the corvette HMCS Lethbridge is properly seated on the stocks of the marine haulout, Sydney, Nova Scotia, 2 November 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3566923)

Naval rating operating the training mechanism of a 4.7-inch gun, Royal Canadian Navy Gunnery School, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1940.

(Ken Macpherson / Naval Museum of Alberta - Canadian Navy Heritage website. Image Negative Number NF-402)

View of the QF 4.7-inch Mk. IX gun on the foc'sle of HMCS Assiniboine showing "B" gun and the fog lookout closed up in the eyes of the ship. The gun crew are visible sheltering behind the shield.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3587007)
RCN sailor standing below twin 4.7-inch guns of HMCS Iroquois at sea, 23 September 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3201113)

Splicing the mainbrace: distribution of rum ration aboard HMCS Arvida to celebrate the news of the surrender of Italy. St. John's, Newfoundland, 8 September 1943.

Up Spirits... Stand Fast the Holy Ghost.

The rum ration, or "tot", was served from 1850 to 1970 (for the Royal Navy). The Royal Canadian Navy was still issuing until 31 Mar 1972.  The ration consisted of one-eighth of an imperial pint (71 ml) of rum at 95.5 proof (54.6% ABV), given out to every sailor at midday. Senior ratings (petty officers and above) received their rum neat, whilst for junior ratings it was diluted with two parts of water to make three-eighths of an imperial pint (213 ml) of grog. The rum ration was served from one particular barrel, also known as the "Rum Tub", which was ornately decorated and was made of oak and reinforced with brass bands with brass letters saying "The Queen, God Bless Her".
Not all sailors necessarily drew their rum: each had the option to be marked in the ship's books as "G" (for Grog) or "T" (for Temperance, if they were members of the Temperance Movement). Sailors who opted to be "T" were given three pence (3d) a day instead of the rum ration, although most preferred the rum.
The time when the rum ration was distributed was called "Up Spirits", which was between 11 am and 12 noon. A common cry from the sailors was "Stand fast the Holy Ghost". This was in response to the bosun's call "Up Spirits". Each mess had a "Rum Bosun" who would collect the rum from the officer responsible for measuring the right number of tots for each mess. The officers did not get a rum ration. (Steam Tug Kerne)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3576972)

Captain E.R. Mainguy, Captain (D), Royal Canadian Navy (R.C.N.), in The Crowsnest, a club which he established for seagoing officers, St. John's, Newfoundland, September 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3334443)

Crewmen of the minesweeper HMCS Stratford having a meal in their mess deck, St. John's, Newfoundland, November 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3567164)

An instructor demonstrating the correct way of wearing web equipment at the Royal Canadian Navy Gunnery School, HMCS Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, February 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3566927)
Naval ratings practising the loading and firing of a six-inch gun, Royal Canadian Navy Gunnery School, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3567254)

New Entry RCN ratings learning how to rig a collision mat aboard a training ship of the Royal Canadian Navy, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 3 March 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3566929)

Able Seaman F.E. Brown operating a rangefinder, Royal Canadian Navy Gunnery School, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3567154)

An instructor demonstrating the operation of a rangefinder at the Royal Canadian Navy Gunnery School, HMCS Cornwallis, Halifax, Nova Scotia, February 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No.  3206293)

Lieutenant George Buckingham aboard HMCS Prince David off the coast of British Columbia, 20 December 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3567059)

Ratings loading six-inch shells aboard HMCS Prince David, Halifax, Nova Scotia, January 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3396605)

Operations Plotting Room, Naval Service Headquarters, Ottawa, Ontario, 1 December 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3566952)

Signalmen Clark and Waters operating a signal projector aboard the destroyer HMCS Assiniboine at sea, 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3575335)

Signalman aboard the Fairmile motor launch Q078 of the Royal Canadian Navy at sea, 10 May 1943.

(Libraryand Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3566415)

Signallersaboard HMCS Ottawa, Botwood, Newfoundland, 22 June1940.

(Libraryand Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3571700)

Signallersaboard HMCS Prince Henry reading a signal from Circassia off Bermuda, October 1941,

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3334300)

Gunnery School, HMCS  Cornwallis, Deep Brook, Nova Scotia, December 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3334449)

HMCS Assiniboine (I18) quad 0.5 Vickers machine gun, crew with a view of an unidentified Royal Navy destroyer taking over the escort of Convoy HX180 from its Royal Canadian Navy escort, 19 March 1942. The HX Fast Convoy Rendezvous Point was just south of Iceland, where the RCN Navy Escorts handed off to the Royal Navy Escorts. HX 180 Sailing Orders show 35 ships arrived at Liverpool on 27 March 1942. No losses were noted. At 2 days out this may be the first handoff from the coastal patrol zone escort to the transit escort. (Mike Cadeau)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3571360)

Delivery of mail to a River-class destroyer, possibly HMCS St. Laurent (H83), of the Royal Canadian Navy, Halifax, Nova Scotia, June 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3238928)
Sailors playing cards aboard the Fairmile motor launch Q078 of the Royal Canadian Navy, St. John's, Newfoundland, 10 June 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3567253)

RCN rating tightening a mooring line around a bollard, HMC Dockyard, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 3 March 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3396602)

Naval ratings firing a 4-inch gun aboard a Corvette of the Royal Canadian Navy during working-up exercises off Pictou, Nova Scotia, 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3203180)

Lieutenant John H. Stubbs, who is using a sextant, on the bridge of the destroyer HMCS Assiniboine off Halifax, Nova Scotia, September 1940.  

Article on Lt (N) John H. Stubbs. (CFB Esquimalt Naval Miltary Museum)

Growing up in the small BC mining town of Kaslo, BC, John Hamilton Stubbs had ambitions to be a sailor, and became a naval cadet at age ten. When his father, an electrical engineer, moved the family to Victoria, BC, Stubbs was that much closer to the sea and to achieving his dream of a seagoing life.

When he applied to join the Royal Canadian Navy in 1930, the examining board concluded that Stubbs would make “a very good naval officer“. It was an assessment the quietly impressive Stubbs would more than live up to.

Stubbs did his early training with the Royal Navy in Britain. When he returned to the RCN in the fall of 1935, he was appointed navigator of the destroyer SKEENA, whose Commanding Officer was so impressed with Stubbs that he selected him for specialist navigational training at HMS Dryad in England. The skills he learned there contributed to Stubbs’s renown as a superb ship-handler and tactician.

In January 1941, Stubbs, who was just 28, received command of HMCS Assiniboine, and for the next two years he commanded the ship on the treacherous North Atlantic run. This was harsh, demanding work that placed tremendous physical and mental stress on Stubbs, but he didn’t show the strain. Indeed, his grace under pressure was one of his most respected qualities.

Stubbs was an outstanding seaman, and a more than capable escort commander. In June 1941, Stubbs was Senior Officer of an escort group for convoy ONS-100 when it was attacked by six U-boats. In North Atlantic Run, author and historian Marc Milner describes how Stubbs relied upon sound tactics to escape with the loss of only four merchant ships.

His best known success came in August 1942, when HMCS Assiniboine caught U-210 on the surface in the Atlantic fog.

Naval historian G. N. Tucker, who witnessed the action from the destroyer’s bridge, considered it “a masterpiece of tactical skill“. Tucker observed that although HMCS Assiniboine’s bridge “was deluged with machine gun bullets“, Stubbs “never took his eye off the U-boat, and gave his orders as though he were talking to a friend at a garden party…“. Finally, HMCS Assiniboine, on fire amidships and riddled with shell holes, rammed U-210 twice and finished her off with depth charges.

Stubbs was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO).

Now promoted to Lieutenant-Commander, Stubbs left HMCS Assiniboine in October 1942. After a year of shore duty, he was appointed Commanding Officer of HMCS Athabaskan, a Tribal class vessel with a reputation as an unhappy ship. Stubbs is remembered as the quiet, laid-back man with a strong sense of humour who quickly restored morale, and ran an efficient yet relaxed ship.

HMCS Athabaskan was assigned to Plymouth Command to conduct offensive sweeps off the French coast. Stubbs’s skills proved well-suited to the fast-paced night surface actions and he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his role in a battle in which HMCS Athabaskan and her sister-ship HMCS Haida played crucial roles in sinking the German destroyer T-29 on April 26, 1944.

Three nights later, HMCS Athabaskan and HMCS Haida, under Commander Harry De Wolf, were on patrol in mid-Channel when they were ordered to intercept two German destroyers (survivors of the earlier battle) heading westward along the French coast. HMCS Athabaskan’s radar soon detected the enemy ships; minutes later, the Tribals opened fire, then altered course towards the enemy to ‘comb’ possible torpedoes (that is, turn parallel to incoming torpedoes). In spite of this maneuver, a torpedo found HMCS Athabaskan.

The hit caused such devastation that Stubbs ordered the crew to stand by in readiness to abandon ship. In the early hours of morning, her decks crowded with men, HMCS Athabaskan’s 4-inch magazine erupted in a massive blast. Most of those on the port side were killed, and many others were burned by searing oil that rained down on the upper deck. Survivors took to the cold waters of the English Channel as their ship began to sink beneath them.

Stubbs is said to have sung to his men while they waited in the freezing water, stanzas from a tune about naval volunteers called The Wavy Navy. They were in the water for 30 minutes before HMCS Haida, having finished off one of the German destroyers, returned to rescue survivors. Although it was near dawn and the enemy coast was only five miles away, HMCS Haida lay stopped for 18 minutes. According to some witnesses, Stubbs shouted a warning to DeWolf to the effect “get away HAIDA, get clear“.

DeWolf did not hear Stubbs, but knew he had lingered long enough; after dropping all boats and floats, HMCS Haida headed back to Plymouth with 42 survivors. Six more of HMCS Athabaskan's company made it safely to England in HMCS Haida’s cutter, while another 85 were picked up by German warships. John Stubbs, badly burned and last seen clinging to a life-raft, was among the 128 who perished. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) after his death.

The quiet heroism and dedication to duty demonstrated by John Stubbs have become a rightful part of the rich traditions of the Royal Canadian Navy.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3304845)

Personnel of HMCS Alberni paying out cable during a minesweeping exercise off the coast of British Columbia, March 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3304841)

Personnel preparing to launch a paravane minesweeping float from HMCS Alberni off the coast of British Columbia, March 1941. The minesweeper tows two of these paravanes - one to port and one to starboard- with a cutting cable. The cutting cable severs the mine’s anchor cable, the mine then floats to the surface where it is destroyed by gunfire. (Paul O'Reilly)

It is also known in minewarfare as an Oropesa float. Sweeping could be either "single O" (i.e. a single sweep to port or starboard) or "double O" (sweeps to both port and starboard). Multiple sweepers could be deployed in formation (on a line of bearing) where only the lead sweeper is passing through unswept water, with sweepers using either single or double O as ordered. Another technique used was team sweeping - this did not require the use of the Oropesa floats, instead the sweep wire would be towed between two sweepers with a hydro-mechanical "kite" used to regulate the depth of the sweepwire. (Andy Ashworth)

(RCN diagram)

Mine cutting operations, diagram.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3365450)

Burial at sea of Ordinary Seaman Kenneth Watson of HMCS Assiniboine, who died in the action which resulted in the sinking of the German submarine on 6 August 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3194481)

Personnel of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps treating "casualties" during the final rehearsal for Operation JUBILEE, the raid on Dieppe. England, August 1942. Left is a landing craft personnel LCP , right is a landing craft assault. LCA.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3219360)

Lieutenant Rowley Murphy, Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR), a naval war artist, Esquimalt, British Columbia, 14 September 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3218920)

Navy War Artist Lieutenant Donald MacKay, RCNVR, Dec 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3192117)

King George VI presenting the King's Colour to the Royal Canadian Navy during a ceremony in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, British Columbia, 30 May 1939.

The Colour Officer is Lt. J. C. Hibbard. One year later he was a LCdr and CO of HMCS SKEENA and sailing for England on short notice. He was FOPC in the mid 1950s and retired as a RAdm. (Roland Vaillandcourt).

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3203465)

Quad 2-pounder anti-aircraft guns on HMCS Skeena, June 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3203651)

Ship deck from one of the ships in the 82nd Flotilla on its way down the St. Lawrence to Halifax, Nova Scotia, December 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3380485)

Family situations can be difficult for members of the Canadian Forces.  Servicemen and their wives had a hard time searching for accommodation during the Second World War housing shortage in Halifax, Nova Scotia.