Stuart Alexander Kettles – sailor on the Athabaskan

While conducting research on the Athabaskan, I found this small photograph of the crew members of the Athabaskan on this Website…

It was quite small.

equipage de l'Athabaskan

The photo was on this image…


This sailor is the Website owner’s uncle…  and his site pays homage to Stuart A. Kettles.

Stuart A. Kettles

Stuart A. Kettles

I wrote his nephew to get a copy of the picture.

I keep my fingers crossed…

Stuart Alexander Kettles was a leading writer on the Athabaskan.

This site is packed with precious information about the sailors, the Athabaskan and the sinking that occured on April 29, 1944.

What is most interesting is the life of the prisoners taken to Germany.

This is an excerpt…

In the early days of our captivity. ferocious, trained police dogs were employed to guard the prisoners but by judicious, surreptitious use of food and petting their ferocity melted away. One day the German guards entering the barracks were shocked to find several of their man-eating dogs lying under the bunks with the men licking their faces. The guards promptly posted a notice in English that the dogs were absolutely forbidden to accept food from the prisoners.

As Germany’s manpower dwindled younger guards were sent off to the army, replaced by aging veterans of 1918. When food packages for seamen arrived at the village three miles distant, a detail of POW’s was sent under these guards to bring them in. The walk frequently proved too strenuous for the decrepit jailers and seamen would carry their rifles for them and give them lifts in the carts. Before arriving back at camp they would help the guards from the carts, button their tunics, smarten them up and generally hand back their rifles, to make sure they would not be replaced by younger, hard-boiled guards.

When I told my wife about this she said it was like an episode of Hogan’s Heroes…

I also went and looked at the guest book on the Website. I found people had left messages with their e-mail address.

I wrote to some people who said they had relatives that were on board the Athabaskan. Among them Herm Sulkers’s daughter and Jim Lesperance’s son.

See you next time

You can contact me by writing a comment in the comment section below if you have more information on Leading Writer Stuart Alexander Kettles.


Souvenons-nous is the French translation for Lest we forget…


I had decided to translate some parts of my blog Souvenirs de guerre in English as a way to find more information about sailors that were aboard the Athabaskan. Most were anglophones, but some were francophones and Quebecers.

This is one of them…

Louis Ledoux 1

His name is Louis Ledoux. I found his photo on the Canadian veterans Website. It is the Canadian Virtual War MemorialMore photos were also found on the site…

This one is Louis with his parents Joseph and Marie-Louise.

Louis Ledoux 4

This one is with his brother Jean in the middle…

Louis Ledoux 5

Louis died on April 29, 1944. He was 20. Louis is buried the Plouescat communal cemetery in Finistere, France.

Click here to go to Louis Ledoux’s page on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.

You can write to me by clicking here if you have more information on Able Seaman Louis Ledoux. Tomorrow I will talk about Stuart Alexander Kettles. He was a sailor on the Athabaskan and he was taken prisoner by the Germans.

HMCS Athabaskan, April 29, 1944 – Introduction

I wanted to talk about the First and the Second World Wars in 2014…

I was always appalled by the lost of lives in those wars.

Something happened that changed my mind.

My wife’s uncle said in a family reunion we  had two weeks ago that he was aboard the Athabaskan and was working in the engine room.


HMCS Athabaskan G07

What changed also my mind was when I asked my 24-year old son if he knew the story of the sinking of the Athabaskan…

He said: “My toasts are ready…” (He had just got up and did not have breakfast yet)

It is at that moment I told him that his great uncle was a sailor aboard the Athabaskan…

He started to ask me questions… and this is why I got this idea of writing a blog on the story…

My blog Souvenirs de guerre was in French and I wrote several articles before I decided to use the e-mail addresses on Stuart A. Kettles’ nephew Website from people who had sign his guest books…

Stuart Kettles was a sailor aboard the Athabaskan and he was taken prisoner by the Germans. As a tribute to his uncle, his nephew created a Website in his honour.

A dozen people wrote back the same day !

Among them the daughter of Herm Sulkers and the son of Jim Lesperance, both sailors on the Athabaskan  who I knew little about except that they were taken prisoners just like Stuart A. Kettles.

The story on the sinking of the Athabaskan is well documented in English and this is why I prefer to put links to other Websites like Jerry Proc’s Website.

What I want to do in Lest We Forget is to find as much as possible about the sailors that were on board on April 29, 1944.

To those who can read French, this link will direct you to the story written by Yves Dufeil. Yves has a Website dedicated to naval history. It is simply amazing. He conducted research on a 1914-1918 German Vice-admiral known for his chivalry. This story you have to read.

This is a list of the sailors who died on April 29, 1944.

I found it on this site.

Adams, John C. – AB

Agnew, John – AB

Allison, Albert E. – AB

Amiro, Irvin V. – Tel

Annett, Robert I.L. – SLt (E)

Armstrong, George A. – AB

Ashton, Percy G. – AB

Barrett, Arthur E. – AB

Bell, Donald A.  – Sto

Berkeley, Alfred G. – OS

Bertrand, Laurent J.L. – CPO

Bianco, Anthony D. – AB

Bieber, Edgar E. – Sto. PO

Blinch, Harry C. – AB

Brandson, Thomas L. – Lt(S)

Brighten, Victor H. – ERA*

* information from a reader


 In speaking to my dad this morning, two things emerged. The website shows Vic Brighten’s rank as ERA. He was in fact Chief ERA. He had just replaced Ernie Mills, and was therefore no supposed to be aboard, but the changeover took longer than expected so he stayed aboard for the extra 2 days.


Burrow, William O. – LS

Chamberland, Paul H.A. – AB

Cookman, Edgar A. – LS

Cooney, Stewart R. – Stwd

Corbiere, Vincent G. – AB

Corkum, Gordon F. – AB

Cottrell, Sydney A. – AB

Croft, Mayle H. – AB

Cross, Alfred T. – O.Tel

DeArmond, Gordon, L. – LS

Dillen, Stewart C. – Stwd

Dion, A. Jean G. – L.Sto

Edhouse, Donald W. – Sto

Fleming, Harold L. – AB

Forron, Jack E.A. – Sto

Fralick, Earl I. – AB

Frith, William A. – AB

Fuller, Eugene M. – AB

Gaetano, Valentino J. – AB

Gibbons, Marshall L. – AB

Goldsmith, T.H. – C. Yeo. Sig

Gordon, Lloyd M. – AB

Goulet, Robert J. – Sto

Grainger, Roy J. – LSA

Guest, Carlton G. – AB

Hayes, Christopher – OS

Heatherington, John T. – Sto

Henry, Robert J. – AB

Houison, George D. – L.Wrtr

Hurley, Micheal P. – Sto

Irvine, Leonard C. – AB

Izard, Theodore D. – Lt (E)

Jarvis, Edmund A. – LS

Johnson, Elswood S. – AB

Johnson, Richard R. – L.Sto

Johnston, Lawrence R. – AB

Kelly, Lionel D. – Stwd

Kobes, John R. – LS

Lamoureux, André – LS

Lawrence, Ralph M. – Lt

Lea, Eric E. – Sto

Ledoux, Louis – AB

Lewandowski, Stan S. – Sto

Lind, Mekkel G. – Sto PO

Love, Walter M. – ERA

Lucas, Donald O. – Sto

MacAvoy, Gerald W. – PO. Cook

MacDonald, Ashley K. – AB

MacKenzie, Alexander – AB

Maguire, John W. – L. Sto

Mahoney, John D. – Lt (SB)

Manson, John L. – Cook

Matthews, George H. – AB

McBride, John L. – AB

McCarroll, Thomas G. – Sto

McCrindle, William D. – AB

McGregor, William – L. Sto

McLean, Daniel H. – AB

McNeill, John J. – Sto

Meadwell, Richard G. – AB

Mengoni, Eric J. – AB

Metcalfe, Donald I. – Elec.Art

Millar, Victor – AB

Mills, Ernest G. – C.ERA

Mumford, Leonard K. – ERA

Nash, Robert A. – SLt

Nicholas, Joseph R. – L.Sto

Ouellette, Joseph E.V. – AB

Peart, Hubert J. – AB

Phillips, John D. – AB

Pike, Brenton J. – AB

Pothier, Charles L. – AB

Rennie, John E. – PO

Riendeau, Joseph A.L. – AB

Roberts, John C. – ERA

Roberts, Raymond L. – AB

Robertshaw, Eric – AB

Robertson, Ian A. – AB

Robertson, William – Sto

Roger, Leo A. – Sto

Rolls, Raymond B. – AB

Ryan, Norman V. – AB

St. Laurent, Joseph L.M. – AB

Sampson, Francis L. – AB

Sanderson, Earl H. – AB

Sénécal, Jean G.L. – AB

Sherlock, Albert V. – Stwd

Sigston, George D. – Gnr

Singleton, John C. – AB

Skyvington, Francis G. – SBA

Sommerfeld, Samuel W. – AB

Soucisse, Paul E. – Coder

Stevenson, Elmer H. – Sto

Stewart, John L. – AB

Stewart, William G. – Sig

Stockman, Ernest O. – Lt (E)

Stubbs, John H. – LCdr

Sutherland, John W. – AB

Sweet, Charles C. – CPO

Thompson, Harry – Sto

Tupper, Allister R. – Ord.Art

Vair, James A. – L.Stwd

Veinotte, Joseph V.W. – Sy.PO

Waitson, Maurice – AB

Wallace, Peter W. – AB

Ward, Leslie – Lt (SB)

Watson, Reginald J. – Tel

Williams, Kenneth W. – ERA

Wood, John A. – AB

Yeadon, Robert L. – AB

See you tomorrow.

I will have photos I have found on the Internet.

You can write to me by clicking here.

HMCS Athabaskan, April 29, 1944

This is the story of the sinking of the Athabaskan G07.

I have started writing an English version of my French blog on the Athabaskan because so many English speaking people have helped me yesterday in my reseach. It is the least I can do for these wonderful people.

My wife’s uncle says he was a sailor working in the engine room of the Athabaskan.

He does not want to talk more about it… like so many veterans.


This is what Jerry Proc wrote on his Website.


In September 1939, the RCN decided to order new ships to replace the old destroyers previously transferred from the Royal Navy (RN).

The RCN preferred the Tribals with their heavy gun armament because they wanted to take the war to the enemy instead of relying on purely defensive vessels.

Originally all of the Tribals were to be built in Canada but this was not practical at the time since Canada did not have an extensive ship building industry.

The British Admiralty agreed that the UK should build the first ones and they also acted as agents, arranging for the Canadian Government to buy the Tribals by a system of direct instalments while Britain paid cash for the corvettes being built in Canadian yards for the RN.

The first two ships were laid down as IROQUOIS and ATHABASKAN but IROQUOIS was delayed by bombing while on the stocks. ATHABASKAN was therefore renamed IROQUOIS and launched as the lead ship while the original IROQUOIS was launched as ATHABASKAN.

After her commissioning on 3rd February 1943 at Newcastle-on-Tyne, she was assigned to the British Home Fleet but ATHABASKAN was plagued with mishaps during her very short service life.

The ship left on 29th March 1943 to patrol the Iceland-Faeroes Passage for blockade runners. Weather induced stress caused hull damage

This took five weeks to repair at South Shields, U.K.

In June 1943, ATHABASKAN took part in Operation Gearbox III, the relief of the garrison at Spitsbergen.

On June 18, she collided with the boom defence vessel BARGATE at Scapa Flow, resulting in a month of repairs at Devonport.

In July and August of 1943, she was based in Plymouth, carrying out anti-submarine patrols in the Bay of Biscay and on August 27 was hit by a glider bomb off the Spanish coast. She managed to reach Devonport where she remained under repair until November 10.

Returning to Scapa Flow in December, she escorted convoy JW55A to Russia but in February 1944, rejoined Plymouth command and was assigned to the newly formed 10th Destroyer Flotilla.

On 26th April, she assisted in the destruction of the German torpedo boat T 29 in the Channel off Ushant and three days later on 29th April, was sunk by a torpedo from T24, an Elbing class destroyer, north of the Ile de Bas.

2009-08-19 T_35

Elbing class destroyer



Captain Stubbs

Her Captain, John Stubbs and 128 men were lost, 83 taken prisoner and 44 rescued by HAIDA.

My wife’s uncle was one of the crew…

When I started my blog in French, I found the story on the Internet.

The text is in French and is part of a book. The author is Yves Dufeil and he gave me permission to use it in my French version of my blog.

If you have war memories of some of your relatives and you want to share them with me and my readers, click here to write to me.

Next time, I will talk about the wonderful people who helped me yesterday.

You can write to me by clicking here.

Lest We Forget

This is a blog about the story of the Canadian destroyer Athabaskan sunk in 1944.


I am currently writing a blog in French, but I have some many English speaking people helping me out, that I want to share my research with everyone in both languages. Tomorrow I will post my first article. It will be a translation of this one

See you tomorrow.

You can contact by writing a comment below.