Where did Earl Silver get his pictures?

Sharon, Jim’s L’Esperance daughter, sent me an e-mail.

She was telling me that each Tribal class destroyer had its own distinctive camouflage and I should be able to identify some of Earl’s pictures…

Well I went fishing on the Internet and this is what I found on Jerry Proc’s HMCS Iroquois Website page…

G89

This is the caption Jerry Proc put.

This photo of IROQUOIS making smoke was taken on or about May 24th 1944 outside St. Margaret’s Bay, Nova Scotia during running up trials after refit in Halifax. In the foreground is wash from a motor  launch. (This RCN photo was provided by John Clark).

This is Earl’s picture…

laying a screen

Earl had also this one…

smoke screen

Jerry Proc had this one on his site…

mauritius

With this caption…

HMS Mauritius is making smoke in this scene. This was not an exercise – it was the real thing. Both Iroquois and Mauritius were being shelled by shore based gun batteries. Both ships were straddled by shells as they approached the Gironde river area on the morning of August 22, 1944. This encounter was too close for comfort, so orders were given for a hasty retreat. The picture was taken from the  bridge of  Iroquois while she was also making smoke.

This was as closest Iroquois ever got to being hit. German gunners were dropping huge shells all around the ship. From a current day perspective, it looks like another wartime photo but to the crew of Iroquois,  it was almost the day they met their Waterloo! Iroquois  had a lot of close calls but she was a very lucky ship.

It was common practice to go in as close as possible to try and  get the shore batteries to open fire. Upon exposing their positions, the air force would attack immediately. There was an old saying that if the ship had wheels, the skipper would take her up on the beach. (Photo courtesy of Jim Dowell)

This one is la crème de la crème

From Jerry’s site…

g89_explosion

A German supply ship is being torpedoed by IROQUOIS in Audierne Bay, close to Brest on 23 August 1944. This followed a night of action which saw an enemy convoy destroyed by a force consisting of HMS Mauritius,  HMS Ursa and Iroquois. The photo was taken by Roy Kemp a Toronto Daily Star reporter who was on board at the time.

Earl’s…

Wayne Silver 351

The last one from Jerry Proc’s site…

g89_aagun

The enemy could come out the sky anytime. Iroquois’ anti-aircraft crews were ever vigilant against attack. This twin barrel, 20 mm Oerlikon weapon was commonly used against aircraft. (Photo courtesy Tom Ingham)

Earl’s album…

Wayne Silver 14

Now where did Earl Silver got those pictures?

I think we will never find out…

What I found out is that the picture is also here…

Library and Archives Canada

http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca

Faces of War

The crew of one of H.M.C.S. IROQUOIS’ Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns at action stations during a training exercise off Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 2 June 1944.

Title:The crew of one of H.M.C.S. IROQUOIS’ Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns at action stations during a training exercise off Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 2 June 1944.

Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (Vicinity),
Date: June 2, 1944
Photographer: Gadde, George., Photographer
Mikan Number: 3509541

More pictures here…

Jim L’Esperance’s medals

Jim L’Esperance, the son of Jim L’Esperance, sent me pictures of his father’s medals.

This is the first one.

medal 1

And four more…

medal 2

medal 3

medal 4

These also.

medals 1

medals 2

I am no expert on medals, but I am sure these medals will never be auctioned like William Stevenson’s medals were in 2004.

This medal was awarded to him by the U.S.S.R shortly before his death in 1988.

Russian medal

This means that Jim L’Esperance participated in protecting the convoys heading to Murmansk.

This is what I found on Stuart A. Kettles’s Website.

40vict

This is what is written…

In June 1941 Russia and Britain found themselves in alliance against Germany. As a result Britain agreed to supply the Soviet Union with material and goods via convoys through the Arctic Seas . The destinations were the northern ports of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk. To reach them, the convoys had to travel dangerously near the German occupied Norwegian coastline. My uncle took part in Convoys JW55A and RA55A in December of 1943.

After the war there were many commemorative medals issued by various governments, of these, only one was approved for wear with real medals, The Queen did approve the Russian “40th Anniversary of Victory in the Second World War” gong, and it so appears in the Canada Gazette. Known locally as the Murmansk medal because a number of RCN sailors on that convoy were eligible to receive one.

This was found on the Veterans’ site…

I add a few pictures taken on the Internet.

The Murmansk Run

Canada’s merchant navy was vital to the Allied cause during the Second World War. Its ships transported desperately needed equipment, fuel, goods and personnel to Europe and around the world. The very outcome of the war depended on the successful transport of troops and cargo by the sea. Although there were no safe havens for the merchant seaman, the greatest number of ships and men were lost on the North Atlantic routes and the notorious Murmansk Run.

convoy01

In June of 1941, the German military launched an offensive against the Soviet Union. Political differences aside, it was determined by the Western allies that any nation warring with Germany should be considered an ally. As a result, agreements were reached to send much needed military equipment and lend-lease supplies to the Soviet Union in order to assist in their fight against the Germans. The Soviet Navy lacked the capacity to transport the massive amount of supplies, such as military equipment, vehicles and other raw materials, so much of the transport and convoy escort work was handled by the British, Canadians and Americans. The fastest (but most dangerous) supply route was through the Barents Sea in the Arctic Ocean to the Northern port city of Murmansk. This Arctic supply route became known as ‘The Murmansk Run’. Due to the great military and political significance of these shipments, the Germans fought hard to destroy them, and as a result, more than twenty percent of convoy cargo was lost on The Murmansk Run compared with only a six percent loss of cargo shipped to the Soviets through the Iranian ports in the Persian Gulf.

convoy02

Convoys sailing along the northern tip of Norway and through the Barents Sea were exposed to one of the largest concentrations of German U-boats, surface raiders and aircraft anywhere in the world. Attacks by more than a dozen submarines and literally hundreds of planes at one time were common. Due to the high concentration of Germans patrolling the region, and the fear of being attacked by prowling German U-boats, strict orders were given that forbade any merchant ship from stopping for even a moment.

convoy06


The consequences of these orders only reinforced the danger of the missions as individuals who fell overboard had to be ignored, and ships could not stop to help comrades in distress.

convoy05

In addition to the German resistance, the voyage was made even more treacherous as Mother Nature routinely unleashed her fury across the cold Arctic Ocean. Many of the convoys sailed The Murmansk Run in the winter due to the almost constant darkness which helped to conceal the ships. This advantage proved to be only slight as other problems, such as greater amounts of polar ice, led to difficult navigation and forced the convoy route to move closer to German occupied Norway. The temperature was often far below zero and freezing winds from the North could easily reach hurricane force causing the waves to swell to heights in excess of seventy feet. At such temperatures, sea spray froze immediately to any exposed area of the ship, and created a heavy covering of tonnes of topside ice which could cause a ship to capsize if not cleared away. Binoculars, guns and torpedoes froze, and the decks were covered with a smooth coat of ice which made walking nearly impossible.

HMS_Sheffield_frost

The supply shipments began in late Summer of 1941 and merchant mariners from Canada served on Canadian, British and American ships (as well as ships of other nationalities) to support the supply convoys to the Soviets. From 1941 to 1945, forty-one convoys sailed to Murmansk and Archangel carrying an estimated $18 billion in cargo from the United States, Great Britain and Canada. Among the millions of tons of supplies were an estimated 12,206 aircraft, 12,755 tanks, 51,503 jeeps, 1,181 locomotives, 11,155 flatcars, 135,638 rifles and machine guns, 473 million shells, 2.67 million tons of fuel and 15 million pairs of boots.

convoy03


The Royal Canadian Navy became involved in convoy escorts in October 1943, and from that time until the end of the war Canadian warships participated in about three-quarters of the missions. Canadian ships involved in supporting the convoys included the destroyers Haida, Huron, Iroquois, Athabaskan, Sioux and Algonquin, and approximately nine frigates from Escort Groups 6 and 9. None of the Canadian ships were lost while escorting convoys on The Murmansk Run. convoy04


Canadian Navy personnel had little contact with the Russian people. Layovers in the Murmansk area were brief, and few officers and men were allowed ashore. However, it is interesting to note that the first Canada-Soviet hockey game was held during a stopover in 1945 when sailors from the destroyer HMCS Algonquin played an exhibition hockey game against Soviet personnel. It is believed that the Soviets won the game 3-2.

Despite the dangers and hardships faced by the convoys sailing The Murmansk Run, the Allies were unanimous in their desire to keep the Soviet Union in the fight. It was feared that if the Soviets were conquered, as the Russians had been in 1917, the Germans would focus the majority of their forces in the West.

Because of the strategic importance of these supply lines, fierce German resistance, and extreme weather conditions, the merchant mariners and Navy sailors that sailed their vessels on The Murmansk Run are considered some of the bravest veterans in history.

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This photo of IROQUOIS making smoke was taken on or about May 24th 1944 outside St. Margaret’s Bay, Nova Scotia during running up trials after refit in Halifax. In the foreground is wash from a motor  launch. (This RCN photo was provided by John Clark).

HMS Mauritius is making smoke in this scene. This was not an exercise – it was the real thing. Both Iroquois and Mauritius were being shelled by shore based gun batteries. Both ships were straddled by shells as they approached the Gironde river area on the morning of August 22, 1944. This encounter was too close for comfort, so orders were given for a hasty retreat. The picture was taken from the  bridge of  Iroquois while she was also making smoke.

This was as closest Iroquois ever got to being hit. German gunners were dropping huge shells all around the ship. From a current day perspective, it looks like another wartime photo but to the crew of Iroquois,  it was almost the day they met their Waterloo! Iroquois  had a lot of close calls but she was a very lucky ship.

It was common practice to go in as close as possible to try and  get the shore batteries to open fire. Upon exposing their positions, the air force would attack immediately. There was an old saying that if the ship had wheels, the skipper would take her up on the beach. (Photo courtesy of Jim Dowell)


A German supply ship is being torpedoed by IROQUOIS in Audierne Bay, close to Brest on 23 August 1944. This followed a night of action which saw an enemy convoy destroyed by a force consisting of HMS Mauritius,  HMS Ursa and Iroquois. The photo was taken by Roy Kemp a Toronto Daily Star reporter who was on board at the time.




The enemy could come out the sky anytime. Iroquois’ anti-aircraft crews were ever vigilant against attack. This twin barrel, 20 mm Oerlikon weapon was commonly used against aircraft. (Photo courtesy Tom Ingham)


Sometimes you will find the answer… when you least expect it

Here is this picture again…

prisoners coming home

And this one…

athab 2 uncle

I thought the man in the blue rectangle was my uncle’s wife.

I said to myself that he looked like her uncle.

The caption said prisoners of war coming home… but I said to myself that the caption could be wrong…

Well it is not.

The same man is on the first picture and since my wife’s uncle never spoke of being a prisoner-of-war, then that answers my question.

athab 2 uncle close-up

unidentified sailor 1

But I have another question… Who is this sailor?

I know the answer is somewhere out there and someday someone will send me an e-mail.

Click here to send me a message…

Tomorrow I will show you some medals.

Look what I found…

prisoners coming home

Personnel who survived the sinking of H.M.C.S. ATHABASKAN in April 1944
and became prisoners-of-war in Germany.
London, England, May 1945.
Kemp, Franklin Roy., Photographer

Jim L’Esperance is on the far right in the first row.

I sent the picture to his son and daughter. I thought they had it…

Guess what?

They did not…

This is where I found it…

This is the introduction to the site.

Faces of War
Introduction

This database features photographs of men and women who served in the Canadian Forces during the Second World War. The photographs, taken from the Department of National Defence (DND) collection at Library and Archives Canada, depict every aspect of military life during the Second World War.

Visitors can search almost 2,500 images from the DND collection, representing each branch of the Canadian Forces: Army, Navy and Air Force.

Visit the virtual exhibition Faces of War.

I found pictures related to the HMCS St. Croix.

Here’s the direct link.

We can now put faces on a tragic saga.

a169228-v6

Commodore L.W. Murray congratulating the Ship’s Company of H.M.C.S. ST CROIX
for sinking the German submarine U-90 on 24 July. St. John’s, Newfoundland, 29 July 1942.

a105276-v6

Unidentified ratings eating a meal aboard H.M.C.S ST CROIX at sea, March 1941.

a105277-v6

Unidentified rating manning a .50-calibre machine gun aboard H.M.C.S. ST CROIX at sea, March 1941.
a105295-v6
Unidentified personnel manning a four-inch gun aboard H.M.C.S. ST CROIX at sea, March 1941.

Remember…

Lest we forget…

medal auctioning

and don’t forget…

Don’t sell those medals at an auction… They are worth a whole lot more…

Bill Stevenson

“I died for my country on September 20, 1943…”

Come back tomorrow for more.

HMCS ST. CROIX – A Tragic Saga

This is the source of my article…

I have added a few pictures.

Built in 1919 for the United States Navy, she operated with the Atlantic Fleet as USS McCook until placed in reserve at Philadelphia in 1922.

0525204

She was recommissioned in December, 1939, and again served with the US Atlantic Fleet prior to being transferred to the Canadian Navy at Halifax as HMCS ST. CROIX on September 24, 1940.

HMCS St. Croix

She sailed for the U.K. via St. John’s on November 30, but ran into a hurricane and had to return. Arriving at Halifax on December 18, she remained under repair until mid-March 1941, when she took up the role of local escort.

18 Dec 1940. HMCS ST. CROIX returning to Halifax with hurricane damage (article picture)

In August, 1941, she joined the Newfoundland Escort Force, escorting convoys to Iceland. In May, 1942, following six months’ refit at Saint John, N.B., she escorted her first convoy, SC.84, to the U.K., and was thereafter employed constantly on the “Newfie-Derry” run.

In April, 1943, she was assigned to Escort Group C-1, and in June to Escort Group C-5. During this period she sank U90 while escorting convoy ON.113 on July 24, 1942, and on March 4, 1943, while accompanying convoy KMS.10 from Britain to Algeria, she assisted HMCS SHEDIAC in destroying U87.


THE LOSS OF HMCS ST. CROIX

HMCS ST. CROIX had distinguished herself in the early days of the Battle of the Atlantic. Her crew was credited with two U-boat kills. Of the Canadian ships she was one of the most successful.

In September 1943 ST. CROIX was with Mid-Ocean Escort Group C-9, comprised of another of the ex-USN “four-stackers” ST. FRANCIS and the veteran corvettes CHAMBLY, MORDEN and SACKVILLE, plus the British Navy frigate HMS ITCHEN.

By the summer of 1943, the German U-Boat wolf packs had found the Atlantic battle turning against them, but by the end of August a large number of submarines had been re-equipped with a new weapon, the GNAT (German Naval Acoustic Torpedo) torpedo which homed in on the sounds from the propellers of ships.

The ST. CROIX, commanded by Lieutenant-Commander A.H. Dobson, was headed for the Bay of Biscay (off France) when she was ordered north to escort a slow moving convoy. A large wolf pack had gathered, and the extra escorts were required badly.

On 20 September 1943, at 2151, U305 struck at HMCS ST.CROIX with two GNAT torpedoes, hitting her aft, near her propellers. The ST. CROIX did not sink immediately; however U305 eventually fired a third torpedo at her. The third torpedo was the final blow as it caused ST. CROIX to sink within three minutes.

A number of her ship’s company were lost in the sinking, but many of the crew remained in the water looking for possible rescue.

Two RN ships from the escort force rushed to the area, now astern of the convoy, to see what had taken place and could be done. The frigate ITCHEN signaled to B-2:

“ST. CROIX TORPEDOED AND BLOWN UP. FORECASTLE STILL AFLOAT. SURVIVORS IN RAFTS AND BOATS. TORPEDOES FIRED AT ME. DOING FULL SPEED IN VICINITY. WILL NOT ATTEMPT TO P.U. SURVIVORS UNTIL POLYANTHUS ARRIVES.”

But the RN escort corvette POLYANTHUS, was herself torpedoed by U952 just after midnight, again in the stern by a GNAT. ITCHEN then had to become involved in attempting to locate the attacking U-boat. She was only later able to locate one survivor of Polyanthus.

Polyanthus

HMS Polyanthus

ITCHEN was eventually able to pick up eighty-one ST. CROIX survivors, five officers and seventy-six ratings, but only after they had been in the very cold water for thirteen hours. Most of those lost had perished in the sea after abandoning the ship.

For the survivors of ST. CROIX and the single Polyanthus crewman the few hours of rescue came to a bitter end at approximately 0200 on the 23rd as U666, again using a GNAT, sank HMS ITCHEN.

23_hms_azalea_k25

HMS Azelea similar to HMS Itchen

This time there were but three survivors, two from ITCHEN and Stoker W. Fisher from ST. CROIX. They were rescued by a Polish merchant ship, the Wisla.

One of the ST. CROIX seaman, lost in the ITCHEN, was Surgeon Lt W.L.M. King, RCNVR, Prime Minister Mackenzie King’s nephew.

St. Croix crew

A footnote…

medal auctioningNo comment… Well not until tomorrow.

William Stevenson (1925-1943)

This is a follow-up of this article

I was talking about a sailor on one of Earl Silver’s pictures.


This is who I believe is the Bill Stevenson in Earl Silver’s old war album…


In memory of
Ordinary Seaman
WILLIAM LYLE  STEVENSON

who died on September 20, 1943

Military Service:

Service Number: V/46021
Age: 18
Force: Navy
Unit: Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve
Division: H.M.C.S. St. Croix

Additional Information:

Son of Morton and Ivy Isabelle Stevenson, of Truro, Nova Scotia.

I wonder if he is the same William Stevenson.

William Stevenson

This was taken from a newspaper. I have seen a lot of these from sailors who died in combat.


Bill Stevenson

I kept on looking at Earl Silver’s album.


Wayne Silver 251

Look closely…

William Stevenson 2

William Stevenson name

W. L. Stevenson

Again, William Stevenson is in Earl Silver’s old war album….

Tomorrow… the story of HMCS St.Croix…

Lest we forget…

Les sanglots longs des violons de l’automne… June 6, 1944

Here are more pictures in Earl Silver’s old war album…

going over

Going over

Going over the side

Watch you step…

Q boat with troops

Q-boat

Wayne Silver 301

Come on… There’s still room.


going over on D-Day

C-47 Skytrains with paratroopers

Come back tomorrow… We are going back to September 20, 1943, in the North Atlantic…

Yesterday afternoon, I received Jim L’Esperance’s documents…

Here a preview of what he sent me…

Sailor Jim L'Esperance

Jim L’Esperance

On June 6, 1944, Jim was a prisoner of war in Germany. I wonder when he got the news of the D-Day landings…