Doug wrote me a second time about his uncle Syd

Today is my son’s birthday. Nicholas is 25.

Doug Cottrell’s uncle never made it to 25.

Syd Cottrell 1920-1944

I had sent Doug Cottrell some pictures I had about the Athabaskan.

He wrote back a few months ago but I never got around to post an article on it.


Thanks for the photos – most interesting.

I’m attaching a couple of photos of my uncle plus a couple others – one being a print of the HMCS Athabaskan, I have.

I’m also including, below, information I had sent to Sherry that you may find interesting.



Sherry, incidentally, is a painter and has one of her paintings of the HMCS Athabaskan, hanging on the Memorial Wall for the Athabaskan, in Fort Montbarey, Brest, France.

Check her out at:

The one hanging is “Channel Patrol”.


As a child I remember my grandmother telling us that her son had made it onto the deck, after the ship had been hit, but went back to help a shipmate.  He was never seen again.  It would be pretty hard for any mother to accept the death of a son, during war time, without thinking or imagining that their death was uneventful.

She may have imagined his death as being heroic and then believed what she had imagined but, perhaps someone told her he actually did something heroic.  I’ll never know, besides all my research unfortunately does not substantiate her belief.

Sherry may be able to help you in regards to any survivors that may still be available but you looking at 65 years ago however, some of their families may have memories, letters etc.

I have no letters etc. from my uncle to his mother and the only memory is the one noted above.

I’ve always wanted to visit my uncle’s grave in France but never have had the opportunity.  There were organized visits, as your photos indicate, but I wasn’t aware.  Guess the chance now is impossible unless families organize a trip.  If you hear of one being organized, let me know.

Good luck with your research.



This is the information he sent to Sherry Pringle and some of the pictures he sent me:

Syd was born in 1920 so that would have made him 21 at the time of his enlistment in Kingston, Ont, in 1941.

According to his enlistment sheet, he was posted mainly to shore establishments.  There are two ships named  – the HMCS Trillium and the HMCS Athabaskan.  He joined the HMCS Trillium in Oct 14/41 just after she was commissioned in September of that year.

I have a picture showing him and a mate, dressed in their whites, which may indicate he was on this ship while she was doing workups in the south Atlantic or as Herm pointed out… He picked up his A.B. Seaman’s rating on Mar 12/42.

He was drafted off the Trillium in July ’42 to the Halifax Barracks until Sept of that year.

He went on 28 day embarkation leave and then over to Scotland on the HMCS Niobe (if I’m reading this correctly) on Oct 28th to shore barracks.  While waiting for the completion of the Athabaskan, the Athabaskan draft were sent on various training courses.  One of these was at Shearness for a firefighting course (10 days) and on the Osprey (for 2 weeks) for further training.

According to Herm Sulkers, he thinks Syd was relegated as a ammunition supply at “Y” gun.  This is where the first torpedo hit and he may have been blown off.  There was only one survivor from that gun and he was picked up by the Germans, as was Herm, in the morning.

Tomorrow I will talk to you about the Halifax bomber, the plane on which Jean-Paul Corbeil was a mid-upper gunner.


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