The Case of the Phantom MTB and the Loss of HMCS Athabaskan


In the early dawn hours of 29 April 1944, the destroyer HMCS Athabaskan plunged to the depths of the English Channel, her hull wracked by two powerful explosions.

HMCS Athabaskan

One hundred and twenty-eight young Canadians died with her. Fifty-two years later, in the article “I Will Never Forget the Sound of Those Engines Going Away: A Re-examination into the Sinking of HMCS Athabaskan” that appeared in this journal, Peter Dixon advanced the theory-which was presented as fact-that the second explosion, the one that sealed the destroyer’s fate, was caused by a torpedo fired by a British motor torpedo boat (MTB).


The most significant warship loss in Canadian naval history, the theory goes, was caused by friendly fire. That is not so. When primary evidence overlooked by Dixon is considered and the recollections of witnesses recorded decades after the event are scrutinized, it becomes abundantly clear that Athabaskan could not have been the victim of a British torpedo.

Phantom MTB and the HMCS -em-Athabaskan–em-




5 thoughts on “The Case of the Phantom MTB and the Loss of HMCS Athabaskan

  1. Pierre, I can’t think of a better way to spend some significant and meditative part of this Memorial Day (in the US) than to read all of GP Cox’s pacificparatrooper blogs and as many of your numerous postings as I can. Though the convention in the USA these days is to thank those who served in the US military, I think you and GP also serve and deserve a big thanks for documenting and posting the histories of people who might not ordinarily take up pages in the history books, but whose service to country warrants full recognition and our thanks. Thanks, Pierre! You, too GP!

    1. Please write me a comment on the story of the Mosquito pilot…
      You will have quite a surprise my friend…

    1. When I wrote a draft version the link was working.
      It was debunking the theory of the phantom MTB firing a torpedo by mistake. The article was quite long and very detailed with maps and timetable of events… Frankly I don’t remember all the details of it.
      I have change to link to another one. I will check it and get back.

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