HMCS Athabaskan revisited

At first this blog was about a Canadian destroyer I had never heard about.

HMCS Athabaskan

Then it was about how some sailors were rescued when the ship was torpedoed and a few were rescued by HMCS Haida.

Athabaskan sinking 1944

In July 2009, my wife’s uncle said in a family reunion that he was among them.

Haida with survivors

That’s almost all he said about his ordeal adding he was a stoker.

Then relatives of sailors who were aboard HMCS Athabaskan on that faithful night started to contact me. Some were the sons of sailors taken prisoners, and they had photos to share.

athab 2

One relative was Jim L’Esperance’s son who has shared all he had about his father. He had these two pictures of the sailors who were taken prisoners.

prisoners1

prisoners 1

It will be hard to identify who is who until more people find this blog except for Gérard Tourangeau (6) and Jim L’Esperance (1).

marin Tourangeau

Gérard Tourangeau

To be continued later after I approve this comment…

The Mystery of AB William Dearl Trickett, Stoker (1st Class), HMCS Athabaskan G07
I thought you might be interested in a little project I’m working on especially in the light of the 75th anniversary of the sinking of G07 next year on Apr 29, 2019. Also, I’m trying to track down more information on my Great Uncle and the possible whereabouts of his missing Wartime Logbook.
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HMCS Louisburg – Update

Update on a post written in 2009…

This comment:

My name is Ian D. MacDonald.

My Uncle was Leading Seaman Donald M. MacDonald, who survived the sinking of the H.M.C.S. Louisburg, but later died on February 8th 1943, from injuries. My mother, sister, and I met with O/S William Quinsey, and his family before his passing, as my uncle had saved Mr. Quinsey from drowning. My uncle Donnie was an avid swimmer. I have a copy of the book as my mother bought several copies to pass on to family members. I’m not sure if she has any left but I will inquire.
Respectfully submitted,
I.D. MacDonald.
Nov 11, 2017.

ORIGINAL POST


I had received this comment on my blog Souvenirs de guerre

Someone had written this comment:

My father, who survived the sinking of HCMS Louisbourg in the Mediterrean in 1943, did not have very happy memories of the contemptuous and injust way Quebec sailors were treated on their ships and even after the war.

My father sustained an injury to his backbone, and his lungs were affected by toxic fumes caused by the fire on board the ship. This French-Canadian who was decorated never received a war veteran pension and we had to live in poverty until we settled in Sept-Îles during the industrial and housing boom of the town.

My father was even sent to the brig in Gibraltar because he defended himself against a Canadian who was constantly insulting him and other francophone crew members!!!


My father died in 1973.

This person never wrote back.

I went on sailing on Google and found a lot of pictures.

Here are a few…


louisburg1

HCMS Louisburg…

Photo20CorLouisburgRCN2NP

This how it was called, HMCS Louisburg and not Louisbourg.

Here is a painting I also caught in a net on the Net…299357616_b-hmcs-louisburg-a-memorial

This is a list of sailors who died.

Flower Class Corvette
Builder: Morton Engineering and Dry Dock, Quebec City PQ
Commissioned: 2 Oct 1941
Fate: Torpedoed off Oran 6 Feb 1943
Casualties: 2 officers, 35 ratings, 5 RN

The Casualty Roll
 
AB ALDRED L. V 22924 RCNVR ONT,TORONTO
STO 1 ANDERSON A.F. V 14692 RCNVR BC,VANCOUVER
L/SIG ANDERSON C.F. V 8276 RCNVR ONT,HAMILTON
OS ANNABLE G.C. V 33367 RCNVR QUE,MONTREAL
AB BANKS M.A. A 4891 RCNR BC,VANCOUVER
AB BENJAMIN S. V 2320 RCNVR NB,ST JOHN
AB BETTESS E. V 24438 RCNVR MAN,WINNIPEG
L/CDR CAMPBELL W.F. O 11898 RCNVR SASK,SASKATOON
STO 1 COURNOYER R. V 4453 RCNVR QUE,MONTREAL
ERA 4 FORREST G.A.C. V 33125 RCNVR QUE,MONTREAL
ERA 4 GARDEN R.V. V 25691 RCNVR NS,ENFIELD
OS GAUVIN J.M.R. V 35564 RCNVR QUE,MONTREAL
TEL GILBERT W.M. V 13821 RCNVR ALTA,CALGARY
AB GRAVES C.S. A 1369 RCNR NS,NEW GLASGOW
AB GRIFFIN E.F. V 22559 RCNVR ONT,TORONTO
AB HALL J. V 18600 RCNVR ONT,BELLEVILLE
AB LEWIS W.E. V 1595 RCNVR PEI,ALBERTON
STO 1 MacGREGOR D. V 19596 RCNVR ONT,WINDSOR
SIG MacLEOD G.I. V 319 RCNVR NS,SYDNEY
STO 1 MacPHAIL S.J. V 456 RCNVR NS,PICTOU
CODER MacPHAIL J.A. V 1588 RCNVR PEI,QUEENS CO
AB McCLELLAN J.F. 4612 RCN SASK,MOOSE JAW
LS MacDONALD D.M. V 6251 RCNVR ONT,OTTAWA
AB McDONALD R.J. V 11491 RCNVR SASK,SASKATOON
CERA McNEILL D. V 23718 RCNVR QUE,VERDUN
CODER MERRYWEATHER H. V 12751 RCNVR ALTA,EDMONTON
OS MORIN J.G.E.V. V 3985 RCNVR QUE,LEVIS
O/TEL NINIAN T.M. V 13776 RCNVR ALTA,CALGARY
SIG PATERSON R.L. V 24617 RCNVR MAN,WINNIPEG
STO 2 RICE S.N. V 31943 RCNVR ONT,TORONTO
TEL ROBINSON E. V 22987 RCNVR ONT,TORONTO
PO TEL SMITH A.J. V 9368 RCNVR MAN,WINNIPEG
L/S STEVENSON J.C.R. V 5282 RCNVR NS,HALIFAX
AB TANNER J.A. V 22913 RCNVR ONT,SAULT STE MARIE
AB VIKSTROM J.R. V 33099 RCNVR QUE,MONTREAL
STO WATSON N.R. V 9654 RCNVR MAN,WINNIPEG
LT WILSON E. O 78775 RCNR ONT,OTTAWA

The HCMS Louisbourg was part of the Flower class.

levis1

HCMS Levis

It was built by Morton Engineering and Dry Dock, in Québec. It was commissioned on October 2, 1941.
The Louisbourg was torpedoed off the coast of Oran on February 6, 1943.

Breaking News!

I got this comment last week from Norm Gervais, but I did not have time to post something on the blog.


Mon père Jacques Gervais peut-être nommé comme James Gervais était je crois CPO lors de l’attaque. Il a dit très peu de choses lorsque il vivait au sujet de l’événement. Il doit sûrement sa vie au fait qu’il a été très sérieusement blessé et que à cause de ses blessure il a été placé dans un canot de sauvetage. Il paraitrait que plusieurs des marins non blessés ont dû s’accrocher au radeau parce qu’il n’y avait pas de place dans le canot. Certains de ceux-ci auraient été attaqué par des requins alors que d’autres seraient décédés à cause de l’eau froide. Mon père a été un de ceux qui n’a pas été fait prisonnier mais secouru par HMCS HAIDA.

Translation

My father Jacques Gervais, maybe going by the name James Gervais was I believe CPO (Chief Petty Officer) during the attack. He said very little about the event when he was living. He surely owed his life by the fact that he was very seriously injured, and because of this was put aboard a lifeboat. It would seem that several uninjured sailors had stayed in the water, and had to hold on to the lifeboat because there was not enough place. Some of them would have been attacked by sharks  while others died of hypothermia. My father was one of those not taken prisoner but rescued by HMCS HAIDA.


The name James Gervais or Jacques Gervais is not on the list found in the book Unlucky Lady.

This is the second time someone has written me about the list being incomplete.

The first time was in 2012 and I wrote about it.

Click here.

Norm wrote me a second time and he told me he thinks his father was working in the engine room… just like my wife’s uncle.

I got thinking…

Could Norm’s father be on these pictures taken early April 1944?

To be continued?

Remembering a comment

A comment left earlier in April…

My Great Uncle Alfred (George) Berkeley is listed in the names of the lost. George was killed while at his station at the Y gun he was 19. The first torpedo hit. George was new to the ship, so there are no pictures of him on board. I have uploaded a picture of George on the Virtual Canadian War Memorial. The HMCS Athabaskan was sunk while engaging German Ebling class torpedo boats that had attacked and killed over 1000 CDN/US and British service men, while on maneuvers called operation TIGER practicing for D-DAY off the coast of England. I had also met many survivors here in BC in the late 80 and early 90’s. they all had very different memories and trauma. I also have a personal letter from Len Burrow the author of the Unlucky Lady. What a great generation.

LEST WE FORGET

Link to the Canadian Virtual War Memorial

http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian-virtual-war-memorial/detail/2557483?Alfred%20George%20Berkeley

I wrote this earlier in April. I had asked his relative to look for great-uncle George on these two photos shared by Herman Sulkers’ son.

I know it’s not easy to find one of the greatest generation.

HMCS Athabaskan G07 is still remembered

HMCS Athabaskan G07 is still remembered

A comment…

My Great Uncle Alfred (George) Berkeley is listed in the names of the lost. George was killed while at his station at the Y gun he was 19. The first torpedo hit. George was new to the ship, so there are no pictures of him on board. I have uploaded a picture of George on the Virtual Canadian War Memorial. The HMCS Athabaskan was sunk while engaging German Ebling class torpedo boats that had attacked and killed over 1000 CDN/US and British service men, while on maneuvers called operation TIGER practicing for D-DAY off the coast of England. I had also met many survivors here in BC in the late 80 and early 90’s. they all had very different memories and trauma. I also have a personal letter from Len Burrow the author of the Unlucky Lady. What a great generation.

LEST WE FORGET

Link to the Canadian Virtual War Memorial

http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian-virtual-war-memorial/detail/2557483?Alfred%20George%20Berkeley

Message from Sherry Pringle

Athabaskan Families–please note.

I am doing a revision of « All The Ship’s Men; HMCS Athabaskan’s Untold Stories ». I currently have ten new stories from veterans and family members for a new edition. If you have a loved one who was onboard GO7 when she sunk, and you wish to have their tales included, this is a golden opportunity. I can’t think another such occasion will arrive in our lifetime.

Please contact me if interested and I will get back to you.

Sherry Pringle Author shelou2005@yahoo.ca

book-cover