59 men died on “Alberni”

HMCS Alberni
HMCS Alberni

Today, the massive Canadian flag flying over Parliament Hill in Ottawa is dedicated to the HMCS Alberni, a Second World War ship named after the Vancouver Island town that had its short life ended 70 years ago by a torpedo from a German submarine.

At the end of the day, the 15-foot flag is scheduled to be lowered in honour of the 59 men who lost their lives while serving on the ship, then will be sent to the Alberni Project collection in Comox.

The permanent exhibit plans to add the flag to its extensive display of artifacts memorializing the 205-foot warship, part of a fleet of corvette vessels that were built after Canada joined the war in 1940.

The corvette was a small warship used from 1941 to 1944 to escort large convoys across the Atlantic. It also served on the St. Lawrence River and off the coast of Quebec and Labrador, as German U-Boats had reached Canadians waters during the latter years of the war. A notable event in its short but busy life was the rescue of 145 merchant seamen near Londonderry, North Ireland after torpedoes hit their vessels. Lewis Bartholomew founded the Alberni project 14 years ago, amassing a collection of details on the HMCS (His Majesty’s Canadian Ship) Alberni, an example of the many corvettes built for the Royal Canadian Navy for war service.

“They had to have some sort of an escort ship that had maneuverability because these convoys would stretch out for miles,” he said. “These corvettes would run along the side and behind and would scan back and forth for submarines.”

The corvettes were named after Canadian cities in the hopes of gathering more support from communities across the country. The HMCS Alberni was given the name of the former town of Alberni, now existing as the northern section of Port Alberni. This sparked interest with a group of locals who purchased a potato-peeling device and knit sox for the ship’s crew, said Jane

Hutton, past president of the Alberni District Historical Society and former co-ordinator of the Maritime Discovery Centre.

“They bought a washing machine to be used on the ship so the guys wouldn’t have to wash their clothes in the bathroom basins,” said Hutton, who now serves as curator of the Port Hardy Heritage Society Museum.

Thirty-one men survived the UBoat’s attack, including Capt. Ian Hunter Bell, the youngest man to command ship in the Royal Canadian Navy at the age of 24.

The vessel sank in half a minute after being struck by the U-Boat, a submarine that approached the Alberni’s sonar undetected by using a newlydesigned rubber coating. Most of the crew were below deck in the mess hall getting lunch.

“If you were on the deck or you were close to a doorway, you had a chance for survival; if you were below decks you had no chance,” Bartholomew said. “Some of them were able to grab hold of things that were floating in the water, there was no time really to grab any of your lifejackets.”

The men were spotted by Allied torpedo boats returning from duties near Normandy, France. Joseph Leo McVarish was one of these men.

“Leo, he was listed as missing in action for several days, and then they discovered him in a pub somewhere in England,” recalled Bartholomew from a past meeting with the survivor.

McVarnish had a reputation as a vivid storyteller of his times from the war, but this was unusual among Second World War veterans.

Huttan met two other survivors of the HMCS Alberni a few years ago while she was living in the Valley. They hadn’t told their wives about the shipwreck until 50 years later. “They had never talked about it. They used to get together and play cards all of the time and just one night the two guys started talking about it,” Huttan recalled. “The wives were just gobsmacked, they couldn’t believe it.”

At least one surviving member of crew came from Port Alberni: Nelson Shudeen.

Bartholomew is unsure if the veteran is still alive, and first heard of Shudeen a few years ago when a man visited the Alberni Project as his wife saw the dentist next door.

“He said that as a child living in Halifax everyone rented out rooms to the sailors there. There was a particular man from Port Alberni who served on the ship and he was wondering if I had his name,” said Bartholomew.

The German U-Boats has proved to be a terror in the seas, and the U-480 sunk four vessels including torpedoing the Alberni on Aug. 21, 1944 under the command of 24-year-old captain Hans-Joachim Förster.

He died along with the 47 members of his crew the next January when the German submarine hit a mine off the Isle of Wight in the vicinity of where the HMCS Alberni sunk.

Eric Plumme / r Alberni Valley Times


Task Group Exercise a success for all involved

Canadian and Allied ships performing maneuvers while on Task Group Exercise (TGEX) off the Atlantic Coast on 11 August 2014.
Canadian and Allied ships performing maneuvers while on Task Group Exercise (TGEX) off the Atlantic Coast on 11 August 2014.

As ships of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) arrive alongside after a demanding two week Task Group Exercise (TGEX) that involved members of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) they can be assured their performance demonstrated that the RCN remains a ready response for Canada, at home or abroad.

From numerous manoeuvering serials, a steady stream of helicopter operations, challenging weaponry shoots, and other demanding evolutions there was never a dull moment for the crews of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Athabaskan, Fredericton, Halifax, Glace Bay and Shawinigan. Faced with such a taxing schedule the ships’ companies rose to the occasion, demonstrating high levels of competency and professionalism.

“The whole ship came together during these evolutions and strived to achieve the best possible results. For our gunnery serials everyone involved, from the technicians to the operators performed to a high standard, ensuring we were able to achieve our goals. Our crew lived up to the ship’s motto showing that on Athabaskan: We Fight as One,” commented the Above Water Warfare Officer, Lieutenant (Navy) Warren Graham.

Aside from working together with allied partners in demanding serials several sailors from various ships, including both HMCS Athabaskan and Halifax, were afforded the opportunity to participate in a day long exchange. While taking part in the exchange sailors were able to learn about the history of the vessel, speak with their counterparts on the similarities and differences in their work, and see what life is like aboard another vessel. For junior personnel it proved to be a valuable experience, both professionally and personally.

“They were very welcoming hosts.” said Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Chaisson, a Bridge Watch Keeper aboard HMCS Athabaskan who visited FGS Neidersachsen, “We received a tour of the entire ship and spoke with our counterparts about their roles onboard. For me it put a face to the ship; now it’s not just some vessel we’re sailing around with, now I have friends aboard.”

While the sailors wind down for a much deserved pause alongside they have already commenced preparations for a United States Navy (USN) led exercise that includes Canadian, NATO and USN ships that begins next week.

Reposted from: http://www.navy-marine.forces.gc.ca/en/news-operations/news-view.page?doc=task-group-exercise-a-success-for-all-involved/hyyl1qoc

50 years ago – Rear-Admiral William M. Landymore

Rear-Admiral Bill Landymore
Rear-Admiral Bill Landymore

August 16th, 1964:

It was announced that the Atlantic and Pacific areas are getting new naval commanders in mid-November.

Rear-Admiral William M. Landymore, 48-year-old native of Brantford, will succeed retiring Rear-Admiral Jeffry Brock as flag officer Atlantic coast and maritime commander Atlantic.

Succeeding Rear-Admiral Landymore as flag officer Pacific and maritime commander Pacific will be Rear-Admiral Michael G. Stirling, 49, of Kelowna, B.C.

Rear-Admiral Landymore joined the Royal Canadian Navy as a cadet in 1936.

He served on the destroyer HMCS Fraser when the ship was lost in a collision at sea in June of 1940. In September of the same year he was serving on the HMCS Margaree when she was sunk in a collision in the North Atlantic.

Biography: http://readyayeready.com/biographies/Bill-Landymore.php

Reference: http://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/2014/08/16/flashback-aug-16

HMCS Regina starts voyage home after successful two-mission deployment

The Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Regina departed the Indian Ocean today and began its return voyage to Canadian Fleet Pacific in Esquimalt, BC, after successfully completing an eight-month deployment in support of Operations ARTEMIS and REASSURANCE. HMCS Regina was replaced by HMCS Toronto, which arrived to join Standing NATO Maritime Forces in the Mediterranean Sea on August 5th.

Quick Facts

• HMCS Regina departed Esquimalt for the Indian Ocean region on January 6, 2014, and began its participation in Operation ARTEMIS on February 15, 2014.

• On 16 April 2014, NATO agreed to and began to implement a series of military measures to reinforce NATO’s collective defence to demonstrate the strength of allied solidarity in response to Russian aggression and provocation against Ukraine. These measures are based on the principles of defence, deterrence and de-escalation.

• HMCS Regina was subsequently re-tasked to the Mediterranean Sea in May to Operation REASSURANCE, where they worked side by side with NATO Allies to promote security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe.

• Operation REASSURANCE refers to the military activities undertaken by the CAF to support NATO Reassurance Measures.

• HMCS Regina’s presence in the region provided Canada with the flexibility to execute a range of missions across a broad spectrum of operations in support of the international effort in the region, including surveillance and monitoring, regional defence and diplomatic engagement, and capacity building.

• Operation ARTEMIS is Canada’s participation in Combined Task Force-150, a multinational task force commanded by Combined Maritime Forces which promotes maritime security in the Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.

• HMCS Regina worked to enhance international security and stability by disrupting the flow of drugs in the region. The disruption of drug trafficking hampered a key source of funding for terrorist organizations, and also helped keep dangerous narcotics off the streets of Canada and other allied countries.

• HMCS Regina steamed approximately 61,300 nautical miles and conducted 10 boardings during its deployment.

• HMCS Regina also conducted 20 port visits which enhanced diplomatic and defence relations with strategic partners, demonstrating that Canada is actively involved in setting the conditions for international security and stability.

• HMCS Toronto, a frigate based out of Canadian Fleet Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has since relieved HMCS Regina on Operation REASSURANCE and has joined the Standing NATO Maritime Forces in the Mediterranean Sea.

Reposted from: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=876139

CFB Esquimalt Change of Command

Outgoing CFB Esquimalt Base Commander Cmdre Luc Cassivi (left), RAdm Bill Truelove and incoming Base Commander Capt(N) Steve Waddel (right) sign Change of Command documents at CFB Esquimalt on July 30, 2014.
Outgoing CFB Esquimalt Base Commander Cmdre Luc Cassivi (left), RAdm Bill Truelove and incoming Base Commander Capt(N) Steve Waddel (right) sign Change of Command documents at CFB Esquimalt on July 30, 2014.

Capt(N) Steve Waddell took command of CFB Esquimalt from Cmdre Luc Cassivi during a well-attended ceremony on July 30, 2014.

Beginning the ceremony with blessings from Esquimalt Nation Elder Mary Anne Thomas, and Songhees Nation Elder Elmer George, as well Formation Chaplain Maj Doug Friesen, the newly minted Cmdre Cassivi took to the podium to bid farewell to the base.

“Thirteen months ago I took over the position as ‘Mayor of CFB Esquimalt,’” said Cmdre Cassivi to a crowd that included prestigious guests such as VAdm (Ret’d) Nigel Brodeur, and Mayor of Esquimalt Barbara Desjardins. “It was a challenging year, and it showed me the power and ingenuity of the men and women in uniform. With your dedication, and a passion for what you do, you faced every challenge head-on and that’s why, to me, this year was a success.”

From CFB Esquimalt, Cmdre Cassivi will move on to his new position as Director General of Naval Strategic Readiness at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. To incoming Base Commander Capt(N) Waddell, he had some choice words on the nature of base leadership.

“There are a lot of people here to help you; trust them, work with them, and they’ll make your time here much easier,” he said. “These are good people. You’re in good hands.”

Following the lowering of Cmdre Cassivi’s Base Commander’s Pennant, Reviewing Officer RAdm Bill Truelove, Commander Maritime Force Pacific (MARPAC) took the podium.

“You came into the job running and never slowed down, and the results are evident everywhere we look,” said RAdm Truelove to Cmdre Cassivi. “For all your dedication, hard work, tact, and thoughtfulness and the obvious concern you have for those under your command I sincerely thank you.”

RAdm Truelove also had words for Cmdre Cassivi’s partner Francisco Mejia De La Rosa.

“Over the past two year’s Luc has been very busy, and you’ve been by his side providing that tremendous support. While we can never thank our families enough it is their constant support that enables us to succeed both personally and collectively.”

Turning to Capt(N) Waddell, RAdm Truelove welcomed him and his family to their new home.

“You’re in the midst of another change in your life, but as I’m sure Luc has told you, it’s a pretty good one,” said RAdm Truelove. “You inherit a remarkable team of professionals, both in and out of uniform, and I know you’ll use your tremendous leadership skills to move towards our goals and our combined future.”

With the watch officially signed over from Cmdre Cassivi to Capt(N) Waddell, the new Base Commander had his pennant raised and took to the podium to address the crowd.

“I am very humbled by my position, and hope to build on the cohesion and prosperity Cmdre Cassivi brought to this base,” he said. “With the help, comradeship, and advice of all of you I build a perspective that allows me to see our work environment from a variety of view points. It’s this variety that will shape and guide my leadership over the next few years. I look forward to working with all of you.”

Reposted from: http://www.navy-marine.forces.gc.ca/en/news-operations/news-view.page?doc=base-mayorship-changes-hand/hyn56qrs

A century of service beneath the waves

RAdm Bill Truelove, Commander MARPAC, speaks before the unveiling of the rededicated Submarine Memorial Cairn at CFB Esquimalt on August 7, 2014.
RAdm Bill Truelove, Commander MARPAC, speaks before the unveiling of the rededicated Submarine Memorial Cairn at CFB Esquimalt on August 7, 2014.

Bravo Zulu to the Royal Canadian Navy’s Submarine Force for 100 years of outstanding and distinguished service. The centennial of Canada’s “Silent Service” was marked with the rededication of the Submarine Memorial Cairn at CFB Esquimalt on August 7, 2014.

RAdm Bill Truelove, Commander Maritime Forces Pacific (MARPAC), presided over the ceremony and praised the continued excellence and dedication of Canadian submariners: “The unique nature of the ‘Silent Service’ has created an equally unique breed of sailor. The Royal Canadian Navy would be incomplete without submarines.”

Since Canada’s first two submarines, CC1 and CC2, were purchased on August 5, 1914 for $1.15 million by then British Columbia Premier Sir Richard McBride, the RCN has commissioned a total of 15 submarines. The current fleet of four Victoria­-class submarines continue to provide Canada with a highly effective intelligence-gathering and strategic deterrence platform.

Reposted from: http://www.navy-marine.forces.gc.ca/en/news-operations/news-view.page?doc=a-century-of-service-beneath-the-waves/hy8r86wn

RCN names new Joint Support Ships

An artist rendering of the definition design for the new Joint Support Ships.
An artist rendering of the definition design for the new Joint Support Ships.

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) has named its two new Joint Support Ships (JSS), which will be built by Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd. in North Vancouver, B.C. They will be named HMCS Queenston and HMCS Chateauguay in recognition of the significant battles of Queenston Heights and Chateauguay during the War of 1812.

“Canada’s rich military history is a source of inspiration for the men and women who currently serve in the Royal Canadian Navy,” said Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, Commander Royal Canadian Navy. “The events surrounding the War of 1812 remind us of the sacrifices of soldiers and sailors who fought for their country during a pivotal moment in Canadian history.”

Traditionally, the name of a class of warship is derived from the name of the first vessel in this class to be constructed. Queenston will be built first, therefore, the two JSS will be known as the Queenston-class.

These ships will provide under way replenishment capability for fuel and other supplies, and offer hospital facilities and strategic sealift for operations ashore. They will ensure that the military can continue to monitor and defend Canadian waters and make significant contributions to international naval operations. The JSS will provide Canada with a modern, task-tailored, globally deployable support capability for naval task groups for extended periods.


For more information about the JSS, visit http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/business-equipment/joint-support-ship.page?

(Crowsnest – Spring 2014 / April 24, 2014)