A HISTORY OF CANADIAN NAVAL AVIATION 1918-1962 The Naval Historical Section

A HISTORY OF CANADIAN NAVAL AVIATION 1918-1962 The Naval Historical Section
The Naval Historical Section
Canadian Forces Headquarters
Department of National Defence
Ottawa 1965
Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray, VC, DSC, RCNVR
The Naval Historical Section
Canadian Forces Headquarters
Department of National Defence
Ottawa 1965
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Preface.......................................................................................................................................................................... iv
Introduction: The First Canadian Naval Airmen........................................................................................................... v
The Royal Canadian Naval Air Service of 1918 .......................................................................................... 1
The “Back Seat” Years............................................................................................................................... 11
The Second Canadian Naval Air Arm ........................................................................................................ 20
Formation of Air Squadrons ....................................................................................................................... 34
HMCS Warrior, 1946-1948 ....................................................................................................................... 39
Squadrons and Shore Bases, 1945-1962..................................................................................................... 47
HMCS Magnificent, l948-l957 ................................................................................................................... 71
HMCS Bonaventure ................................................................................................................................... 99
“Aircraft versus Submarine” .................................................................................................................... 118
Senior Officers for Naval Aviation .......................................................................................................... 124
Directors of Naval Air Division
Directors of Naval Aviation and
Directors of Naval Aircraft Requirements................................................................................................ 125
Commanding Officers of Aircraft Carriers and Air Station ..................................................................... 126
Commanding Officers of Air Groups ....................................................................................................... 128
Commanding Officers of Air Squadrons.................................................................................................. 129
Specifications of Aircraft Carriers............................................................................................................ 133
Details of RCN Aircraft, l946-1962 ......................................................................................................... 134
Chronology of Main Events in Canadian Naval Aviation History, 1915-1962 ........................................ 136
Ship and Squadron Badges....................................................................................................................... 137
Bibliography............................................................................................................................................. 140
Abbreviations ........................................................................................................................................... 141
INDEX ...................................................................................................................................................................... 143
From the earliest days of powered flight Canadians have
shown an aptitude for all aspects of aviation and this
work is an attempt to present, albeit imperfectly, a little
known but very important part of this priceless heritage,
namely the birth and growth of Naval Aviation in Canada.
Although it is primarily an official history as opposed
to the “I-was-there” type, the authors wish to stress,
from the outset, that any opinions expressed are entirely
their own and that the speculations as to the future flight
course of Canadian Naval Aviation are based on their
interpretation of trends up to the year 1962.
Considerable detail on the operational activities of
ships and aircraft has been included and in this connection the policy adopted in respect to the highlighting of
individuals’ names must be explained to forestall criticism that the fish-heads have been given star-billing at
the expense of the aviators. Generally speaking the old
rule that, “Captains and above have names otherwise
there are only ships (or air squadrons),” has been followed. Exceptions have been made in the case of the
early RCNAS personalities and those officers and men
of the modern RCN, who have been officially decorated
or commended. Regretfully, the many good stories concerning Canadians who flew with the Royal Navy’s air
forces in both World Wars have had to be passed by as
the main concern has been with the Royal Canadian
Navy and the influence on it of naval aviation. For the
latter reason the second chapter has been included as an
acknowledgement of the importance of events that took
place away from the RCN but without which the other
chapters would be meaningless.
To avoid confusing the reader local times have been
used unless otherwise stated and as far as possible dates
have been kept to a minimum consistent with retaining
reference value; a brief chronology of the more important events in the history of Canadian Naval Aviation
has been included as an appendix. Most of the material
used has been taken from reports, memoranda, letters,
messages etc., which are not available to the general
public and have not, therefore, been listed in detail. Reports of Proceedings from ships, squadrons and establishments have been used extensively and where no
other source is given it can be assumed that they are the
source. Other file numbers, quoted in substantiation of
statements made, have been shown in footnotes, the
number of which has also been kept down.
Thanks are due to all those who have given helpful
advice and criticism, particularly LieutenantCommander S. E. Soward, CD, RCN, whose expert assistance on technical matters and enthusiastic support at
all times were in no small measure responsible for the
successful completion of the project. Our appreciation
also goes to our colleagues and the clerical staff of the
Naval Historical Section.
Naval Historical Section,
Ottawa, Ontario.
1 July, 1965.
A new era of unbounded possibilities dawned for mankind on 17 December, 1903, when Wilbur and Orville
Wright’s motor-driven aeroplane rose shakily into the air
from a field at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and remained airborne for 59 seconds, reaching a maximum
speed of 30 knots. This event started a chain reaction,
slow at first, which, with increasing momentum in a
short span of years, has revolutionized many fields of
human endeavour.
The news of the advent of powered-flight was received without enthusiasm in naval circles. The mightiest fleet of the day, the Royal Navy, was engaged in an
arms race with Germany, its first serious challenger in
nearly one hundred years. The cry was for more men and
more ships, particularly Dreadnought Class battleships;
it is not therefore surprising that when the American
inventors offered to sell the patents for their new-fangled
inventions to the Admiralty in 1907 they were turned
down. Yet, it is a fact that within two years both the
Royal Navy and the United States Navy found that they
had to take flying a good deal more seriously. In Canada, although pioneers such as the members of the famous Aerial Experiment Association at Baddeck, N.S.,
were in the forefront of world flight development, the
country had no navy and the idea of operating planes
with ships aroused little interest.*
By the outbreak of war on 4 August, 1914, a fledgling
Royal Canadian Navy had come into existence and its
two cruisers, HMC Ships Rainbow and Niobe, cleared
for action.** Some years were to pass before the navy
started to organize an air arm but in the meantime the
Royal Naval Air Service was quite willing to accept
suitable volunteers from the Dominion. In the first year
of the conflict officialdom did not make it easy for a
prospective candidate to get into the service; he had either to pay his own passage or enlist in the Canadian
Army and hope to transfer on arrival in England. However, difficulties did not deter the enthusiastic and, as the
RNAS began to expand, its history became closely
linked to Canada.
The need for pilots was urgent in 1915 so that the
RNAS could meet its three main commitments: antisubmarine operations; the Dardanelles campaign; and
the defence of the United Kingdom, for which non-rigid
type airships, together with new fixed-wing planes, were
rolling off the production lines. The Admiralty had been
well satisfied with the calibre of the recruits coming
from Canada and the source was tapped further, officially, in April 1915 when the Naval Service in Ottawa
was asked if it would select a considerable number of
men to undergo training for the naval air force.† One of
the qualifications for a successful candidate (not necessary after December 1916), was that he should obtain at
his own expense an Aero Club Certificate of proficiency
for which $375 would be refunded by the British authorities at a later date. McCurdy, who was now manager of Curtiss Aeroplanes and Motors Limited, Toronto, an offshoot of the parent company at Hammondsport, N.Y., had been campaigning since 1914 for a government-backed plant and flying school, and to assist in
the new recruiting drive he at once started to train pilots
*Members of the Association were: the inventor, Dr. Alexander Graham Bell; two young engineers, Frederick W. (Casey)
Baldwin and John A. D. McCurdy, two Americans, Glenn H.
Curtiss and Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, who was the official
observer for the U.S. Government. The first controlled flight of an
aeroplane by a British subject within the British Commonwealth
was made by McCurdy in the Silver Dart above the frozen Bras
d’Or Lakes on 23 February, 1909.
**The Naval Service Act was given Royal assent on 4 May,
†Canada Department of the Naval Service, Report for the Fiscal Year ending 31 March, 1916, Ottawa, King’s Printer, 1916.
at Long Branch, Ontario. His firm was building twoseater, wheel-equipped Curtiss J.N.3 trainers, some of
which were turned over to the school together with flying boats brought up from the U.S., the latter for a training base established at Hanlan’s Point on Toronto Island.
By mid-July the first two pilots had completed the
course and successfully passed the examination of the
Aero Club of Canada, whose rules were the same as the
Royal Aero Club of the United Kingdom, and at month’s
end ten pupils proceeded overseas to become members
of either the RNAS or the Royal Flying Corps. Before
the latter took over direct recruiting and training of Canadians in 1917, 129 candidates had graduated from the
Curtiss Aviation School without fatalities or serious accidents. Many of them served with distinction in the Allied forces and one of their number, Flight SubLieutenant A. S. Ince, had the honour of being the first
Canadian in the RNAS to receive the Distinguished Service Cross for his good work as observer in a Nieuport
two-seater plane which shot down a German aircraft off
the Belgian coast in December 1915.
Brief mention must be made of another air training
venture which, although it did not produce many men
for the RNAS, illustrates the enthusiasm for participation in the air war that had developed amongst the youth
of Canada. In the summer of 1915 a flying club was
formed in Vancouver by a group of patriotic business
men and training began on the Minoru Park racetrack,
Lulu Island, with a single-seater plane purchased from
the instructor. Later a larger field was acquired and
given the name Terra Nova, and from here two pupils
were passed out by Lieutenant-Colonel C. J. Burke,
DSO, RFC, who had come over to interview volunteers
for flying duties. The sole aircraft was converted into a
hydroplane and moved for the winter months to the motor-boat works of Messrs. Hoffar of Burrard Inlet, where
it was completely wrecked when one of the main floats
struck a drifting log. The club, now very short of funds
to operate, closed down and re-emerged as the British
Columbia Aviation School, Limited, in which non-profit
stock was offered for sale. A two-seater, military-type,
Curtiss Tractor plane was built in Vancouver and hauled
through the streets on a tag-day, which raised $1,500 for
the cause. The machine was moved to Pitt Meadows
near Coquitlam, about 25 miles east of the city, where it
operated until a crash in 1916 made the plane unserviceable and ended the story of the school. The determined
efforts of those concerned in this training venture were
not wasted as the club’s 15 charter members all saw service in His Majesty’s armed forces.*
“Toss Bombing,” First World War style.
Throughout 1916 accepted candidates were sent to
England for training at RNAS instructional schools, their
seniority as Probationary Flight Sub-Lieutenants being
the date of departure from Canada, but in spite of this
welcome flow of volunteers both RNAS and RFC were
still short of aviators. In August the British Government
proposed that its Canadian counterpart should set up a
school of aviation and by the middle of October Canada
had agreed to finance an aeroplane factory whose orders
would be guaranteed by the Imperial Government.† The
question of flight training, however, had been overtaken
by events on the Western Front, where huge armies were
locked in a bloody struggle on the Somme. The RFC
was suffering heavy casualties and desperately needed
more men and equipment as replacements and in preparation for a Spring offensive. Details were worked out at
a meeting in London on 21 December to raise 20 training squadrons in the Dominion and on 22 January, 1917,
the vanguard of an RFC recruiting and instructional
team arrived in Toronto. Plans for the procurement of
equipment and the construction of aerodromes were approved by the Canadian Government and in short order
the Corps brought over from the United Kingdom a large
establishment of the necessary personnel. Recruiting
officers began operating from all major cities and, as a
result, the number of RNAS candidates selected in Canada declined. A count after the war showed that a total
of 635 had been entered by the Naval Service from the
date of the Admiralty’s initial request for airmen.††
Considering the size of the country’s population in
the Great War it is remarkable that there was such a high
tors at the Manston Flying School. He also did experimental work
on deck landings, etc., towards the end of the war.
†Order-in-Council PC 2460 approved 13 October, 1916.
††“Occasional Paper No. 12.” 9 October, 1919, NS 1017-312(1).
*One, in particular, had an interesting career in the RNAS. Arthur H. Allardyce became a Flight-Lieutenant in October 1917,
and saw considerable service on anti-submarine patrols in flying
boats over the North Sea, later becoming one of the first instruc-
percentage of Canadians in the RNAS and to tell their
story properly would require a full book length in itself.
Many spent their wartime career with squadrons on the
Western Front and amongst these may be mentioned the
illustrious names of Breadner, Curtis (who had been a
pupil at Long Branch), and Edwards, all of whom later
rose to the highest ranks in the Royal Canadian Air
Force. Another was the much-decorated Raymond
Collishaw, a former officer of the Canadian Fishery Protection Service, who ultimately retired from the Royal
Air Force as an air vice-marshal. Flyers were also employed in sorties against Zeppelin airships and on antisubmarine (A/S) patrols, one of the few German U-boats
destroyed by air action being UC 72, sunk by a Canadian, Flight Sub-Lieutenant N. A. Magor, RNAS, in a
Curtiss H. 12 Large America flying boat on 22 September, 1917. Victories in the war against Zeppelins included the destruction of L.43 off Vlieland on 14 June,
1917, by Flight Sub-Lieutenant B. D. Hobbs, RNAS,
and the shooting down of L.53 by Lieutenant S. D. Culley, RAF, formerly of the RNAS, on 11 August, 1918.*
Probably the most famous of early Canadian maritime
flyers was Robert Leckie, a graduate of the Curtiss Flying School, who flew many sorties from the Royal Naval
Air Station at Great Yarmouth and received decorations
for destroying L.22 in 1917 and L.70 in August 1918;
after a distinguished career in the RAF Leckie transferred to the RCAF in 1940 and became its Chief of Air
Staff four years later.
Mention has only been made of a few “aces,” but
from the foregoing it will be realized that by 1917-18
many Canadians were deeply involved in naval aviation
and their exploits were known from coast to coast. Consequently when the RCN was ready to form its own air
arm the achievements of their countrymen overseas in
the RNAS were an inspiration to recruits for the new
*This was the last Zeppelin to be shot down in the war. At the
time Culley was flying a Sopwith Camel land-plane, which he had
flown off from the deck of a lighter towed astern of the destroyer,
HMS Redoubt.
Flight-Commander Collishaw, Commanding Officer, and No. 203 Squadron RAF (formerly No. 3 Squadron RNAS). Many
Canadians served with these squadrons.
Aviation as a component of sea power was considered of
secondary importance in 1914 but under the fierce pressure of war it very soon began to improve technically
and exert a profound influence on the whole concept of
naval tactics. The RNAS by 1917 had grown to a large
force of officers and men flying airships, landplanes,
float-planes, and flying boats with a number of converted carriers in commission. Three important
achievements which pointed up the potentialities of naval flying had been recorded by the force. These were a
raid on Cuxhaven and Wilhelmshaven by sea-planes,
transported in three former cross-channel steamers, HM
Ships Empress, Engadine, and Riviera on Christmas
Day 1914; the sinking of a supply ship by aerial torpedo
during the Gallipoli campaign and, lastly, an enemy
sighting report that was passed by one of Engadine’s
sea-planes on 31 May, 1916, as the British and German
Fleets approached each other prior to the Battle of Jutland. As the war progressed the activities of a growing
fleet of enemy submarines, which began to take a heavy
toll of merchant ships, had caused alarm amongst the
Allies. A declaration by the U.S. Government in May
1916 that it would sever diplomatic relations with Germany unless she modified her method of submarine warfare had the effect of slowing down the attack on shipping for some months but by 1 February, 1917, an unrestricted campaign was in full swing. The RNAS stepped
up its A/S* patrolling activity but it soon became obvious that the whole system of the defence of merchantmen would require overhauling.
To Canada, at the western end of the life-line, the increasing tempo of the submarine war had great significance, particularly as the new construction U-boats were
striking further out into the Atlantic and would soon try
to extend their operations, on a large scale, to the coast
of North America.** Defence measures would have to
**The cargo-carrying submarine, Deutschland, had already
made two successful voyages to and from Norfolk, Virginia, in
July-November 1916, and on 8 October, 1916, U-53 had sunk five
merchant ships off Nantucket Light Vessel, Rhode Island.
be increased and on 10 February the Interdepartmental
Committee of the Militia and Naval departments had
under discussion the question, referred to it by the Minister of the Naval Service, the Honourable J. D. Hazen,
of organizing a Canadian naval air arm. The upshot of
these deliberations was the decision “that an air service
is necessary for the adequate defence of the Atlantic
coast,”1 two days later, at its next meeting the committee
set a minimum requirement of two sea-plane stations,
one at Halifax the other at Sydney.
Having reached a decision it was now necessary to
get expert advice and a telegram was sent to the Admiralty giving details of the proposal together with a request for the services of a qualified officer to assist. In
early March Wing-Commander J. W. Seddon, RNAS,
accompanied by a Petty Officer Mechanic, sailed for
Canada; a veteran flyer, he was well chosen, having
commanded the first sea-plane station in England when
it commissioned in December 1912. On arrival in Ottawa Seddon lost little time in putting his ideas for a Canadian service on paper and in a detailed memorandum
submitted on 21 March to Vice-Admiral C. E. Kingsmill, RN (Retired), Director of the Naval Service, he
suggested, for the two air stations, a force of 34 seaplanes operated by 300 men at an initial cost of approximately one and a half million dollars.
Four small Sopwith Schneider sea-planes were sent,
with other equipment, over to Halifax by the Admiralty
and whilst his report was being mulled over Seddon
went to Toronto to see if the Imperial Munitions Board
could fill the needs of the air service from its Canadian
Aeroplanes Limited factory. The company, which had
been formed as a result of PC 2460, already mentioned,
was functioning in a part of the old Curtiss plant but was
awaiting the completion of new buildings, covering
about six acres, to which it was to move in April. Assured that the company’s resources were adequate to
meet the requirements, the wing-commander reported
back to headquarters and then headed for the coast to
inspect the terrain at Halifax and Sydney for air station
Relations between the U.S. and Germany were at
breaking point at the end of March 1917, and American
participation in the war, with all its implications for
Canada, was inevitable.* The Canadian Privy Council
met to discuss the expert’s report on an air scheme for
the defence of the East Coast and came to the conclusion
that the financial cost was too high. In a telegram to the
Prime Minister, Sir R. L. Borden, who was in London,
the council also stated that its members were unanimously against establishing a CNAS as it would occupy
skilled construction men badly needed on other works
and as they considered the money could be better spent
on increasing A/S surface patrols. Wing-Commander
Seddon, no doubt invigorated by the spring winds blowing across McNab’s Island, which he had surveyed as a
possible base, was greeted with the news on his return to
Ottawa and immediately sat down to compose another
extensive memorandum in a last ditch attempt to get an
air service approved. His new scheme was turned down
on the grounds that it was primarily a training one,
which would only give protection to shipping in the region of Sydney. His mission completed, WingCommander Seddon left Canada for the U.S. in midApril and the official thanks of the Canadian Government were sent to the Admiralty for their prompt help in
sending the British team, which had, by now, increased
to three officers and two petty officers. The four crated
Schneiders gathered dust in a Halifax warehouse until
they were noticed by Admiral Kingsmill on an inspection tour in September. Disposal instructions were requested from the Admiralty, who in turn presented them
as a gift to the United States Naval Reserve Flying
Corps. The Americans took the planes to Florida where
they gave yeoman service at flying schools.
While a Canadian naval air arm had been under consideration the Allies had suffered a grim month in the
North Atlantic. A huge tonnage was sunk by enemy
submarines until finally the old lesson, that the only way
to protect large numbers of merchantmen is to organize
them in convoys, was re-learnt. This system was introduced in May 1917, with the RNAS providing escort
wherever possible. A pattern of aerial reconnaissance
known as the Spider’s Web was also developed, the first
submarine victim being UC 36, which was sunk by aircraft on 20 May.** The construction of U-boats continued to be given top priority by the Germans and in the
autumn of 1917 a formidable class of 2,400-ton “sub*President Woodrow Wilson signed the U.S. formal declaration of a state of war with Germany on 6 April, 1917.
**With the North Hinder light-vessel in the North Sea as its
centre the Spider’s Web was octagonal in shape having eight radial arms thirty sea miles in length joined by three sets of circumferential lines at ten, twenty and thirty miles from the light-vessel.
It allowed for the surveillance of 4000 square miles of water
through which enemy submarines had to pass when leaving or
returning to base.
mersible cruisers” began to commission. By January
1918, the Admiralty was writing to Ottawa giving a
warning “that an attack by one of the new enemy submarine cruisers might be expected in Canadian waters any
time after March”.2
In the ensuing months various counter measures, including the formation of a mobile squadron of seaplane
and airship carriers for A/S duties overseas, were considered by the RN and turned down. On 11 March a cable was sent to the Canadian Government again pointing
out the danger and suggesting the establishment of an
airship construction works and kite balloon factory, the
manufacture of sea-planes and the opening up of air stations for patrol work. This was a pretty tall order for a
country already fully extended on war production and
the official reply was to the effect that sea-planes and
kite balloons could not be manufactured in time for the
approaching navigation season but that officers would be
sent to the United States to seek assistance. For the long
term, plans of suitable airships, kite balloons and seaplanes were requested from the Admiralty and enquiries
were made with Canadian Aeroplanes Limited concerning the firm’s capabilities for new construction. An experienced airship pilot, Flight-Commander J. Barron,
RNAS, was already having consultations with U.S. naval authorities and he was now ordered to go to Ottawa
with the drawings of C Star and Zero single engine airships. The Americans, meanwhile, had taken a hand by
sending an officer up to Halifax to discuss the institution
of an aerial patrol across the entrance to the Bay of
Activity on both sides of the Atlantic was leading to
the formation of a Canadian naval air service but aviation in the RN was about to suffer a set-back, the effects
of which would linger on for nearly 20 years. As early as
1916 a bitter private war was being waged between the
Admiralty and the War Office over the conflicting materiel demands of the RNAS and RFC. There was also
great public outcry in the UK concerning the lack of
home defence against Zeppelin raids. The British Government appointed a committee under the chairmanship
of General Smuts, the South African statesman, to study
the whole question of air command and its findings,
published in 1917, recommended that the two services
be amalgamated under a new Air Ministry. On 1 April,
1918, the RNAS, to the sorrow of its members, was
taken from naval control and joined with the RFC to
form the Royal Air Force.
Three weeks after the demise of the British naval air
arm a very important preliminary round table conference* took place in Washington on 20 April between
*Another conference was held at Boston on 22 April, attended
by Admiral Kingsmill, to co-ordinate patrol services generally, on
the East Coast.
representatives of the RN, USN and RCN, Canadian
interests being taken care of by Captain W. Hose, RCN,
Captain of Patrols on the Atlantic coast and, in later
years, Chief of the Naval Staff. At the meeting a comprehensive plan was drawn up whereby air stations
would be established at Halifax, Sydney, Cape Race and
Cape Sable and equipped with dirigibles, sea-planes and
kite balloons; Halifax and Sydney were to receive top
priority. The Americans were prepared to supply flying
machines and kite balloons and lend pilots for the seaplanes until such time as Canadians, who would be
trained in the U. S., were ready to take over.† It was also
proposed to ask for two wounded RAF officers, unfit for
flying duties, to be commanding officers of the two stations, and, to tie in with the air patrols, the United States
Navy Department agreed to lend six submarine chasers,
two torpedo-boats and a submarine.
On 3 May the Canadian Privy Council approved the
measures worked out in Washington, and the Admiralty
was informed accordingly, with a request that a reply be
sent to an earlier message regarding the loan of an officer to organize a naval air arm. No doubt still chagrined
by the loss of its air force the RN does not seem to have
been very forthcoming about the scheme to set up a
CNAS, and the first that the new Air Ministry heard of it
was a request from the Admiralty for the appointment of
Lieutenant-Colonel J. T. Cull, DSO, RAF, and two officers, to the Naval Service in Ottawa for special duty.††
Eventually, after the background details of the plan had
been explained to the Secretary of State for Air, approval was given and the British party, which had been
increased by two more officers, sailed on 15 June, 1918.
In Canada a board consisting of Captain Barron,
RAF, now appointed permanently to Ottawa, and two
officers, one RN the other USN, had made a preliminary
selection of sites and after authority had been given by
the Privy Council to establish two air stations at an estimated cost of $2,189,600 the Department of Public
Works was asked to carry out surveys and obtain lands.
A scheme for recruitment had been drawn up at naval
headquarters calling for about 500 officers and men to
be added to the strength of the RCN for air duties; ordinary rates of pay were to prevail with the addition of a
special air allowance. Officers would belong to the executive branch with the addition of “(A)” after their title
†The U.S. Navy agreed, later, to man the kite balloons and
dirigibles as soon as the stations were ready until such time as
Canadian personnel were available. Letter from C-in-C NA and
WI to Director of the Naval Service, 15 May, 1918. NS 1034-3-4
††Formerly a Wing-Commander, RNAS, Cull was decorated
for his part in the sinking of the German cruiser, Konigsberg, in
the delta of the River Rufiji, German East Africa, on 11 July,
1915. At the time he was piloting an aircraft from which spotting
reports were made to the bombarding monitors.
whilst the uniform of all hands would be that of the
regular service with an eagle added to the cuff. The
bases would each be equipped with three dirigibles, four
kite balloons and six sea-planes.
The officers from England arrived in early July to
find that in spite of a good start very little headway had
actually been made in the setting up of an air defence
scheme for the East Coast. The colonel after reporting to
Admiral Kingsmill made a tour of the proposed sites at
Halifax and Sydney. Land for a sea-plane kite balloon
station at Baker Point, Eastern Passage, on the Dartmouth side and an airship station about three miles away
he found satisfactory, but the locales chosen at Sydney
were considered too inaccessible. Subsequently Kelly
Beach,* on the western boundary of North Sydney was
picked for a permanent sea-plane/kite balloon station
with an airship site located on the opposite side of town.
Surveying, acquisition of property and drawing up of
plans was protracted and meanwhile Colonel Cull reopened negotiations with Washington for the provision
of aerial patrols until the Canadian air arm was ready.
After some reluctance, at first, owing to a vague financial arrangement and doubts as to whether it would be
possible to get anything going that year, the Americans
agreed to send up, at their own expense, all the necessary flying equipment if Canada would provide ground
sites, stores and installations. The USN was prepared to
let its men live in tents but asked for an assurance in
writing that permanent buildings to its specifications
would be completed by 15 October. This gave Colonel
Cull good ammunition in the battle to get the construction programme under way, and as a result of his representations it was agreed to erect living quarters and mess
halls by forced contract. Workmen first appeared at the
Baker Point site early in August and at Kelly Beach
about six weeks later but progress was slow, with acid
recriminations flying between the Department of Public
Works, who arranged the contracts, and the Naval Service.4
In early August 1918 detachments of USN airmen
began to arrive by sea in Halifax and were issued with
marquees and tents, which they erected at Baker Point.
One of Colonel Cull’s men, Major H. Stewart, RAF, was
appointed to the station but, by arrangement with the
Americans, he did not live on it but acted as a liaison
between the U.S. Commanding Officer and the Canadian
authorities. With the official hoisting of “Old Glory” on
19 August Lieutenant Richard E. Byrd, USN (Retired),
who in post-war years became famous as an aviator and
polar explorer, took command at Eastern Passage with
the additional title of Officer-in-Charge, US Naval Air
Force in Canada.**
*Also referred to as “Kelley’s” or “Kelly’s Beach”
**Byrd was given the rank of Acting Lieutenant-Commander
Four Curtiss HS2 flying boats, fitted with a single
Liberty engine (HS2L) were quickly assembled, and on
25 August two of them made their first flights over a
startled Halifax. That this event caused quite a stir
amongst the inhabitants may be gathered from a rather
prim letter sent to the naval authorities by the senior
military staff officer.
HS 2 Flying Boats at Baker Point, Dartmouth, N.S.
Considerable excitement has been reported to me arising out of
the unexpected appearance of the air service machines yesterday.
No information has reached us regarding the addition of this service to the garrison. This I would be glad to get as the fortress is
equipped with anti-aircraft defences. Enquiries from the civil
population make it apparent that some notification is expected by
the public.5
The air force being ready for active service a policy
conference was held on the 26th to decide on a plan of
campaign and it was agreed that outward-bound fast
convoys would be met off the harbour entrance and escorted 65 miles to sea while inward-bound convoys
would be joined 80 miles out. Slower convoys (eight
knots) would only have air cover for 50 miles outbound
and 60 miles inbound. Of the four flying boats available,
two would be operational for convoy duty, one for
emergency A/S flights and one in reserve; a plane could
remain airborne for four hours, cruising at 60 knots. Patrols started at once and in the first three weeks averaged
about one flight per day.
As a considerable amount of fill, to be obtained by
dredging, had to be dumped at Kelly Beach, the government leased a temporary site at Indian Beach on the
Northwest Bar, North Sydney, where a wharf was available, and here U.S. airmen began to assemble flying
boats in September. A Canadian, Captain J. W. Hobbs,
RAF, took up his duties as liaison officer and the internal administration was taken care of by Lieutenant
Donaghue, USN. By the week ending 21 September they
whilst holding this appointment.
were reporting that four machines were ready for convoy
work and that a slipway and platform had been built on
the beach.
Eastern Passage, and later North Sydney station,
started to build up an impressive log of flying hours at
tasks including convoy protection, spotting for harbour
defence guns and coast surveillance for lurking U-boats.
The first incident of interest occurred shortly after the
start of patrolling. Two flying boats, with the CO in one,
set out from Baker Point to investigate a suspected submarine and meet a convoy. Some miles at sea one plane
got into difficulties with a burst propeller and had to be
towed back by the destroyer, USS De Long, which was
bringing up the rear in the role of plane guard. Continuing alone, Byrd’s machine sighted what appeared to be a
periscope in the right area and swooped downward to the
attack. Unfortunately the object turned out to be a vertical floating spar. Excitement ran high on another occasion when there was an enemy submarine sighting report
some six miles to seaward of Halifax harbour. Four
planes were flown off and shortly afterwards began a
search of the area. Nothing was seen but the affair gave
the pilots added zest in their patrols. By the end of the
war both stations were operating six flying boats, Dartmouth having logged approximately 184 hours and
North Sydney 97 hours since 29 September.
There was a great spirit of rivalry between the officers of the two bases and they watched each other
closely for any signs of a lapse in flying efficiency, appearance of personnel and so on, but for the unsung heroes on the ground things were tough. Gales blew down
their tents and necessitated frequent lashing down of the
planes, which required constant maintenance against the
rigours of weather exposure.* Even worse than the
weather was a severe Spanish influenza epidemic which
raged across North America in 1918. The station at
North Sydney was particularly hard hit and the airmen
had to be moved to accommodation in the town; two of
them died from the disease. One of these was Lieutenant
R. S. Johnson, USN, a civil engineer by profession, who
had been very useful as a consultant during building operations.
Arrangements to extend the range of air cover were
considered and Major Stewart inspected sites at Canso
and Cape Sable while Captain Hobbs visited Cape
North. Colonel Cull then recommended that sub-stations
be established at the two places first mentioned and the
Magdalen Islands, with Cape North as a second choice
*U.S. temporary steel hangars measuring 110’ x 120’, with a
28’ clearance, arrived in Canada in October 1918, and were
erected one at each station. Kelly Beach and Baker Point also had
a temporary kite balloon hangar apiece but the erection of these
had not been completed by the time of the Armistice on 11 November.
to the latter. He also proposed that an air station be situated in Newfoundland to cover the re-routeing of convoys through the Strait of Belle Isle. This was approved
by Admiral Kingsmill with the added suggestion that the
base should be a Canadian Government commitment.
Prior to broaching this idea officially with the Newfoundland authorities Captain Hobbs was given a welcome break from the North Sydney quagmire to take two
survey cruises in HMCS Stadacona along the coast-line
adjoining the strait. None of these plans for expansion
were put into execution because it became obvious that
sub-stations would not be necessary.†
Although the sea-plane organization was set up rapidly, lack of equipment stopped the airship programme
and no dirigibles were flown from the Canadian East
Coast bases; building was not started on the chosen sites.
Two kite balloons were sent up from USN stores and by
the end of the war a patrol vessel, HMCS Acadia, had
been fitted with special winches to operate them.††
From a captive balloon put up by the ship, Ensign W. H.
Stromeyer, USNRFC, made a parachute descent during
an inspection visit by the Admiral Superintendent at
Halifax, Vice-Admiral W. O. Story, RN, in the second
week of November.
With construction of accommodation under way the
problem of organizing a Canadian naval air arm was
tackled by Cull and his staff, a task which was not made
easier by the fact that they were ex-naval officers coming under the General Officer Commanding the RAF in
Canada, headquarters in Toronto, for discipline and the
Director of the Naval Service in Ottawa for administration purposes. The air service to be formed was of more
immediate concern to the Admiralty than to the British
Air Ministry, who were inclined to give the scheme
rather low priority. The U.S. authorities in Washington
were also involved so that correspondence had to travel
great distances. General indifference and dilatoriness
combined to give the officers the feeling that they did
not belong to anybody and were fighting a losing battle.
It is a tribute to the initiative and patience of Colonel
Cull that he managed to achieve as much as he did.
Off the East Coast of Canada in August 1918 events
not only justified the Admiralty’s warnings about submarines but indirectly helped those who were trying to
form an air arm. The previous May, U-151 had laid
mines at the entrance to Delaware and by August three
German submarines were operating simultaneously off
the North American littoral. Not content with sinking
†In a letter dated 7 November, 1918, too late to affect the issue, the British Admiralty concurred with Cull’s proposals but
preferred Cape North to the Magdalen Islands as a sub-station.
††Another ship, HMCS Cartier, also had work done on her
preparatory to receiving kite balloon winches. At Sydney HMCS
Lady Evelyn was considered for use but not adapted.
shipping themselves the enemy took a Halifax trawler,
Triumph, in prize about 60 miles from Cranberry Island
on the 20th of that month and, after suitable conversion,
manned her to act as a decoy. It is not hard to imagine
the consternation there must have been ashore a few
days later on receipt of the news that a surface raider,
wearing the German Ensign, had sunk six fishing vessels. The submarines continued their depredations until
October when they were recalled, a total of 110,000 tons
of shipping having been sunk between Cape Hatteras
and Newfoundland by five boats since the beginning of
the campaign in May.* During the period, both RCN and
USN warships hunted the U-boats relentlessly but without success. However, the example of the invaluable
help given by American aerial patrols in the later stages
had the effect of stimulating interest in Canadian naval
Outline of a new force, to be known as the Royal Canadian Naval Air Service, was revealed by an OrderinCouncil dated 5 September, 1918.6 The title itself had
been selected after some difficulty as Cull felt that, in
the future, land-planes would also be needed in the defence of Canada and therefore the air service should be
called the Canadian Air Force. Approval for this was
about to be sought when news was received that a CAF
was to be formed overseas. Rates of pay for the RCNAS
were those of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, cadets
receiving a private’s pay of $1.10 a day on enlistment,
rising to $2.00 a day during ground training with an additional $1.00 a day, later, as flying allowance; the latter
was also to be granted to six RCN rating volunteers,
who would be paid a flat rate of $1.50 a day as airship
coxswains. Uniform for officers, who were to use the old
RNAS ranks up to Wing-Commander, was to be of dark
blue serge, with a brown leather Sam Browne belt, their
pilot wings being of RAF pattern with a green maple
leaf and monogram RCNAS in the centre; to round it off
the standard style cap would be worn with a distinctive
badge consisting of a crown, bronze maple leaf, silver
foul anchor and silver wings. The dress for all ratings
was to be that of “men not dressed as seamen” in the
RCN and there would be a basic rank of “aircraftsman”.
For a start 80 cadets were to be sent to the U.S. for seaplane training and another 12, together with the six rating coxswains, to the U.K. for airship instruction.
*The fate of Triumph is unknown but it is presumed that she
was scuttled by the Germans.
Proposed RCNAS Officer’s Cap Badge, 1918.
Recruiting for the RCNAS through press advertisements started on 8 August, even before the service had
been officially approved, and over 600 applications were
received in short order. A selection committee accepted
25 volunteers in Toronto on 12-13 September and another 39 were chosen at Ottawa a week later.* The first
batch of 20 cadets was scheduled to leave almost at once
for Boston, where they were to be given a 17-week
course of ground, preliminary and advanced flying training, but an influenza quarantine prevented their departure until 27 September. The second party departed for
the U.S. on 9 October and a committee consisting of
Major Stewart, Captain Barron, Lieutenant Cameron,
CEF, and Sub-Lieutenant E. L. Janney, RNCVR, set up
shop in Regina to make a selection from the western
applicants. Owing to influenza this third contingent was
held in Canada until the 31st and the choice of a fourth
draft from the Maritimes had to be postponed indefinitely for the same reason. In early October 12 officers,
followed shortly by six RCN petty officers, left for airship training in England. En route tragedy struck and the
service suffered its first casualty with the death at sea of
Flight Cadet W. V. Bedell, RCNAS, from acute broncho-pneumonia.
By the beginning of November 1918, the RCNAS
was well established with high hopes of being a fullyfledged fighting force by the spring of 1919. Colonel
Cull, with the title of Director of the Royal Canadian
Naval Air Service, had his headquarters at 30 Rideau
Street, Ottawa, from which office he controlled an ad*A total of 81 cadets were entered in the RCNAS during the
period of its existence.
Proposed RCNAS
Officer’s Uniform,
ministrative staff of 12 officers, three RAF other ranks
and civilian personnel. Major C. MacLaurin, DSC, RAF,
a Canadian ex-RNAS pilot, had taken charge of recruiting, and it was hoped to start the training of skilled artificers in the U.S. at the end of December although none
had been actually enrolled. As the end of the war became imminent all recruiting had to be stopped and no
new construction work was undertaken at the two bases.
The Armistice was signed on 11 November and immediately the process of demobilization and return to
peace-time conditions began. Convoys from Sydney
were discontinued at once as the end of the St. Lawrence
navigation season was approaching and the USN airmen
packed all material for winter storage. A gale sweeping
across the harbour on the 14th broke up the wooden
slipway at Northwest Bar and the huts on the temporary
site were also in danger of disappearing owing to the
attentions of the local inhabitants; sales by tender were
quickly organized to solve the problem. At Kelly Beach
the Americans had a stock of aircraft bombs and ammunition, which caused some consternation. It was reported
to Ottawa that the Mayor of Sydney “had the wind up”
and was growling dire threats that he would personally
throw the whole lot in the river. In a telegram to Lieutenant-Commander Byrd, the Director of the RCNAS
pointed out that the latter course would save a considerable amount of trouble but that as the Americans had
agreed to remove dangerous stores, they should do so to
Group of Flight Cadets, RCNAS, Ottawa, 1918.
avoid hostilities breaking out again. This was done and
the USN personnel departed for the south leaving a
small retard party to clear up the paper work.
Flying operations continued at Eastern Passage as
convoys were still using Halifax harbour and a special
squadron flying display was given for the benefit of
Admiral Kingsmill on 21 November. The usefulness of
air patrols was at an end and the suggestion was made
that Baker Point be reduced to a status of care and maintenance with a few USN airmen in attendance until the
RCNAS was ready to relieve them. LieutenantCommander Byrd journeyed to Washington for orders
and on 11 December he wired his men to “begin packing
up station, dismantle sea-planes and stow parts in storehouses.”7 A small amount of test flying was done the
next week and shortly before Christmas a mass exodus
of Americans began. The U.S. station closed down officially on 7 January, 1919, and a harassed RCNAS representative, Major H. Norrington, RAF, was left, singlehanded, to bring some sort of order out of the chaos. By
the 20th a caretaker party of naval ratings had been detailed by the Admiral Superintendent to clean up and
return stores.
Three days after the Armistice Colonel Cull was ordered by the Minister of the Naval Service, the Honourable C. C. Ballantyne, to prepare a memorandum on the
advantages of continuing the air service on its existing
basis. Pros and cons were carefully weighed and on 5
“(courtesy Mr. J. M. Weir)”
December, 1918, orders were sent out to disband the
RCNAS.8 An important factor in this decision was the
imminent return to Canada of a large number of fully
trained naval pilots from the RAF, who would provide a
pool of highly experienced personnel if it was decided,
later, to form an air force. General demobilization was
ordered and most of the cadets were discharged on 14
December after their return from Boston. The last out
were the airship cadets, minus one of their number, who
was left behind in England to face a court-martial; they
were paid off on arrival home in February 1919.
There now only remained the question of footing the
bill and a Canadian team consisting of Deputy Minister
G. J. Desbarats, Colonel Cull, and Major Norrington sat
down in Washington with Josephus B. Daniels, U.S.
Secretary of the Navy, to thresh out the details. In the
final count 12 flying boats, 26 Liberty engines and four
kite balloons were donated to the Canadian Government,
who in turn purchased all American ground equipment.
Total cost to Canada, including buildings, and land, was
$811,168 but she had received from the U.S. about
$600,000 worth of flying equipment free of charge.
Complimentary messages were exchanged all round, and
it was generally agreed that the first joint U.S.-Canadian
venture in the field of naval aviation had been, highly
The British members of the RCNAS including Colonel Cull returned to England and the Canadians were
Title Page of Log Book, U.S. Naval Air Station,
Halifax, N.S., 1918-1919.
demobilized, but as the Naval Service was still interested
in the possibilities of naval flying Major MacLaurin was
retained at Ottawa. For the next year, although he ruled
over a force that was defunct, the major signed his correspondence as Acting Director of the Royal Canadian
Naval Air Service.
Construction work on the two air stations continued
into February 1919, when the new buildings were accepted from the Department of Works. At Baker Point
these consisted of a barracks for 100 men, a mess and
recreation hall for 300 and a large stores building; the
set-up at North Sydney was similar with the difference
that the messing accommodation was for 400 men. Naval ratings were guarding both sites and 12 ex-RAF mechanics, with ex-Sergeant-Major A. Cole, RAF, as foreman, had been hired to service the air equipment that
had been hastily abandoned by the Americans. Great
efforts were made to tidy up Baker Point but it was a
hard struggle as Major MacLaurin’s April report shows:
The general appearance of the Halifax Base is anything but
favourable. Scrap lumber and debris of all description left
by the Contractors and Americans is strewn all over the
property. The steel for the kite balloon shed is lying
promiscuously about and is mostly covered with mud and
In May 1919, two events occurred to enliven the monotony at Halifax. On the 8th, NC 3, one of three large
U.S. flying boats which were about to attempt a crossAtlantic flight, landed near Baker Point. The next morning a boat approached the jetty with the station’s former
CO, Lieutenant-Commander Byrd, seated in the stern;
his plane had several cracked propellers, and the base
ship, which had arrived ahead, could produce spares but
no hub plates. Mr. Cole rose to the occasion and NC 3
proceeded on her way.* The next happpening of, interest
was the departure of two HS2L flying boats loaned to the
St. Maurice Fire Protective Association for forest patrol
in the St. Maurice Valley, P.Q. The company had hired a
former RNAS pilot, who ferried the planes to their new
base at Lac à la Tortue, a distance of 645 miles. A few
preliminary flights from Grand’Mere on the lake were
made that summer and in the 1920 season there was a
busy programme of fire patrols. This was a pioneer effort and the forestry industry quickly recognized the importance of aircraft in surveying and controlling their
vast areas.
The two stations in Nova Scotia quietly rusticated on
a care and maintenance routine with periodical visits
from Major MacLaurin, who inspected them and test
flew the aircraft. On his August visit he gave aerial escort to the Italian battleship Conte di Cavour on the 16th
and to HM Cruisers Dragon and Dauntless the next day
as they steamed up harbour to Halifax. By November the
naval personnel had all gone and their places had been
taken by civilian watchmen. Flying gear had been put in
a state of preservation against weather deterioration and
the maintenance party released for duty in the dockyard,
leaving a civilian storekeeper at each station. Major
MacLaurin’s tour of duty was almost over and an extension was sought to March 1920, but the Air Ministry
refused on the grounds that he was now engaged solely
in developing general aviation whilst on their strength.
The major was accordingly demobilized from the RAF
on 10 December, 1919, but remained in the country as a
member of the newly-constituted Air Board.**
Interest was aroused again in Canadian naval aviation
on 31 December, 1919, when Admiral of the Fleet, Viscount Jellicoe of Scapa, GCB, OM, GCVO, who was
visiting Commonwealth countries in an advisory capacity, presented his recommendations for the peacetime
RCN. The Admiral based his proposals on the assumption that, in the event of another war, the most likely
enemy would be Japan and his dispositions were worked
out accordingly. He stated that two squadrons, one of
flying boats, the other torpedo carrying, should be sta*Byrd had to leave NC 3 at Trepassey Harbour, Newfoundland, prior to her transatlantic attempt. She subsequently had to
ditch off the Azores but managed to enter Ponta Delgada. Only
NC 4 was successful in completing the crossing, which ended at
Lisbon on 27 May, 1919.
**MacLaurin became air station superintendent at Vancouver
and was killed in a flying accident in 1922.
“(Courtesy National Aviation Musuem)”
HS 2 at anchor off Dartmouth Naval Air Station, 1919.
tioned on the west coast. Four fleet programmes, two of
which included aircraft carriers, were also put forward
for the Dominion Government to consider. However, it
was not felt that permanent use should be made of the
existing air bases at Halifax and North Sydney. These
proposals, unfortunately, as far as they concerned a new
and rejuvenated RCNAS, came to nought.
The Royal Canadian Naval Air Service had faded
away and the bases soon passed out of naval control. All
flying equipment was removed from Kelly Beach by the
Air Board, also the hangar, which collapsed, killing one
of the contractor’s men, whilst being unrigged. The station was turned over to the Department of Works and
remained dormant until reopened by the RCAF in the
Second World War to provide air cover once again for
convoys. Baker Point was transferred from the Naval
Service to the Air Board on 12 July, 1920, and was in
use for some years until it became a reserve station.10 A
highlight of this period, from a naval point of view, was
the Halifax combined service exercises of August 1921,
for which the RCN, still basking in the early post-war
glow of affluence, was able to field the quite respectable
team of HMC Cruiser Aurora, two destroyers (HMC
Ships Patriot and Patrician) and HMC Submarines CH
14 and CH 15. The Air Board sent a party led by its Director of Flying, Wing-Commander Leckie, RAF, to
Baker Point in an F.3 flying boat, and patrols were
flown from Eastern Passage for the duration of the exercise by two of the ex-U.S. planes. After this burst of excitement Dartmouth Air Station reverted to care and
maintenance in the late 20’s until reactivated by the
RCAF in 1934 for the use of Number 5 Flying Boat
Although the naval air arm of the First World War
never got off the ground the Canadian Government of
the day showed foresight and determination in going
ahead with the scheme at all particularly as its leading
adviser on matters naval, the British Admiralty, had
been forced to relinquish control of its air service in line
with current thoughts on centralization to promote effi-
“(Courtesy National Aviation Museum)”
Launching HS 2 from boat ramp, Eastern Passage, 1919.
ciency. At the end of 1918 the Cabinet still wanted to
keep the RCNAS and the outlook was promising; officers, some of very high calibre, bases, material, and a
supporting aircraft industry were all available.11 Canada
was in a position to be a leader in the development of
naval aviation but the time was not ripe and, without
money, the RCN had to pigeon-hole the idea for some
20 wasted years.
Aerial view of Baker Point Station, 1923.
Interdepartmental Committee Meeting (45th) 10 February,
1917. NS 1034-3-3 (1).
Admiralty to Secretary of State for the Colonies. 3 January,
1918. NS 1034-3-4 (1).
Order-in-Council PC 1379, 5 June, 1918.
Correspondence on NS 63-5-1 (I) and NS 63-10-1.
Staff Officer Military Headquarters, Halifax to Flag Commander, HMC Dockyard, 26 August, 1918. NS ZZ 40-4-1 (I).
PC 2154. A detailed scale of pay, allowances, and pensions
for the RCNAS was laid down, subsequently, by Order-inCouncil, PC 2707, dated 6 November, 1918.
Telegram from Byrd to C.O., USN Air Station, Halifax. NS
ZZ 40-4-1 (I).
Order-in-Council PC 3009, 5 December, 1918.
Memorandum from Acting Director RCNAS to Deputy Minister 14-4-19. NS 63-5-1 (1).
Arrangements approved by Order-in-Council, PC 2478, of 9
October, 1920.
On 5 December, 1918, the same day as the Order-in-Council
was published disbanding the RCNAS, the Minister was writing
to the Deputy Minister: “I wish it understood that the RCNAS is
not abolished and the action that is now being taken is only until
such time as the Government decides on the details and policy of
a permanent Air Service.” Letter Ballantyne to Desbarats. NS 639-1.
Flying in Canada between the wars expanded into many
fields of activity, including Arctic exploration, aerial
surveying, the inauguration of air mail routes and the
development of a scheduled trans-continental passenger
service.* Much of the pioneer work was done by the
newly-constituted Royal Canadian Air Force, which during the first eight years of its existence was mainly employed as the government’s civil air company.† Later,
having been freed from these responsibilities, the air
force slowly but steadily expanded along military lines,
one of its duties being to provide shore-based maritime
aircraft for the protection of the country’s long coasts.
Naval aviation, however, had been given no place in the
scheme of Canadian national defence and was doomed
to remain inactive.
A strong reaction to war had spread amongst the nations by 1922, particularly in those that had suffered
most severely in the recent struggle. Being no exception
to this trend the Canadian voter viewed any proposed
expenditure on armaments with extreme disfavour, with
the result that the Navy was hit by a policy of retrenchment. Economy measures included the paying off of
Aurora and the submarines, reduction of personnel to
500 and closing the Royal Naval College of Canada. The
Fleet was stabilized at two destroyers and four trawlers,
three ships on each coast, and remained at that strength
until 1931 when it was increased by the addition of two
more destroyers. In depression years it was hard to hold
on to even this small force, particularly in 1933 when the
Treasury Board suggested that the Naval Service appropriation be cut by two million dollars to $422,000.1
Commodore Hose, Chief of the Naval Staff, managed to
convince the Board of the importance of the navy to
Canada and the alarming proposal was dropped, but it
illustrates the precariousness of the times.
It was impossible for the RCN to man its own aircraft
*Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA) was formed in 1937 by an
Act of Parliament.
†The Royal Canadian Air Force officially came into being on
1 April, 1924.
during the period under review, but a certain amount of
experience was gained in the technique of air/sea operations from exercises carried out by Canadian destroyers
with British warships of the America and West Indies
Squadron. Aircraft were used for the first time in 1930
when landings were made by the army on the West and
East coasts. For the former, HM Cruiser Dauntless and
HMC Destroyer Vancouver embarked an enthusiastic
party of militiamen, which they put ashore in Maple
Bay, Vancouver Island, while two RCAF Vickers
Vidette sea-planes, controlled by Dauntless, flew overhead. Two officers, Lieutenant-Commanders G. B. F.
Barnes, and A. M. Hope, RCN, were airborne as naval
observers, and aircraft co-operation was rated “very
good”. An assault on the beaches of Amet Sound, Nova
Scotia, from HM Cruiser Durban and HMC Destroyer
Champlain, ten days later, was not so successful; the air
force crew of the single plane had no observer with them
and, largely because of their inexperience, little was
achieved. Manoeuvres of greater significance occurred
in 1934 when the British Home Fleet, consisting of four
battleships, Nelson, Rodney, Malaya, and Valiant, HM
Aircraft Carrier Furious and two cruisers, with attendant
destroyers, visited the Caribbean. Four Canadian destroyers, Skeena, Champlain, Saguenay, and Vancouver,
joined forces for a programme of exercises in which the
air squadrons from Furious played an important role.
From 1935 onwards the purse strings of the RCAF were
loosened sufficiently to permit a limited number of flying hours for inter-service exercises, which by 1939 had
become quite frequent.
Contacts with the Royal Navy during the lean years
after the demise of the RCNAS were to have a strong
influence on future Canadian planning for a second naval air force. In addition to acquiring knowledge of tactics in combined operations the Navy had to rely on the
larger fleet for the latest information on technical
changes and, to a large extent, for individual personnel
training; there was a continual rotation of officers and
ratings on loan for courses or general duty. As a result of
First Carrier Deck Landing, HMS Furious, 1917 (note lower wing
holding straps).
Sopwith 1½ Strutter flying off turret, HMAS Australia.
this close co-operation an invaluable store of firsthand
knowledge was accumulated on Britain’s approach to
the problems of naval aviation.
In the period 1918-43 the Royal Navy’s evolving air
branch was subjected to many stresses and strains. For
Canada the force’s pioneering meant that she could ultimately take her place as an up-to-date naval air power
without being penalized for a slow start. Certain RN
developments are, therefore, of importance in studying
this stage of Canada’s naval air history.
Having been taken over by the Air Ministry in 1918
and subsequently confined to the jogtrot routine of
peacetime, the unfortunate British naval air arm became
the victim of economy, international disarmament
agreements, conflicting theories and controversy as to
the respective responsibilities of the air force and the
navy. Amalgamation soon had an adverse effect on
technical development of aircraft, as former experienced
RNAS officers drifted away on other service assignments (in line with current RAF thinking on “ubiquity”)
and new design fell into the hands of non-naval personnel. To make matters worse it took the Admiralty some
considerable time to make up its collective mind as to
whether money should be spent on planes to the detriment of guns and other well-tried weapons. As a result
of these trying years the air arm was thrown into the
Second World War in 1939 with an inadequate number
of flying machines, ninety per cent of which were obsolete bi-planes.
The history of the ships from which the aircraft were
flown presents a brighter picture and indicates how the
Royal Canadian Navy benefited by the experiences and
failures of others. Pioneers in the adaptation of the early
sea-plane carriers, the British had led the world in the
development of a deck landing ship, an RNAS officer
being the first to touch down on a moving vessel. This
important event in the evolution of naval aviation took
place on 3 August, 1917, when Squadron-Commander
E. H. Dunning, DSC, RNAS, succeeded in skidding his
Sopwith Pup on to a flight deck that had been fitted forward on the ex-battle-cruiser, Furious, in place of an 18inch gun. Half-a-dozen officers rushed out and held on
to the wings. Unfortunately, on Squadron Commander
Dunning’s third attempt, some days later, the manoeuvre
of flying around the funnel and bridge on to the forecastle proved too hazardous; a tire burst and the pilot was
killed when the machine went over the side.
After Dunning’s death a new flying-on deck of 280 x
70 feet was substituted for Furious’ after main turret and
various types of arresting gear were tried out. It was
found that the air flow became broken up by the funnel
and superstructure with the added hazard of smoke
fumes to trouble the pilot; the carrier had to retire to
dockyard for further re-designing. A more successful
ship was the former Italian Lloyd Sabaudo liner SS
Conte Rosso, which was renamed HMS Argus and completed with a 550 x 60-foot “flush deck” for flying purposes. Tests with a dummy island or bridge structure on
the side of the flight deck were carried out and the idea
incorporated in the next carrier. This vessel was commissioned in 1920 as HMS Eagle, having been originally laid down as a Dreadnought Class battleship for
Chile under the name of Almirante Cochrane. By 1928
six effective carriers were flying the White Ensign;
HMS Hermes, the first ship actually to be constructed
for the specific function, and five conversions, Furious,
Eagle, Argus, and HM Ships Glorious and Courageous.
All were “island carriers” except Argus and Furious,
which were “flush deck”.* Owing to the tonnage limitations set by the naval disarmament treaties of Washington and London, 1922 and 1930 respectively, only one
*Furious was given an “island” in 1939.
HMS Furious, 1918, with fighter and non-rigid airship embarked.
more new carrier, HMS Ark Royal,† joined the Fleet in
the next decade. The First World War sea-plane carriers,
which recovered their aircraft from the water by derrick,
had all been paid off with the exception of the first Ark
Royal, but naval planners still envisaged a useful role for
this type of ship in a balanced fleet.
The first attempt to re-introduce sea-plane tenders
came in 1924 when the shipbuilding firm of J. Thornycroft submitted plans to the Admiralty for a fast carrier
of the destroyer type. Although considered too small to
be practical by the RN the design was taken up by the
Australian Government, which decided to have a seaplane carrier built along the lines suggested but modified
to meet its particular needs. The result was a 5000-ton
vessel named Albatross, which was completed at Sydney, New South Wales, towards the end of 1928. On the
outbreak of hostilities she was bought by the Admiralty
and subsequently her nine Walrus†† amphibians flew on
many A/S patrols whilst HMS Albatross was based at
Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Thornycroft’s second submission to interest the RN in
sea-plane carriers came in 1934 by which time an efficient catapult had been developed and over a quarter of
the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) authorized aircraft strength
was attached to cruisers and battleships fitted with
launchers. The new proposal called for a 3000-ton high
speed aircraft carrier designed to launch its seven seaplanes from one or two catapults on the forecastle and
†HMS Ark Royal a 1914-vintage sea-plane carrier was still in
commission and had her name changed to HMS Pegasus in January 1935.
††Known universally as the “Shagbat” (or “Pusser’s Duck”)
the Walrus enjoyed a great reputation in the FAA. It had a cruising speed of ninety-five miles per hour, which made the bi-plane’s
progress in flight dignified but slow, to the accompaniment of the
unforgettable roar of the single Pegasus engine with its 18 open
exhaust ports.
Sopwith Pup landing, HMS Furious, 1918.
recover them by winch on a landing canvas towed aft.
The concept of a small carrier aroused considerable interest in Canadian naval circles on this occasion and
Commodore P. W. Nelles, RCN, the Chief of the Naval
Staff, asked for blueprints to be sent to Ottawa. Nothing
further came of the matter but it is an indication that in
spite of its financial strait jacket the RCN was fully alive
to the importance of air power over the sea.
To sum up the foregoing general remarks on aircraft
carriers, it can be said that British naval designers had
maintained their early lead so that at the outbreak of the
Second World War the ships were more up to date than
the aircraft which landed on their decks. In particular
much thought had been given to the problems of armoured decks and gasoline stowage, which was arranged to give maximum protection against explosion or
spread of fire. The Americans, on the other hand, packed
more planes into their ships at the expense of these considerations and were to suffer serious losses from gasoline fires in action whilst heavier armoured British ships
showed their superiority in ability to withstand the attentions of Japanese suicide planes.* The sound construction of the British carriers, unfortunately, was offset by
the slow development of the aviation equipment with
which they were supplied.
As an example, the USN had transverse arrester gear
fitted in its first carrier, USS Langley, when she commissioned in 1922, nine years before the RN adopted the
method. Similarly the use of crash barriers and the technique of controlled touch-downs, with the help of a deck
landing control officer or “batsman,”† were standardized
by the Americans some years before the British per*Known as Kamikaze (meaning “Divine Wind”) aircraft,
which attempted to crash on to their targets.
†The “Batsman,” so named after the “bats” held in his hands,
was stationed on the after end of the flight deck to indicate if an
approaching plane was correctly positioned for touchdown.
fected their arrangements in 1939.2
An examination of the early personnel structure in the
British naval air arm provides the key to most of its
troubles and tardy evolution. In the immediate post-war
years the Air Ministry was too engrossed in general matters of policy in connection with the country’s air commitments to pay much attention to its naval component.
The result was not only the adverse effect on technical
design work already mentioned but a deterioration in
flying efficiency. Sea duty was not popular amongst
RAF officers and the lack of interest became obvious in
fleet exercises with aircraft which sank to a low standard
owing to the pilots’ poor knowledge of ship identification, and their lack of experience with problems of sea
warfare. The Admiralty very soon started to make efforts
to recover control of its aviation branch, and an early
result was that the provision of observers and air gunners
for aircraft became a navy commitment. By decision of
the 1923 Balfour Committee, 70% of pilots were also to
be drawn from the Senior Service although personnel
would continue to carry out their initial flying training
with the RAF. A small but significant move towards a
return to naval control was made in April, 1924, with the
adoption of a new title, “Fleet Air Arm of the RAF”.
In spite of concessions the Royal Navy continued to
play a subordinate role in the organization and development of naval aviation, both ashore and afloat. The operation of aircraft at sea was the responsibility of a
ship’s commanding officer but the embarked air units
formed part of the RAF, the senior administrative and
technical positions being held by air force officers. Although seamen pilots and observers were attached they
were considered, first and foremost, as executive branch
naval officers who were undergoing specialization training; their duties were limited to minor administration
and actual flying. Many senior officers in the upper
echelons, through no fault of their own, were not in sufficiently close contact with every aspect of operating an
air arm to realize its true capabilities. The inadequacy of
the system was generally recognized by 1937 and administrative control reverted to the Royal Navy. A desperate race began to build up shore bases and get recruits
for the force, which was not only short of flying personnel but had no maintenance ratings whatsoever on its
strength. Two years later, although there had been a
great improvement, the FAA was still undermanned and
ill-equipped to fight a modern war. Fortunately its adversary had neglected naval aviation to an even greater
During the 20 years that the British naval air arm had
been buffeted to and fro in the crosswinds of interservice rivalry its USN counterpart had been flying a
fairly steady course. An Act of Congress in 1921 created
the Bureau of Aeronautics, which was “charged with
matters pertaining to naval aeronautics as prescribed by
the Secretary of the Navy.” With government encouragement, and untrammelled by outside influences, the
branch was able to design aircraft and allied equipment
for the naval service, which instilled in its men the idea
that aviation held the key to the extension of maritime
power. The high standard of training and material
achieved in the U.S. naval air branch was to prove of
great value in the forthcoming struggle with Japan, another nation which had quickly appreciated the power of
planes flying with and from a fleet.
Technical and administrative lessons to be learnt from
two different ways of running an air arm had been
clearly spelt out for the RCN by the summer of 1939.
The grim experience of the RN was a sobering example
to even the most enthusiastic proponent of centralization, and it was obvious that if the navy was ever to have
planes it must have full control. There now remained the
question of whether separate naval aviation was justified
for a country with a small population but relatively large
maritime commitments. The grim reality of war conditions was soon to give the answer.
On 10 September, 1939, Canada declared war on
Germany, whose troops had poured into Poland eight
days previously. The regular navy, consisting of 11 ships
of war in commission, manned from a total complement
of 1819 officers and men, immediately mobilized its
reserves; every effort had to be directed to the acquisition, construction and manning of ships to carry out the
main task. This was defined by the Chiefs of Staff
Committee as being the organization of auxiliary forces
“to give protection to shipping against mine and submarine attacks in Canadian waters and at the same time to
assist the British forces in keeping the sea communications clear of enemy vessels”.3 Overseas, the RNFAA
was quickly given the opportunity of testing the value of
its peace-time exercises, which had been based on the
thinking that naval aircraft would be used for eight major tasks, namely:
Reconnaissance to gain tactical advantage by
sighting the enemy;
Slowing-up of a faster or unwilling enemy by
air attack;
Protection of the Fleet against air attack (although anti-aircraft guns and ship manoeuvring
were thought to be the best defence);
Protection of aircraft carriers;
General reconnaissance with a fleet at sea;
Smoke laying;
Help in the protection of the Fleet against submarine attack;
Attacking the escorts and ships of enemy convoys. Emphasis was on fleet work and reconnaissance but naval air remained at a disadvantage in the latter role as the RAF still controlled
land-based, long-range flying boats, which were
organized under its Coastal Command.*
British naval aviation had its first encounter with the
enemy on a large scale in the Norwegian campaign of
April 1940, when the Germans invaded that country.
Operations were out of range for home-based RAF
fighters, and until air strips could be established ashore
the main burden of air support fell upon the FAA. In
general the planes were called upon to carry out tasks
which had previously been considered as being outside
the scope of their normal function, making it necessary
for them to fly many sorties from carriers and from Hatson air station in the Orkney Islands to give support to
the army. Duties included the provision of air cover for
landings and embarkation, the neutralization of enemy
air forces and the mounting of attacks on transport
ashore and afloat. Faced with a hopeless situation the
Allies had to withdraw their forces from Norway in
June; naval aircraft then became involved, under the
orders of Coastal Command, in a variety of operations
on the Dutch, Belgian and French coasts during the relentless German advance to the shores of the English
Channel. By July 1940 the land campaign in Europe had
come to an end but certain units of the FAA remained
with the RAF to assist in attacks on enemy shipping and
targets in areas from which an invasion of the British
Isles might be launched. It had been a disastrous phase
in the history of the war but had had the salutary effect
of clearing away many misconceptions concerning the
use of naval planes. The experience was to affect technical development for years to come.
By the end of 1940 howling gales in the English
Channel ruled out the possibility of any seaborne attack
on England for that year, but in the Mediterranean, the
Fleet Air Arm gained the first of three victories, which
illustrated the importance of aircraft in orthodox fleet
tactics. Italy had entered the war on 10 June, 1940, and
in November a raid was planned on units of the Italian
Fleet lying in Taranto harbour. Two striking forces of
Swordfish aircraft were flown off from HMS Illustrious,
who was screened by cruisers and destroyers in a position 180 miles from the target, and as a result of their
night’s effort two badly-damaged battleships, Conte di
Cavour and Caio Duilio had to be beached; another battleship, Littorio and the cruiser Trento were extensively
hit whilst smaller vessels were damaged and shore installations destroyed. The second engagement took place
in the spring of 1941 when part of the Italian Fleet was
tempted to put to sea with the object of attacking a supply convoy bound for Greece. A group of enemy cruisers were sighted by a flying boat on patrol from Malta
*The operational control of the RAF’s Coastal Command was
transferred to the Admiralty in April 1941, following a British
Cabinet Committee decision in December 1940.
on 27 March, and that evening three British battleships,
with HM Aircraft Carrier Formidable, sailed from Alexandria in support of their own cruisers, which were covering the convoy to the south of Crete. Later, torpedocarrying Albacore planes from Formidable scored hits
on the Italian battleship Vittorio Veneto and also damaged a cruiser.* The former managed to elude her pursuers but in a night action during which Admiral Sir A. B.
Cunningham, GCB, DSO, handled the British battle
squadron like a division of destroyers, three Italian
cruisers, Pola, Zara and Fiume, were sent to the bottom.
In the third example of text-book air-fleet cooperation the FAA repeated, with an even more successful outcome, its role in the Battle of Matapan. On 21
May, 1941, the German battleship Bismarck and the
cruiser Prinz Eugen were lying at Bergen, Norway, making final preparations for a commerce raid on the Atlantic trade routes. They were spotted by a reconnaissance
aircraft, but owing to thick fog clamping down on the
coast a striking force of RAF bombers failed to find the
target. The next day was worse, with cloud down to 200
feet in the North Sea and air patrols unable to see anything. At this juncture the Commanding Officer, RNAS
Hatston, on his own initiative, sent a single Glenn Martin Maryland aircraft, normally used for target towing,
across to Bergen; this plane had as its captain and observer Commander G. A. Rotherham, RN, who in later
years was destined to be the first officer to hold the appointment of Director of Naval Aviation in the RCN.
Under heavy fire the Maryland made a skillful and determined reconnaissance of the fjord only to find that the
heavy ships had sailed. Immediately on receipt of the
momentous news the Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet
made depositions to cover a break-out into the Atlantic
and there followed the tense chase of Bismarck, who at
one stage sank the mighty battle-cruiser HMS Hood with
all but three of her complement. Naval aviation first took
a hand when Swordfish from HMS Victorious made an
unsuccessful attack on the battleship after which she
managed to elude the shadowing cruisers. Some 31
hours later she was spotted by a Catalina of Coastal
Command and planes from HMS Ark Royal launched 13
torpedoes, thereby sealing the battleship’s fate; two hits
were registered, one being a deadly blow at her steering
gear, propellers and rudders. The hunting forces rapidly
converged on the position of the crippled Bismarck and
she was finally sunk in the forenoon of 27 May by gunfire and torpedoes from HM Ships King George V, Rodney, Norfolk, and Dorsetshire.†
*One of the Albacore squadrons from Formidable was No.
826, which became a Canadian squadron after the war.
†Amongst the ships, which took part in the various phases of
the great hunt for Bismarck are listed HMC Destroyers Saguenay,
Assiniboine and Columbia but they were not present at the final
Swordfish Torpedo Bomber as used in strikes against Bismarck.
The end of Bismarck had important lessons for both
British and Germans. For the former it pointed up the
vital necessity of having a carrier with the fleet; this was
to be re-emphasised in December 1941, when Japanese
planes caught the British heavy units, HM Ships Prince
of Wales and Repulse, off the coast of Malaya and sank
both. In the case of the Germans it was the last time they
attempted to send a surface raider into the North Atlantic
convoy lanes as it was realized that without effective air
support such a sortie was bound to fail.
Whilst the various types of operations mentioned
above were testing the men, equipment and tactics of the
FAA, the defence of merchant shipping was absorbing a
far greater proportion of the air effort than had been anticipated. That the Germans would send out surface raiders to cause the maximum of dislocation by hit-and-run
raids had been expected by the Admiralty, and naval
aircraft were used extensively for reconnaissance work
during operations in connection with these sorties; the
enemy warships and auxiliary cruisers, for their part,
made use of sea-planes to search for prey or to give
warning of hostile forces in the area. However, the ability of escorting warships to combat the submarine attack
on shipping had been overestimated, and it was the role
of aviation in the hard-fought battle against U-boats that
probably influenced the RCN more than any other factor
to form its own air branch.
Prior to the outbreak of hostilities it was the official
British view that submarines would not be such a menace as in the 1914-18 conflict, and the employment of
naval planes in the defence of ocean convoys was not
seriously considered; the protection of shipping, in any
case, was the responsibility of Coastal Command. In
spite of this the heavy losses of independently routed
merchantmen from submarine attack in the First World
War had not been forgotten and steps were taken at once
to organize ships into convoys, a process which was
given impetus by the German sinking of the British liner
Athenia shortly after war was declared.* Initially, aerial
sinking of the battleship.
*The first fast Halifax-United Kingdom convoy, HXF 1, sailed
protection for groups of ships was only provided in terminal areas and took the form of reconnaissance patrols,
for which the Coastal Command had been prepared in
peace-time; also bedevilled by conflicting theories the
force had no personnel trained or aircraft specifically
designed for anti-submarine duty. Even for the reconnaissance task RAF resources were extremely limited
and to help out, hunting groups, consisting of an RN
carrier and escorting destroyers, were formed. The latter
had to remain within a relatively small area and U-boats
were soon able to anticipate their movements with the
inevitable result that one carrier, HMS Courageous, was
sunk by torpedo on 17 September. This submarine
counter-measure was abandoned at once but was to be
revived later in the war with the formation of Convoy
Support Groups.
With their swift land campaign in Europe finished the
Germans had gained control of naval bases from northern Norway to the Bay of Biscay by September 1940
and were well placed to mount stronger attacks on Allied
shipping. The RAF meanwhile had increased its A/S
activities and the effectiveness of both Coastal Command and naval aircraft had been improved by arming
them with depth-charges instead of 100-lb. bombs,
which had been found to be useless. Single U-boat operations around the British Isles became unprofitable and
the German Submarine Command was forced to deploy
its boats further out into the Western Ocean, where pack
tactics could be developed free from air harassment. On
the Canadian side of the Atlantic an increasing number
of warships were available for convoy escort duty and
the RCAF was providing cover for convoys to the range
limit of its aircraft, some of which were based at the
former RCNAS Stations at Dartmouth and Kelly Beach,
North Sydney. Naval aviation had also returned to the
former with the establishment of a small RN Air Section
at the air-field on 14 September, 1940, to service Swordfish and Walrus aircraft belonging to ships of the Third
Battle Squadron and to other visiting RN ships.* This
strategic reserve pool was administered by RA 3rd BS,†
who flew his flag in a converted yacht, HMS Seaborn,
berthed in the harbour of Halifax.
Towards the end of 1940 the passage of ocean convoys became more hazardous when they came within
range of Focke-Wulf Condor (FW 200) aircraft, which
the German Air Force had reluctantly loaned to give
assistance to patrolling U-boats. An increase in shipping
losses made it necessary to adopt retaliatory measures
on 19 September, 1939, escorted by HMC Destroyer Fraser.
*HM Ships Revenge, Ramillies, and Royal Sovereign were
regularly based at Halifax together with armed merchant cruisers;
other battleships were attached from time to time.
†Abbreviation for Rear-Admiral 3rd Battle Squadron; Officer
holding appointment at this time being Rear-Admiral S. S. Bonham-Carter, CB, DSO.
Dartmouth Air Station, 1939.
and two projects were conceived to deal with the German planes. The first was the fitting-out of a special
anti-aircraft “Q” Ship, HMS Crispin. Flying the Red
Ensign, and to all intents and purposes a merchant ship,
she was to straggle along astern of a convoy as tempting
bait for a Focke-Wulf, which she hoped to destroy with
her hidden AA guns. The other idea was to provide the
veteran Pegasus with three Fulmar fighters, which she
could catapult off when her convoy was shadowed or
attacked by FW 200. Neither ship achieved any great
success, Crispin being picked off by a U-boat’s torpedo,
but Pegasus was the forerunner of more efficient catapult ships. These were provided by equipping four exmerchant ships, already earmarked for naval duty, as
auxiliary fighter carriers. Before the latter had finished
their conversion refit a new project, (one of the most
important trade protection developments in the war at
sea) had been proposed. The plan envisaged a two-stage
programme for combating very long range (VLR) enemy
aircraft, which gave every indication of extending their
activities, by the provision of more fighter protection for
convoys. As a short term policy a number of merchantmen would be rigged with a catapult and single aircraft
whilst others, new construction, were being fitted with a
simple flight deck and landing equipment.
A total of 35 cargo vessels were converted into Catapult Aircraft Ships (CAM) each equipped with a single
short-range Hurricane fighter, which, once it had been
shot off, had to ditch on completion of its mission. The
planes were manned by the RAF except in the first CAM
ship, SS Michael E., whose air crew personnel belonged
to the FAA. Michael E. sailed on her maiden voyage
with Convoy OB 327* in May 1941, but was torpedoed
and sunk on 2 June before getting her plane into action.
Prior to the arrival of CAM ships in Canada the RCAF
set up a servicing unit at Dartmouth air station and pro-
vided repair facilities until the catapult ships were taken
off the North Atlantic run in August 1942. A year later,
their naval usefulness at an end, all CAM ships were
returned to the Ministry of War Transport to resume
normal trading. During 26 months of service the Hurricanes from CAM ships only destroyed six aircraft but
their mere presence in convoys was of incalculable value
as a deterrent to the enemy and also as a morale booster
for the hardpressed crews of the merchantmen.
A progression from CAM ships, the first vessel converted to have a flight deck, made its appearance about
the time that the former were starting to be attached to
convoys. As the original auxiliary carrier adapted for
mercantile protection, she was the predecessor of both
escort and merchant aircraft carriers (MAC ships) and
her history is therefore given in some detail.
In March 1940, a 5,600-ton German vessel, Hannover, was intercepted in the Caribbean by HMS Dunedin and HMCS Assiniboine, and, although she had been
set on fire, towed to Jamaica. Some months later the
decision was made to convert the ship, now called Empire Audacity, into an experimental auxiliary carrier and
she was taken in hand for the fitting of a 368 x 60-foot
flight deck. On 17 June, 1941, the new warship was
commissioned as HMS Audacity, her aircraft complement being six Martlets which had to be secured on deck
when not on patrol as there was no hangar. Towards the
end of the year she proved her worth in operations with
convoys bound to and from Gibraltar. Convoy HG 76,
for which Audacity on her fourth trip gave fighter protection, was heavily attacked by submarines. The Martlets shot down two shadowing Focke-Wulfs and by their
reconnaissance work helped in the destruction of three
U-boats. Seven days out from Gibraltar Audacity was hit
by a torpedo, and 20 minutes later by another, causing
her to sink almost at once. Though the ship’s career was
short, her performance demonstrated that herein lay a
part of the remedy for the heavy losses of merchant
Sea Hurricane on launching ramp of CAM Ship.
*Abbreviation for main outward-bound United KingdomAmerica convoy.
First MAC Ship,
SS Macalpine,
Halifax, 1943.
ships. Top construction priority was given to the small
carriers being built for the RN in Great Britain and the
Some months after the loss of Audacity the first of six
ex-American merchant ships, converted for flying duties, joined the fleet as HMS Archer and by the end of
1942 the RN had six escort carriers in commission, one
British and five U.S.-built. Unfortunately, none of these
ships could be spared for the regular Atlantic convoy
runs as they were required for the diversion of effort in
connection with Operation Torch;* in addition the majority of the carriers also required refits to modify them
to British standards. The U.S. navy, whose country officially entered the war on 8 December, 1941, adopted a
policy of fitting out auxiliary carriers and during the
summer of 1942 commissioned four ex-tankers to be
used for this work.
It was obvious that small trade-protection carriers
were going to be useful ships for many tasks and the
British Chiefs of Staff, in their long-range planning for
1943, came to the conclusion that there were not going
to be enough for duty in the Atlantic as well as other
operational requirements. As a result the conversion of
19 cargo vessels, grain or oil carriers, for use as merchant aircraft carriers was ordered.† The grain ships,
fitted with a 400-foot flight deck, hangar and lift, would
operate four Swordfish planes whilst the tankers with a
460-foot flight deck would have no hangar accommodation for their three Swordfish. The torpedo spotter reconnaissance type of aircraft was chosen for MAC ships in
preference to fighters as their primary role would be to
keep down submarines. Wearing the Red Ensign the first
MAC ship, SS Empire Macalpine, sailed from the
*Allied invasion of North Africa on 8 November, 1942.
†These types of ships were chosen as their cargo could be easily conveyed to its stowage.
United Kingdom with Convoy ONS9†† in May 1943.
The little carriers became frequent visitors in Halifax,
where maintenance of their planes was the responsibility
of the RN Air Section at Dartmouth.
The grim struggle in the North Atlantic, where the
main strength of the RCN was deployed, showed signs
of coming to a crisis in the winter months of 1942-43.
Beyond the range of shore-based aircraft, surface escorts
found that they were unable adequately to protect their
convoys from the attentions of enemy submarine packs
with the result that shipping losses by U-boat action in
November were the highest, in terms of gross tonnage,
for the war. The need for VLR and carrier-borne aircraft
to close the so-called “gap” became even more urgent in
January, February and March 1943, as all available Uboat strength was concentrated to cut the main artery
between North America and the United Kingdom. The
percentage of ships sunk in convoy rose each month but
in March there were signs and portents of better things
to come for the Allies. Liberator aircraft, flying from
Newfoundland and Ireland, began to give occasional
coverage of the whole of the “gap” and USS Bogue, one
of the long-awaited escort carriers, operated in support
of two Atlantic convoys.
The beginning of the defeat of the U-boat in the Second World War can be dated from April 1943, and without doubt a goodly share of the credit for this must go to
the aircraft, both land-based and carrier-based, which
were now coming forward to support and escort the convoys for the whole length of their voyages. The combination of VLR aircraft, MAC ships, escort carriers and
highly-trained support groups with improved radar and
A/S equipment was too much for the opposition, and 41
submarines were sent to the bottom in May alone.
Recognition of the Royal Canadian Navy’s important
††Abbreviation for United Kingdom-North America Slow
contribution to victory in the North Atlantic A/S campaign also came in the spring of 1943. The number of
the service’s personnel and ships had increased until a
position had been reached where it was carrying out a
high proportion of the convoy escort duty with very little
share in strategic or operational control. To deal with
this and other problems the Atlantic Convoy Conference
opened in Washington in March with representatives of
various Canadian, United States and British command
authorities in attendance. One result of their deliberations was that Rear-Admiral L. W. Murray, CBE, RCN,
was appointed Commander-in-Chief Canadian North-
West Atlantic on 30 April, 1943.4 That the key command with its heavy responsibility should be entrusted to
a Canadian officer illustrated the new stature of the
The naval service had reached the stage where it
could start planning to diversify and branch out from
being a purely “small ship” force. As in the days of the
RNAS, Canada was represented in every branch of the
British fleet air arm and, with this nucleus of skilled
man-power available, she found herself well placed to
seriously contemplate operating her own naval aircraft in
the exercise of seapower.
Tucker, The Naval Service of Canada, I, 342.
Great Britain, Naval Staff Historical Section, The Development of British Naval Aviation, 1919-1945, I, 21. BR 1736 (53)
G. N. Tucker, The Naval Service of Canada, Ottawa, King’s
Printer, 1952, II, 21-22.
The limits of the Canadian North-West Atlartic Command
were defined by a line joining Cape Murchison to Baffin Land to:
Position (A) 63° 15’ N–64° 00’ W, Position (B) 47° 00’ N–47°
00’ W, Position (C) 43° 00’ N–49° 00’ W, Position (D) 42’ 00’
N–65’ 00’ W, Position (E) 43’ 00’ N–67’ 00’ W, Position (F)
International Boundary at West Quoddy Head. “Canadian Naval
War Plan, 1944.” (CNW-44), NS 1650-7 (1).
The Canadian Government by 1942 could no longer afford to ignore the long-term implications of the fact that
naval air forces were essential for the successful conduct
of war at sea. The moment was propitious for the Royal
Canadian Navy to branch out, once more, into the field
of aviation.
The British Admiralty devised a scheme in the third
year of the war whereby Canadian officers could receive
instruction as pilots or observers with the Royal Navy
but remain members of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve. Ratings, also included in the plan, would
be commissioned into the reserve on successful completion of the course. A signal sounding out Canadian opinion, before the proposals were made officially on a governmental level, was sent to the Chief of the Naval Staff,
Vice-Admiral Nelles, on 23 December, 1942. Similar
offers had been made in the past but the RCN had not
been ready; this time the matter was given urgent consideration at Headquarters and one of the first results
was a memorandum submitted by the Director of Operations Division, Acting Captain H. N. Lay, OBE, RCN,
early in January 1943. The importance, with examples,
of naval aviation to a balanced fleet was stressed in this
paper and it was recommended that:
(a) The Royal Navy’s offer should be accepted;
(b) Two senior officers should be exchanged with officers of similar rank in the Royal Navy to gain experience in carrier air operations;
(c) Officers and ratings should be sent to the United
Kingdom for service in escort carriers; and
(d) Arrangements should be made to either build, convert or buy four escort aircraft carriers for use with
the four mid-ocean escort groups, C-1, C-2, C-3 and
C-4, which were providing convoy protection in the
North Atlantic at that time, operating from St.
John’s Newfoundland, and Londonderry, Northern
Ireland, as terminal ports.
Another communication, from the Director of Plans Division, Acting Captain H. G. DeWolf, RCN, to the Chief
of the Naval Staff also put strong emphasis on the role
aircraft were playing in convoy defence and the necessity of having shipborne planes as well as landbased because, although the latter were beginning to close the
“gap” in the North Atlantic, adverse weather conditions
precluded their use for at least 50 per cent of the time.
After careful consideration of all factors involved the
Admiralty was signalled on 2 March, 1943, that the
RCN was prepared to lend personnel for training as pilots and observers with the Fleet Air Arm (FAA),1 and
in April the Directors of Plans and Operations wrote a
joint memorandum2 on the practical steps the navy could
take in the development of an air policy. One of the subheadings of their report mentioned helicopters, whose
potentialities for convoy protection were now being realized; the Admiralty, having ordered 250 operational
models, intended to have helicopter pilots trained in the
United States towards the end of 1943 and ten Canadians
were to be included in the course. Another matter currently receiving attention at Headquarters was the possibility of using airships of the non-rigid type for patrolling and as convoy escorts. The USN had been successfully operating blimps, as they were called, from its
eastern seaboard and two officers Lieutenants J. G. Fraser and H. H. W. Shoup, RCNVR, were sent to take an
airship pilot’s course at the training base situated at
Lakehurst, New Jersey. In the final paragraphs of the
report the two Directors recommended that:
(a) The training of personnel with the Royal Navy
for the possible formation of a Canadian Naval
Air Service be expedited;
(b) That a naval air division be formed at Headquarters; and
(c) That a senior officer should be sent to the United
Kingdom and, if possible, to the United States as
well, to study all aspects of Naval Air operations,
including the gaining of experience at sea in a
The Naval Board concurred in these recommendations
and Captain Lay was chosen to carry out the investigations. Having paid a short visit to Washington for talks
and to arrange an itinerary for his forthcoming tour of air
stations in the United States and United Kingdom, he
left Ottawa again on 30 April, 1943, for a busy factfinding tour.3
Captain Lay visited naval air stations in the United
States from 1 to 15 May, including those at Jacksonville,
Norfolk, Pensacola, New York and Lakehurst, giving in
his subsequent report a detailed resumé of the pros and
cons of Canadians being trained in the United States. He
sailed from Halifax on 17 May in the liner RMS Empress of Scotland, arriving a week later in England. Interviews with senior officers at the Admiralty were followed by an extensive tour of British naval air stations
and a voyage to sea in HMS Archer on 12 July. Aircraft
from the carrier carried out an air co-operation exercise
off Larne, Northern Ireland, in which HMS Philante and
motor launches represented ships in convoy, the antisubmarine screen being provided by an escort group
under training. An escort carrier had not participated in
such exercises before and it was a good opportunity to
see at first hand what would be required of similar Canadian ships. Transferring by air to HMS Illustrious in
the Irish Sea, Captain Lay took passage to Scapa Flow in
the fleet carrier, which flew off Barracudas and Martlets
to search for and intercept HMS London representing the
German battleship Tirpitz endeavouring to break out into
the Atlantic between Scotland and Iceland.
When Captain Lay returned to London in early August, plans had progressed considerably. Official government acceptance of the Admiralty proposals in respect to pilots and observers was conveyed through the
Under Secretary of State for External Affairs, and the
Senior Canadian Naval Officer, London, was instructed
to make the necessary arrangements with the Admiralty
for the training of 55 air officers4 and an unspecified
number of telegraphist air gunners and air maintenance
artificers. Arrangements for lower deck personnel were
decided upon at a meeting attended by RN and RCN
officers, including Captain Lay, on 13 August. However,
the actual sending of ratings to instructional schools was
deferred pending a decision on the future of a Canadian
naval air service as a whole. Proposals were also made
to use the experience of Canadians with the Fleet Air
Arm, both RCNVR and RNVR (A), the former to be
given training for duty as air signal, gunnery, engineer
and radio officers and the latter to be asked to transfer to
the Canadian navy.
Air minded young men who had found their way in to
the ranks of the RNVR (A) prior to the new plans for an
RCN air arm had already added to the fine record of Canadians in the RNAS of the First World War period.
Selection of potential naval flying personnel from the
Dominions began in New Zealand early in 1940 and
during September of that year the Admiralty made the
suggestion that Canadians might be recruited under a
similar scheme. Candidates would either serve under RN
pay and conditions of service or be enrolled in the
RCNVR for service with the Fleet Air Arm. An official
government request was made through the Department
of External Affairs on 9 January, 1941, and, after discussion between naval and air force authorities, a reply was
sent indicating that the second plan did not lend itself to
existing conditions as there was no authorization for a
fleet air arm within the RCN. A counter-proposal was
made that officers should be obtained through the Joint
Air Training Plan, under which personnel were being
trained in Canada for the RCAF and RAF. This idea did
not appeal to the Admiralty, who then started to enlist
men to serve direct in the Fleet Air Arm, HMS Seaborn
at Halifax being used as a recruiting centre. A standard
form of letter, in which it was explained that the candidate would be joining the RNFAA, was drawn up by
Naval Headquarters, Ottawa, to send to all applicants
giving them full instructions. The letter was revised in
December 1941, and volunteers were screened by the
then Commanding Officer Atlantic Coast, Rear-Admiral
Murray, until the job was taken over again by the British
in January 1943 at their Halifax base, which was now
known as HMS Canada. Canadians serving in the
RNVR (A) by August 1943 numbered 19 officers and 29
ratings. Admiralty Fleet Order 4534/43, dated 30 September, called for volunteers from amongst the officers
on the understanding that any accepted for transfer to the
RCN would continue to serve in the Royal Navy until
required for air duties in the Canadian service.
In addition to this source of trained personnel there
were serving with the British Fleet a number5 of officers
RCNVR, who had volunteered in the United Kingdom,
for flying duty. Although relatively few they managed to
have representatives in most of the actions in which the
Fleet Air Arm, participated, and one of their number was
awarded, posthumously, the RCN’s only Victoria Cross
of the Second World War.
Robert Hampton Gray of Nelson, British Columbia,
joined the RCNVR as an ordinary seaman in July 1940,
and two months later was sent to England. Soon afterwards he began a long course of air training, which included six months of flying instruction at No. 31 Service
Flying Training School at Kingston, Ontario; Gray’s
seniority as a sub-lieutenant, RCNVR, dated from 31
December, 1940. His operational career began with an
appointment to 757 Squadron at Winchester, England,
after which he had a tour of duty at air stations in Kenya,
broken by a spell aboard HMS Illustrious. Later the pilot
joined HMS Formidable in August 1944, and on the
24th and 29th of that month led a section of fighters in
attacks against heavy anti-aircraft positions surrounding
Alten Fjord, Norway, where the German battleship, Tirpitz, lay. Returning from the second raid with most of
his rudder shot away and the plane badly damaged, he
had to circle Formidable for forty-five minutes before
making a successful landing. For these two actions Gray
was mentioned in despatches: “For undaunted courage,
skill and determination.” The carrier was detached from
the Home Fleet to the Pacific Fleet, and by the end of the
year her aircraft were taking part in many strikes in the
Far East.
The Japanese were receiving tremendous punishment
in their homeland by the middle of July 1945. Gray led a
flight of 1841 Squadron on an air-field strafing raid on
the 18th and on the 24th and 28th was leader in the successful bombing of bases along the Japanese inland sea,
a destroyer being sunk on the latter date.
Gray formed up his section of Corsairs over Formidable on 9 August, just one week before the war was to
end, and shaped course for Onagawa Bay. In spite of the
severe damage that had been inflicted on them, the enemy was still full of fight and a heavy barrage of AA fire
from shore batteries and five warships met the planes.
Peeling off from the section, the leader dived towards
one of the destroyers and was soon surrounded by exploding shells. The Corsair burst into flames but held
steadily to its course until within 50 yards of the target
when Gray released his bombs. The warship was struck
amidships and sank below the surface of the bay to follow its attacker to a watery grave. Nine days after Gray
died the award of the Distinguished Service Cross was
announced for his leadership in July, the citation reading: “For determination and address in air attacks on
targets in Japan.”
Deceptively youthful in appearance, Gray was nevertheless a master of his trade with five years of hard experience behind him. The recommendation by his Senior
Officer, Vice-Admiral Sir P. L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO
and two Bars, for the posthumous award of the Victoria
Cross paid tribute to the man and the country that bore
I have in mind firstly his brilliant fighting spirit and inspired leadership; an unforgettable example of selfless and
sustained devotion to duty without regard to safety of life
and limb. The award of this highly prized and highly regarded recognition of valour may fittingly be conferred on
a native of Canada, which Dominion has played so great a
part in the training of our airmen.
The pieces of jigsaw that were being cut to produce a
Canadian naval air arm were increasing in number by
the end of August 1943 when Captain Lay released the
comprehensive report on his findings.6 Included in his
basic recommendations were that a naval air service be
established as soon as possible modelled on the British
Fleet Air Arm, with certain modifications, and that it
should concern itself with carrier operations only, leav-
ing the RCAF to carry out coastal operations with shorebased aircraft. He also suggested that the new service
should start by manning two escort carriers backed by
the necessary maintenance facilities.
Meanwhile at the Quebec Conference in August 1943
expansion of the RCN had been under discussion as the
Royal Navy was suffering from a man-power shortage
and also the Canadian Naval Staff was determined not to
finish the war with a small-ship navy only.* At a meeting of the Cabinet War Committee on 8 September it
was agreed to assist the British by manning certain vessels.† The Chief of the Naval Staff who was present,
eloquently pleaded the case for aircraft carriers but a
decision was postponed until a more thorough study
could be made.7 A combined RCN/RCAF Committee
was appointed soon after and in October issued its report, which supported the naval view that the operation
of carriers should be undertaken.8 The committee advised for the present against the opening of shore establishments for carrier-borne units, as RN facilities, generally, would be used with the RCAF available to provide
assistance when necessary in Canada.
Royal Navy resources became even more strained and
on 30 October the escort building programme was cut, to
be followed in November by an urgent personal message
from Admiral of the Fleet Sir A. B. Cunningham, the
First Sea Lord, to CNS for man-power help.9 The Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff went at once to London to
discuss the matter, and one of the new proposals, which
he brought back with him from the Admiralty was that
the RCN should take over two of the new Americanbuilt escort carriers now coming into service with the
RN.10 The Cabinet was reluctant to become involved
with these vessels for fear that Canada might lay herself
open to the accusation that she was accepting “lendlease” by “back-door” methods. However, the Naval
Service decided to follow the Admiralty’s lead in cutting
back the escort programme and, with the consequent
easing of its own manning situation, agreed to lend as
many officers and ratings as possible to man one CVE,
HMS Nabob, which had commissioned at Seattle, Washington, in September. This important command was
given to Captain Lay and by the end of the year a considerable number of Canadian personnel had been detailed for the ship. In spite of this, on 5 January, 1944,
the Cabinet reviewed the manning of CVE’s and turned
down the whole idea. A week later the Honourable A. L.
*Meeting between President Franklin D. Roosevelt, The Right
Honourable Winston S. Churchill and The Right Honourable W.
L. Mackenzie King.
†Canada would lend additional personnel to the RN for Combined Operations including crews for three flotillas of major landing craft, and also gradually man one or two cruisers and two fleet
destroyers. Approval to transfer two flotillas of motor torpedoboats had already been given.
Macdonald, Minister of National Defence for Naval
Services, raised the matter again and it was finally
agreed that the RCN should provide the ship’s complement for Nabob and HMS Puncher whilst the RN contributed the aircraft and air personnel.
Nabob, pennants D.77, was typical of the quick-built
escort carriers which were proving such a success as one
of the answers to the U-boat menace. Like her sister
ships she had a converted mercantile hull, planked flight
deck and, down below, Westinghouse geared turbines
driving a single screw to give a full speed of 18 knots.
Nabob commissioned on 7 September, 1943, and, having completed with stores, was steamed up to Vancouver
by a small RN crew for modifications to British requirements by the Burrard Drydock and Shipbuilding
Company, Limited. Captain Lay arrived in October and
two months later the first draft of Canadian ratings was
sent to the carrier, to be followed by others in the New
Year. At the start, the arrangements under which Nabob
remained one of HM Ships but with a mixed company,
predominantly RCN, proved unsatisfactory.* The victualling scale at RN rates was below that to which Canadians were accustomed and the fact that there were differing scales of pay in force on board was not conducive to
harmony. In spite of these internal difficulties Nabob
began a busy working-up programme in January 1944.11
She berthed alongside on the 24th after successfully negotiating the narrow entrance to Esquimalt, a difficult
harbour for such a large ship, made more so by the torpedo and anti-submarine defences. The carrier was exercising in the Strait of Georgia the following day when at
1526, about two hours before high water, she took
ground in a light silt whilst travelling at a fair speed. The
grounding occurred so gradually that nothing untoward
was noticed on the bridge until it was realized that the
ship had stopped. Luckily the weather was quiet with
little sea or wind and thousands of tons of water and oil
were pumped out during the next 48 hours to lighten
Nabob. A number of naval vessels were soon on the
scene, including another escort carrier, HMS Ranee,
which with HMC Ships Armentieres and Haro tried unsuccessfully to tow off the stranded vessel. Canadian and
American salvage tugs arrived and, on the fifth attempt
from the initial grounding, the ship was refloated on 28
Nabob was dry docked at North Vancouver but no
damage had been sustained and she was able to sail for
active service with the Fleet on 8 February, 1944. At San
Francisco the Royal Navy’s 852 Squadron of Avengers
was embarked and off San Diego, the next port of call,
flying trials kept all hands busy. Exercises completed,
Nabob made transit of the Panama Canal with a frigate,
*Personnel in Nabob (squadron embarked) consisted of approximately 504 RCN, 327 RN, and nine RNZN.
HMCS New Waterford, and a week later berthed at Norfolk, Virginia. During the period in harbour the Commanding Officer took the opportunity of visiting his administrative authority, the British Admiralty Maintenance Representative, in Washington and also of going
to Ottawa to impress on Headquarters the urgency of
making certain changes. As a result of his efforts approval was given for Canadian scale of victualling to be
instituted in the ship and for RN personnel, other than
Fleet Air Arm, to be paid at RCN rates .12 The proposal
that Nabob should become one of HMC ships was also
made at this time but not acted upon.
With a much more contented company on board Nabob embarked passengers and 45 Mustang fighters,
which were secured on the flight deck, at New York for
transportation to the United Kingdom. She was at sea
again on 23 March, taking station in one of the columns
of a transatlantic convoy (UT-10), whose 26 ships had a
U.S. cruiser and a dozen destroyers as escort. After an
uneventful passage Nabob called briefly in Liverpool to
land her passengers and then made her way up to the
Clyde, where all personnel and aircraft of the squadron
left for the Royal Naval Air Station at Machrihanish.
The carrier returned to Liverpool for a further refit, during which she was fitted with a high frequency direction
finder, but in June recommenced her work-up trials, 852
Squadron having rejoined.
The current training programme ended at the Tail-ofthe-Bank, off Greenock, and Nabob, in company with a
sister ship, HMS Trumpeter, left the Scottish anchorage
again on 31 July. On passing the boom gate at Scapa
Flow both ships joined the Home Fleet and were placed
under the administrative orders of the Rear-Admiral
Commanding First Cruiser Squadron.* A week later the
experience gained in many exercises was put to the test
under operational conditions.
Enemy shipping was getting considerable natural protection by using the Norwegian “leads” or channels running between the coast and outlying islands. It was
therefore decided to mine these waters so that vessels on
passage would have to come out into the open sea,
where they could be attacked by land-based fighters
from the United Kingdom. Preparations and exercises
occupied Nabob, with Force 4,† until 9 August, when
the ships under the orders of CS-1 flying his flag in Indefatigable sailed for the Norwegian coast.
Two Wildcats were put up by Nabob the following
forenoon as air cover for the fleet and after lunch the 12
Avengers of 852, carrying a mine apiece, were catapulted or flown off. In the air the squadron took depar*Rear-Admiral R. R. McGrigor, CB, DSO, (short title CS-1).
†HMS Indefatigable, fleet carrier; Nabob and Trumpeter; HM
cruisers with eight destroyers, including HMC Ships Algonquin
and Sioux.
Barracuda taking off, HMS Nabob.
HMS Nabob ferrying Mustang Fighters, 1944.
ture astern of Trumpeter’s 846 Squadron; with Seafires,
Fireflies and Hellcats provided by Indefatigable as
fighter protection, the minelayers shaped course in the
dull, grey afternoon towards Lepsorev Channel and
Haarhamsfjord. Landfall was made on Stornholm Light,
where the squadrons dispersed and began their run-up in
sub-flights of three.
The attack took the Germans by surprise and it was
successfully carried out without loss, all mines being
laid. The strike arrived back over the ship as one of the
escorting destroyers was attacking an A/S contact dead
ahead of Nabob. Rudder was put hard over in an emergency turn and the planes had to continue circling until
the carrier could resume the landing-on course. Once the
aircraft had touched down they were fuelled, checked
and re-armed; shortly afterwards the second strike of 12
Avengers was airborne and heading for the target area.
This time the enemy was better prepared but the planes
managed to sow their mines as ordered. The naval force
withdrew towards home in the evening having lost an
Avenger from Trumpeter, a Firefly, and three Seafires.
Thus ended Operation Offspring, the largest Home Fleet
carrier minelaying sortie of the war. Whilst the Avengers
had laid 47 mines the fighters had destroyed a number of
Messerschmitt 110 planes on the ground, set barracks on
fire at Gossen, and sunk the 90-ton German minesweeper R-89.
Barracuda landing, HMS Nabob.
Avenger landing aboard HMS Nabob.
Avenger strike in Norwegian waters, 1944.
Avenger minelaying sortie off Norway, HMS Nabob, 1944.
Avenger deck park, HMS Nabob.
Operation Goodwood, Nabob’s next sortie with the
Home Fleet, was the largest with Fleet Air Arm (FAA)
participation ever planned. The object was to immobilize
the German battleship Tirpitz, which lay in Kaa Fjord,
Norway. This ship, by her mere presence, constituted a
potential threat to the Atlantic and North Russian convoy routes and forced the Allies to keep a heavy concentration of warships at Scapa Flow in case she put to sea.
Tirpitz had been the target for a number of attacks on
different occasions, one particularly successful aerial
raid having been Operation Tungsten, which was carried
out by naval Barracuda aircraft with fighter cover the
previous April.* During the forthcoming operation there
were to be diversionary fighter attacks on Hammerfest
and Banak air-field, the whole to be synchronized with
the passage of the United Kingdom-North Russia convoy, JW-59.13
Force 2 consisting of Nabob, Trumpeter and five frigates, HM Ships Bickerton, (Senior Officer), Aylmer,
Bligh, Kempthorne and Keats of the Fifth Escort Squadron cleared the defences of Scapa Flow on 18 August.
Force 1† was within visual signalling distance for the
next few days and the ships reached the flying off position inside the Arctic Circle north of Tromsö on 20 August. Fourteen Avengers in Nabob were armed with
mines in the afternoon but rough weather made it impossible to operate aircraft. The Fleet steamed to the westward, the larger ships fuelling the escorts during daylight
hours before they all returned to the attack-launching
position on the 22nd. Preparations were once more put
in hand for the mining sortie against Tirpitz but a signal
was received from the Admiral saying that the Avenger
squadrons would not take part as cloud ceiling was still
too low. This was a bitter blow particularly to 852
Squadron, which had worked very hard in getting ready
for the attack. The bugle call for “Action Stations” was
sounded aboard the ship at 1000 and later Nabob flew a
protective patrol over the Fleet while two strikes from
the large carriers heavily attacked Tirpitz.14 Withdrawal
to the westward started again for Force 2, with HM
Cruiser Kent in company, during the first dog-watch as
Nabob was preparing to fuel some of the escorting frigates. At 1716 there was a heavy explosion on the starboard side aft and Nabob took a 7° list, her draught at
the stern increasing to 38 feet and finally to 42 feet. The
large between-deck hatches not being watertight, flood*Part of the fighter protection was provided by Wildcats of 881
Squadron, commanded by Lieutenant-Commander D. R. B. Cosh,
RCNVR, from HMS Pursuer. Fighter and A/S protection for the
Fleet during “Tungsten” was given by 842 Composite Squadron
consisting of Wildcats and Swordfish from HMS Fencer and
commanded by another Canadian, Lieutenant-Commander G. C.
Edwards, RCNVR.
†HM Battleship Duke of York; HM Aircraft Carriers Indefatigable, Formidable, and Furious; three cruisers and six destroyers.
ing spread to the level of the galley deck, where, fortunately, several vents allowed air to escape and this prevented the hanger deck from bursting. Water also extended right to the engine-room bulkhead forward and to
tanks in the very stern, the ship slowly coming on to an
even keel because of the absence of fore-and-aft bulkheads in this class of vessel. As the hands had been
closed up at “Action Stations” for most of the day, “Up
Spirits” had only been piped just before the ship was
torpedoed. Members of the supply staff, messmen and
others were gathered outside the spirit room and it was
amongst them that most of the casualties occurred. The
officer overseeing the rum issue had a lucky escape, being carried up two decks by the flood of water after the
explosion. Another fortunate man was a stoker, who was
washed out of the shaft tunnel and landed unhurt on the
quarter-deck. In the ship’s galley, meantime, cooks were
desperately trying to avoid the scalding steam from fractured pipes which was rapidly filling the compartment.
None of the escorts had been in asdic contact and it
was presumed that Nabob had been hit by an electric
torpedo fired at extreme range. The First Division of the
escort group altered 140° to starboard together to search
for the submarine on the starboard side of the carrier; at
1724 Bickerton, the senior officer’s ship, was hit by a
torpedo, the stern of the frigate being blown off and
more than 40 men killed by the explosion. Ironically
hands were working on Bickerton’s quarter-deck to
stream CAT gear,* which would probably have saved
her. To add to the confusion the ship’s siren jammed on,
bellowing continuously, and the tank of liquid used in
making white smoke screens burst. White smoke was
sucked in by the ventilating fans and circulated through
the mess decks causing choking and acute discomfort.
Kempthorne closed Bickerton to take off survivors
whilst Aylmer and Bligh with HMS Vigilant carried out
an A/S search around the stricken ships.
Aboard the immobile Nabob an engine-room temperature of 150° had made it necessary to shut down
main engines and boilers; all electrical power having
failed, ventilation fans had stopped. Boats and Carley
rafts were put over the side and 214 men, of whom ten
were wounded, were transferred to Kempthorne. Damage control parties shored the vital engine-room bulkhead while the engines, shaft and propeller were
checked. As the latter were found in good order, electrical power was restored and steam raised. Flooding was
under control by 1900 and Nabob slowly gathered way
about 2140 to begin the long 1,100 mile passage home.†
During the previous hour Bickerton had been sunk by
*Canadian Anti-Acoustic Torpedo gear. A noise-making device, which, towed astern, diverted an acoustic torpedo from
“homing” on to the noise of a ship’s propellers.
†Speed at first about six knots increasing to ten.
torpedo from Vigilant as under the circumstances it was
not practicable to attempt a tow.
In the middle of the night a submarine was detected
by HF/DF following close astern and by 0230 on 23 August, both asdic and radar bearings indicated that it was
3,600 yards on the starboard quarter. Course was altered
to 200° to put the submarine astern and two Avengers
were catapulted off. The aircraft managed to keep the
enemy submerged for about three and a half hours as
Nabob limped away to the westward and safety. Landing
on the sloping deck for the two planes was a most hazardous operation; one managed it without mishap but the
second one flew into the barrier completely wrecking
two Avengers, which had to be jettisoned, and damaging
four other aircraft. Luckily, no one was hurt. Another
HF/DF bearing was received about 0945 but it gave a
position well to the southward and was probably a “lost
contact” signal. It was therefore considered that in spite
of the heavy oil track being made by Nabob, the submarine had been successfully evaded.
Throughout 23 August, those remaining on board
struggled on the canted, heaving decks to jettison or
move forward all portable heavy gear, the while listening for the dread rending sound, which would announce
the collapse of the shored engine-room bulkhead and a
rush of water through the ship. The work of strengthening decks and bulkheads in the after part of the carrier
with baulks of timber was also given top priority. In the
afternoon an Avenger from Trumpeter passed overhead
and an aerial A/S patrol was maintained until she and
her escorts joined company at about 1930. Half-an-hour
later a further 203 of Nabob’s company were transferred
to Algonquin in the motor boats belonging to the destroyer and Keats.
The next day, 24 August, found Nabob ploughing
slowly along at ten knots, in worsening weather, with
her escorts on the screen and Trumpeter zigzagging
close astern. Wind force reached 43 knots but luckily the
sea, although steep, was short. After a “blow” of eleven
hours both wind and ocean moderated. Algonquin was
detached at 0540 on the 26th to contact the relieving
escort and transfer Nabob’s personnel to HMS Zest. In
the morning watch of 27 August, the carrier entered
Scapa Flow and secured to a buoy. By the resourcefulness and energy of her company Nabob had been saved*
and a glorious final chapter written to a commission,
which had not started too happily.
So expertly had the shoring15 been carried out in Nabob that it was merely added to for her passage south in
early September. More top weight had been removed
*In the words of CS-1, “Looking at her from a distance of
seven miles I never expected her to survive.” (Report to Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet). Report of Torpedo Damage, No.
275/380. NHS 8000, NABOB.
including gun mountings, aircraft, and stores belonging
to 852 Squadron, with the result that the ship’s draught
was reduced from 42 feet aft to 37 feet. The carrier was
assisted through the boom gate by two tugs, who slipped
when clear of Hoxa Gate; escorted by a destroyer and an
ocean-going tug, she then shaped course for the Firth of
Forth. In drydock at Rosyth the bodies of 14 of the 20
missing were recovered from the compartments previously flooded.16
Nabob would most certainly have been repaired and
put back into service, if sentiment had prevailed, but her
damage was so extensive and British yards so overcrowded that the Admiralty decided to “cannibalize”†
her. Until the end of the war she provided emergency
spares for the other ships of her class. In March 1947
Nabob was sold to a Netherlands firm for scrap and on
21 September she arrived at Rotterdam, where the flight
deck was stripped off and the damaged hull repaired.
Sold to the Roland Linie Schiffart, Bremen, Germany, a
subsidiary company to the North German Lloyd Line,
she was completed as the dry cargo ship SS Nabob. The
first voyage was to Montreal in 1952 for a cargo of
grain. Latest information (1963) is that Nabob is sailing
on the Australian run and is also the training ship of the
North German Line, carrying 18 probationary officers
on board.
Although HMS Nabob†† was only in commission for
just over a year it can truly be said that there was never a
dull moment. The majority of the Canadian officers and
ratings who manned the carrier were accustomed to
small ships only and had to adapt themselves to completely different living conditions and daily routine. In
addition they had to learn a new aspect of their trade,
namely the operation of aircraft. Bearing in mind that
the ship was also a unit of the Royal Navy and the ramifications that were caused thereby, it is not surprising
that there were many problems to be solved. In spite of
many efforts to make her so, Nabob never did become
one of HMC Ships but by her contribution to the RCN
she is entitled to an honourable place amongst them.
With the paying-off of Nabob on 30 September,
1944, Canadian personnel were now only manning one
escort carrier, Puncher, which had commissioned on 5
February, 1944.17 This ship was also built by the SeattleTacoma S.B. Corporation and although of the same class
as Nabob had slightly smaller specifications. With a reduced complement on board, she was steamed to Vancouver, where Captain R.E.S. Bidwell, RCN, assumed
†Term used in connection with a ship uneconomical to repair,
whose machinery, etc., was used, when required, for replacement
in other vessels.
††German sources (1963) have confirmed that Nabob and
Bickerton were torpedoed by U-354, which was later sunk by
aircraft from HMS Vindex.
Damaged Avenger being ditched, HMS Nabob.
HMS Nabob after being torpedoed, 22 August, 1944.
HMCS Algonquin takes off members of ship’s company of
The Commanding Officer, Captain Lay, inspecting emergency
shoring in Nabob.
command on 10 April during her refit in Burrard’s yard.
Puncher moved to Esquimalt for dry docking in May
and on 8 June, with HMC Frigate Beacon Hill in company, she cleared Duntze Head bound for the eastern
seaboard of the United States. It had been hoped to obtain operational planes for the passage but, as this was
Nabob in drydock at Rosyth, showing torpedo damage.
not possible, an old, unserviceable Shark biplane was
obtained and used enthusiastically by the flight-deck
party in handling drills. Calls were made at San Francisco and San Diego, where the fleet minesweeper, HMS
Foam, joined the party. Keeping up a steady sixteen
knots the three ships reached Balboa on 23 June and
HMS Puncher
off Vancouver, 1944.
passed through the Panama Canal to continue their voyage to New Orleans. Four harbour defence motor
launches were secured on deck at the U.S. port and, after
delivering them to New York, Puncher visited Portsmouth Navy Yard at Norfolk, Virginia, to be taken in
hand for the installation of Bofors mountings. This work
was completed in ten days and the ship returned to New
York on 22 July, 1944.
Preparations in Italy were going ahead for the invasion of the south of France,* and 40 U.S. Army planes,
including some of the latest night fighters, P-61’s known
popularly as “Black Widows”, were embarked for service in the Mediterranean. Convoy UGF-13 commenced
to form up off Norfolk on 28 July and the carrier, which
had been anchored in the Roads, took station in her column. This was a fast convoy of 16 ships, mostly tankers
with high octane gasoline and troop transports carrying
about 18,000 men, escorted by a cruiser, USS Cincinnati, with three destroyers and six destroyer escorts. The
convoy commodore, in a tanker transport, USS General
Blyth, kept the ships alert by continually exercising
emergency turns, wheeling, making smoke screens, gunnery, etc. There was no enemy action en route and off
the African coast, Puncher and another carrier, USS
Shamrock Bay, were detached and escorted by four
French chasseurs into Casablanca to off-load cargo. Four
days were spent in harbour and the ship then put to sea
again as Commodore of four merchant vessels joining
GUS-48.† Having met the main convoy, the carrier
turned over her charges for the slow voyage back to
Three days after securing alongside, both watches
were busily employed in hoisting on board the aircraft
and stores belonging to RNFAA 1845 Squadron. Its 18
Corsairs were struck down into the hangar while the
flight deck was packed with a freight cargo of Hellcats,
*The landing, code name Operation Dragoon took place on 15
August, 1944.
†North Africa to United States Slow Convoy.
Avengers, Corsairs and one Helldiver, all of which had
to be securely lashed down. Twenty-one officers and
125 ratings came on board and Puncher steamed up to
New York for more passengers, including 28 women
and children. Convoy CU-38, escorted by Task Group
21, left on 4 September but the carrier was delayed to
wait for some special ammunition and did not sail until
the next day. Escorted by USS Enright, Puncher made
best speed to overtake and in the forenoon of 9 September the long lines of ships were sighted ahead. Five days
later, having reached a position bearing 260° and distance 45 miles from Bishop Rock, the convoy was split
and Puncher became commodore of one section, consisting of 30 ships in five columns. In very poor visibility course was altered around Land’s End and at about
the same time three Canadian destroyers HMC Ships
Assiniboine, Chaudiere, and Qu’appelle joined as advanced support force. On three separate occasions this
group attacked asdic contacts ahead of the convoy, causing it to make emergency turns. Without further incident
Puncher berthed at King George V dock, Glasgow, and
immediately began off-loading.
After a short lay-over in Glasgow Puncher returned
to New York in convoy. The same pattern was repeated,
the cargo this time being 78 aircraft, and the carrier
cleared harbour again on 6 October as a unit of CU-42.
Her destination this time was Liverpool for disembarkation and by 22 October she was secured to a buoy at the
Tail-of-the-Bank in the Clyde.
On completion of boiler cleaning Puncher, much to
the relief of her ship’s company, began to prepare for the
role for which she had been built. There was intense interest on board when the catapult was tested with seven
shots, using an Avenger, while Barracuda flew off and
landed on 12 times. A busy period followed during
which the carrier was modified to operate a torpedocarrying squadron and stores were struck down. The
great day, 26 November, 1944, arrived, and Puncher
altered course into the wind in the Clyde to receive 12
Barracuda aircraft of 821 Squadron. Out in the Irish Sea
deck-landing practice was started the next day, the 27th,
until a freshening wind in the afternoon cancelled further
flights. Puncher was quietly entering Cumbrae Strait at
2020 when the alarming news was received from the
engine-room that main engines had to be stopped owing
to a gear failure.* The wind was now blowing a 40-knot
fresh gale and, after a rather tense period, in which the
carrier “sailed” gracefully towards the west shore of
Great Cumbrae Island and preparations were made to
bring the ship to anchor, the engines started to operate
again at low power. Approaching the bay at Rothesay it
was seen that all the billets were taken except the innermost one and Puncher had to anchor off Toward Point.
On the morrow the ship flew off five aircraft to the air
station at Machrihanish and entered harbour where two
tugs were waiting to assist her to a buoy. This turned out
to be a nerve-wracking manoeuvre as the picking-up
rope to the buoy and the tow line of the foremost tug
parted simultaneously. There followed an anxious 40
minutes during which Puncher was clawing around the
harbour more or less out of control impeded by the second tug, which did not seem to understand any orders
given to it. Finally the bridles were shackled on and the
ship swung to her buoy for the next month whilst repairs
were effected.
At one stage of the refit a floating crane was required
and as none was available the carrier was moved to Gareloch for four days, returning to her buoy on 22 December. Spares for Puncher’s engines were obtained
from Nabob, lying derelict at Rosyth, and the ship was
pronounced ready for sea trials on 28 December after a
lot of very hard work had been done by the engine-room
department. 821 Squadron was re-embarked and flying
exercises resumed early in the New Year.
For most of January 1945 when weather permitted,
exercising continued both day and night. The programme was briefly interrupted on the 15th when a signal was received that a sister carrier, HMS Thane, had
been torpedoed or mined off the Clyde Light Vessel.
Two aircraft from Puncher armed with depth-charges
were the first on the scene and flew a defensive patrol
over the stricken carrier for two hours. Thane, ten of
whose men had been killed, was subsequently towed to
Greenock by the frigate HMS Loring.
Puncher put to sea on 29 January for the last exercises of the series but heavy snow and fog forced her to
return to Rothesay. Next day she was at the Tail of the
Bank to receive a visit from the Honourable Angus L.
Macdonald, Minister of National Defence for Naval
Services, and Vice-Admiral G. C. Jones, CB, RCN,
Chief of the Naval Staff. Being now ready for full opera*Damage to low pressure primary piston and first reduction
tional duty Puncher was ordered to join the Home Fleet.
The first day of February 1945 found her shaping course
up the Minches for the north of Scotland with two escorts, HMS Towey and HMCS Iroquois. A submarine
was sighted carrying out a crash dive on the port beam
by one of the carrier’s air patrols but contact was not
regained with the enemy. Puncher anchored in Scapa
Flow and from 5 to 9 February was employed in training
preparation for her first operation. On the 9th she proceeded into the Flow to receive 14 Wildcats of 881
Squadron18 and four Barracudas of 821 Squadron,
which had flown from the Royal Naval Air Station at
Force 1* for Operation Selenium 1 left Scapa on the
night of 10 February to patrol within gun range of the
enemy shipping route between Bud and Kvitholm, off
the Norwegian coast, approaching from the north-west
after dark on the next day.19 Force 2 made up of the
cruiser, HMS Devonshire, Senior Officer, two escort
carriers HMS Premier and Puncher, and four destroyers
headed across the North Sea for Norway on 11 February;
Wildcats from Premier and Puncher afforded the fighter
cover for Force 1 in perfect weather during the early
hours of daylight on the 12th. No enemy shipping was
sighted and on completion of Operation Selenium I,
Force 2 went on for Selenium II. This consisted of a
minelaying sortie in Skatestrommen, abreast Skaten
Lighthouse, by aircraft from Premier while Puncher
provided fighter planes as top cover. Premier’s participating aircraft consisted of seven minelaying Avengers
and four close escort Wildcats of 856 Squadron. Five
mines were correctly laid, one was dropped set to “safe”
and the seventh had to be jettisoned by an Avenger returning unserviceable to the carrier. All planes of the
strike got back safely but complete success for Puncher
was marred by an accident as one of her fighters was
coming into land with the sun shining in the pilot’s eyes.
Failing to obey the D.L.C.O.’s signal to “go up” the
plane hit the “round down”, or sloping after end of the
flight deck, and broke off its tail wheel and hook. It
bounced along the rolling and pitching deck before entering the barrier; in the process the machine-guns accidentally discharged and wounded five men on the flight
deck. Both forces withdrew to the westward and steamed
into Scapa Flow on the 13th.
Puncher’s aircraft were catapulted or flown off while
the carrier was at anchor but on 17 February she steamed
out into the Flow to fly on Barracudas and Wildcats for
another strike. This next operation in Norwegian waters
was also divided into two parts, the first, code name
Shred, being a minesweeping run through a suspected
German mined area off Stavanger by six minesweepers
of the 10th Minesweeping Flotilla. The ships sailed in
*HM Cruisers Norfolk and Dido and three destroyers.
the early hours of 21 February and were followed by a
support force consisting of Dido, Puncher, Premier and
three destroyers. Heavy seas were running off the enemy
coast and it was a tricky feat of seamanship for the 10th
Flotilla to stream their sweeping gear. The operation was
successfully carried out although no mines bobbed to the
surface. In the forenoon of the next day Puncher turned
into the wind and nine Barracudas* with an escort of
eight Wildcats took off for the aerial mining strike, Operation Groundsheet. Eight more Wildcats from Premier
flew as top cover and course was shaped for the
mainland. Unfortunately landfall was made over Stavanger instead of Utsire and the fighter planes lost contact. Intense and accurate flak was encountered and two
of the minelayers were shot down. The other seven laid
their mines in Karmoy Channel whilst the fighters destroyed a Dornier 24 flying boat at its moorings and shot
up two silo-type buildings on the water-front at Stavanger. The force returned to its base on completion of
the mission.
Puncher was riding at anchor in Scapa on 24 February when, in a light wind, she unexpectedly started to
drag on to a baffle† near her; it was found later that the
cable had parted at the anchor swivel (starboard). The
port anchor was let go but owing to the proximity of the
baffle she was unable to work engines. By midnight
winds of gale force had blown the ship right across the
obstruction but when the weather moderated on the 26th
it was found that the propeller and rudder were undamaged. Continuous gales swept the Orkneys with out relief up to 10 March making boat communication with
the shore difficult and a constant anchor watch a necessity. Operationally this was a quiet period as the Home
Fleet was suffering from a shortage of destroyers to act
as escorts for the larger ships.
Four escort carriers, Puncher, HM Ships Searcher,
Nairana and Queen, two cruisers, HM Ships Bellona,
and Dido, and an escort of seven destroyers sailed for a
raid, Operation Prefix, in Norwegian waters on 24
March. Weather was still not very co-operative but in
the morning of the 26th a strike from Searcher and
Queen was flown off to attack shipping in Trondheim
Leads and towards Kristiansand North. Nearer the coastline, which was approached at 300 feet, conditions were
better and two ships proceeding up Tustna/Stablen Fjord
were attacked. Whilst this was going on eight or ten
Messerschmitt fighters were sighted and engaged by two
flights of Wildcats, who shot down three and damaged
two more. The Avengers were not so lucky. Finding no
suitable targets they had to jettison their bombs and return to the fleet. Operation Muscular, a night strike by
Nairana’s planes had to be cancelled because of the
*Barracuda Mark III with Rocket Assisted Take-off gear.
†Anti-submarine device, part of the defences of the base.
weather, and no flying was possible on the next day for
the same reason.
The last part, Strike C, of Operation Prefix was a raid
on enemy shipping at Aalesund by fighters. Two vessels
alongside a jetty were attacked and a wireless station at
Vikeroy Island was “shot up”. Less one Barracuda,
which did not return from an A/S patrol, the carriers and
their escorts returned to Scapa Flow.
A powerful force,* including Puncher, was next at
sea on an abortive mission to attack the U-boat depot at
Kilbotn, Norway. The ships crossed the Arctic Circle in
squalls and mountainous seas on 7 April and the destroyers on the screen were hard pressed to keep up with
the big warships, which were having their own problems
in adjusting station on the next ahead. For five days the
force steamed back and forth, the operation being first
postponed and finally cancelled.20
Back in the Orkneys Puncher flew off all her aircraft
as her career with the Home Fleet was now drawing to a
close. By way of farewell Admiral McGrigor, under
whose orders she had operated, inspected the carrier and
her company before taking the salute at a march past. A
few days later Puncher was escorted by HM Destroyers
Savage and Scourge to the Clyde for boiler cleaning;
subsequently she entered dry dock near Glasgow and
was there on 8 May, the official ending date of the war
in Europe. Victory celebrations caused some delay and
the ship was not undocked until 11 May to proceed
down river for trials. On 15 May, 1945, Puncher was
transferred to the administration of Flag Officer Carrier
Training (FOCT) and a complimentary signal marking
the occasion was received from Admiral McGrigor.21
The war was now over for the carrier as it had been
decided that she would not be sent to the Far East, and
from the middle of May to the second week in June she
was employed, under the orders of FOCT, in giving
landing exercises to 1790 and 1791 Squadrons. At the
initial landing-on of 1790 the hook of the second Firefly
broke on coming in contact with a deck arrester wire
causing the plane to crash into the barriers, break
through them and hurtle over the bows into the sea. A
Fairmile launch, which was lying off the carrier’s quarter as “crash boat”, immediately sped to the scene and
picked up the two-man crew but, unfortunately, the observer was found to be drowned. Apart from this mishap
the training period was rewarding and the squadrons
reached a high standard of efficiency.
Back at the Tail-of-the-Bank workmen welded a large
number of double-decker bunks to the hangar deck and
converted workshops into bathrooms in preparation for
Puncher’s duties as a troopship. Naval personnel numbering 491, including 50 members of the Women’s
*Searcher, Queen, Trumpeter, Bellona, HM Cruiser Birmingham and eight destroyers. Operation Newmarket.
Royal Canadian Naval Service, joined in the Clyde and
the ship made a quick passage to Halifax, where she arrived in dense fog on 2 July, the first time in Canadian
waters for over a year. During the 11 days alongside, the
ship’s company was reduced to a ferrying complement.
An engine defect was discovered and the Admiralty authorities decided to have the carrier taken in hand at
Portsmouth Dockyard, Virginia. Accordingly Puncher
moved down to the U.S. base on 14 July and, after completing the repairs and embarking a load of aircraft, she
was sailed to New York. Another trooping voyage
started on 3 August and a week later, off the west coast
of Ireland, Puncher picked up a message directing a
frigate to proceed to the rescue of a Halifax bomber,
which had ditched 130 miles to the north of the ship.
Informing the Commander-in-Chief, Western Approaches, and the Admiralty of her actions, Puncher
immediately increased to full speed to close the position.
Reaching the area at 1800, it was found that the 5,300ton SS Jamaica Producer had saved the six-man crew an
hour previously, after the plane had sunk. As directed by
the naval authorities, the survivors were transferred to
the carrier and course was resumed for the Clyde.
In August 1945 Puncher was officially loaned to the
Canadian Government as a troopship and from then until
Christmas she made trips back and forth across the Atlantic, Halifax and the Clyde being her terminal ports.22
Stores and a draft for the new Canadian light fleet carrier, HMCS Warrior, building at Belfast, were brought
over in October and on her last two westerly voyages
Puncher encountered a good deal of bad weather. She
had to heave-to on 14 November in a 55-knot wind,
which increased to a whole gale from the west two days
later. Plunging into the high seas Puncher suffered some
HMS Puncher entering harbour.
damage to the forward end of the flight deck and the
structure beneath it from a few, exceptionally high,
breaking waves. On the final return trip she passed
through the centre of a depression, the “glass” registering 839 millibars, and was delayed 48 hours on her estimated time of arrival at Halifax.
The carrier steamed south to Norfolk early in the New
Year and on 16 January, 1946, the White Ensign was
lowered for the last time, the ship being transferred back
to the United States Navy. Thus ended the fine career of
HMS Puncher in the course of which she had seen action in enemy waters, steamed thousands of miles and
brought back many Canadians from overseas.23 A considerable amount of experience had now been accumulated by personnel in the operation of “Woolworth” escort carriers. The knowledge was to be of great value
when the RCN launched out into its ambitious programme of fully manning more expensive models.
By despatch dated 10 April, 1943, and sent via the United
Kingdom High Commissioner, the Admiralty stated that it would
be pleased to train Canadian naval personnel in air matters and
would use them to ease the RNFAA’s manning problems until
required by the RCN.
DOD, D of P to VCNS, “Policy re Canadian Naval Air Service.” NS 1700-913 (1).
Captain Lay’s instructions were contained in a memorandum from the Honourable Angus L. Macdonald, KC, MP, Minister of National Defence for Naval Services, dated 29 April, 1943.
Thirty pilots and 25 observers; SCNO (London) to The Secretary of the Admiralty, 17 August, 1943. NS 53-17-1 (1).
By August 1943, numbers involved were:
Trained pilots
Pilots under training
DOD & D of P to VCNS, “Policy re Canadian Naval Air Service,” 6 April, 1943. NS 1700-913, (1).
NS 1700-913 (1).
G. N. Tucker, The Naval Service of Canada, II, 92. War
Committee of the Cabinet Minutes, 8 September, 1943, NS 80201 (2).
Terms of reference and recommendations, RCN MS 10841-3 in NS 1700-913 (1).
G. N. Tucker, The Naval Service of Canada, II, 92.
Report of Captain W. B. Creery, RCN, 12 December,
1943. NS MS 1017-10-22 (1).
Information on HMS Nabob taken from “Reports of Proceedings,” NS 1926-500-329 (1).
Authorization was ultimately given for an arrangement by
which RN air personnel would have their pay increased to bring
them into line with equivalent RCN rates. PC 98/185 of 10 January, 1945. NS 2420-381-1, (1) and (2).
This convoy of 33 merchant ships sailed from Loch Ewe
on 15 August and arrived safely at its destination without loss.
Three U-boats were destroyed by the escorting warships and aircraft.
According to German reports there were no hits on Tirpitz
in either of these two attacks (Phases I and II of Operation Goodwood). Phase III was on 24 August, and the Germans confirmed
two hits on the battleship. Owing to alternate fog and gales it was
not possible to carry out Phase IV until 29 August. Again, according to the Germans, there were no hits on Tirpitz.
Nabob was fortunate in having a Chief Shipwright (J. R.
Ball, ON V-25218), who had previously been employed shoring
up torpedoed ships in St. John’s and was very experienced at this
Eleven RCN and ten RN ratings were killed or missing as
a result of the explosion. The hole in the ship’s side was found to
be 50 feet by 40 feet.
Information on HMS Puncher taken from “Reports of Proceedings.” NS 1926-500/413 (I).
881 Squadron became an RCN unit in May 1951. As VS
881 it was combined with VS 880 to form a new VS 880 in July
Location of Bud, 62° 54’ N, 06° 55’ E; Kvitholm 63° 01’
N, 07° 15’ E.
Kilbotn did not escape the attentions of the FAA. It was
successfully raided by aircraft during the last Home Fleet operation of the war, code name Judgement, conducted between 1 and 5
May, 1945; the U-boat depot ship Black Watch, 5,035 tons, and
U-711 were sunk. Great Britain, Naval Staff, Historical Section,
The War at Sea, January to September 1945, VI, 222-223.
“To Vindex Trumpeter Searcher Nairana Puncher from CS
1 on your departure from the home fleet I wish to express to you
all my admiration of the fine work you have done. I have always
known that whatever the circumstances I had only to call upon
you and you would do the job and do it well. Good luck to you all.
Admiralty message 191840Z of August 1945, and NSHQ
message 221407Z of August 1945.
West-bound passengers numbered 3,665 whilst 1,595 transients made the return trip to the United Kingdom. Included in the
latter was Rear-Admiral Murray, who had recently relinquished
the appointment of Commander-in-Chief Canadian North-West
Atlantic and was shortly to retire from the Royal Canadian Navy.
Within two weeks of paying off Puncher the Royal Canadian Navy commissioned a new light fleet carrier,
HMCS Warrior, in fulfilment of an idea originally suggested over two years previously. It will be remembered
that the joint RCN-RCAF committee appointed after the
Quebec Conference, 1943, had recommended in October
of that year “that carriers be acquired and operated by
the Navy.” The Naval Staff, after considering the question in relation to the RCN’s planned contribution to the
war in the Pacific, then proposed “in principle” the acquisition of two light fleet carriers.1 This was the first
mention of the specific class of ship. The second occasion was at the Cabinet War Committee meeting of 12
January, 1944, when the Minister for the navy reported
that none would be available to the RCN before January
1945 and consequently approval was given for the taking over of Nabob and Puncher.
Now that a policy of manning carriers had been embarked upon it was necessary to establish an appropriate
authority at Headquarters and, on the recommendation
of the Naval Staff,2 the Naval Board approved on 31
March, 1944, the formation of an air section under a
Director of Naval Air Division.3
The Admiralty was kept unofficially in the picture
about the tenor of RCN planning during the ensuing
months of 1944, and the first official indication to London that the Canadians were desirous of acquiring light
fleet carriers came in the form of an aide memoire to
CNMO,* dated 17 July. This stated that NSHQ envisaged the employment of “two escort aircraft carriers,
subsequently to be exchanged for two light fleet carriers,” in the Pacific war, and that the Admiralty was to be
so informed. The British naval authority made the next
move by passing, through CNMO, two official messages
dated 28 and 31 August indicating that the allocation of
*Canadian Naval Mission Overseas in UK. On 15 May, 1944,
the title Senior Canadian Naval Officer, London, had been abolished and CNMO established with Senior Canadian Flag Officer
(Overseas) as its head. Vice-Admiral Nelles was SCFO (O) at this
two light fleet carriers was under consideration and that
Ocean and Warrior had tentatively been ear-marked.
Nabob was torpedoed in the third week of August and it
became obvious that she would not become operational
again. This event gave impetus to negotiations and in
early September, NSHQ informed CNMO that it was
desired to man Vengeance in place of Nabob and Ocean
or Warrior in place of Puncher. CNMO in turn reported
that the completion of Vengeance had been advanced to
December 1944, making it impossible for the RCN to
man her, and that an offer of Ocean and Warrior, completing in April and May 1945, would probably be made.
All now appeared to be plain sailing but unfortunately
the negotiations ran into awkward shoals in October.
Firstly, in view of developments in the Far East the
Cabinet War Committee was able to revise its proposed
naval contribution for that area to 13,000 men and a fleet
that would include two light fleet carriers.4 This complicated matters for the Admiralty, who had been counting
on the RCN to man about 30% of the escort requirements and also some repair ships, both to assist the RN
man-power shortage. Secondly, the Canadian Government decided that Canada should not become involved
in the Indian Ocean operations and that her participation
would be limited to the Pacific theatre.5 The Admiralty
wished to maintain flexibility in the use of carriers and
therefore did not receive this idea with any enthusiasm.
Discussions continued and in November the Board of
Admiralty approved the transfer and submitted the proposal to the British Cabinet. CNMO reported that Admiralty War Plans Division had definitely decided on
Ocean and Warrior, whose completion dates were now
July and September 1945, respectively. The RCN also
had its manning problems and NSHQ had to reply that
no carriers could be taken over before September
thereby eliminating Ocean. As the year closed CNMO
signalled that Warrior and Magnificent, completing in
September and November 1945, were now being proposed.
The formal offer of the transfer came from the United
Kingdom on 14 January, 1945, with the suggestion that
the ships commission as HMC ships, there being no
lend-lease complications. Other salient points were: the
RN undertook to provide squadrons but requested the
Canadian Government to accept responsibility for payment of all RN personnel in squadrons; the RCN was
asked to retain the names of the carriers; ships would
remain under RN operational control. In view of the Canadian Government’s known policy it was stated that
carriers would be employed in the Pacific but that “circumstances may require their service in the Indian
Ocean”. No mention was made of the possibility of permanent acquisition.
The question of where these ships were to be employed was naturally controversial and led to both sides
making proposals and counter-proposals. At length the
Cabinet War Committee agreed, on 14 February, 1945,
to the transfer of the carriers “on the understanding that
Canada would have the right to buy them at a later date
if desired and on condition that their employment be
restricted to the Pacific in accordance with previously
decided Government policy.” From the Admiralty’s
point of view this was rather disappointing and throughout March no progress was achieved except that, on the
Canadian side, the decision was made to commence infiltration of personnel into RN light fleet carriers to gain
experience. Things started to move again in April on the
unofficial level with a request for confirmation that
Warrior and Magnificent could be accepted.6 In reply
London was advised in the affirmative with the proviso
that negotiations should be completed at an early date.
CNMO was pushing hard to this end but found it impossible to get a quick decision as Mr. Churchill had directed that the whole question should be considered with
the transfer of ships to Australia, the latter deal being
held up by financial complications. To expedite matters
CNMO suggested a personal signal at a ministerial or
higher level but was told by NSHQ that the Government’s decision regarding volunteers for the Pacific
War* precluded any official reopening of the carrier
question by the Cabinet.
Finally the British Cabinet accepted the Canadian
proposal (CNMO Signal of 23 April). The Canadian
Minister for the navy reported the fact to the War Committee and CNMO then received orders to make official
arrangements for the transfer of two light fleet carriers
and a flotilla of fleet destroyers under the agreed terms.7
Negotiations had been somewhat complicated and protracted but, as the war in the Atlantic drew to a close, the
RCN could look forward to a promising future with the
prospect of commissioning and manning two modern
*Mr. Mackenzie King had recently instructed that none but
volunteer personnel would be sent to the Pacific theatre; this was
interpreted to mean that all personnel would have to be canvassed
regarding their willingness to serve there.
aircraft carriers.
Future Canadian air squadrons for the new ships began to take shape in the summer of 1945 from a foundation laid at a Naval Board meeting in June 1944. Approval had been given at that time for the instruction of a
nucleus of personnel for squadrons, and NSHQ informed
CNMO in London that “as an initial target” the RCN
wished to have trained the complement of two fighter
and two torpedo-bomber-reconnaissance squadrons and
ship’s air staff for two CVE’s. In September 1944, the
Board had under discussion a memorandum on the subject of an “RCN Carrier Task Force,” for which the establishment of an air component in the navy was recommended. Commander J. S. Stead, RCN, who was
then DNAD, had left for a visit to the United Kingdom
and a decision on the paper was postponed until his return in October, but the Board expressed the opinion that
any light fleet carriers acquired should be manned in a
similar manner to the CVE’s, i.e. remain HM ships. By
October, negotiations for the carriers having reached a
delicate stage, no definite ruling could be given on an air
component and the subject had to remain “under review.” Early in 1945 the Naval Board, in recommending
the taking-over of light fleet carriers, suggested a new
amendment to the terms, namely: that RN air squadrons
into which Canadians had been infiltrated should, operational requirements permitting, be allocated to the two
ships. The Canadian Government indicated its qualified
acceptance of the carriers in February and at the same
time CNMO was told to discuss the matter of squadrons
with the British.
As soon as the policy in respect to Warrior and Magnificent had finally been settled in April and with the
Canadian suggestion for the air component as a guide,
the Admiralty started to form RN air squadrons for the
ships with a mixed complement of RCN and RN personnel. Pilots and observers with Canadian commissions
were drawn from those serving with the RNFAA, details
of whose recruitment has already been given.* In addition there was another welcome source of supply,
amongst ex-RCAF flyers8 who had transferred to the
RNVR (A) in response to an Admiralty call for volunteers for service with the FAA in the Far East. Some of
these airmen, who had been trained on Seafires and Corsairs, were particularly suitable for the “Canadianized”
fighter units. Potential telegraphist air gunners for the
new squadrons’ Barracudas were on course but were not
drafted as it was found that the RN had a surplus of
these ratings and, in any case, the planes were being
converted to two-seaters for possible service in the Pacific.
Personnel were beginning to qualify at RN establishments as the end result of a training plan which had been
*See p. 22.
worked out between RCN and Admiralty representatives
on 31 July, 1944, to provide maintenance ratings for
carriers and squadrons.9 Following this meeting the first
draft of air mechanic trainees recruited from amongst the
seaman and stoker branches of the Canadian Navy had
arrived in the United Kingdom; by January 1945, the
total had reached 482.10 Concurrent with the training of
lower grades, senior ratings had been sent over for specialization in their particular trade. These included engine-room artificers, electrical artificers, ordnance artificers, all of whom took long courses to convert to their
equivalent air category. Men with a civilian background
in aircraft were put under instruction to qualify as petty
officer mechanics, specialized in either engines or air
frames. To take charge of air maintenance parties, engineer officers had been apppointed for six months to the
Royal Naval Engineering College, Keyham, and others
were being given a course in aeronautical engineering at
the University of Toronto. The complicated radio maintenance required by a squadron of aircraft had been
taken care of by the despatch of ratings of matriculation
standard for training as air radio mechanics at HMS
Ariel; as the eight-month course progressed they were
split up for further specialization in various types of air
radar. Finally, safety equipment trainees had been sent to
the Royal Naval Air Station, Eastleigh, for instruction in
the maintenance mysteries of parachutes, Mae Wests,*
and dinghies. By May 1945 the month before the first
joint squadron was activated, CNMO reported to Ottawa
that air personnel of the RCN were spread throughout
the British Isles at 12 different training schoo’s.
One of the red-letter days in the history of the RCN
air arm occurred on 15 June, 1945, when 803 Squadron,
equipped with Seafire fighters, reformed at the Royal
Naval Air Station, Arbroath, Scotland, for eventual service in a Canadian carrier. One of the original RNFAA
squadrons, it had already a fine tradition built up during
the war. An early success was during the Norwegian
campaign when Skua aircraft of 800 and 803 Squadrons,
flying to the limit of their endurance from the Orkney
Islands, sank the German cruiser Königsberg in Bergen
harbour on 10 April, 1940. The squadron next joined Ark
Royal for operations at Dakar and Oran against the
Vichy French. Having exchanged its aircraft for Fulmars
the unit transferred to HMS Formidable and participated
in the decisive battle against Italian warships off Cape
Matapan in March 1941. Flying in the Battle of Crete
and the Syrian campaign was followed by a tour of duty
in the Western Desert in direct army support. In March
1942 803 Squadron made an epic flight from Egypt to
Ceylon and in the defence of Colombo against Japanese
raids on 5 April lost four aircraft and three pilots; four
days later it made an unsuccessful attempt to prevent
*Inflatable life jackets.
Hermes from being sunk off the coast by aerial attack.
Following service in East Africa the squadron was disbanded in 1944, one of its former members having been
Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray, VC, DSC, RCNVR.
Two weeks after 803 Squadron had started to workup,
the first joint torpedo-bomber-reconnaissance squadron,
number 825, was formed on 1 July at RNAS, Rattray,
Scotland, with a complement of Barracudas. Here again
there was a long squadron history beginning with the
combination of two RAF Flights aboard Eagle in 1934.
Early in the Second World War the unit provided air
patrols during the evacuation of the British Army from
Dunkirk. It next operated from HMS Victorious and
took part in the chase of the German battleship, Bismarck, scoring the first torpedo hit on the ship. Shortly
afterwards 825 was transferred to Ark Royal and lost all
its planes but none of its personnel when that carrier was
sunk off Gibraltar. Only six Swordfish were available
when the squadron re-equipped in Southern England and
these flew to the attack when word was received that the
German heavy ships, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz
Eugen were escaping up the Channel from Brest in February 1942. All the planes were destroyed and only five
of the 18 crew members survived, the Victoria Cross
being awarded posthumously to the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Commander (A) E. Esmonde, DSO, RN.
In December 1943 the squadron joined HMS Vindex to
begin a long association during which time it flew many
sorties against the enemy in Atlantic and Arctic waters; a
highlight of this period was the passage of Convoys JW
59 and RA 59A to and from North Russia in August
1944. After two more operations in support of convoys,
825 Squadron was disbanded.
Another TBR unit, number 826, also equipped with
Barracudas, was the next to be activated, on 15 August,
1945, at RNAS East Haven, Scotland. This squadron
had originally commissioned in March 1940 to fly Albacore aircraft, which were making their debut in the fleet.
After operating with Coastal Command, RAF, it became
part of the air complement of Formidable and saw action
in the Battle of Matapan. Later as the first Albacore
squadron to do so, 826 joined in the fighting in the
Western Desert. After exchanging its aircraft for Barracudas the unit afterwards served in Indefatigable and
Formidable before being taken off strength.
The second Seafire squadron, number 883, destined
for RCN service, reformed on 18 September. Its career
had started in October 1941 at RNAS Yeovilton, where
it had been equipped with Sea Hurricanes. In June 1940
the squadron joined Avenger, from whose deck in 1942
it flew patrols over North Russian convoys and provided
fighter protection during the North African landings.
Whilst on passage to the United Kingdom Avenger was
torpedoed and blew up on 15 November, 1942, only 12
of her total complement being rescued from the water.
883 Squadron was disbanded and remained dormant
until 1945.
As the commissioning date of the first light fleet carrier approached in January 1946 a high percentage of the
officers and men in 803 and 825 Squadrons were Canadian in spite of problems arising from the release of a
large number of reservists. The RCN had produced all
air crew for 803 (chosen from 300 volunteers), all the
pilots of 825 and 60% of maintenance ratings of both
squadrons; observers were in short supply and none
would be available to relieve their British counterparts in
825 until a batch graduated from course in the summer.
The TBR unit had exchanged its Barracudas for Fireflies Mark I and the two squadrons were completing
their “work-up” exercises to be ready for sea with Warrior. The position of 826 and 883 was not so far advanced as they were re-equipping with Firefly Mark I
and Sea fire XVII respectively and had some months of
shore training ahead of them. Eventually, owing to manpower troubles, these two squadrons did not complete
their programme but were disbanded in February 1946,
although, on paper, they remained RCN units.
In a letter to Ottawa dated 13 December, 1945, the
Admiralty forwarded their proposals for the revised
terms of loan for two light fleet carriers and two Crescent Class destroyers. In respect to the four air squadrons it was suggested that if and when they were taken
over by the navy and became RCN squadrons, Canada
should purchase the aircraft, equipment and stores.11
Before these matters were considered on a high level the
Government made a decision of supreme importance to
the RCN. On 19 December, 1945, the Cabinet “approved
in principle the formation of the Naval Air Component
as recommended on the understanding that it would be
confined within the authorized total man-power of the
Navy.”12 Planning at this time was guided by the probability that peace-time strength would be 10,000, of
which the air component would be 11%.13 This meant
that the flying branch would have approximately 1,100
officers and ratings to man one carrier, two TBR squadrons, two fighter squadrons, and one air station.
Following establishment of the navy’s air branch the
question of its name had to be settled and in May 1946
the title “Royal Canadian Naval Air Arm” was agreed
upon.14 Almost a year later the use of the terms “Fleet
Air Arm” and “Naval Air Arm” was discontinued and
the generic term “Naval Aviation” was adopted to describe the whole organization within the Service.15
Information on decisions and correspondence taken from
“Summary of Negotiations in Ottawa for the Acquisition of Light
Fleet Carriers”, NS 8020-500/RML (I).
Ibid., Staff Minute 231-1 of 27 March.
Ibid., Staff Minute 235-12 of April 1944, approved terms of
reference for DNAD. The new Director, Lieutenant-Commander
(P) J. S. Stead, RCN, had held the appointment of Staff Officer
(Air) since September 1943.
G. N. Tucker, The Naval Service of Canada, II, 466.
Extract from Minutes of Cabinet meeting held on 6 September, 1944. NS 1655-1 (I). Conclusion reached by the Cabinet
was to the effect that Canadian military forces “should participate,
as a matter of preference, in the war against Japan in operational
theatres of direct interest to Canada as a North American nation,
for example on the North or Central Pacific, rather than on more
remote areas such as South-East Asia, and that government policy
with respect to employment of Canadian forces should be based
on this principle.”
CNMO’s 061827Z April 1945.
CNMO’s Signal 241022 May reported officially that Warrior and Magnificent had been selected.
Total number of pilots transferred from the RCAF to the
RNVR (A) in 1945 was 550, of whom 260 were officer pilots.
Message from Naval Member Canadian Joint Staff (London) to
Naval Secretary, 6 June, 1958.
The Admiralty agreed to train 229 ratings in air maintenance categories. The number was subsequently increased to 529.
War Diary, Canadian Naval Mission Overseas, Mission Memorandum 117. NHS 1700-219 (2).
Extra personnel were obtained for the air branch in December, 1944, when a considerable number of ratings of the engine-room artificer branch, which had an excess over complement, were discharged. An equal number of air personnel were
entered and the total complement of the Navy thus remained unchanged. G. N. Tucker, The Naval Service of Canada, II, 478.
In a further amendment to these terms the Admiralty
agreed that on 24 January, 1946, (date of Warrior’s commissioning) her two squadrons, 803 and 825, should be known as RCN
squadrons; also, 826 and 883 should be known as RCN squadrons
when all RN personnel had been replaced or from the date of the
commissioning of Magnificent, whichever should be the earlier.
NS 8020-500/RML, (1).
Extract from Minutes of Cabinet meeting held on 19 December, 1945. NS 8020-500/RRSM (1).
NS 1818-9 (3) and (4).
Naval Board Minute 176/7 of 3 May, 1946.
Extract from Minutes of Defence Council meeting held on
7 March, 1947. NS 1700-913 (4).
HMCS WARRIOR 1946-1948
At Belfast in Northern Ireland on 24 May, 1944, a large
crowd of visitors and workmen had gathered in the shipbuilding yard of Harland and Wolff, to see a new light
fleet carrier take to the water. On the launching platform
stood Mrs. Richard Bevan, wife of the Flag Officer
Northern Ireland, and at the appointed time, as she broke
a bottle over the bows and repeated the time-honoured
phrase, “I name this ship Warrior and may God bless all
who sail in her,” the carrier began to move down the
slipway. To the accompaniment of cheers and the hooting of ships’ sirens she floated out on the stream and was
then taken by tugs to the fitting-out jetty.
The name Warrior already had a long record of action
in naval warfare dating back to the eighteenth century
when the first ship to be so called took part in the Battle
of the Saints in 1782. From HM ships that had borne this
name the new aircraft carrier, the first to be entirely
manned by Canadians, had inherited a fine and colourful
In the last months of 1945 the number of key officers
and men standing by Warrior steadily increased. Forty
ratings were serving, temporarily, in HM Escort Carriers
Battler and Ravager to gain experience, and a further
250 were attached to HMCS Niobe, the majority taking
various courses. The complement of the ship had arrived
in Belfast by 24 January, 1946, and at 1530 on that date
Warrior was commissioned into the Royal Canadian
Navy under the command of Captain F. L. Houghton,
CBE, RCN, the appropriate ceremonial being observed.
Work-up routine began the day following with general
familiarization by personnel of all departments.
There was a brief period of rare sunshine on 21 February when Warrior, with band playing and hands fallen
in on the flight deck, slipped her lines and sailed for the
first time. At the beginning of March the carrier was
back at Belfast, having completed trials and embarked
reserve aircraft, consisting of 13 Seafire XV and 9 Fireflies Mark I, at Glasgow. She bade farewell to her builders and two days later anchored at Spithead. Here flying
HMCS WARRIOR 1945-1948
trials were successfully carried out and on 14 March, all
concerned being entirely satisfied with the ship, Captain
Houghton signed the acceptance papers thus ending
Harland and Wolff’s liability. The carrier was next at sea
for a couple of days so that 803 and 825 Squadrons
could get some deck-landing practice whilst still based
ashore at a naval air station. Personnel from 826 and 883
Squadrons, which had paid off, and about thirty tons of
stores were embarked when the ship was secured alongside South Railway Jetty, Portsmouth, and on 23 March
Warrior steamed into the wind off the Isle of Wight to
receive both squadrons.
The first part of the voyage to Canada was made in
fair weather but later Warrior had to heave to in winds
of gale force to protect the 28 aircraft that were parked
on the flight deck. HMC Ships Micmac and Middlesex
made rendezvous with Warrior on 31 March and squadron aircraft of 803 and 825 flew off in two ranges for the
Naval Air Section at the RCAF station at Dartmouth,
Nova Scotia. In fine, sunny conditions, large crowds at
various vantage points along the whole length of the
harbour greeted the carrier as she entered the port of
Halifax. Many ships were dressed over all and the continual sounding of their sirens made it a truly festive
occasion. As soon as Warrior had berthed alongside, the
official welcoming party consisting of Mr. W. C.
McDonald, KC, MP, representing the Minister of National Defence, Rear-Admiral H. T. W. Grant, CBE,
RCN, representing the Chief of the Naval Staff, RearAdmiral C. R. H. Taylor, CBE, RCN, Commanding Officer Atlantic Coast and the Honourable Angus L. Macdonald, PC, KC, Premier of Nova Scotia, came on
board.* In his words of welcome, Mr. McDonald, the
Minister’s representative, expressed the pride of Canada
in the new addition to her Fleet.
Throughout April and May Warrior lay alongside in
Halifax Dockyard whilst outstanding minor defects were
*Mr. Macdonald had been the war-time Minister of National
Defence for Naval Services.
803 and 825 Squadrons ranged prior to flying off to Naval
Air Section, Dartmouth, N.S., 31 March, 1946.
taken in hand. Her two squadrons continued training at
Dartmouth and were now officially part of the RCN.†
This followed a submission concerning the Admiralty
letter of 13 December, 1945, which was presented to the
Cabinet on 16 February, 1946, and approved on 27
March.1 It contained these recommendations:
Retention on loan of two light fleet aircraft carriers
and two Crescent Class destroyers on terms agreed
with the Admiralty; and the purchase of four naval
air squadrons (including reserve aircraft, stores and
equipment) at a cost not to exceed $10,000,000.
However, aircraft2 and stores for 803 and 825 Squadrons
were included under the terms of the agreement (which
ran to 1 March, 1946,) on the settlement of war claims
between the Governments of Canada and the United
Kingdom and therefore no actual money was paid for
In the month of July 1946 Warrior was fully occupied
in carrying out exercises, both ship and flying, in the
vicinity of Halifax and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Micmac joined the carrier to act as plane guard for all
flying operations. Squadron 825 returned to the ship and
803 Squadron one week later, but owing to fog there was
very little flying done until the surface vessels moved to
the St. Lawrence area. On the return trip to Halifax the
Admiralty signalled that a supercharger clutch defect
had been found in Seafires and advised that they should
be temporarily suspended from carrier operations; serviceable planes of 803 were thereupon flown off to
When fog permitted, Warrior managed to go to sea
for short periods in early August. During this time the
first major accident occurred when a Firefly was ditched
and lost. Micmac’s sea-boat was on the scene quickly
†Back dated to 24 January, 1946, Warrior’s commissioning
HMCS WARRIOR 1945-1948
HMCS Warrior enters Halifax, 31 March, 1946.
and rescued both pilot and observer. On 20 August in
half a gale of wind the carrier slipped from her berth and
put to sea. The following day a message from Dartmouth
indicated that a Dakota aircraft on passage had sighted a
broken-down motor boat, which was believed to have
been drifting helplessly for two days, with one person on
board. At full speed Warrior closed the position and
found the lighthouse keeper of West Point Light, Anticosti, in good condition but with a disabled engine in his
boat. A harbour craft came out from Fox Point and, as
the carrier shaped course for Quebec, the lighthouse
keeper was towed away, in style, by this vessel.
Two upper St. Lawrence pilots and one apprentice pilot were on the bridge when Warrior weighed at 0800 on
23 August for Montreal. At 1021 the rudder suddenly
jammed to port and, although engine alterations were
promptly rung down from the bridge to counteract this,
the ship took the ground at Pointe St. Antoine on a mud
bank with a falling tide. Tugs strained to get her off in
the afternoon watch as the water began to flood and at
1545 Warrior floated clear. The steering motors and hull
were thoroughly checked on return to Quebec and found
in good order.3 Passage up the St. Lawrence was successfully negotiated the next day and the carrier berthed
alongside Laurier Pier, Montreal, to become the largest
warship ever to enter the port. After a five day visit
Warrior returned down river and from 29 August to 2
September lay alongside at Quebec. When she sailed for
Halifax hands manned the ship’s side and a salute was
given in honour of the Governor-General* who appeared
on the battlements with Lady Alexander.
*Viscount Alexander of Tunis, DSO, MC, Legion of Honour.
Preparing to launch, HMCS Warrior.
Seafire over flight-deck, HMCS Warrior.
Catapult launching of Firefly I,
HMCS Warrior.
Back at the home base, leave was given to the East
Coast members of Warrior’s company and in October
trips were made to sea for the further training of 825
Squadron in flying techniques. Afterwards final preparations were made for the passage to Esquimalt, where it
had been decided to send Warrior as she had not had the
necessary alterations and additions made to adapt her for
the Canadian winter in the eastern part of the country.
Sailing on 4 November had to be cancelled in view of an
adverse weather forecast and Warrior proceeded to an
HMCS WARRIOR 1945-1948
anchorage in the harbour. HMCS Nootka took station on
the carrier after she had weighed the next day and, as the
ships headed seaward, they ran straight into a gale that
lasted until 7 November and caused Warrior at times to
roll to 30 degrees. Off Bermuda Warrior embarked some
RN air maintenance ratings, who had been sent out from
the United Kingdom on loan to the RCN, before continuing to Kingston, Jamaica, where she lay for three
days. On the day of departure six Fireflies were catapulted off the flight deck whilst the carrier was weighing
and flew over the capital as a farewell gesture. Approaching the Panama Canal Nootka manned the side
and cheered ship before heading back to Halifax, while
Warrior continued to Colon. The transit proved rather a
tricky business as there was only 8½ inches clearance on
each side and one row of Carley Floats had to be unshipped. Six pilots were closed up in different positions,
all in communication by a special telephone system, on
which might be heard the man on the port bow making
such remarks to his opposite number as “take her over
about two inches” when endeavouring to fit the ship into
a particularly narrow lock. The ship secured on Number
6 Jetty at Balboa in the evening twilight of 16 November.
Warrior now in company with the West Coast destroyer, HMCS Crescent, sailed four days later and, on
25 November, HMC Cruiser Uganda was met off Acapulco, Mexico. A National Salute to Mexico was fired
by Warrior and all ships anchored in the outer harbour.
This was only a preliminary visit to make arrangements
for the forthcoming official one. The squadron proceeded to sea again on the same day for general exercises, including flying. On return a contingent of five
officers and 95 men was flown to Mexico City. Captain
Houghton also flew to the capital and assumed the duties
of Honorary Naval Attaché. Miguel Alemán was installed as the new President of Mexico on Sunday, 1
December, and this event was celebrated as Inauguration
Day throughout the country. After the ceremony in Mexico City there was a parade in which the Canadian blue
jackets provided a striking contrast to the almost unbelievable variety of elaborate uniforms in which the other
units were attired. At Acapulco the ships were dressed
over all and entertainment was provided ashore in honour of the occasion.
The squadron, somewhat exhausted after all these activities, left Mexico on 3 December, visited San Diego
and then shaped course northward. The weather became
steadily worse, culminating in a series of snow-storms in
the Strait of Juan de Fuca thereby affording the Halifax
members some satisfaction; at Swiftsure Light Vessel
Crescent, who had sailed independently from San Diego,
rejoined with HMC Frigate Charlottetown. Later, the
weather having improved, 12 Firefly aircraft were flown
off opposite Beacon Hill Park. The ships then formed
line ahead to enter Esquimalt Harbour; the carrier, who
was the last to enter, fired a salute to the Flag of the
Commanding Officer Pacific Coast, Acting RearAdmiral E. R. Mainguy, OBE, RCN.
Commodore H. G. DeWolf, CBE, DSO, DSC, RCN,
assumed command* on 18 January, 1947, whilst Warrior was in dry dock for periodical overhaul and repairs
*Commodore DeWolf was also appointed as Senior Canadian
Naval Officer Afloat (Short Title: SCNOA).
HMCS WARRIOR 1945-1948
Firefly pecking the deck, HMCS Warrior.
HMCS Warrior from stern of HMC Frigate
Charlottetown, off British Columbia coast,
December 1946.
to her hull, which had been superficially damaged in the
St. Lawrence grounding of 23 August. Aircraft continued their training from the RCAF station4 at Patricia Bay
and on 31 January a Firefly was lost off Portland Island
about four miles north-east of the flying field. Shortly
after the plane had been seen in difficulties an explosion
was heard in the direction she had gone, but snowstorms hampered the search and no trace was found of
the crew of two. This sad event was a particularly hard
blow as the pilot was Lieutenant-Commander O. W.
Tattersall, DSC, RN, Commanding Officer of 825
Squadron, who had commissioned the unit and done
much to help in its development along the right lines.
While Warrior was under refit at Esquimalt important
decisions were being made in Ottawa as to her future.
During the previous summer, when Magnificent’s commissioning date had been set provisionally for July 1947
the ambitious plans made prior to the end of the war for
the manning of two light fleet carriers had had to be revised owing to the manpower ceiling imposed on the
HMCS Warrior in dry dock, Esquimalt.
RCN. The navy could only contemplate manning one
carrier at a time and the suggestion was therefore made
to London that Warrior be returned in mid-1947 for laying-up in a British yard “pending modernization or possible replacement in 1948.”5 Also shorthanded and beset
with difficulties over maintenance and berthing facilities, the Admiralty regretted that it could not undertake
this commitment. As the year drew to a close Canadian
naval authorities proposed that the ship should pay off in
October 1947 and be placed in reserve at Esquimalt until
such time as she could be manned for active service.6
Warrior’s fate was finally sealed early in 1947 when
very substantial reductions were made in the armed
forces estimates for the forthcoming fiscal year and the
Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Brooke
Claxton, was given permission by the Cabinet Defence
Committee to discuss with United Kingdom authorities
the question of returning her when Magnificent “was
placed in operation with the RCN.”7 The main objection
to Warrior, at this time, was that she had not been “articized” and was thus unsuitable for year-round duty in
Canadian waters. With less money available for the Service her retention, even in reserve, could not be justified.
Having undocked Warrior continued the commission
by steaming over to Vancouver, where she received a
rousing welcome, for a week’s visit in early February
1947. The Fireflies returned to the ship later in the
month and the carrier started on the long voyage to Halifax in company with Uganda and Crescent. This was a
fruitful cruise in respect to exercising and the efficiency
of all ships had been considerably raised by the time
they reached Balboa on 9 March, after calling at San
Pedro, California. Warrior bade farewell to the West
Coast squadron and passed through the Panama Canal to
Colon, where Nootka and Micmac were awaiting her.
HMCS WARRIOR 1945-1948
The destroyers took up screening positions on the carrier
and the three headed for the Greater Antilles and the
island of Cuba. At 0800 on Saturday, 15 March Warrior
fired a National Salute, which was replied to by Forteza
de la Tebana, as she passed Morro Castle, Havana. Inside the harbour Commodore DeWolf’s Broad Pennant
was saluted by the Cuban cruiser Cuba as the carrier
returned the compliment gun for gun. After the echoes
had died away Warrior moored ship in the middle of the
port and the two destroyers berthed alongside Muelles
Paulla Pier.
This peace-time visit of Canadian warships to Havana
was the first since HMCS Vancouver had called at the
Cuban capital in 1929. The Commodore, accompanied
by the Commanding Officers of Nootka and Micmac,
laid wreaths at the foot of two plaques which commemorated Pierre LeMoyne, Sieur d’Iberville,* and on 17
March did the same at a monument to Cuba’s national
hero, José Martí. After a pleasant three-day stay the
ships departed for Grassy Bay, Bermuda, where it was
hoped to have a further training period. Strong winds
and high seas made it necessary to cancel the programme and Warrior returned to Halifax on 27 March.
The two air squadrons, 803, which was now modified
for carrier service, and 825 were formed into the 19th
Carrier Air Group and until Warrior sailed again they
were exercised in dummy deck landings from Dartmouth. The group was embarked in the carrier by lighter
and, with Nootka in attendance, Warrior steamed south
to Bermuda. On arrival off the island six aircraft of 825
Squadron were flown ashore to the U.S. Army Base at
Kindley Field to provide radar tracking and heightfinding targets for forthcoming fleet exercises. A salute
to the Commander-in-Chief America and West Indies
Station, Vice-Admiral Sir William Tennant, KCB, CBE,
MVO, was fired by Warrior as she passed Spanish Point
into Grassy Bay, where it was replied to by the cruiser
HMS Kenya, lying at anchor with the other ships of the
Operations with the British squadron were divided
into three, weekly periods. The first was given over to
harbour drills including exercises with the Canadian aircraft based at Kindley Field. The second period consisted of individual ship exercises at sea, with Warrior
supplying aircraft requirements. For the period 5 to 8
May, the Commander-in-Chief went to sea in Sheffield
and the programme included tactical manoeuvres, day
and night, with all ships participating; for the first time
since the formation of the air branch, planes made night
*Montreal-born explorer and officer of the Royal Navy of
France, who died of yellow fever in Havana in 1706 aboard his
ship Le Juste.
†In addition to Kenya the squadron consisted of HM Cruiser
Sheffield, two sloops and a frigate.
Range of Fireflies, HMCS Warrior.
Barrier crash landing, HMCS Warrior.
deck landings. Admiral Tennant embarked in the carrier
and personally conducted one night’s shadowing exercise from Warrior’s operations room. Experience was
gained in all these drills and on the lighter side plenty of
sporting fixtures were arranged between ships’ companies on shore. Warrior and Nootka returning to Halifax
were joined by the destroyer, HMCS Haida and, on arrival off Chebucto Head, 11 Fireflies and one Seafire
were flown off to the Dartmouth shore station.
Repairs to a main manoeuvring valve kept Warrior
HMCS WARRIOR 1945-1948
Full deck park on HMCS Warrior.
Deck Landing Control Officers, HMCS Warrior.
alongside until the first week in June. After that she went
on two short cruises along the east coast, returning to
Halifax to give leave on the 24th. Preparations were
made for a trooping trip to the United Kingdom and on 2
August merchant ships in harbour, the Dartmouth ferry,
and even the gas works joined in giving Warrior a rousing send off. On board were 27 officers and 179 men of
the 19th CAG going for course and re-equipment with
Firefly Mark IV’s and Sea Fury fighters. In addition to
another large party of naval personnel going for service
Fireflies taxiing to the catapult, HMCS Warrior.
in the Royal Navy, reservists and civilian passengers,
there were also embarked 25 sea cadets accompanied by
their officers, and 32 boy scouts with three scout masters. The former were visiting Britain as guests of the
Navy League, the latter en route to attend an International Jamboree in France. A smooth sea was enjoyed
for the whole voyage and in pleasant sunshine the ship
secured to a buoy off Greenock on 8 August. All passengers disembarked and the ship’s company was given
60 hours leave in three watches before the carrier slipped
and steamed down the Clyde for home. The sea cadets
and boy scouts were back aboard and deck cargo now
included two RN aircraft for cold weather trials at Namao, Alberta. Warrior arrived home on 28 August.
826 and 883 Squadrons had reformed at Dartmouth
on 15 May, 1947, to become the 18th Carrier Air Group.
Equipped with Seafires and Fireflies, formerly flown by
the 19th CAG, they were ready for sea training by midNovember and a rendez-vous was made with Warrior
off Halifax. Deck landing and pilot navigational exercises continued until the 21st, whenever weather permitted. On that day the ship completed her flying commitments for the Royal Canadian Navy, her aircraft returning to Eastern Passage. Until the end of the year hands
were occupied in storing and provisioning and finally
with the embarkation and stowing of some 3000 packing
cases for Magnificent.* All this work had been finished
by 6 January, 1948, and the next day Warrior and Haida
sailed for Bermuda, encountering north-westerly gales
and a quartering sea on the way. The ships arrived off
*Magnificent’s completion date had finally been set for March,
1948, and the non-winterized Warrior was being sent to Bermuda
to await the event.
HMCS WARRIOR 1945-1948
“Flying Secured”, HMCS Warrior.
the Narrows and Warrior secured to the Flagship buoy
in Grassy Bay while Haida went alongside the Clock
Tower Jetty. The carrier swung five weeks to her mooring, during which time progress was made in the work of
cleaning in preparation for paying off. In leisure hours
the football enthusiasts disported themselves on the
Boaz Island playing field. On 6 February, the new Tribal
Class destroyer, HMCS Cayuga, which was en route to
the Pacific, called at the island and handed over a quantity of victualling stores from Halifax.
A naval and military draft was brought out to Warrior
on 12 February and shortly afterwards she slipped from
the buoy. A southerly route had been chosen and fine
weather was experienced over most of the voyage. The
high ground on Flores Island, Azores, was sighted four
days out and on 20 February Warrior steamed into Belfast Lough to be welcomed by eight Sea Furies of 803
Squadron with a display of formation flying. As soon as
the ship had secured, arrangements were made for the
transfer of stores to Magnificent; the work was completed on the 27th, when an advance party of 76 men
was drafted to the new carrier. On her last voyage as a
Canadian warship Warrior passed through the Needles
Passage on 1 March and came to anchor off Spithead,
where aviation fuel was pumped out. An RN advance
group joined and on St. Patrick’s Day Warrior was
moved into dry dock. The main draft for Magnificent
consisting of five officers and 238 men left the ship and
at 0800 on 23, March the Broad Pennant of Commodore
DeWolf was struck. With the hoisting of the Colours of
the Royal Navy, the carrier became HMS Warrior and
was accepted by her new Commanding Officer, Commander R. Casement, OBE, RN.
The first Canadian carrier had had a short commis-
sion but the spirit of co-operation developed in her between the ship’s company and the air personnel established the air branch on the right footing with the fleet.
Feelings of superiority and jealousy on both sides, which
are inevitable when the old order comes into contact
with the new, were harnessed into a team spirit which is
now an accepted fact. Captain Houghton had proposed
the very suitable motto, “Haul Together”, for the ship.
This was a paraphrase of the famous exhortation of Sir
Francis Drake: “I must have the gentleman to haul and
draw with the mariner and the mariner with the gentleman.” In the case of Warrior the motto referred to the
seamen and the airmen.8
After reverting to the Royal Navy, Warrior served
with the British Fleet and in 1956 was completely modernized, including the adoption of the angled flight deck
principle, the fitting of a steam catapult, improved radar
and new communication systems. In 1957 she sailed as
flagship of a Special Service Squadron and took a leading part in Britain’s first full scale hydrogen bomb tests
in the Pacific. On 4 November, 1958, the Republic of
Argentina took possession of its first aircraft carrier,
Warrior, and renamed her Independencia.
Whatever her fate the old Warrior will be remembered with pride and affection by the RCN, particularly
those who served in the ship, on whose battle scroll were
carved the honours:
The Saints 1782
Copenhagen 1801
Jutland 1916
“Extract from Minutes of Cabinet Meeting, 27 March,
1946.” NS 8020-500/RRSM (1).
RCAF Agreement Draft No. 7” of 9 March, 1946. NS 1550-12,
Ibid. 18 fighter and 12 strike aircraft plus 18 reserve aircraft
and five wastage aircraft together with an outfit of ship’s air stores
and air ammunition comprising four months’ supply.
“Excerpt from Minutes of 344th Naval Staff Meeting”, 12
August, 1946. NS 8000-312/1 (2).
After exhaustive investigation, including a Board of Enquiry, it was decided that the most likely cause of failure was the
temporary fouling of the pump control mechanism from some
extraneous source such as portable equipment insecurely stowed
within the steering compartment. “Collisions and Groundings–
HMCS Warrior,” NS 8180-312/1.
Shore facilities were available under the terms of “RCN-
HMCS WARRIOR 1945-1948
“Excerpt from Minutes of 354th Naval Staff Meeting” 25
November, 1946. NS 8000-312/1 (2).
Extract from the 26th Meeting of the Cabinet Defence
Committee, 14 January, 1947. Revised estimates and the question
of aircraft carriers were also brought up at a Meeting of the Cabinet on the same date. NS 8000-RRSM 21 (1).
“Insignia, Badges and Flags,” HMCS Warrior. NS 1460312/1 (1).
During the first light fleet carrier’s stint of duty her
squadrons were frequently accommodated, as mentioned
in the previous chapter, at the Naval Air Section, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The Royal Canadian Navy had returned to its original air station site, Baker Point, after an
absence of 25 years.
The proposal that the Service should make use of its
old haunt was first made by DNAD1 in May 1945 when
the planning of air bases was given urgency by the allocation of Warrior and Magnificent. In September the
Royal Navy’s flying establishment at Dartmouth, HMS
Seaborn, requested permission from its-administrative
authority to dispose of 22 Swordfish and 3 Walrus air-
Walrus amphibian as used at RCN Air Section, Dartmouth.
craft. These planes, whose fate would probably have
been destruction locally or dumping at sea, were obviously of use to the RCN; arrangements were quickly
made with the air force for storage space at Eastern Passage and the Admiralty’s approval obtained for retention
of the machines. At this time the RCAF also indicated
that it would be prepared to consider sympathetically the
whole question of shore facilities for naval aviation.
Negotiations started on a high level in October when
the CNS, Vice-Admiral G. C. Jones, CB, RCN, and the
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal R. Leckie, CB, DSO,
DSC, DFC, RCAF, agreed that a joint committee should
meet to examine common requirements. Commencing
on 24 October a series of conferences took place and the
upshot was that the RCN, in spite of the near-disastrous
example of the pre-war RN Fleet Air Arm, made the
fundamental mistake of venturing amongst the reefs of
dual control. An agreement2was finally signed giving the
RCAF the management of all RCN shore-based air activities including supporting services, such as air stores
and major aircraft repairs and maintenance. In return the
navy took up residence at Baker Point, where, after a
brief honeymoon, the involved administrative and operational command setup soon produced a multitude of
frustrations for all concerned.
The first RCN party to be drafted to Eastern Passage
consisted of stores ratings, who began the mustering of
air stores to be taken over from the British for use with
the newly-acquired aircraft. Commander (A) H. J.
Gibbs, RCNVR, the Commanding Officer of the Air
Section (RCNAS), paid his respects to the RCAF Station
Commander on 21 November and took charge of the
total complement of three officers, six ratings, and six
civilians. Seaborn was still in the process of paying-off*
and one of the first jobs of the Canadians was to test
inspect one of the Swordfish for cross-country flying
duty with the section. Everyone pitched in to renovate
buildings and a party of 44 RN air mechanics, who were
drafted to the station awaiting passage to the United
Kingdom, gave a welcome assistance in this work.
Staff increased in the first months of 1946 and towards the end of March completion of outstanding tasks
was speeded up as the date of Warrior’s arrival drew
near. On the 31st the inhabitants of Halifax had the calm
of their Sabbath morning shattered by the roar of planes
as 803 and 825 Squadrons passed overhead. Shortly afterwards the Seafires and Fireflies began to follow one
another in to land and the RCN Air Section became op*HMS Seaborn paid off on 28 January, 1946.
“Stringbag” (Swordfish) at RCN Air Section, Dartmouth.
erational. The next three months were busy ones, with a
considerable amount of flying training being done from
the station and on 25 May a maintenance unit was organized to ease the pressure on the RCAF. The beginning of station-based squadrons dates from this time
when Fleet Requirement Unit 743 was formed with
Swordfish, augmented later with Harvard trainers, for
general purpose duty. Within a few weeks of its formation the unit had flown 80 sorties and also carried out
photo reconnaissance trials with the ex-German submarine, U-190, which had been commissioned into the Canadian Fleet.*
The two main squadrons returned to Warrior but a
supercharger clutch defect, which made it unsafe to operate from the carrier, brought the Seafires of 803
Squadron back to Dartmouth at the end of the month.
With the approval for the formation3 of an RCN air arm
reserve an immediate demand arose for training aircraft
as it was proposed to use Harvards for flying instruction
at four Naval Divisions and allocate Swordfish to as
many establishments as possible for ground crew instructional purposes. Some of the veteran Swordfish at
Dartmouth were accordingly tuned up and ferried to 11
Naval Divisions across the country. These flights were
by no means routine and a considerable amount of ingenuity was required by the pilots as the adventures of
three of them illustrate. With the “encouraging” remarks
of mess-mates ringing in their ears the pilots of the aircraft pointed them westward on 17 September, bound for
HMC Ships Unicorn at Saskatoon, Tecumseh at Calgary
and Nonsuch at Edmonton. The first stop was at Megantic, Quebec, followed by Montreal, Trenton, Toronto,
North Bay, Kapuskasing, Armstrong, Kenora and Win*U-190 surrendered to HMC Ships Victoriaville and Thorlock
(frigate and corvette respectively) on 12 May, 1945, and was escorted into Bay Bulls, Newfoundland.
nipeg. On the next leg one of the pilots discovered that
he had a broken fuel line and had to take quick action by
landing in a farmer’s field. Another plane returned to
Winnipeg with the damaged line, had it repaired, and
then rejoined so that the flight could be continued.
Neepawa, Yorkton, Saskatoon, where one machine remained, and Medicine Hat were visited before the remaining two Swordfish circled Calgary. Here there was
great excitement at the Naval Division as their new acquisition landed on the parade ground. The last of the
trio completed the epic trip of 2,400 miles ten days after
setting out and, as a grand finale, landed in the Edmonton Ball Park. Total flying time had been 39 hours and
35 minutes.
Five Canadian observers, who had been under training in England joined the section for 825 Squadron in
September, as Commander A. E. Johnson, RCN (R),
took over the duties of Commanding Officer. Another
arrival was an RN party bound for the RCAF Winter
Experimental Establishment at Namao, Alberta. By arrangement with the Admiralty a Firefly and two Seafires
were turned over to this detachment and three RCN officers attached to it. The three planes departed for the west
accompanied by an Anson V, belonging to FRU 743,
with ground crews and spares embarked. A complete
outfit of consumable and permanent air stores for 24
Fireflies and 36 Seafires had been procured from the RN
and crates were now arriving from overseas in a steady
stream; during October the escort carrier HMS Queen
berthed in Halifax with seven Fireflies and two Seafires,
including replacements for the planes being coldweather tested at Namao. With the departure of 825
Squadron in Warrior to the West Coast, only 803 Squadron and FRU 743 operated from the base for the rest of
the year.
Flying operations were somewhat hampered in January 1947 by the weather and the fact that 108 and 109
hangars had to be evacuated because of faulty heating
systems. These were repaired and with the coming of
spring routines were changed slightly so that necessary
work could be done in renovating buildings and adjacent
grounds. Warrior returned from sunnier climes and 803
and 825 Squadrons were formed into the 19th Carrier
Air Group (CAG), which almost at once sailed away in
the carrier for Bermuda. The air group disembarked at
the end of the cruise on 14 May and the next day 826
and 883 Squadrons were once again activated to become
the 18th CAG, occupying No. 2 hangar. All hands were
fallen in for Sunday Divisions on 8 June when COAC
presented wings to Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander E.
G. L. Alford, RCN, who had been on a flying course
with FRU 743 since January. This was quite an occasion, Commander Alford being the first pupil of the
squadron and the first medical officer to qualify as a
pilot with the RCN. The 18th CAG started its work-up
Avro Anson
on tarmac
Seafire doing
Firefly I
Seafires at
their home base
using aircraft formerly flown by the 19th CAG shortly
before Acting Captain H. S. Rayner, DSC and Bar,
RCN, assumed command of the Section, and in the last
week of June a guard of honour was drawn up to receive
the Honourable Brooke Claxton, DCM, BCL, the Minister of National Defence, who, after inspecting it, made a
tour of the buildings and saw a display of aerodrome
dummy deck landings (ADDL) by Seafires and Fireflies.
Two new sections were started at this time, namely the
Carrier Borne Army Liaison Section under an army captain and the Operations Room and Ground Instructional
The first fatality out of RCNAS occurred on 17 July,
1947, when a Firefly crashed into the sea in the
Musquodoboit area taking the pilot and observer to their
Through the autumn months flying routine continued
at a brisk tempo and in the early days of October emphasis was placed on dive-bombing and rocket firing. On
Trafalgar Day the 18th CAG was armed in preparation
for Exercise Scuppered for which U-190 had been towed
to a position approximately 50 miles south-east of Halifax; here the submarine lay quietly in the Atlantic swell
awaiting her fate in the general vicinity where she had
torpedoed and sunk the minesweeper HMCS Esquimalt
on 16 April, 1945. The planned sequence of events was
to start with a rocket attack by Fireflies, followed by
4.7-inch gun-fire from Haida and Nootka; bombing of
the target by Seafires, and finally an A/S mortar attack
by HMCS New Liskeard as the boat sank. In reality the
operation was over much more quickly than anticipated,
as U-190 started to settle slowly by the stern immediately after 826 Squadron had roared over her. Nootka
managed to get off two 4-gun salvoes before the submarine up-ended, paused momentarily and then slid for
ever into the depths of the ocean. New Liskeard assisted
her departure with mortars and Nootka followed with a
pattern of depth-charges.
A Training Air Group (TAG) consisting of two
flights, FRU 743 and the Operational Training Unit, had
been formed and this group was on its own for ten days
when the 18th CAG joined Warrior for a spell at sea
during which 183 deck landings were carried out. On its
return the CAG found that two more hangars had been
taken over from the RCAF.
The initial full-scale course to be conducted by the
RCN in naval operational flying started on 2 February,
1948, at the Operational Flying School to produce pilots
for the squadrons of the 18th and 19th CAGs. The next
highlight in the history of the section was the arrival of
Magnificent in June with the 19th CAG re-equipped
with Sea Fury XI and Firefly IV’s. The group came
ashore to Dartmouth, where accommodation also had to
be found for the Royal Navy’s 806 Squadron. The next
month the RCN held a naval air display, the first of its
kind ever to be staged in Canada; a crowd of about
15,000 turned out to watch the show. 806 Squadron participated prior to leaving for the USN Air Station, Floyd
Bennett Field and the International Air Exposition in
New York on the occasion of the opening of Idlewild
airport. Living conditions at the station improved as civilian contractors progressed work on the men’s quarters
and the first houses of a 100-house scheme. Another first
was recorded in August when a flight of two Sea Furies
was attached to 806 Squadron to take part in the air
show at Toronto in connection with the Canadian National Exhibition; a third Sea Fury and a Firefly formed
part of a static display. The section was further denuded
of aircraft by the departure of the 19th CAG to Magnificent and the 18th CAG to the RCAF Joint Air School,
Rivers, Manitoba, for specialized training.
By mid-summer 1948 matters at RCAF Station Dartmouth had reached the point where a decision as to the
future of the establishment could no longer be postponed. Over the past two years various submissions had
been made to Naval Headquarters to have the
RCN/RCAF Agreement revised and brought into line
with reality. Nothing was done in the early stages as the
navy was not too happy with Dartmouth owing to the
fact that, in addition to the air force machines, both
Trans-Canada Airlines and Maritime Airways were using the runways. Other places were considered but in
July 1947 the Naval Board agreed that Eastern Passage
was the most suitable locale for naval purposes and recommended transition to full control be spread over a
period of about two years.4 In October the RCAF Search
and Rescue Squadron withdrew bag and baggage to
Greenwood, N.S., and the navy found itself carrying out
even more station functions which were, under the
agreement, air force commitments. The following April
1948 another agreement was signed under which a Naval Air Stores Depot was established at Dartmouth but to
all suggestions of relinquishing complete control the
RCAF remained unresponsive. On the spot the RCN had
actually become the main user of the station. Of the 14
hangars, it occupied 11 for the operation of 56 aircraft
(when ashore) whilst the air force had two hangars for
the two planes of a Composite Flight; approximate personnel strengths were 900 for the navy and 250 for the
RCAF. As one report stated “the RCAF was peeling the
potatoes while the RCN was doing the glamour job of
flying.” The problem of Dartmouth aerodrome came
before the Cabinet Defence Committee in September
1948 and it was decided that the RCN should take over
the air station.5
There was general jubilation at RCNAS when the
glad news was received.6 In September, also, the 19th
CAG arrived back from the carrier, disbanded and reformed while the 18th CAG on its return from Rivers,
had 883 Squadron equipped with six Sea Furies in place
of eight Seafires. To facilitate maintenance work on
similar aircraft a further re-grouping was carried out in
November. The fighter squadrons became the 19th CAG
and the A/S squadrons were organized to form the 18th
A main inter-service committee and various subcommittees were formed to sort out the problems in
connection with the pending transfer of the station, and
to complete the arrangements locally an RCN-RCAF
board under the joint chairmanship of Commander J.
Plomer, DSC, RCN, and Wing-Commander R. O. Shaw,
RCAF, convened on 29 November. On 1 December,
1948, a great day for RCN aviation, the Service regained
control of Dartmouth air station and commissioned it as
HMCS Shearwater. Most of the RCAF personnel were
withdrawn except those required for the small composite
flight and for No. 102 Marine Squadron, whose high
speed launches were still to be run by the air force. In
addition some airmen remained to assist in the manning
of the control tower until such time as the navy had sufficient controllers trained. Acting Captain A. B. F. Fraser-Harris, DSC and Bar, RCN, was now in command
and his opening report gives the impression that in some
respects things had not changed much at Baker Point
since the old days of 1918-1920.7
The first months in commission were passed in some
tension for unlike the usual maiden voyage of one of His
Majesty’s Canadian Ships, Shearwater left harbour in a
considerable state of disrepair, leaking and undermanned,
her decks unscrubbed and her rigging by no means shipshape .
Added to these problems, the elements in the form of a
snowstorm and gales lashed the good ship in no uncertain fashion. However, by dint of splicing, caulking and
general application of “elbow grease,” Shearwater was
to become more “ship-shape and Bristol-fashion” as
time passed.
Early in the commission there was a re-organization
of air maintenance personnel and the TAG officially
became a self-contained unit on par with the air groups.
It was suffering from a shortage of suitable aircraft and
to reduce training commitments at Shearwater it was
arranged to send both the next Observers’ and Operational Flying Courses to England. Seafires were withdrawn from service and the current Operational Flying
School class completed its course on Harvards, eight of
which were available to the TAG.
The tempo increased with better weather and both air
groups operated from the station in May 1949, a total of
2,596 sorties being flown for an average of one landing
or take off every 90 seconds. By this time 825 Squadron
had been overseas in Magnificent and re-equipped with
an improved Firefly, the Mark V. All 17 aircraft of the
19th CAG made an impressive sight as they formed up
over the air-field to begin the flight to the RCAF school
at Rivers. The Fireflies remained and took part in two
series of exercises; one, with the TAG, in support of
army manoeuvres on Citadel Hill, Halifax, with simulated strafing and low level attacks, the other in AntiSubmarine (A/S) drills with Haida and Swansea. Flying
intensity dropped off when the 18th CAG left for a training period at USNAS, Quonset Point, Rhode Island. The
training group, left on its own, was hampered by seasonal, coastal fog but managed to give flying instruction
to 16 pilots, including seven reservists.
The Royal Navy’s cruiser Glasgow entered harbour in
early August to be followed 24 hours later by seven
units of the U.S. Navy, including the heavy cruiser, USS
Newport News, and two carriers, Midway and Kearsarge. This fleet contributed to the success of the RCN’s
Navy Week, which was held in conjunction with the
Halifax bicentenary celebrations*. One highlight was a
“Venetian Night,” for which there was a show of decorated boats on the Northwest Aim, Shearwater being
represented by a model of Magnificent assembled on the
station. For this event the Governor of Massachusetts
flew up from Boston and was received at the flying field
by a guard paraded in his honour.
A specially-formed flight of ten Seafires, known as
“Watson’s Circus” in honour of its leader, had been busily training for the Canadian National Exhibition. Whilst
doing their final rehearsal over Malton airport a mid-air
collision claimed the lives of the CO and another pilot.
The former, Lieutenant-Commander (P) C. G. Watson,
RCN, was one of the more senior officers in the air arm
and had commanded 826 Squadron prior to its disbandment in February 1946. In spite of this tragedy the flight
continued on a modified scale with the display which
was reported on very favourably during the CNE.
Down at Quonset Point the 18th CAG had been converting to USN deck-landing technique in line with a
decision taken by both the RN and RCN to conform with
the operating procedures employed in the larger U.S.
Fleet. The British and Canadian method was to approach
the flight-deck, having maintained uniform height in the
landing circuit, at a steady rate of descent from about
400 feet; the Americans, after circling the carrier in a
descending turn, came in for a powered-landing from
400 yards astern at a constant height of about 40 feet
until signalled to “cut-engine” by the Deck Landing
Control Officer just before reaching the after end of the
flight-deck. The snag with this method was that landings
were frequently made on the main undercarriage wheels,
only, owing to the pilot’s misjudgement of the difficult
final touch-down. With their undercarriages not designed for such heavy treatment British aircraft suffered
damage or were bounced back into the air so that they
*Halifax was founded by the Hon. Edward Cornwallis, who
landed on 21 June, 1749.
Firefly landing trials aboard USS Saipan
missed the arrester wires. It was found that the Canadian
air group’s Fireflies suffered from this “hook bounce”
when they went to the deck of the carrier USS Saipan in
September and the pilots had to revert to British practice
on their next cruise in Magnificent.
Both air groups returned to Dartmouth, the 19th without its Sea Furies, which remained at Rivers for testing.
All hands were available to participate in a new venture–
the first regatta to be held by Shearwater Sailing Club.
Guests brought their own boats from Halifax clubs and
after the races had been run off, it was found that
Shearwater had won the Fraser-Harris Sailing Trophy
for teams of whalers and service dinghies.
The advent of two U.S. Navy Patrol Squadrons partaking in an exercise with the USN Second Task Force
enlivened the last months of 1949. Shearwater provided
moorings for ten PB5M flying boats and the seaplane
tender USS Duxbury Bay in Eastern Passage, while the
aircrews of nine land-based Neptune P2V planes were
housed and operated from the station. On the first anniversary of the commissioning date, Divisions and
Prayers on the parade ground were followed by a march
past for which FOAC, Rear-Admiral E. R. Mainguy,
OBE, RCN, took the salute; in the evening a Birthday
Cabaret Ball rounded off the day. The year 1949 had
been a good one for Canadian naval aviation, with continued expansion. On the aircraft side many of the snags
in both Firefly and Sea Fury had been ironed out, but
experiences on the deck of Saipan showed that the Firefly V was not the ideal deck landing machine.
The air groups started their activities in January 1950
by combining forces to carry out “attacks” on the RCAF
Station at Greenwood, and on Shearwater. A week later
planes of the 18th CAG were embarked in the carrier for
the annual spring cruise to the West Indies. At the station the stores and living accommodation situation improved as the year advanced and the usual busy training
and maintenance programme continued. Amongst visit-
ing aircraft in the early months were two Dakotas, which
brought the crews for the Argentine Naval transport Bahia Aguirre; this ship had been under construction at
Halifax Shipyards Limited. The acquisition of 75 Avenger aircraft was announced in April to replace the Fireflies and during a visit by Magnificent to New York an
advance group of personnel from 826 Squadron was sent
to San Diego and Norfolk, Virginia, to form the nucleus
of teams to bring back the planes. For A/S duties the
old-reliable Avengers* the first of which touched down
at Shearwater soon afterwards, were to be considerably
modified with the addition of more modern search and
detection equipment by Fairey Aviation Company of
Canada Limited at its Dartmouth plant.
On 9 May, 1950, 50 naval ratings, including ten from
Shearwater, flew in three RCAF Dakotas to help in
fighting the disastrous Red River flood in Manitoba.
With the return of Magnificent, the 19th CAG and 825
Squadron came ashore while 826 Squadron continued to
ferry Avengers from Quonset Point to Dartmouth. A series of exercises, for which the station provided target
planes, was laid on for HM Ships Glasgow and Snipe
during an informal visit to Halifax. The cruiser responded by sending its Royal Marine detachment and
band over to the air station for Morning Divisions to
give a display of small arms drill on the march. Every
phase of activity at Shearwater was presented in the
summer air show, which was held in perfect weather. A
spectacular display was the destruction of a realisticlooking “submarine,” which had been constructed by
the Army aided by the Naval Ordnance Branch. Sea Furies, Fireflies and Avengers, the latter making their first
public appearance with the RCN, fired cannon, rockets
and depth-charges at the model. The weather broke after
the show and the first hurricane of the year brought gusts
of wind up to 78 miles per hour over Eastern Passage.
The last 11 Avengers arrived from Quonset Point and
work continued on the conversion of a prototype to
whose specifications, if successful, all the other planes
would be adapted. In November the safe flying record
was marred by an accident in which a Firefly became
lost and finally ended its flight with a “wheels up” landing in a field near Yarmouth, Maine, after being homed
to the coast by U.S. authorities. An RCN salvage team
dragged the plane to the nearest highway and in due
course it returned to Dartmouth in CNAV† Eastore.
A major reorganization of aircraft and personnel took
place on 15 January, 1951, when the 18th CAG was
changed to consist of 826 and 883 Squadrons. The other
two units, 803 and 825 Squadrons, now formed a new
19th Support Air Group (SAG), which would normally
*Accepted by the USN in 1940, the torpedo bomber was put
into operational service late in 1941.
†Canadian Naval Auxiliary Vessel.
be based ashore at Shearwater. Following this arrangement a rocket and cannon display was put on by Sea
Furies and Fireflies on the opening of the Chezzetcook
Firing and Bombing Range prior to the departure of the
18th CAG to USNAS, Quonset Point, from which field
it was to join Magnificent. At home, two prototype
Avengers joined the 19th SAG, which started evaluation
trials. The first fatal accident since 1949 occurred in
March as the result of a forced landing by a fighter in
Wright’s Lake. The plane sank in about 30 feet of water
but the pilot managed to get clear and was picked up by
a local resident. As the RCAF helicopter that had been
based at the station for rescue work was unserviceable, a
Seabee amphibian belonging to Pulsifer Aircraft Ltd.
flew to the scene of the crash. The float plane, after landing on the lake, unfortunately went up the wrong arm
and the rest of the Sea Fury flight, which had been orbiting since the crash, dived low to guide it in the right direction. The watchers were horrified to see one fighter
hit the ground amongst the trees just to the north of
Wright’s Mill, killing the pilot instantly. In subsequent
salvage operations the Sea Fury in the lake was brought
up with the assistance of naval divers and towed out of
the bush.
Magnificent appeared off the coast and the 18th CAG
was back on the station by 1 May, 1951, when all squadrons were renumbered. The idea behind this was to give
Canadian identity to RCN air units within the Commonwealth numbering system and provide a logical
means of identifying additional air groups and squadrons
in the event of expansion. 803 and 825 Squadrons became 870 and 8808 respectively, and now formed the
31st SAG while 883 and 826 were renumbered to 871
and 8819 to form the 30th CAG. For the rest of the
month the 31st SAG put in some sea time in the carrier
and the 30th CAG carried out an intensive period of
night flying in preparation for deck training.
A crying need at Shearwater was filled when three
Bell HTL 4’s were delivered to the air station. On 1 September the helicopters were formed into No. 1 Helicopter Flight to begin training for the many roles in which
they would be required to perform such as photography,
land and sea rescues, co-operation in ships’ torpedo firings etc. Another new responsibility was the Marine
Section, from which the RCAF withdrew on 1 November; taken over by the navy were buildings (including
“E” Block, which was to be used as a Naval Air Maintenance School), three high speed launches (HSLs) and
miscellaneous small craft, The RCN became responsible
for search/rescue duty, patrolling at the Cow Bay and
Chezzetcook air firing ranges, and the local harbour
ferry service at Eastern Passage. During the open navigation season one of the HSL’s would also be required
for duty at the Chatham air firing range.
A dozen USN Neptune aircraft were based at ShearSQUADRONS AND SHORE BASES 1945-1962
19th CAG at Dartmouth Air Station.
water in January 1952 for fleet drills, on completion of
which 881 Squadron had a useful exercise in shadowing
as 17 American surface warships and three submarines
withdrew to seaward from the Nova Scotian coast. Later
HM Submarine Alcide was made available for nine days
and provided good practice for the two A/S squadrons,
whilst the fighters had their turn in a strike against the
departing Swedish cruiser Gotland and in night search
and shadowing encounters with Crescent. The USN was
back again in May to erect mooring masts in preparation
for a visit by two blimps. The airships, which were accommodated at Dartmouth for a week, gave familiarization flights, including a display of deck landing on Magnificent. In the hot, mid-summer days bush fires began to
break out in the Maritimes and the station’s new acquisition, a Sikorsky HO4S-2 helicopter, was flown to Chatham, N.B., to help in fighting a particularly bad one. At
home the Queen’s Colour of the East Coast Command
was paraded for the first time of the commission when
the Right Honourable Vincent Massey, CH, Governor
General of Canada, was met by a Royal Guard as he
arrived by RCAF aircraft. Having flown on to Charlottetown, His Excellency returned two days later and was
taken by admiral’s barge from the marine section’s jetty
out to Quebec, who was moored in the harbour.
An indication of the improvement in training facilities
at Shearwater was the arrival of ten RN midshipmen in
the fall of 1952 to form the first North Atlantic Treaty
Organization air observers’ course. To augment the instructional staff at the Observer School for the training
of this and subsequent classes of young Allied airmen,
three officers were appointed from the British navy.
Air squadrons of the RCN were brought in November
1952 into the U.S. system of numbering which took the
form of a two-letter prefix before the squadron number.
The significance of the first letter (“V”) was “heavierthan-air” while the second was a guide to the function of
the unit, i.e. VF for fighter, VS for search, VH for helicopter. Under the lettering arrangement the station
squadron, FRU 743, became VU 32 (Utility) and the
helicopters were organized into VH 21.
Captain D. L. Raymond, CD, RCN, relinquished
command of Shearwater in January 1953 and pointed
out in his farewell report that amenities for personnel
were still far from satisfactory. Sixteen hundred officers
and men were living “in a Station which is still a conglomeration of old temporary buildings and grounds,
which have not been landscaped.”10 However, a new
barrack block was taking shape and suggestions were
under consideration to increase the recreation facilities.
The ten Sea Furies of the 30th CAG had an uneventful trip to Rivers in February but the Avengers had to
deviate from the original flight plan to land at the Lakehead, where they remained for one night. At the Canadian Joint Air Training Centre the group was given a
course, Exercise Assiniboine, in close air support. Before
returning to the coast the planes gave a lot of valuable
publicity to the air arm by putting on flying shows for
the benefit of the Naval Divisions at Regina, Saskatoon,
Calgary and Edmonton.
With their strength increased by the addition of two
more Sikorskys the helicopters were kept busy on a variety of tasks, including the stocking, for the Department
of Fisheries, of lakes that were inaccessible by road. An
experimental air squadron, named VX 10, was formed
during this period to test all new aircraft and equipment
as it came into service with the navy. Although consistently bad weather curtailed general flying in April, three
serious accidents took their toll in human life and machines. One was a mid-air collision between an Avenger
and a Harvard, in which both were damaged but managed to land safely. The second, also a mid-air collision,
resulted in two fatalities, the pilots of an Avenger and
Sea Fury both being killed. There were no casualties
when an Avenger on a long range night navigation exercise flew into a wooded hill-top and became a total loss.
Aircraft of the 30th CAG were struck down into the
hangar when Magnificent sailed to take part in the Coronation Review at Spithead, England. Also aboard was a
British Attacker jet plane for whose safe delivery at
Halifax Lieutenant A. J. Woods, RCN, was later to be
awarded the Queen’s Commendation for valuable service in the air. The Attacker had been undergoing winter
testing at Namao and on the trip back east the pilot experienced an engine “flame-out” at 30,000 feet. Unable
to effect a relight he set up a glide for Kinross Airfield,
Sault Ste. Marie some 60 miles distant, where a 2,000foot ceiling was reported at the time. Lieutenant Woods
made a successful “dead stick” landing and at the base
the trouble, to all appearances, was remedied. ContinuSQUADRONS AND SHORE BASES 1945-1962
ing the flight, another engine failure occurred 60 miles
from Uplands Airport, Ottawa, and Lieutenant Woods
had to make a second long-glide landing. Apart from a
few “sputterings” the last leg of the journey was completed without incident. The plane was equipped with an
ejector-seat and could have been abandoned on either
occasion of engine failure but Lieutenant Woods’ coolness and judgement to quote from the citation “saved a
valuable aircraft from damage or destruction and reflects
considerable credit on himself and his Service.”
The City of Halifax and the surrounding district were
in the front line for a Civil Defence drill, Exercise
Teamwork, which was staged in May 1953. Lancasters
from the RCAF’s Maritime Command at Greenwood
carried out a level bombing run over the town and were
attacked by Sea Furies while Avengers simulated divebombing and strafing attacks on the dockyard area.
Since 1950 the station had been banned to aircraft
weighing more than 60,000 lbs. and heavy earth-moving
equipment now moved in to lengthen and strengthen the
main runway. The 31st Support Air Group packed its
bags and moved to the RCAF Station at Scoudouc, N.B.,
to ease the strain at Shearwater. Also in June a helicopter of VH 21 made a spectacular rescue when a makeshift raft on which two small boys were playing drifted
away out into Bedford Basin. Hovering over the reluctant voyagers, the pilot found it impracticable to lift
them with his hoist so used the slip-stream to wash the
raft into shore.
The summer of 1953 saw the completion of two
buildings, the cornerstone of one, the new barrack block,
being laid by Rear-Admiral Bidwell in perfect weather
before a large gathering of residents and visitors. After
the ceremonial, the youngest sailor on the station cut a
tape at the entrance and declared the barracks ready for
occupation. Two weeks later the Observer School building was also completed and at the formal opening wings
were presented to the graduating officers of the first
NATO Observer Course.
From its Scoudouc base the Support Air Group spent
a busy time putting on flying displays at various places
around the country. Daily shows were given at Toronto
for the CNE between 1 and 12 September and after the
finale at the Canadian National Air Show a detachment
of four Sea Furies, with an Avenger in attendance,
headed out to the west coast for a short visit. The Naval
Air Facility, Scoudouc, was being disbanded and the rest
of the group flew back to a new NAF at the RCAF Station, Summerside, P.E.I. The movement of ground personnel of the SAG to Summerside, where the air force
provided facilities of a high standard, was completed
early the next month. Returning to the NAF from Vancouver an Avenger of VS 880 overturned and caught fire
during a precautionary landing at Kenora, Ontario. The
pilot and one crewman did not survive.
881 Squadron Avengers over the Rockies.
The two air groups changed places in Magnificent
and, after the 30th CAG had flown ashore, VF 871 was
sent to Rivers for a concentrated “work-up” programme
in offensive air support, as there was a possibility that
the unit might be sent to operate from an RN carrier as
part of Canada’s contribution to the United Nations
force in Korea. A helicopter was detached to the NAF
for search and rescue duty and it in turn had to be rescued from a spit of land off the coast where it had been
skilfully brought down after a loss of power in flight.
Heavy snowstorms kept the resources of the tractor section fully extended in keeping the new runways clear as
the New Year started at Shearwater, and the flying programme of all squadrons suffered from the extremely
poor weather and ground conditions. VU 32 lost an
Avenger, which crashed two minutes after take-off, killing the pilot; prompt attention on the part of two pilots
of a helicopter, airborne at the time, helped to save the
observer’s mate. Weather continued to be bad in February 1954 when the big event was the movement of VS
881 to Bermuda for a five-week period of training with
submarines and an escort squadron of surface ships. The
move was made partly by sea and partly by air, the main
contingent of Avengers making an overnight stop at
Quonset on their flight south. A U.S. Coast Guard aircraft made rendezvous about 180 miles from the islands
and escorted them to Kindley Field. At Dartmouth a major misfortune occurred on 1 February when at a minute
or two to midnight the storage section of the new motor
transport building collapsed. Fortunately the duty shift
of civilian staff was just changing over and the only
people in the building were in the locker room, which
proved robust enough to withstand the collapse of the
main roof on to it. It was also lucky that the bulk of station transport was in the part that remained standing.
The helicoper squadron was the object of favourable
comment in the local press for three rescues. For the
first, a doctor was flown to attend two sick children in
Terrence Bay, N.S., as roads were impassable. The next
mission was to evacuate one of the crew of a sealer lying
off the Magdalen Islands and, finally, three sick men
were lifted from an American military transport, USS
General Hodges, to be brought ashore for treatment. The
Avengers at Kindley Field finished their anti-submarine
exercises with the First Canadian Escort Squadron and
were accompanied on their northward flight by a B.29
rescue plane. Evidently discouraged by the snowcovered Dartmouth countryside the big aircraft circled
the field without landing before shaping course back to
Bermuda. By the end of March 1954, VF 870 had returned its Sea Furies to store and paid off to prepare for
re-equipment with jet fighters. The remaining squadron
of the 31st SAG was now due for a spell of A/S training
and it was staged to Quonset Point on the first leg of the
voyage to Bermuda.
Poor weather en route and the fact that all planes had
to be grounded at Calgary for suspected fuel contamination made for slow progress by VS 881 on a flight across
Canada. Eventually arriving at Patricia Bay the Avengers
conducted fly-pasts at major British Columbia cities in
the six days available before the return to Eastern Passage. VS 880 left Bermuda on 6 May and when about 75
miles south of Yarmouth, N.S., one of the squadron
dropped out of formation and was not seen again. A
general air and surface search eventually produced evidence in the form of an immersion suit and an Avenger
wheel that the machine had crashed into the sea.
Effective the second of May 1954 the TAG was disbanded and VU 32 became a separate unit, organizationally, with its own hangar. A new squadron, VT 40, consisting of the Instrument Flying School and the Operational Flying Training School made its debut and was
divided into two distinct parts, the Advanced Training
Flight (ATF) and the All-Weather Flying Flight (AWF).
In June the air group system in the RCN was abolished
and the administrative organizations, the 30th CAG and
the 31st SAG, ceased to exist.
Shearwater was honoured by a June visit of the Honourable J. A. D. McCurdy, the veteran airman, who presented wings to No. 4 Observers’ Course. Other distinguished visitors received on the base included Their
Royal Highnesses, the Duchess of Kent and Princess
Alexandra, who were received by a guard of honour
composed of Wrens. Before Christmas Magnificent returned to Halifax from a cruise to British Columbia and
disembarked VF 871 and VS 881 whilst VS 880 did a
month’s training at Bermuda. One of the home-based
Avengers caught fire as it was carrying out landing practice and the pilot had to bale out from about 800 feet to
bump down safely on the football field. The plane
crashed into the water near the south jetty, which was
slightly damaged by fire from scattered gasoline.
A party of officers and men had been loaned to Air
Anti-Submarine Squadron 26 of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet
and while on board USS Antietam Petty Officer R.
Spicer, RCN, saved an aircraft from serious damage, an
act for which he was officially commended by the Chief
of the Naval Staff. The Canadians were serving with the
USN to gain experience on the operation and maintenance of the Grumman S2F, which had been chosen as
the successor to the Avenger. One of these planes was
being moved on the carrier’s flight deck when, as the
towing tractor drove on to the forward elevator, the
mechanism failed and the lift descended to the hangar
deck without warning. The tractor began to fall but P. O.
Spicer, as plane captain, jammed on the Grumman’s
brakes and, although the tow bar bent at right angles, the
aircraft stopped on the edge holding the tractor suspended in mid-air down the well. A second’s delay
would have resulted in heavy damage to the Grumman
and possible serious injury to personnel.
New arrivals on the station in January 1955 were four
Silver Stars or T.33 jet trainer aircraft, which became
known as the Jet Flight (JF) of VT 40. The task of the
unit was laid down as being primarily “to evolve control,
operational and instrument procedures.” It also provided
refresher courses in jet flying for qualified pilots. Two
months later four Avengers of VS 881 were organized
into an Airborne Early Warning Flight (AEW). Fitted
with powerful radar detection gear, each plane, known
popularly as “Guppy”, acted in a capacity similar to that
of shore warning installations but with the added advantage of height and mobility. Once hostile surface forces
or submarines had been reported the AEW Avenger
would revert to strike direction and provide information
to friendly forces.
The appearance of the station changed rapidly with
the demolition of old buildings and, as the weather improved, the reconstruction activity on the motor transport garage increased. Superb flying conditions contributed to a visit by the Chief of the Naval Staff, ViceAdmiral E. R. Mainguy, OBE, CD, RCN, in May. Accompanied by FOAC, the Admiral inspected the hands
at Divisions and then watched a fly-past of some 35
Avengers, Harvards, Expeditors, Sea Furies, T.33’s and
helicopters. A few days afterwards the new electrical
building was officially declared open by another visitor
to Shearwater, the Admiralty’s Director of Electrical
Engineering, Sir Hamish MacLaren, KBE, DFC and Bar.
Detachment No. 3 of the helicopter squadron, which
since April had been known as HU 21, was sent to pro-
Aerial view of HMCS Shearwater in the 1950’s.
Squadron fly-past at Admiral's inspection.
vide search and rescue facilities for civilian aircraft
spraying the New Brunswick forests against bud worm
infestation. During this hazardous business commercial
aircraft were involved in seven crashes and a mid-air
collision, two pilots being rescued from dense bush by
the naval Piasecki helicopter.
Naval Aviation made another important move forward on 4 July, 1955, when a second helicopter squadron, HS 50, was formed at Dartmouth to operate six Sikorsky HO4S-3’s in an anti-submarine role. The fitting
of dunking sonar, a device lowered into the sea to detect
the enemy, made it necessary for men of the seaman
branch to take to the air in an official capacity for the
first time; volunteers, formerly specialized in torpedo
anti-submarine warfare, were transferred for duty as so-
nar operators. The institution of a new branch was offset
by a decision, taken earlier in the year, to abolish an old
one. With the changing manning requirements of modern aircraft the long-established Observer Branch had to
be abolished.11 Classes under instruction at the Observer
School were permitted to finish, the last NATO Course,
Number 9, receiving its wings in January 1956. A small
Number 10 Observer Course, of RCN officers only,
ended the series in the following September. Observer’s
Mates continued to receive training under that title but
were eventually re-classified as naval aircrewmen.
Operationally, the highlight for the summer of 1955
was the station’s participation in Rising Star an exercise
devised by the Army’s Eastern Command. Representatives of all the different types of fixed-wing aircraft and
helicopters took part in the round-the-clock operations
providing tactical air support and flying over 100,000
As Shearwater approached her seventh anniversary of
commissioning a number of notable events occurred. On
1 November VF 870 reformed and three weeks later the
first of the squadron’s twin-jet McDonnell F2H3 Banshees whistled in to a landing on the runway. Designed
and built specifically for the USN and now brought up to
date in the light of experience gained in the Korean war,
Banshees continued to arrive for some months. The station next had to dig itself out from the worst November
snowstorm in the recorded history of Nova Scotia. The
26th started with the Shearwater Flyers winning the Senior Canadian Football Championship of the Province
and later in the day came the news of a daring rescue by
HU 21 off the Cape Breton coast.
Out of control the Liberian freighter Kismet II had
drifted on to the jagged rocks at the base of the 1,000foot cliffs of Cape Lawrence on Cape Breton Island. A
Sikorsky piloted by Lieutenant-Commanders J. H. Beeman, CD, RCN, and F. R. Fink, RCN, dipped low over
the stricken ship in attempts to rescue the crew but was
Aircraft marshalled for CNS inspection, 1955.
unable to do so owing to the strong winds and rough sea,
which also prevented the launching of a small boat to go
alongside. During an anxious night a truck loaded with
rescue equipment, life-lines and breeches buoys arrived
at the top of the cliff after an arduous trip behind a
snow-plough. Conditions had improved slightly on the
morrow but it was still an extremely hazardous manoeuvre to approach Kismet II. Signs were made to the men
to clear a landing space aft; when obstructions such as
the after binnacle, guardrails and so on, had been removed, the helicopter slipped in sideways and balanced
with power on, whilst the first load of passengers scrambled aboard. Four trips were necessary to bring off the
21-man crew, the Captain’s dog and the ship’s cat. Both
the pilots have since been awarded the George Medal
and the other two members of the plane crew, Petty Officer L. P. Vipond, RCN, and Leading Seaman P. A.
Smith, RCN, have received the Queen’s Commendation
for brave conduct.
The Kismet II incident was actually the climax to an
exceedingly busy 12 months for HU 21. The first incident in a long list of mercy errands had occurred in October 1954 when word was received that the lighthouse
keeper on St. Paul’s Island in the Cabot Strait had a fractured skull and badly wounded arm as the result of a
dynamite explosion. Lieutenant W. E. James, RCN, with
one crewman, flew a Piasecki HUP-3 to Sydney, where
he picked up a doctor before continuing the flight in
gale-force winds and poor visibility. After landing on the
island in swirling snow the pilot had to keep the rotors
going for the three-quarters of an hour that the doctor
was attending the patient and bringing him to the machine. The return to Sydney was made without any trouble and the Piasecki finally arrived back at base after a
mission lasting 8½ hours. Lieutenant James was
awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
(Military Division) for his courageous action. The next
rescue mission undertaken by a helicopter of HU 21 was
the transporting of two little girls, who had been hurt in
a sleighing accident, to Halifax General Hospital for
emergency brain surgery. In March a Sea Fury stalled
and crashed in thick bush a mile from the station. Within
minutes a Sikorsky was on the scene and the co-pilot,
Lieutenant D. A. Muncaster, RCN, was lowered to the
plane, now burning fiercely. Braving the flames he managed to smash the perspex canopy after several attempts,
and drag the fighter pilot to safety just before the fuel
tanks exploded. At a Buckingham Palace investiture in
March 1956 Lieutenant Muncaster was decorated with
the George Medal.
Two escaped convicts in the woods near Dartmouth
gave aircraft of HU 21 the opportunity to do some police
work but on this occasion they neither saw nor “got their
men.” Also in April, an Avenger from VS 881 ditched
during an A/S exercise but the uninjured pilot was
brought in by helicopter. Following a steam valve explosion aboard SS California, forty miles off Sambro
Lightship, two seamen suffering from very severe burns
were flown ashore. A large scale ground and air search
was organized over a week-end in September to locate a
15-year old boy lost in the Spryfield area, but although
he was eventually found it was too late to save his life.
Two more helicopter missions involved lost hunters and
a pair of hospital mercy flights, one to St. Paul Island,
again, and the other to Sable Island rounded off a busy
year during which it had been shown that the RCN had
helicopter pilots second to none in skill and resourcefulness.
With the departure of Magnificent on her 1956 West
Indian cruise there was an exodus of air squadrons from
SS Kismet II on the rocks with RCN helicopter
aft rescuing crew
View of SS Kismet II wrecked on Cape Breton coast.
the station but within a few weeks their place had been
taken by the main party of VS 880 from Summerside as
the NAF was closing down. Another movement in May
was the transfer of the RCN’s reserve aircraft from the
air station at Debert, N.S., where they had been stored
since 1950, to Scoudouc, N.B. An elapsed time record
from Vancouver to Halifax of five hours and 45 minutes
was set by a Silver Star, flown by pilots of VF 871 in the
course of a normal training flight, thereby beating the
previous RCAF mark by 14 minutes; a fuelling stopover of one hour and ten minutes at Lakehead Airport
brought the over-all time to six hours and 55 minutes for
the 2,900-mile journey.
Banshees were still being ferried from Quonset Point
and, en route, one disappeared south-west of Yarmouth,
N.S. An extensive sea and air search failed to turn up
any clues as to its fate. In another crash, this time of a
Harvard on the coast of New Brunswick, the crew was
saved and a special ground party of eight was maintained by air for four days at the site. After usable parts
had been removed the plane was destroyed as the complete isolation of the area made salvage impracticable.
Squadrons VS 881 and HS 50 returned from Magnificent and VF 871 from the Joint Air Training Centre,
where it had been sent for a short armament course.
Planes from the station participated in army manœuvres12 at Camp Gagetown and, in September, VF 870
made the annual naval pilgrimage to Toronto and the
Canadian International Air Show. Before returning home
the squadron visited St. Louis, U.S.A., at the invitation
of the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, manufacturers
of the Banshees. The squadron was later represented by
six fighters in Navy Day activities at Quebec City.
A ceremony of first-class importance for the RCN
took place at the Downsview, Ontario, plant of De
Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. on 12 October, 1956.
Before a distinguished audience, which included ViceAdmiral DeWolf, RCN, Chief of the Naval Staff, the
first A/S aircraft to be built in Canada for the navy was
formally accepted by the Honourable Ralph Campney,
Minister of National Defence. The new plane, which
was named the Tracker, code number CS2F, had been
chosen after careful study and following exacting tests.
Under licence from the Grumman Aircraft Engineering
Corporation, De Havillands had incorporated minor airframe modifications and installed some equipment differing from the U.S. counterpart, to produce a successor
to the Grumman Avenger. Among the advantages of the
Tracker are its high manoeuvrability, the shortness of
the required take-off run and low landing speed, all making it well suited for carrier duty. The first Trackers of
the hundred-aircraft contract were ferried to Dartmouth
by VX 10 and in the following year delivery averaged
two a month*.
In October 1956 the world was rudely shaken from its
happy complacency by a chain of events which had
started with an attack by Israel on Egypt and quickly
involved both Britain and France. The seriousness of the
situation was impressed upon those at the air station
when RCAF Fairchild Packet (C-119) aircraft loaded
with soldiers of the First Battalion Queen’s Own Rifles
began to touch down on the run-way. Between 13-15
November this unit, which had been ear-marked as Canada’s contribution to the United Nations Expeditionary
Force, was staged through Shearwater to Halifax to
await marching orders for the Middle East.
While the United Nations General Assembly desperately tried to find some compromise solution to the crisis, Canada suffered a major mine disaster at Springhill,
N.S., and the helicopters of HU 21 were once more to
the fore, flying over 20.4 hours in the transportation of
medical supplies and personnel to the stricken area. A
hunter owed his life to another plane of the squadron
when he became lost in the Kelly Lake district. Found
lying under a tree in heavily-wooded bush the man
would probably have died of exposure within a few
The high speed launches inherited from the RCAF by
air/sea rescue unit, which was now known as the Marine
Section,13 had reached the end of their service usefulness. As replacements, two Bird Class patrol vessels
HMC Ships Cormorant and Mallard were allocated as
tenders to the air station. At the end of 1956 Nova Scotia
was hit by a fierce storm of wind and rain and amongst
the casualties was the entire covering of Main Stores
Building 31 at Shearwater, which was ripped off.
Helicopters were frequently seconded for duty in the
Arctic patrol vessel HMCS Labrador, and early in 1957
a Sikorsky and a Bell joined the ship for ice surveying in
the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Another helicopter was used
for reconnaissance from CGS Baffin† in support of CGS
Saurel, an icebreaker which became trapped while attempting to reach Corner Brook, Newfoundland. The
first ice surveys were flown when Baffin herself was in
solid ice off the Newfoundland coast and unable to
move. In the meantime a Canadian National Steamship
ferry, William Carson, had reached Saurel and transferred much needed fresh water. High winds kept the ice
under pressure and no leads for the ships could be found
by the helicopter, which had to interrupt its patrol to land
a casualty from Baffin at Corner Brook. On 6 February
two members of a demolition team attached to the RCN
detachment were flown 15 miles to William Carson and
*The first 43 planes of the contract were CS2F-1 and the remainder an improved version, the CS2F-2.
†A hydrographic vessel equipped for helicopter operations but
her aircraft was under modification at this time.
Saurel for the detonation of 120 pounds of explosive in
the ice; as the pressure eased William Carson freed
Saurel and all ships, including Baffin, returned to Halifax.
The station’s meteorological section was kept busy
plotting ice conditions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence from
the reports of aerial observers. Duplicates of the resultant charts were made for interested authorities while
four were transmitted to Labrador by radio facsimile. As
the result of a request from the Director of Naval
Weather Service, a forecast of ice conditions for the period 3 to 10 April was made available on 20 March. This
is believed to be the first operational “long range” seaice forecast that has ever been prepared by a Canadian
Stores and the ground personnel of VF 870 were airlifted from Shearwater by three RCAF North Stars when
the squadron departed for a one-month training period at
USNAS Key West. It was followed by HS 50, which
spent three months at the base exercising with HM Submarine Amphion and American and Canadian warships;
during an A/S warfare demonstration for the benefit of
members and aides of the U.S. Congress the first drop of
a torpedo by an RCN helicopter was recorded. Another
absentee from Dartmouth was HU 21’s Detachment
Number 3, which sailed for trials aboard Buckingham.
When the frigate visited Hamilton, Bermuda, the everversatile helicopter performed in a search-light tattoo put
on for the local populace.
Providing it is not a complete “lemon,” every aircraft
evokes great loyalty amongst those that have flown it
and the RCN’s former fighter was no exception to the
rule. There were many who were sorry to see a Sea Fury
roar down the runway on the last official flight with the
navy of this type of machine. At Calgary the plane was
delivered to Reserve Air Squadron VC 924 to be loaned
to the Provincial Institute of Technology for instructional purposes.
Eastern Passage was at last blessed with good
weather in May and an above average percentage of fly-
Harvard trainers of Reserve Squadrons.
ing hours was logged, although two Banshee accidents
spoilt an otherwise satisfactory period. One fighter
struck the ground and exploded while the other broke up
in mid-air, both pilots being killed. Expert in the unusual, HU 21 was called out on the 23rd to assist in the
re-capture of two patients from the Nova Scotia Mental
Hospital, who had been seen disappearing at high speed
into the woods with a nurse as hostage. Two helicopters
joined the hunt and a ground party caught up with the
escapees before nightfall; the nurse was unharmed. A
more gruesome flight was to the scene of an old air crash
some 17 miles west of Harcourt, N.B., to recover the
bodies of the victims. The wrecked aircraft, a Tri-Pacer,
which had disappeared on 22 January, 1957, with three
members of the Nova Scotia Government on board, had
only recently been found.
The Reserve Air Group consisting of five squadrons,
VC 920, VC 921, VC 922, VC 923 and VC 924, manned
by 50 officers, 60 men and ten wrens, began two weeks
of flying training at Shearwater in August 1957. This
was a very important event for Naval Aviation as it undoubtedly increased the operational efficiency of the
reservists, who would be of vital importance to the force
in time of war. As it was the first time that the units had
been brought together it is a good point at which to digress, briefly, and review the history of their formation
and activities.
After the Naval Board’s decision of August 1946, approving in principle the training at Reserve Divisions of
3,000 officers and men in flying and ground crew duties,
the future looked bright for an RCN (R) air arm.14 The
reduction in naval estimates for 1947-48 forced the
abandonment of these ambitious plans, but in 1949 the
recruiting of 100 men each at York and Star for air maintenance duty was permitted. It was not until the end of
1952 that the “green light” was given to the raising of air
squadrons, the first being VC 920, which was formed as
a tender to York in May 1953.15 There was an enthusiastic response to the call for volunteers from former flyers,
and in October of the same year four Harvards were
Expeditor Trainers.
flown from their headquarters at Downsview Airport to
the East Coast for the first regular training course. The
next important date for VC 920, now equipped with
Avengers as well as Harvards, was August 1955, when
its nine pilots qualified in deck-landing aboard the Magnificent. The following summer the squadron had its first
member win his wings as a result of training received
with the unit. With an aircraft establishment of three
Expeditors in the autumn of 1962, VC 920 was still going strong in the unspectacular but essential role of training air reservists.
The second reserve squadron, VC 921, was formed as
tender to HMCS Cataraqui, the Naval Division at Kingston, Ontario, on 30 September, 1953. Operating Harvards and an Expeditor, this unit soon began to log
many hours of flying. It was the first winner (1954-55)
of the Naval Reserve Safe Flying Award,* having
clocked 1,092 accident-free flying hours during the year.
VC 921 was eventually paid off on 3 March, 1959, as
the result of a decision to reduce the aviation complement of the RCN (R).
The prospects for reserve naval aviation were very
good when VC 922 was formed as tender to HMCS
Malahat at Victoria, B.C., on 1 December, 1953; the
previous month approval16 had been given to the establishing of three additional squadrons (including VC
922), bringing the total up to five with the possibility of
ten more being formed later17 when mobilization requirements had been reviewed. VC 922 was the successor to a Cadet Flying Unit (CFU 1), comprising two
Harvards, which had been flown from Shearwater to
Patricia Bay Airport near Sidney, B.C., in the summer of
1952 to provide air familiarization for cadets from the
Canadian Services College, Royal Roads, and from
Western University Naval Training Divisions.† The former Commanding Officer of CFU 1 assumed command
of VC 922 and a busy programme of qualifying and requalifying pilots began. By 1957 Avengers of the local
regular squadron, VU 33, were being used on week-ends
by the RCN (R) flyers, who also during that year logged
approximately 1,356 hours in their own aircraft, two
Harvards and an Expeditor. VC 922 has been the proud
winner of the Naval Reserve Flying Trophy on three
After its formation on 1 May, 1954, VC 923, which
made its headquarters at the Ancienne Lorette Airport,
Quebec, as tender to HMCS Montcalm, received an allocation of Harvards. The first four officers to be trained
*The award, in the form of a shield, had been presented by
Commodore K. F. Adams, CD, RCN, Commanding Officer Naval
Reserve Divisions, to be competed for annually.
†Apart from this temporary arrangement, UNTD cadets who
wished to specialize as pilots received their early flying training
with the RCAF. Volunteers for observer duty were sent on course
to Shearwater until that branch was abolished in 1955.
by this squadron were presented with their wings in
1955. The last of the reserve squadrons to be formed was
VC 924. Established on 1 June, 1954, it was quartered in
part of the Calgary Flying Club’s hangar and had HMCS
Tecumseh as its administrative authority. Flying training
was carried out in Harvards and with these machines the
squadron won the Naval Reserve Flying Award for
1955. Both VC 923 and VC 924 became redundant under the re-organization arrangements for reserve aviation
and were paid off on 3 and 4 March, 1959, respectively.
With the departure of the Reserve Air Group at the
end of August 1957, Shearwater reverted to its usual
routine. A total of 1,384 sorties had been flown during
the month, unfortunately marred by a collision between
a Banshee from VF 870, piloted by a USN officer, and
an Avenger from VC 921. One plane was just taking off
as the other came into land; both airmen were killed instantly and the aircraft demolished.
The RCN air station was called upon at short notice
to provide planes in October for an operation called
Limelight, the object of which was to search specific
over-the-water areas off the north-east coast of Newfoundland; seven Avengers of VU 32 and five helicopters from HS 50 were dispatched to Gander airfield with
a minimum of logistic support.
An ice forecasting service, known as the Sea Ice Central, was officially established at Shearwater in February
1958. Operated by the Royal Canadian Navy on behalf
of the Department of Transport, the service was part of a
mutual arrangement between Canada and the United
States to provide information for the benefit of commercial and government shipping. Areas covered by the
RCN forecasts and bulletins, which were based on reports from an extensive system of surface and aerial observers, included the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Hudson Bay,
Hudson Strait and the Northern coast of continental
Canada. During the summer months only, three field
forecast stations, manned two at a time, were scheduled
to be set up at Churchill, Cambridge Bay and Frobisher
Bay. The Shearwater unit would provide basic ice information to these stations, which were to be equipped
with radio facsimile recorders. In 1959 the Department
of Transport took over the ice forecasting service from
the RCN.
Halifax and Dartmouth became the focal point for
great activity half way through the Maple Royal series of
exercises, when the combined British and Canadian
fleets steamed into harbour for a brief lay-over. Shearwater’s new jetty to take large ships had recently been
completed and for four days the carrier HMS Bulwark
was secured alongside it. During this spell one of the
worst offshore gales for some years did its best to break
her lines, but the fact that Bulwark had no difficulty in
riding out the storm was an encouraging sign for all future users of the berth.
Now fully equipped with Trackers, VS 880 had its
work-up interrupted briefly when the unit joined others
in an impressive fly-past in honour of M. Paul Henri
Spaak, the Secretary General of NATO. Two months
later the squadron left for Florida, where it spent a fourweek period exercising with U.S. submarines.
The station’s new runway was available for daylight
landings by early September but, although the regular
lighting system had not been completed, it was used at
night by the Bristol Britannia aircraft in which Princess
Margaret flew back to England after a visit to British
Columbia’s centennial celebrations.*
Aviation’s role, past and present, in the country’s development was given special prominence in 1959, the
Golden Anniversary of powered flight in Canada. The
country-wide celebrations started on 23 February at
Baddeck, N.S., where a replica of the Silver Dart reenacted McCurdy’s famous flight before a large crowd
which included the aviator and relatives of the late Doctor Alexander Graham Bell. Three helicopters of HU 21
were on hand to transport some of the distinguished
spectators from Sydney Airport to the scene of operations on Bras d’Or Lakes. Later in the year the squadron
detached another Sikorsky for duty in connection with
the official opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the
Great Lakes voyage of the Royal Yacht Britannia.†
Following squadron re-organization VF 870 became
the only aircraft fighter unit in the RCN and in midsummer the Banshees gave a demonstration of air power
for some 5,000 interested onlookers at Camp Gagetown.
Eight aircraft participated, each carrying two 500-lb.
general purpose bombs, four 3” high explosive rockets
and 400 rounds of 20 mm. ammunition. At home, the
station was host on two occasions, in June and July, to
the American seaplane tender USS Albemarle, whose
half-dozen Martin P5M Marlin flying boats secured to
moorings off the jetty when not engaged in exercises.
The visit to Canada of Her Majesty the Queen and
Prince Philip ended in August 1959, and on the evening
of the first day of the month the Royal Party was taken
by barge from Halifax dockyard over to the air station;
shortly afterwards a Comet IV airliner of British Overseas Airways Corporation took off for the flight across
the Atlantic. To mark the occasion Her Majesty’s landing place on Shearwater Jetty has been officially named
“Queen’s Steps.”
A serious air-field accident occurred on 20 August
when a Tracker of VS 880 was seen from the Control
Tower to stall at about 150’ from the ground and go into
*Crown Colony of British Columbia was created in August
†The St. Lawrence Seaway was formally dedicated by Queen
Elizabeth II and President Dwight C. Eisenhower on 26 June,
an uncontrolled slow roll before landing, right side up, in
a revetment adjacent to the tower. Able Seamen A. K.
Maclean and J. P. G. Bouchard, RCN, who were the first
to reach the spot, made strenuous efforts to release the
unconscious pilot as the flames began to lick around
them. Unable to unlock the overhead hatch the two men
held the airman clear of the port side window while it
was being smashed in by the crash crew. Shortly afterwards the Tracker was evacuated, seconds before it was
completely destroyed by fire. Bouchard and Maclean
were both invested with the George Medal by the Right
Honourable G. P. Vanier, Governor-General of Canada,
when the latter was visiting Halifax in July 1960. The
citations, which appeared in the Canada Gazette of 26
March 1960, state that the awards were for displaying
“Considerable courage, coolness and initiative.”18
RCN helicopter pilots were called out to perform a
number of non-routine missions in the last few months
of 1959; these included the flying of a soldier, critically
injured in a car crash, from Pugwash to HMCS Stadacona; co-operating with the RCMP in the search for
two escapees from the N.S. Hospital; the picking-up of
an injured American captain from his trawler, Lady of
Fatima, at sea and, finally, the rescue of two duck hunters who were marooned on Ram Island for four days by
gale force winds.
As soon as Christmas was over at Shearwater the air
squadrons began preparations for another busy 12
months of training. Six Sikorskys of HS 50 and one Bell
of HU 21 departed in HMCS Cape Scott in search of
better flying weather in Bermuda and operated from the
U.S. naval base on the islands until March 1960. The
fighters of VF 870 then headed south for five weeks at
Key West, Florida. These and other aircraft on detached
duty were all back at Dartmouth by May as the station
spruced up for the RCN’s Fiftieth Anniversary.19 As part
of “Navy Day” activities 49 aircraft of various types
staged a flypast in formation on two separate occasions.
Vice-Admiral DeWolf, who was visiting Halifax in connection with the anniversary celebrations, inspected the
hands at Ceremonial Divisions and presented the Wilkinson Trophy to the Commanding Officer of VF 870.*
Also present were Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Mowat, parents
of the late SubLieutenant G. G. Mowat, RCN, who had
been killed in one of Bonaventure’s Trackers the previous December. Mr. Mowat personally presented, for the
first time, the “Gordon Mowat Memorial Trophy,”
which he had given to Shearwater to be awarded annu*Given annually to the squadron contributing the most to flying progress during the year, this trophy was accepted as a gift by
the RCN in 1957 from Lieutenant-Commander (A) L. D. Wilkinson, RNVR, former Commanding Officer of the RCN’s first
fighter squadron (803 Squadron). The trophy is surmounted by a
replica of the Vickers Supermarine Sea fire Mark XV.
ally to the sub-lieutenant “judged to have advanced his
flying knowledge the greatest amount over the past
An era ended at the station on 10 June, 1960, when
the last Avenger to fly for the RCN touched down on the
runway. The old “Turkeys” were now being turned over
to Crown Assets Disposal Corporation, their active career at an end.
The equipment complexities and expense of the modern aeroplane make it increasingly difficult to provide
facilities for keeping a part-time reservist flyer up to
operational standard. These considerations had made it
necessary to pay off all RCN (R) air squadrons except
VC 920 and VC 922. It was somewhat different from
former times when a mere dozen reserve pilots21 from
the two surviving units arrived at Shearwater for two
weeks’ training in the summer. From August onwards
ten Dutch sailors were taking courses in preparation for
the handing over of 17 Trackers to the Royal Netherlands Navy under Mutual Aid arrangements. The ceremony formally transferring the first five planes took
place on 5 December and three days later the group left
for Curaçao Dutch West Indies, its air crews being captained by RCN personnel for the four-day flight.
Thirty-two inches of snow fell in January 1961, clogging the flying schedule, but two T.33’s of VU 32 managed to escape to Bermuda, where they were used for
exercises in a flight support role. At Dartmouth the
gloom of winter was deepened when the popular station
paper, Navalaire, had to cease publication owing to
mounting costs of production.
Always a trap lying in wait for the unwary, the Thrum
Cap Shoal at the mouth of Halifax Harbour claimed another victim, the U.S. fishing vessel, Ocean Wave, which
ran aground; one of HU 21’s Sikorskys recovered the
five man crew and brought them to safety. Later, extensive use had to be made of the squadron’s helicopters
after the fatal crash of a Banshee near St. Margaret’s
Bay in an inaccessible area, while two helicopters of HS
50 were used to help in another crisis, the fighting of the
worst forest fires in the history of Newfoundland. During the latter arduous period one machine became a total
wreck after crashing but its crew were unhurt.
Having visited Montreal the Dutch aircraft carrier
Karel Doorman secured alongside Shearwater Jetty. Before she sailed again the last batch of Trackers (seven
planes) was turned over to the Royal Netherlands
Navy’s No. 4 Air Squadron. With the increase of high
industrial buildings in the vicinity of the RCN air station
it became necessary to find a more suitable locale for
FCLP’s which required aircraft to fly at a low altitude
whilst in the circuit. Arrangements were made with the
Canadian Army, the main user of Camp Debert, N.S.,
and from September onwards VS 880 commenced to use
the runways at the former RCAF station for landing exSQUADRONS AND SHORE BASES 1945-1962
Although its duty is the operation of aircraft the air
branch is well able to hold its own in matters requiring
parade ground “spit and polish”. In October Shearwater
was called upon to provide the ceremonial party, consisting of bearers, an armed detachment and band, when the
Flag Officer Atlantic Coast, Rear-Admiral K. L. Dyer,
DSC, CD, RCN, presented a Mace on behalf of the
navy, to the neighbouring City of Dartmouth.22 The next
day a 17-gun salute was fired by the station’s 12pounders as the British First Lord of the Admiralty arrived by air and a Guard of Honour was drawn up on the
tarmac to receive him. Lord Carrington, who was paying
a three-day visit to naval establishments in the Halifax
area, later made a brief tour of Shearwater.
The first item in the 1962 list of HU 21 “good deeds”
occurred shortly after New Year’s Day. SS Suerte, a
Lebanese freighter, grounded off Halifax harbour and as
the weather was rapidly deteriorating helicopters hastily
air-lifted the 28 seamen on board to Shearwater. During
the early months of the year VF 870’s Banshees were
frequently away from their home base for training and
exercises at USNAS, Cecil Field, Florida, the Canadian
Joint Training Centre, Rivers, and at Sydney, N.S. The
A/S aircraft of VS 880’s shore unit meanwhile were busily employed at the Naval Air Facility (NAF) at Debert,
carrying out both day and night Mirror Carrier Landing
Practice (MCLP).
Halfway through 1962 the home base of the RCN’s
air arm at Dartmouth could look back on almost 17 years
of progress and many changes. The rather battered
Swordfish and Walrus aircraft have been replaced by
two fixed-wing, front-line squadrons, an experimental, a
utility, and two helicopter squadrons. All are equipped
with modern planes and all have developed their own
personality and reputation. The only fighter unit now in
commission is VF 870, its sister squadron, VF 871, having been combined with it in line with a tactical regrouping to provide increased flexibility of air operations; when VF 871 paid off on 16 March, 1959, it had
been in commission for eight years during which period
the Safe Flying Trophy had been awarded to the squadron twice for its good record in the air.* After some
“teething troubles” the Banshees have established themselves as supreme in their class. Their fighting efficiency
has been appreciably increased with the fitting of the
aircraft with Sidewinder making them the first fighters in
Canada to be equipped with an air-to-air guided missile,
which finds its target by homing on to the heat emitted
by an enemy aircraft.† Named after a type of rattlesnake,
*Originally presented by officers of the Supply Branch, the
trophy is competed for annually by all active squadrons, the first
award being for the year 1952.
†Weapon is nine feet in length and has a range of two miles.
which has a peculiar sideways motion, Sidewinder is
basically a defensive weapon designed for destroying
high performance fighters and bombers from sea level to
altitudes over 50,000 feet. It enables the defenders to
knock down the fastest aircraft even when miles away.
The high level of efficiency attained by VF 870 was acknowledged when it was presented with the Wilkinson
Trophy for 1959.
Equipped with Trackers embodying the latest concept
of an A/S aircraft capable of destroying submarines on
or below the surface of the sea, VS 880 is a first-class
squadron in every, sense of the word. For its good safety
record in peacetime VS 880 was awarded the Safe Flying Trophy for 1952 and 1954. On 7 July, 1959, when
VS 881 ceased to exist, its personnel and aircraft joined
VS 880 to make the latter the largest air unit in the RCN
to date. There was some reluctance, at first, to this
merger but since then the union has turned out to be a
“perfect marriage”. By the date of the third anniversary,
aircraft of the new VS 880 had landed on the carrier
more than 10,000 times and it had become one of the
best anti-submarine squadrons in the NATO defence
forces. For the wartime exploits of the squadron VS 880
is entitled to display five battle honours:
Its speed is two and a half times the speed of sound and the warhead is of the blast fragmentation type.
HMCS Shearwater, Dartmouth, 1961.
Shearwater Jetty, Eastern Passage, N.S.
Sidewinder armed Banshees.
Cruising Banshees.
Tracker of VS 880 on patrol.
Grey Ghosts of VF 870.
Diego Suarez ...................... 1942
North Africa ....................... 1942
Salerno ............................... 1943
Norway ............................... 1944
Japan .................................. 1945
The experimental squadron, VX 10, since its formation in March 1953 has occupied a very important position in the station’s organization. No plane is accepted
for service by the RCN until it has been tested and
passed by this unit. In addition to this important work
VX 10 is involved in the various trials connected with
the complicated and diversified equipment found in the
modern aircraft. As an example, the Commanding Officer reported on one occasion that his 13 officers and 52
men were working on 80 projects and operating 15 aircraft of varying types and standards of modification. The
first transatlantic flight of the RCN air arm was made by
two Banshees and two Trackers of VX 10 in March
1957. Departure was taken from the RCAF Station, St.
Hubert, P.Q., and the contingent finally arrived at
RNAS, Ford, in the south of England to be available for
the initial flight trials in Bonaventure. Primarily for the
work of the deck-landing detachment aboard the carrier,
VX 10 became the first winner of the Wilkinson Trophy.
The high standard of flying achieved by the squadron
has also won it the Safe Flying Trophy for the years
1957 and 1958.
The main role of VU 32 between 1954-59 was to
provide aircraft for Observer School exercises, various
fleet requirements, and for pilot proficiency flying. During the same period the All-Weather Flight of VT 40
was the navy’s instrument flying school, where concentrated instruction and practice was given in aerial navigation, the airborne part of the course being conducted
in Beechcraft Expeditors. The squadron’s Advanced
Training Flight prepared flyers for duty in the front-line
anti-submarine squadrons and provided refresher courses
for pilots in non-flying appointments; at various times in
its career the unit operated Harvards, Avengers, Sea Furies and, after the formation of the Jet Flight in 1955,
Silver Star trainers.
VT 40 ceased to exist as a separate entity on 4 May,
1959, and was amalgamated with VU 32, which took
over the training function after it had been re-organized
into three flights. The Utility Flight, comprising Trackers and Avengers, became responsible for Observer’s
Mate training, fleet piston engine requirements and air
transport; the Piston Flight, flying Expeditors, assumed
control of proficiency flying, piston, fixed-wing training
and piston engine instrument instruction while the Jet
Flight took over jet fleet requirements, jet proficiency
and instrument training. Another section, the Advanced
Training Flight, was formed in 1960 to give naval flying
instruction to new pilots who had completed their initial
Navy T 33 “Silver Stars” over Halifax Dockyard.
training with the RCAF.23 In 1962, VU 32 merged the
Piston Flight with the Advanced Training Flight and was
carrying out all functions with Trackers and T.33’s, having disposed of its Avengers and Expeditors two years
The “work-horse” of the naval air service, HU 21 has
frequently been mentioned in this history for the variety
of duties it has been called upon to carry out. Every year
since its formation the squadron has added to its laurels
with the number of rescue and other missions of every
description that have been successfully completed. Most
of these have occurred when helicopters have been operating from Shearwater or the carriers, but mention has
not been made before of a rescue by a Piasecki when
forming part of a squadron detachment serving in
HMCS Labrador. Helicopters were of inestimable value
to this ship in hydrographic and oceanographic survey
work, ice reporting etc. on her famous cruises to northern waters. On 26 July when Labrador was in Frobisher
Bay during the 1957 voyage of exploration, a Bell
crashed near the top of a 2,400-foot mountain, the crew
of two crawling out unhurt. Air turbulence made a helicopter landing very dangerous except in ideal flying
weather; which was not prevailing at the time. In attempting to render assistance a second Bell also had to
make a forced descent to join the crew of the first in a
rather unpleasant locale. The detachment’s third machine, a Piasecki, was under repair aboard the ship. It
was quickly reassembled but as the wind had increased
the helicopter could only make drops of essential supplies from 500 feet during that day On the morrow, conditions were calmer but a dense fog began to roll in from
seaward. In spite of this the Piasecki, piloted by Lieutenant D. A. Oliphant, RCN, succeeded in rescuing the
four survivors on a second run over the mountain. Labrador sailed but returned on 5 August to land a salvage
party, which, after various fruitless attempts, managed to
get to the top and retrieve as much moveable gear as
possible; the main fuselage, etc. had to be abandoned.24
The skill of the Piasecki pilot on this occasion demon-
The readiness of the RCN to assist in this vital project
coupled with the keen spirit and resourcefulness displayed
by all RCN personnel is an outstanding example of interservice co-operation. Although much work still remains to
be done, HS 50, in lifting more than 850 tons of urgently
required material, made a most significant contribution to
the task.
Piasecki helicopter operating from HMCS Labrador
in Far North.
strates, once again, the high standard, which naval flyers
have achieved in the “whiny birds.”
The second helicopter squadron, HS 50, with headquarters at Shearwater, has given the RCN a strong
punch in its powerful anti-submarine arm. Most of the
unit’s time is taken up with sea exercises, training and
demonstrations but in the autumn of 1956 the helicopters
were temporarily stripped of their sonar gear and prepared for transport duties in the northland. With a complement of about 50 officers and men, the squadron operated out of Knob Lake helping the RCAF in the lift of
personnel and material from marshalling points to actual
sites in the Labrador section of the Mid-Canada Line.*
From September to mid-November a large tonnage of
supplies was moved in an area where the use of neither
fixed-wing aircraft nor supply trains was feasible. The
squadron was eventually relieved by a detachment of
HU 21, which continued with the RCAF until the end of
the year. The efforts of HS 50 were praised by Air Marshal C. Roy Slemon, CB, CBE, RCAF, Chief of the Air
Staff, in a message to the Flag Officer Atlantic Coast:
*Radar Warning Line along the 55th Parallel of Latitude and
extending for 3,000 miles across Northern Canada.
Good work on more mundane duty earned HS 50 the
awards of the Wilkinson Trophy in 1958 and the Safe
Flying Trophy in 1959.
In reviewing the RCN’s air squadrons it remains to
mention but one other, which, although not now based at
Shearwater, was originally a West Coast Detachment of
VS 880, sent to Patricia Bay, Sydney, B.C., in January
1954 to participate in torpedo-running trials. A few
months later approval was given for the formation of a
Utility Squadron “to be based permanently on the West
Coast and placed at the disposal of the Flag Officer Pacific Coast.”25 Agreement26 was reached with the RCAF
for joint use of accommodation and facilities on the west
side of the Patricia Bay air-field and on 1 November,
1954, a new squadron, VU 33, was formed, using the
two Avengers of 880’s detachment as a nucleus. In
March of the following year Fairey Aviation Company
of Canada Ltd. set up a repair organization at Patricia
Bay for naval aircraft. Also located at the airport, on the
east side, are the hangars used by VC 922 and the Victoria Flying Club.27 To the latter are sent selected cadets
from the officers’ training establishment, HMCS Venture, to gain their Department of Transport, private flying licences prior to specializing in service aviation.
The aircraft of VU 33, which by 1962 consisted of
Trackers, Piasecki helicopters, and T.33 jet trainers, play
a very important role in the Pacific Command. In a normal month’s work they fly many and varied sorties including exercises with ships and establishments, target
towing, photography, search and rescue, inter-service
co-operation and general maintenance flying. That the
small squadron meets all its tasks with capable efficiency is illustrated by the fact that 10,000 flying hours
HS-50 helicopters supplying Mid-Canada Line, 1956.
Free cruising Sea Furies.
Launching Sea Fury Squadron.
without a single accident in the year brought it the coveted Safe Flying Trophy for 1956.
The appearance of the air arm’s station at Dartmouth
has changed out of all recognition since 1945, old buildings have been torn down and new ones built. Amongst
the additions may be listed new hangars, an electrical
building, officers’ quarters, gymnasium, a barrack block,
swimming pool, two new churches, a gate house, a new
reservoir, aviation store building and the Robert Hampton Gray Memorial School.* Housed in the station
buildings are the various units of the Executive Department; the Air Operations Department; the Fleet School
(Air), which is Shearwater’s training department; the
Air Maintenance Organization (Consisting of the Air
Maintenance Depot and the Air Engineering Department), an amalgamation of all aircraft repair and station
facilities; and the Supply Department, including the
Aviation Supply Depot, which comes under the same
departmental head as other supply functions on the station.
At Shearwater the RCN has both an operational and
flying training base; also an establishment for flight test
and evaluation. New runways have been built and existing ones improved to receive naval, RCAF, and visiting
aircraft, all of which are brought in for landing by a new
*Named in memory of Lieutenant R. H. Gray, VC, DSC,
RCNVR. The ship’s bell of HMS Formidable, Gray’s last ship, is
now at the school.
Control Tower fitted with the most modern radar and
other equipment; one of the regular users of the air-field
has been Trans-Canada Air Lines from the early days
until September 1960, when the company moved its operations to a new civilian airport opened at Kelly Lake
about 25 miles from Halifax.28 A big help to pilots has
been the installation of the Strobeacon Landing Aid, an
electronic flash approach system; the beacon flashes a
30-million-candle-power beam, which lasts for only 15000th of a second. There is thus no danger of the man
at the aircraft controls being blinded as he makes his
final approach under conditions of mist, rain, fog or
snow, which formerly would have made landing extremely hazardous. The complete flashing approach system, as installed at Shearwater, is the first of its kind in
The rescue facilities, which are on a 24-hour alert at
Shearwater, have been successful in saving many lives,
both service and civilian. The recovery of the pilot of a
United States Air Force F.100 aircraft provides a good
example of the system’s efficiency. At 2110 on 21 July,
1958, the approach control operator at Eastern Passage
heard an unknown plane give a faint distress call, “Mayday”. This was reported to the Duty Direction Officer,
who detected a distress radar signal coming from a location some 20 miles to seaward of Yarmouth, N.S. However, although the DDO could “hear” the aircraft and see
it on his screen, he was unable to raise the pilot by voice.
The Direction Officer immediately called the RCAF
Pine Tree Station, Beaverbank,* by direct line telephone
and suggested that the latter should get into contact and
tell the pilot not to bail out until over the land. The next
move in the fast-developing drama was made by the
Pine Tree Station, which got through to the airman and,
on the suggestion of Shearwater, passed a heading of the
Yarmouth field for an emergency landing. Weather at
Yarmouth was checked by the RCN air station and
found to be zero zero, the same as at Dartmouth. A meteorological summary was passed to the F. 100 by Beaverbank, which also told him that he was now well
inland. At 2121 the pilot of the doomed plane opened his
canopy and ejected. Shearwater, in touch by radio with a
second F.100, acting as “wing man” to the first, told this
aircraft that the position of bail out was 86 miles from
the naval base bearing 254 degrees. The information was
then transmitted by Beaverbank to the RCAF Station,
Greenwood, and the Rescue Co-ordination Centre, Halifax. The “wing man” landed safely at Greenwood on
vector from Beaverbank, and early the next morning the
pilot, who had had to bail out was recovered, unhurt, in
exactly the area of the woods pinpointed by the plotters.
Personnel at Shearwater work hard on a variety of
*One of a chain of radar warning stations north of and following, roughly, the 49th parallel of latitude.
tasks and in off-duty periods they play just as hard. In
different seasons soccer, rugby, hockey, basketball, volleyball, water polo, curling and cricket teams meet in
competition with opponents from near and far. No history of the air station would be complete without mention of the famous “Shearwater Flyers” football team,
which was affiliated to the Canadian Rugby Union in
1955. In November 1957 the “Flyers” won the Nova
Scotia Football League finals, the Eastern Canadian
championship and then captured the national crown in
the form of the Perry E. Robinson Memorial Trophy, a
handsome piece of silverware awarded to the winner of
the Intermediate East West Championship. In the arts,
the “Shearwater Players” won the Calvert Trophy in the
Nova Scotia Regional Drama Festival on a number of
occasions but have not been active in recent years. The
Sailing Club is now an old established institution and in
September 1958 the Shearwater Flying Club was incorporated. A pride and joy to the members of this organization is a vintage Tiger Moth, which is kept in firstclass order by the enthusiastic amateur flyers.
At work or play one of the most popular institutions
at Shearwater is the ship’s band, which figures very
prominently in the day to day life on the station. One of
the most notable of the many functions at which the 33piece unit has performed took place during the Royal
Visit of 1957 when Her Majesty inspected members of
the British Legion at the Seventh Regiment Armouries
in New York. The year 1959, when it travelled over
4,000 miles, playing at 103 public and service engagements, was a particularly busy one for the band. At
home in September it put on an impressive musical
march display when Shearwater was host to the public
for the first time in nine years and later the same evening
displayed its versatility by providing a 17-piece orchestra for a big dance in one of the hangars.
Following a Royal Navy precedent adopted by the
Royal Canadian Navy, the air station at Dartmouth bears
the name of a water bird. The shearwater, known for
grace of flight as it skims over the waves, spends the
greater part of its life on the ocean rarely resorting to
land except in the breeding season.
The name was first used for a warship, a ten-gun brig,
in 1808. By the end of the nineteenth century there had
been two more Shearwaters in the Queen’s Service, both
being used for surveying work at various times in their
careers. The next in line was a 980-ton sloop, which
commissioned on Trafalgar Day, 1901. This vessel was
destined to have a long association with Canada and the
RCN and it is for her that the air station is named.
Shearwater, fourth of name, arrived at Esquimalt in
April 1902 and for the next 12 years served on the Pacific Station. On the outbreak of war in 1914 she paid
off and her company of RN ratings was sent to bolster
RCN Air Facility, Patricia Bay, B.C.
the crew of HMCS Niobe at Halifax. The sloop was then
commissioned on 8 September as one of HMC Ships
and used as a base ship for the two Canadian submarines, CC-1 and CC-2, finally sailing with them for Halifax in June 1917.29 This passage was made via the Panama Canal and the three warships became the first of
those flying the White Ensign to use the water-way
which had been opened for ocean traffic in August 1914.
After a period of duty as a training ship for the navy
Shearwater was sold out of the Service in 1922 to the
Western Shipping Company Ltd. and was last heard of
as a wreck near Panama in 1934.
After removal of the old sloop Shearwater from the
active list the name was used once more by the Royal
Navy prior to the commissioning of the establishment at
Eastern Passage. A 580-ton Guillemot Class corvette,
originally designated as a patrol vessel, joined the British Fleet in September 1939. This Shearwater served
throughout the Second World War, 1939-45, on convoy
and escort duties which involved her in several engagements with German E-boats off the east coast of England; placed in the Reserve Fleet in 1945 she was
scrapped two years later. To the Royal Canadian Naval
Air Station the corvette has bequeathed a battle honour:
North Sea 1940-45
The latest Shearwater already has had a crowded history in a short span of years as the mainstay of the air
arm. From a personnel strength of less than two dozen
operating from a few old borrowed buildings, it has
grown into a large well-organized base covering an area
over one and a half miles in diameter with a complement
of approximately 2,800 sailors and 700 civilians. Although the story of a shore station cannot be spectacular,
nevertheless those who serve there can know that each,
by his contribution, is forging the weapon that must be
kept ready for use in battle. All combine together to
make possible the realization of the apt motto of the
ship, Supra Mare Volamus or, in its anglicized form, We
Fly over the Sea.
Commander (A) J. H. Arbick, OBE, RCNVR.
Draft No. 7, dated 9 March, 1946, “Agreement governing
the relationship between the Royal Canadian Air Force and the
Royal Canadian Navy and the use of the Royal Canadian Air
Force facilities by the Royal Canadian Navy.” NS 1550-12 (1).
Naval Board Minute 190-1, 14 August, 1946. NS 1700219-908 (1).
Naval Board Minutes, 7 July, 1947. NS 1700-223/224, (2).
Cabinet Defence Committee Minutes, 14 September, 1948.
NS 1700-223/224 (2).
HQ Message 162138 September 1948. CANGEN 107.
“Reports of Proceedings”. HMCS Shearwater. December
1948 NS 1920-223/224 (1).
Squadron 880 was first commissioned into the RN in January 1941, equipped with Hurricanes.
Squadron 881 first formed, with Wildcat aircraft, in June
1941. It was disbanded in September 1945.
“Organization & Administration RCN Air Station, Dartmouth, N.S.” NS 1700-223/24 (6).
CANGEN 117/55.
Exercises Argus I, Argus II, Matrix, and Morning Star. A
total of 301 sorties in 509.5 flying hours was contributed by naval
SECTEMP No. 27/56.
Naval Board Minute 190-1, 14 August, 1946. NS 1700219-908 (1). The figure of 3,000 was to be allocated to the Air
Reserve out of an approved total Reserve complement of 18,000.
Minutes of the 547th Naval Staff Meeting of 15 November, 1952. Approval had previously been given in principle by
Naval Board Minute 190-1 of 14-8-46. NS 1700-219-908 (3).
Naval Board Minute 392-2 of 4 November, 1953. NS
1700-219-908 (3).
Loc. cit., Planning envisaged a final composition of 11 A/S
squadrons, 2 fighter squadrons, and 2 helicopter A/S squadrons.
Petty Officer John Neil Paddon, RCN, was commended by
the Chief of the Naval Staff for his part in the rescue.
Royal Assent was given to the Naval Service Act on 4
May, 1910.
The first winner of the trophy was Sub-Lieutenant P. A.
Hamilton, RCN.
RCN (R) aircrew of each reserve squadron had been established at eleven pilots with an aircraft establishment of 3 Expeditors apiece. Naval Board Minute 620-2 of 10 May, 1960. NS
1700-219-906 (5).
Dartmouth had been incorporated as a city on 1 January,
Prior to 1959, RCN pilots, except those earmarked for
helicopter duty, who were trained by the RCAF, were sent for an
intensive eighteen-month course at various naval air stations in
the U.S. This training is now given by the RCAF.
Based on account in “A Short History of HMCS Labrador” prepared in the Naval Historical Section.
Naval Staff Minute 572-3 of 23 March, 1954. NS 9650238 (1).
Ibid., Naval Board Minute 537-2 of 31 July, 1957, approves the taking-over by the RCN of certain land, buildings and
facilities at Patricia Bay formerly loaned by the RCAF.
Since 1958 Patricia Bay has been known as Victoria International Airport.
Halifax International Airport was opened officially on 16
September, 1960.
A shore establishment, HMCS Shearwater II, was commissioned at Esquimalt on 12 October, 1914.
After the Cabinet’s decision* of January 1947 to return
Warrior and keep only one borrowed light fleet carrier
in commission, future hopes of the air arm became centred on Magnificent, which had also been built by
Harland and Wolff of Belfast, Northern Ireland. This
vessel was launched on 16 November, 1944, by Lady
Hyacinth Needham, daughter of the Earl of Kilmorey,
Hereditary Vice-Admiral of Ireland, Province of Ulster.
Key Canadian naval personnel came to the shipyard during 1947 and the large party, already mentioned, from
Warrior crossed over the Irish Sea from England in
March 1948. On arrival they found the new ship lying
alongside in Musgrave Channel with dockyard workmen
putting on a final spurt to complete her by the date of
commissioning. This ceremony took place on 7 April
and Commodore DeWolf, who had recently left Warrior
at Portsmouth, assumed command. With the hoisting of
her Colours HMCS Magnificent joined His Majesty’s
Canadian Fleet.
Unlike her predecessor, the new Majestic Class carrier was prepared for cold weather service and had incorporated into her various Canadian specifications, particularly in respect to messing arrangements. Given the
appropriate ship’s motto, We Stand on Guard, Magnificent had inherited two battle honours from former British men-of-war, which bore the name:
The Saints 1782.
Dardanelles 1915.
Magnificent put to sea for the first time on 15 April,
1948, and successfully completed acceptance trials of
the main machinery. She then steamed down to Portsmouth for the rest of her trials and in May began the
work for which she had been built. Aviation fuel was
embarked at Spithead and the next day aircraft from the
Royal Naval Air Station Ford made rendezvous off the
Isle of Wight for flying tests. These were entirely successful and were enlivened by a visit from the editor of
the magazine Aeroplane, who landed on the flight deck
in his small Auster aircraft during the proceedings. Returning to Portsmouth, embarkation of ship’s stores and
ammunition occupied all hands until the middle of the
month when course was shaped for Belfast. The airport
wharf at Sydenham was a scene of great activity after
the ship had secured, as the planes of the 19th Carrier
Air Group and those of 806 Squadron, Royal Navy, had
to be hoisted on board.1 The head of British naval aviation, the Fifth Sea Lord,2 visited Magnificent on May 24
and the following day she began the westward voyage to
Homeward bound HMCS Magnificent leaves Belfast.
In respect to weather the “Glorious First of June” did
not live up to its name, low cloud and rain over the
Dartmouth air station permitted only two aircraft to be
flown off. With the remainder still on board, Magnificent berthed for the first time in her career, alongside in
Halifax. All the packed air stores that had been brought
from the UK for the naval service were cleared from the
hangar and work began to prepare the space for flying
operations. A short shake-down cruise for the benefit of
the ship’s company was made to St. Ann’s Bay, Cape
*See page 45.
Breton, drills exercises and a regatta being carried out.
The carrier began flying operations with the 19th CAG
in August and a busy ten days ensued, during which
time there were 171 deck landings. Haida, acting as
plane guard, had to take action on two occasions when
aircraft ditched, but no air crew were lost. After this
cruise had ended the Broad Pennant of Commodore
DeWolf was struck and Commodore G. R. Miles, OBE,
RCN, became the new Commanding Officer of Magnificent.
Haida and Nootka took station on the carrier, once
clear of Halifax, on 2 September, and although there had
been severe gales on the coast the quiet weather in their
wake made it possible for the 19th CAG to get in three
days of flying. One particularly useful exercise was a
full-scale reconnaissance of the Magdalen Islands followed by strikes in which all available aircraft participated. The day following there were joint manoeuvres
with the RCAF and later naval aircraft had to be
grounded as a consequence of suspected contamination
of the aviation fuel on board. The ships entered Hudson
Strait and Magnificent came to anchor amidst the bleak,
rugged surroundings of Wakeham Bay with the destroyers berthed on her. This settlement situated in the northern part of the Province of Quebec had a population of a
priest and about 80 Eskimoes; it had formerly been the
site of a Hudson’s Bay trading post, now closed. Having
completed with fuel and provisions the two escorts
moved to designated anchorage positions while the carrier sailed for Halifax. The weather, which had been
very foggy, improved as Magnificent drew south and
further exercises were carried out with the RCAF before
the 19th CAG flew off to Dartmouth. Ground crews disembarked and all unserviceable planes were landed at
the home port prior to the carrier being placed in dry
dock at Saint John, New Brunswick.
Training exercises with ships of the Royal Navy stationed on the America and West Indies Station were featured on a number of occasions in the history of Magnificent, the first being held in 1949. Manoeuvres with
British and Canadian warships, the latter from the Pacific command, occupied the carrier in March and April
of a year which was also to see her make a ferrying trip
to the UK, suffer a grounding and join in the successful
search for an American aircraft.
After transporting Firefly Mark IV planes and collecting Firefly Mark V and Sea Furies, Magnificent headed
back across the Atlantic. Most of the way gales pounded
the ship causing damage forward in spite of the fact that
she altered course at one time to avoid the centre of a
depression. The lashing on one of the spare Tribal Class
destroyer propellers that were secured on the flight deck
for transportation came adrift and, although speed was
immediately reduced and the ship’s head brought into
the wind, the propeller slid gracefully over the side beHMCS MAGNIFICIENT 1948-1957
fore any other action could be taken. Magnificent,
somewhat shaken up, berthed in Halifax on 25 February,
Alongside there was a hectic period of one week,
landing ferried aircraft, making good all damage affecting sea-going and fighting efficiency and preparing for a
cruise to the West Indies. A new 18th CAG had been
formed in November consisting of 828 and 826 Squadrons, flying Firefly Marks I and V, and this unit was
aboard when the carrier shaped course to the southward
accompanied by Haida and Nootka. Two days out deck
landing training (DLT) commenced north-west of Bermuda in a freshening south-easterly wind with occasional rain squalls. After a full session of flying, activities were terminated by a barrier crash and Magnificent
anchored in Five Fathom Hole. Task Group 215.8 had to
weigh in the evening to gain sea-room as a gale warning
had been received; in the process Haida lost her starboard anchor and five shackles of cable. From weather
reports it became obvious that the Bermuda area would
be unsuitable for flying during the next few days and
Magnificent, with Nootka (Haida having been detached
to search for her anchor) set out for the Caicos Passage.
Off Kingston, Jamaica, flying resumed in co-operation
with the authorities at Vernam Field on the Island. A
Firefly I and a Sea Fury IV crashed into the sea when
attempting to land on, but Nootka was quickly on the
scene to recover both pilots. Using HMS Jamaica, on
passage from the Canal Zone to Kingston, as a target,
Sea Furies made a successful and realistic search and
strike. Fighters located the cruiser at 210 miles and, after
refuelling, a strike of nine planes attacked at 162 miles
from the carrier.
A National Salute was fired by Magnificent for Task
Group 215.8, which had by now been rejoined by Haida,
as the ships passed the breakwater at Colon. Here Task
Group 215.9, comprising HMC Ships Ontario, Athabaskan and Antigonish, which had transitted the Panama
Canal the previous day, was in harbour and the whole
squadron became known as Task Force 215 under the
command of Commodore Miles. Having held a conference to discuss the forthcoming cruise the force steamed
Launching Sea Furies and Fireflies.
into the Caribbean to rendezvous with the America and
West Indies Squadron.3 Search aircraft located these
ships and carried out a good attack, the while sending
back accurate reports of “enemy” movements. On completion of the encounter exercises,4 C-in-C A and WI
assumed overall command and the Fleet proceeded to St.
John, Antigua, for a two-day lay-over: weather conditions had precluded search for HM Submarine Tudor
which joined the force later in the island anchorage.
Task Force 73 deployed for further day and night exercises enroute to Guantanamo, Cuba. Aircraft from
Magnificent next took part in a convoy drill during 3031 March, in which the carrier was part of Blue Force
under the orders of the Senior Canadian Naval Officer
Afloat (SCNOA). The combined fleet then dispersed but
the Canadian ships remained together until the next day.
The first of April 1949 saw the accession of Newfoundland as the tenth Province of Canada and the force was
dressed overall to mark the occasion. Commodore Miles
embarked, in turn, in Antigonish, Athabaskan, and Ontario, returning to Magnificent in the afternoon; Task
Group 215.9 was detached for the Panama Canal. Task
Group 215.8 kept up its flying schedule and, after a visit
to Bermuda, all serviceable planes took off from the carrier’s pitching deck on 7 April for Halifax, 225 miles
away. Magnificent with her attendant destroyers berthed
in HMC Dockyard 24 hours later.
There was the prospect of a busy summer of flying
training for Magnificent and, commencing with operations in the local area during May, everything went according to plan until the last dog-watch of 4 June. Magnificent was approaching the entrance to the harbour of
Port Mouton where at 1937, local time, she took the
ground on the tip of White Point as she was passing
through the channel between the Point and White Point
Rock. Luckily sea and swell were slight and four hours
later, with the assistance of the destroyers, she floated
off and made her way slowly back towards Halifax. In
the early hours of the 5th Nootka was detached to return
to Port Mouton for the recovery of cable and wire. Magnificent and Haida berthed at Halifax shortly after noon
and strenuous efforts immediately began to prepare the
ship for docking at the earliest possible date. Accompanied by the tug Riverton, Magnificent departed 14 June
and entered stern first the dry dock at Saint John, N.B.
four days later, having been held up by fog.
The current refit kept Magnificent in dry dock until
the middle of October. Shortly after this, wearing the
Broad Pennant of Commodore K. F. Adams, RCN, her
new Commanding Officer, the carrier entered Halifax to
prepare once again for her accustomed role. During her
sojourn at Saint John an alternative Deck Landing Control Officer’s position had been fitted for use with U.S.
Navy landing technique, although without the necessary
instruments, as instructions had been received that the
18th CAG would use British deck landing drill during
the Autumn cruise.
Early on 17 November Magnificent, with Haida and
Swansea stationed on her, was steaming into the wind
off the Nova Scotia coast as Fireflies Mark I and V
started their DLT. This good work was interrupted by a
signal directing Magnificent to carry out an air search for
a missing U.S. B-29 aircraft. Bad weather made operating conditions difficult but various areas were covered
by planes and Swansea was despatched to a position
where a flare had been observed. The frigate was having
trouble with her starboard main circulating pump and
from 1242 on the 17th she was ordered to act independently. A search flight of eight aircraft was landing on
after a fruitless period in the air on 19 November when a
B-17 plane was seen orbiting on the carrier’s port beam
at a distance of 14 miles. Owing to a shortage of fuel
Magnificent’s Fireflies had to continue to land but as
soon as the last one had touched down, Haida was detached to investigate. Within an hour the destroyer was
picking up survivors from three rafts and later the carrier’s Medical Officer was transferred by motor cutter to
attend the airmen. Magnificent and Haida made best
speed to Bermuda: Swansea by this time was out of the
search, being hove to in foul weather. She was subsequently detached to Halifax.
After a brief pause at Bermuda to land survivors Task
Group 211.1 continued on to Guantanamo where landfall was made on 24 November. This was only a short
stay and three days later the ships were secured alongside in San Juan, Porto Rico. Always a popular port of
call the capital lived up to its reputation on this occasion
and as a farewell gesture naval aircraft flew over the city
when Magnificent left harbour; permission for this flight
had been given by the local air traffic control. Five Fireflies Mark V and one Mark I were flown off to HMCS
Shearwater on the same day, 6 December, that the task
group arrived back at Halifax. The remainder of the 18th
CAG was landed by lighter and the rest of the year was
given over to cleaning ship, with time off to enjoy the
festive season.
On Friday, 13 January, 1950, the 18th CAG aircraft
were hoisted on board and the year’s activities started
with a cruise to Bermuda. The Fireflies were flown off
to Kindley Airfield when Task Group 215.1, consisting
of the carrier and Micmac, was some 43 miles distant.
Exercising from the island continued until the last day of
the month when Magnificent turned into wind and at full
speed of 24 knots in the light breeze blowing, was able
to land on the nine aircraft from the shore field before
she shaped course for Halifax. The 18th CAG returned
to the air station for 11 days and again met Task Group
215.1 off Halifax on 13 February. The spring cruise was
a long one and right from the start the maximum amount
of flying was the order of the day, including DLT, cloud
flying, aerobatics, interceptions NAVEX,* contact
scouting exercises etc. A Firefly crashed in the sea off
the starboard bow during one forenoon and, although
Micmac was quickly on the spot to pick up the observer,
there was no sign of the pilot. The group navigated the
river to Charleston, South Carolina, for a visit and when
it left 14 aircraft of the 18th CAG were airborne in a flypast over the city. At sea insufficient wind for flying
curtailed the programme and speed was increased to
enter the Mona Passage and reach the area of the NorthEast Trades. Fourteen aircraft were flown off to carry
out a photographic reconnaissance of two small islands,
Piedra del Fraile and Alta Vela, off the south coast of
Santo Domingo and the next day the ships came to anchor in Guantanamo Bay. From here they moved to Havana where there was a considerable amount of ceremonial.
Magnificent sailed from Cuba and, after another call
to Guantanamo, was in the Windward Channel on 16
March conducting an aerial search for Task Force 215 at
the commencement of Caribex 50, for which exercise
the Canadian ships had become Task Group 22.1. Flying
at 50 feet the aircraft, without being detected, located the
force and a strike of seven Fireflies successfully attacked out of the sun at 800 feet in spite of the attentions
of a strong defensive Combat Air Patrol (CAP). In the
initial stages the latter was confused by false vector reports, which were passed by the Direction Officer in
Magnificent to cause delay in the control of the defence.
Meanwhile Task Group 22.1, having been detected by
Phantom aircraft, was engaged by a main strike consisting of about 20 Bearcats and 30 Skyraiders followed by
sixteen more Bearcats. The dive-bombing of the
Skyraiders was very well timed and presented a difficult
AA target for the ships’ gunners. The two forces combined and were manoeuvred to arrive in a position southsouth-west distant 75 miles from Guantanamo Bay,
where a combined dawn strike was made on the airfield. Whilst this was in progress a USN CAP was controlled by Magnificent and an RCN CAP was controlled
by Missouri and Worcester to intercept aircraft coming
in to attack their respective task groups. The fleet dispersed and TG 22.1 steamed towards a position north of
the Caicos Passage to rendezvous with TG 22.2, HM
Ships Glasgow† and Snipe.
Stationing signals were passed in the forenoon of 20
March and the Canadian ships joined TG 22.2, which
had four U.S. destroyers and four U.S. destroyer minesweepers of TG 22.3 with it, to form TG 22 for another
phase of the joint exercises, a simulated overseas movement of carrier forces. The first striking force, TF 21,
*Navigation Exercise.
†Wearing the flag of Vice-Admiral R. V. Symonds-Tayler,
second striking force, TF 22, and a logistic support
force, TF 23, endeavoured to make a safe passage over a
distance of 600 miles due north. Support was provided
by a “Hunter-Killer” force, TF 24, and air reconnaissance units, TG 29.2, against strong opposition by submarines, TF 25, and land-based aircraft, TG 29.3. On
completion the RN and RCN ships parted company from
the U.S. destroyers and were exercised by C-in-C, A and
WI until 31 March, the period being broken by a fourday lay-over in Guantanamo. Glasgow controlled an air
defence exercise (ADX) on the last of the month and the
Canadian aircraft then formed up for a fly-past and
farewell salute to the Flag of the British Admiral.
Magnificent and Micmac made use of their passage
north to clean and paint ship in preparation for a visit to
New York. South-west of Nantucket Light Vessel Swansea joined the group and transferred stores and a band to
Magnificent while the ships were at anchor in Gravesend
Bay. With a total of seven tugs to counteract the strong
northerly wind the carrier was finally secured on the
north side of Pier 26. The spell in harbour ended 12
April and TG 215.1 arrived off Sambro Light Vessel on
the 14th. The Fireflies flew off to RCNAS, Dartmouth,
and the ships were welcomed home after an absence of
over two months.
In this third year of her commission Magnificent became flagship for a squadron that sailed on a “diplomatic
cruise” of particular significance to the country. The
object was a neighbourly visit to some of the countries
of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in order to
consolidate ties of friendship and let them see something
of Canada’s navy. Preceded by Micmac and Huron she
cleared Halifax on 22 August, 1950, for this voyage.
Two squadrons, 803 and 883 forming the 19th CAG,
and Squadron 825, were launched as the ships approached the Irish coast and proceeded to land at RNAS,
Eglinton. Magnificent secured to a buoy off Moville
while the destroyers went on up to Londonderry; later
the group operated with aircraft from Eglinton, Royal
Air Force planes and a number of HM Ships in a few
days of sea/air exercises.
Rear-Admiral E. R. Mainguy, OBE, RCN, assumed
command of the Canadian Special Service Squadron on
19 September and his Flag was hoisted in Magnificent at
0800. With its planes once more embarked the squadron
proceeded via the Minches and Pentland Firth to Rosyth.
The air group flew strikes against HMAS Sydney in the
Moray Firth and was airborne again on the next leg of
the cruise, three days later, searching for a ketch stolen
from Gothenburg. A National Salute to the Kingdom of
Norway and a Royal Salute to His Majesty King Haakon
was fired by the carrier on entering Oslo. The Norwegians proved to be very hospitable and a busy round of
official and private entertainment kept all hands thoroughly busy. The general feeling of the Canadians con-
HMCS Magnificent visits New York, 1950.
“Beat up” by Firefly V of 825 Squadron.
HMC Ships Magnificent and Micmac.
“Into the sponson”–Firefly V 825 Squadron.
cerning Oslo was well summed up by a Norwegian
Commodore, speaking to Admiral Mainguy just before
the ships sailed, when he said, “You may have bigger
and better receptions, elsewhere, but you will never have
a warmer welcome.”
Huron and Micmac joined Magnificent outside Dana
Light and the squadron headed down Oslo Fjord on 2
October. The next port of call was Gothenburg, Sweden,
where the carrier secured between head and stern buoys.
Magnificent had the honour of being the longest ship
ever to enter the Swedish port and an interesting hour
was spent in turning in the narrow harbour when it came
time to sail for Copenhagen. For many the visit to the
Danish capital was all too short and the carrier was soon
“bucking” strong winds as she passed out of the Baltic
into the North Sea. The destroyers were detached to
Amsterdam and Magnificent entered the Maas River at
the Hook of Holland, subsequently securing between
buoys at Rotterdam. On the following day, a considerable traffic of self-propelled barges was passing the carrier as she lay in mid-channel; one of these was having
great difficulty in making headway against an estimated
three knot stream. Another barge, Shell 25,6 having more
power, attempted to pass to starboard close to Magnificent’s port side. Caught by the strong stream the vessel
struck the ship’s side just forward of the accommodation
ladder; her stern then swung towards the carrier and in
so doing, crushed the captain’s barge and motor-boat,
which were lying at the lower boom. Apart from this
mishap the visit was successful and came to an end on
16 October.
Six Sea Furies and four Fireflies were launched and
headed for the Royal Naval Air Station, Lee-on-Solent,
in the afternoon watch of 17 October, as Magnificent
approached Portsmouth. Here Admiral Mainguy, who
had been on a visit to Antwerp with the destroyers,
shifted his Flag back to the carrier. The ship crossed the
English Channel and secured alongside in Cherbourg,
where the destroyers which had come direct from Antwerp were already lying. It had been hoped to re-embark
aircraft but owing to weather conditions they had to be
diverted to Querqueville and flew back to Magnificent as
she left France four days later with her escorts. Off
Cherbourg breakwater Huron was detached to lay a
wreath in the area where HMCS Athabaskan was sunk in
HMC Ships Magnificent and Micmac “coming about.”
Firefly crash parking up forward.
the Second World War.* Micmac had to return to harbour with spares for a plane unable to rejoin and on 29
October the latter touched down on the flight-deck;
Huron made rendezvous at 0950. Magnificent, having
spent the night on the “tramlines” off Cherbourg, was
quite pleased to set course for the Iberian peninsula.
In the morning watch of 1 November the squadron
was amongst the picturesque fishing fleet off the mouth
of the River Tagus. Soon afterwards it followed the river
up to Lisbon and the carrier came to anchor off Caxis,
but later berthed astern of the destroyers at Alcantara.
On 4 November the Canadian ships departed from the
Portuguese capital and on the morning of the 6th entered
Gibraltar Bay. Magnificent berthed at South Mole astern
of HM Ships Vengeance and Vanguard in the presence
of the majority of the Home Fleet. Aircraft from the Canadian carrier played an important part in Exercise Maple Leaf when the whole fleet put to sea on 9 November.
After fuelling from RFA Black Ranger in heavy weather
the squadron bade farewell to the British Home Fleet on
the Day of Remembrance 1950, and started on the voyage to the Western Hemisphere. Course led the ships
near the Azores Islands and a man on compassionate
leave was landed in a Firefly for onward passage to
Canada. The island of Bermuda was raised and the
squadron was soon anchored in the familiar Five Fathom
Hole. Augmented by HMC Frigates Swansea and La
Hulloise, Task Group 215.1 left the Atlantic island and
on passage home was “attacked” by Avenger aircraft,
which had recently been acquired by the navy, of 826
Squadron based at the air station, Dartmouth. This sustained search was of record duration for the RCN, the
pilots flying over fourteen hours out of a twentyfourhour period, and was part of the joint RCN-RCAF exercise, Exercise Homecoming. Magnificent’s contribution
to the latter was to fly off all her serviceable aircraft at
1200 on 25 November for Shearwater, where they successfully “beat up” the station. Shortly after the planes
had left the weather deteriorated and the group reduced
speed to eight knots thereby delaying arrival by 24
hours. Ships entered Halifax harbour on 27 November,
1950, thus completing a cruise of great value and importance.
Aviation gasoline was pumped out of Magnificent
and she was moved into the dry dock at St. John in December. Work during the refit included the fitting of a
four-bladed propeller to replace the three-bladed one on
the starboard shaft. This modification was an effort to
reduce vibration experienced at speeds used during the
operation of aircraft and, after the docking, it was found
that a distinct improvement had been effected.
Magnificent was undocked and welcomed in the New
Year 1951 as she lay quietly at her berth in Halifax. In
far distant Korea, 14 hours before, a horde of screaming
Chinese had swept across the snow-covered paddy fields
in the first offensive of a year that was to see bloody
land battles waged between the opposing forces. At sea
in the theatre, Canadian destroyers covered themselves
with honour and glory, their exploits being followed
enviously by those on board the carrier. But although
Magnificent was destined to steam many thousands of
miles including cruises to Mediterranean, European and
Caribbean waters in the course of 1951, she was not sent
to join the United Nations Forces in what was being so
*HMCS Athabaskan, first of name was torpedoed and sunk in
an action with German destroyers off the Brittany coast on 29
April, 1944.
Firefly torque stalling astern of Magnificent.
delicately described as “armed intervention.”
Task Group 215.1* reformed and sailed on 6 February for Quonset Point for the first cruise of the year. It
had been intended to sail the previous day, but the discovery of sabotage in the form of sand and filings in the
lubrication pumps and main gear-box of the carrier
caused a delay in the programme. At the U.S. base the
18th CAG, which had flown from Dartmouth, was
hoisted on board before sailing. In the Bermudian area
the aircraft flew to Kindley Field and for the rest of the
month were based there, exercising from the carrier as
requisite. The last day of February was a costly one for
Magnificent as a pilot was killed and three planes lost.
*Between 5 February and 9 March, 1951, Crescent replaced
Micmac as plane guard for Magnificent.
Firefly ditching astern of Magnificent.
“Near Miss.” Sea Fury being waved off.
At 1312 a Sea Fury stalled into the sea, the pilot miraculously extricating himself. Just over two hours later another Sea Fury stalled on take-off, turned over on its
back and fell into the sea. The pilot was lost. Finally at
1615 an Avenger, coming in to land, had a power failure
just short of the “round-down,” stalled and ditched off
the starboard quarter. The pilot, having climbed out,
walked along the wing, then returned for his dinghy,
walked out again, launched the dinghy and calmly
climbed in; a most encouraging demonstration for other
pilots and observers of the comparative lack of danger
involved in ditching an Avenger aircraft.
Magnificent returned to Halifax for ten days in March
and was back in Bermuda waters on the 23rd for another
flying session. Task Group 215.1 was on passage to
Trinidad early in April when the carrier detected by radar, and subsequently sighted, a small diesel passenger
ship, Gilbert Jr. of 500 tons port of registry Ciudad
“Straight in.” Sea Fury of 871 crashing alongside.
Trujillo, Santo Domingo. This vessel, which was carrying a crew of 12, 16 passengers and two horses had been
drifting for two days without fuel; there was no one on
board capable of operating her wireless set. Micmac took
the derelict in tow and made towards Willemstad, Curaçao. Off this port the Gilbert Jr. was turned over to a tug
and the group resumed course for its destination. On 6
April Magnificent, with Micmac, entered Boca de Navios and the carrier later secured at King’s Wharf, Port of
Spain, Trinidad, being the largest ship ever to do this.
The sunny weather proved ideal for flying and a full
programme was possible between Trinidad and Barbados, the next island visited, and on passage to Boston.
Twenty-two aircraft of the CAG were ranged on 27
April and flew off to Shearwater as the group approached Canada.
The 30th CAG continued with refresher carrier landing practice from Magnificent on short cruises in May
and June and, after a spell at RCN Air Station, rejoined
her in early August for a Mediterranean cruise. Sufficient wind permitted operation of the Sea Furies on the
voyage and flying was only marred by the ditching of
one fighter, which was exercising in formation about 20
miles from the carrier. An Avenger was vectored over
the scene where it dropped a dinghy. After being in the
water for about 45 minutes the pilot was picked up by
Micmac which was in company with Magnificent.
Firebrand aircraft of the Royal Navy’s 827 Squadron
from the air-field at Hal Far swooped in on a dummy
low level torpedo attack as Magnificent closed the island
of Malta, but not before they had been intercepted by
Sea Furies. From 24 August to 11 September a busy
training schedule was carried out off the George Cross
Island, the ship anchoring at night in Marsaxlokk Bay.
Submarines, HM Ships Tabard and Teredo, were available on two days for the anti-submarine planes; exercises included sonobuoy laying and ship-air homings.
The Sea Furies co-operated in army manoeuvres and
fighter direction interception exercises with Vampires
from the RAF Station at Takali. Poliomyelitis had broken out in Magnificent and she was placed in quarantine
for this period.
The formality of granting pratique was completed by
the Port Medical Authority a few minutes after Magnificent entered Grand Harbour, Malta, and shortly afterwards the pipe “Liberty-men to clean” was obeyed with
alacrity. A further spell of exercising followed the stay
in harbour and the Canadian group finally departed for
Naples on 24 September. This passage featured a submarine hunt by the Avengers working with the frigate,
HMS Loch Lomond, and using HM Submarine Mermaid
as target. Magnificent and Micmac approached the Italian port in perfect Mediterranean weather, which enhanced the views of the Isle of Capri to starboard, island
of Ischia to port and Mount Vesuvius ahead. After a
brisk social week the group cleared the land, the airmen
having a last glimpse of Naples and Rome in a farewell
fly-past, and sailed to Saint Raphaël. Twenty-four hours
out, HMS Ocean and her attendant destroyer joined and
the squadron anchored off the French town, where a
number of NATO ships* were in adjacent berths. Exercise Symphonie Deux commenced on 4 October and
various phases of it were conducted during the next two
weeks. About 35 ships, including Magnificent, were assembled in Salins d’Hyeres in the evening of the 11th
for a raid on the anchorage by midget submarines. However, as the attack was made by only two submarines the
exercise was not particularly spectacular. The finale of
Symphonie Deux was a general discussion held aboard
HMS Forth in Golfe Juan, where about 40 warships
were lying. A heavy swell, which made small boat traffic hazardous, was running in the open roadstead and the
visiting Flag Officers had to cast dignity to the winds in
order to keep dry as they scrambled up the depot ship’s
gangway. Magnificent and Micmac sailed for home on
14 October, by which time it was blowing a full gale.
Steaming up Gibraltar Bay the carrier was passed on
opposite course by the Italian Naval Training Ship
Amerigo Vespucci,† which ran up a jib-sail and let fly
while firing a salute to the Broad Pennant. The remainder of the voyage was uneventful, the ships arriving at
Halifax on 24 October.
The Broad Pennant of Commodore Adams was struck
at sunset on 29 October, 1951, and Captain K. L. Dyer,
DSC, CD, RCN, assumed command. That evening the
officers and men of 410 Squadron, RCAF, were embarked for passage to Glasgow. Magnificent collected 48
Sabre jets at Norfolk, Virginia, lashed them on deck and
then shaped course across the Atlantic. Progessively
rougher seas produced a marked roll making it necessary
to heave to on two occasions to re-secure aircraft. Landfall was made on the Fastnet Rock and, after a day in the
Irish Sea, the carrier anchored at the Tail-of-the-Bank
before moving up the Clyde to the King George V Dock,
where the Sabres were off-loaded. Their place was taken
by Sea Furies and the carrier cast off bound for Canada.
On the way over an urgent signal was received from SS
Columbia, which was taking the 27th Army Brigade to
Europe, that she had a soldier, seriously ill, whom she
wished to transfer to a ship bound for Halifax or St.
John’s. After the carrier had closed to three cables on the
trooper’s windward side, Magnificent’s boat collected
the patient and course was then resumed for Halifax. In
the home port, gasoline tanks were emptied and ammunition landed prior to the carrier being shifted to number
7 Pier for a long refit by Halifax Shipyards Ltd.
*The French Cruiser, FS Georges Leygues; two French destroyers; HM Cruiser Liverpool which arrived at 1230.
†Three-masted, square-rigged, sailing vessel, 3,543 tons.
“Splash Landing” by Avenger.
“Hook down.” Avenger prepares to land on HMCS Magnificent
Magnificent undocked on 12 April, 1952, and after a
bustling 12 days during which 158 tons of stores were
embarked, she pulled away from the jetty once more
under her own power. On the first day at sea a memorial
service was conducted in the area where two Avengers
from Shearwater had collided and crashed a week previously, a party of 60, including relatives were on board
for the ceremony. Later, various tests were carried out to
bring Magnificent back to operational efficiency and by
the end of the month 881 Squadron had re-qualified in
carrier landing practice. A post-refit shake-down cruise
in May had a novel beginning when the Avenger aircraft
that were ranged on the flight deck were used to pull the
ship off the jetty and turn her in the harbour. This
method was efficient but somewhat noisy. At sea, with
the cruiser HMCS Quebec acting as a rather selfconscious plane guard, the carrier had one of the USN
blimps, which were visiting Shearwater, land on her
after lift as a demonstration of the manoeuvrability of
these craft. Every type of ship drill and evolution was
exercised on the cruise, which took the ships into Bermudian waters while the air group again became familiar
with the deck and carrier landing procedure. This voyage
ended on 17 May but two days later Magnificent was at
sea again in company with Quebec, Crescent and La
“On Patrol.” Avengers of 826 Squadron over Magnificent.
Hulloise for a programme of ship and air exercises
staged for the benefit of the Canadian Industrial Preparedness Association, which was holding a convention in
Halifax. For this martial display the CAG attacked a
target towed by La Hulloise with rockets, 20-mm guns
and depth-charges. It then combined with the Support
Air Group from the shore to carry out a strike against the
ships, followed by a fly-past as a finale.
The aircraft of 30th CAG were ferried out to Magnificent at her anchorage on 2 June, and she sailed on a
four-months’ cruise with Haida to European waters. In
the approaches to the English Channel aircraft flew off
to RNAS, Culdrose to swing compasses while the carrier
entered Plymouth for a few hours. In the evening she
began night flying in the Channel but had to detach
Haida at midnight for Plymouth with a defective steering motor. The following day, having met HMS Indomitable and her plane guard, HM Destroyer Corunna, the
Canadian carrier was visited by Rear-Admiral Caspar
John, CB,7 who witnessed flying operations. The Admiral departed by air in the afternoon and Magnificent was
detached to rendezvous with Haida for night exercises
prior to her return to Plymouth on the 14th. On 17 June
Exercise Castinets began and Magnificent with her new
plane guard, HMS Contest, formed part of the carrier
USN Blimp lands on HMCS Magnificent.
support group, which was divided into two forces, Task
Force 48 and Task Force 49.8 The first two phases were
convoy support exercises for which Magnificent flew
night anti-submarine and afternoon fighter sorties. For
Phase III, aircraft went on the offensive against submarines transiting a given area. When Castinets officially
ended on 25 June the score for Magnificent’s planes was
two submarine sightings, six disappearing radar contacts
and five enemy “shot down.” After this valuable exercise, which gave everyone a taste of operating under
well-simulated war conditions and enabled the air group
to break their previous record of flying hours for one
month,9 Magnificent proceeded to Portsmouth.
The Canadian carrier embarked aviation gasoline at
Spithead on Dominion Day and with the destroyer HMS
Savage as escort, she sailed for Malta. At the island
three days were spent in striking down a large quantity
of miscellaneous stores including three tractors for the
Red Cross in Greece. HMS Daring took over as plane
guard and on 14 July aircraft of the 30th CAG were airborne to meet the Mediterranean Fleet as Magnificent
steamed eastward. Whilst this exercise was in progress
the wind dropped completely and four Sea Furies had to
be diverted to Araxos air-field in Greece and thence to
Ellenikon near Athens. A salute of 17 guns to the Flag of
the Commander-in-Chief10 was fired on joining the Fleet
and in the first dog-watch the heavy ships moored in
formation at Navarin.11 The next two days were given
over to a fleet regatta. Although her crews had had no
practice, it was decided that Magnificent should participate and in most cases her entry finished about the middle of the “field.” After the last race was over Admiral
Mountbatten presented cups to the winners before Euryalus and Gambia weighed anchor for home. The two
cruisers, each flying a long paying-off pennant, were
then cheered as they passed down the line of ships and
started on the voyage to the United Kingdom. In the anchorage general drills were carried out and as a grande
finale all hands had to abandon ship, except for those
actually on watch. Refresher flying took place after leaving Navarin on 18 July and the next morning the fleet
was in Phaleron Bay, near Athens. As soon as boats
were lowered a busy round of calls and return calls began, followed by official luncheons, cocktail parties and
dinners. The finale of this activity for Magnificent was a
reception in the evening of the 22nd after which she
sailed with HM Destroyer Chivalrous. The Sea Furies
from Ellenikon hovered over the carrier on 23 July waiting for the signal to land. Two touched down on the
flight deck but one of the other two developed hydraulic
trouble in the air and had to be escorted back to the
shore base. An Avenger was flown off to Ellenikon with
maintenance personnel to repair the Sea Fury and the
three planes were instructed to fly to Istanbul.
On completion of flying Magnificent and her escort
joined up with Glory, Cleopatra and Chevron, en route
for the Sea of Marmara. Passage of the Dardanelles, for
which the warships were in loose formation, took about
three hours and was made in daylight. This made it interesting for the ship’s company as they could see the
various landmarks including the Naval War Memorial
on Cape Helles, which was clearly visible. On entering
the Sea of Marmara the force was closed up again for the
night and in the early morning of 25 July the minarets of
Istanbul were sighted. A National Salute was fired by
Glory and replied to by Selimiye Barracks.
An enjoyable visit to the Turkish city was cut short
by a crisis in Egypt,12 orders for the immediate sailing of
the British ships being received in the middle of a ball at
the British Embassy. It was decided that the dance
should continue to the end, and, after consultation between the Canadian and British Ambassadors, orders
were given that Magnificent should sail in the early
morning, shortly after the British ships. The “last waltz”
was played about 0200 and there then ensued a hectic
four and a half hours, libertymen and shore patrol being
embarked, boats hoisted, ship unmoored, etc. Glory and
her squadron weighed for previously arranged stations
and it was daylight when the Canadian carrier left the
roads at Istanbul bound for Malta. Four U.S. destroyers,13 returning home from Korea, sailed from the port
after her, gradually overhauling and passing in the strait.
That evening a signal diverted Magnificent to Tobruk,
Avengers of VS 881 being used to pull HMCS Magnificent
off the jetty.
Sea Fury at the “Rock.”
where she arrived on 28 July. Here the carrier provided
fuel for five ships and then departed for Malta. In the
approaches to the island the air group was flown off to
Hal Far air station, which was already looking after the
two Sea Furies and one Avenger, which had arrived the
previous day from Istanbul via Italy. The group rejoined
the ship at Marsaxlokk Bay on 11 August for a heavy
week of carrier training, with HM ships Loch More,
Loch Craggie, and HM Pakistan Ship Tughril taking it
in turn to be plane guard.
Magnificent finally bade farewell to Grand Harbour,
Malta, on 18 August and, after two more days and night
of flying with Chevron in attendance, she made the
westward passage to Gibraltar via the Strait of Messina
and thence past the island of Stromboli.14 Crescent
joined the carrier as she was leaving the Mediterranean
and remained in company as far as the Irish Sea. On the
afternoon of 28 August seven aircraft were flown off to
Sydenham, Belfast and Magnificent was shepherded to
the airport wharf by four tugs.
The CAG returned in early September and there followed a month of intensive flying in various exercises,
rising to a crescendo for large-scale NATO manoeuvres.
The first series was conducted in the Londonderry Exercise Area, participating ships including Magnificent and
her attendant Crispin with HM Ships Relentless, Tenacious and Loch Veyatie; opposition came from HM
Submarine Thule and the Portuguese submarine Neptuno. After a week-end in Bangor Bay more convoy
drills were held with British and Portuguese warships,
this period being marred by the loss of a Sea Fury on the
first day, 8 September. The pilot was recovered by the
Portuguese frigate Diogo Gomes, none the worse for
wear after about 25 minutes in the water. The incident
was a good testimonial to the service immersion suits as
the pilot had not used his dinghy and the sea temperature
was 56° Fahrenheit. The group anchored in formation in
Laggan Bay, Isle of Islay, on 10 September and a meeting was held to review recent exercises. The carrier afterwards made a quiet passage through the Minches and
Pentland Firth to Rosyth.
Exercise Mainbrace,* in which 160 ships took part,
was the largest and most ambitious naval exercise since
the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty15 on 4 April,
1949, and was conceived to reassure the Scandinavian
signatories (Norway and Denmark) that their countries
could be defended in the event of war. At the start of
operations the following fictitious situation pertained;
“enemy” armies from the east had overrun the plains of
Western Germany and were pouring into Denmark. The
forces of Supreme Allied Commander Europe† were
holding along the Kiel Canal but the “enemy” having
invaded northern Norway, was threatening to send an
amphibious landing force around the North Cape. In the
course of the l3-day manoeuvres friendly carrier planes
struck at Bodö in northern Norway to drive the invaders
back and the fleet then turned south to attack near the
Kiel Canal while U.S. Marines were landed in Denmark.
Two unscheduled events occurred, one due to the bad
weather which prevailed for most of the period. Whilst
taking on fuel from the British carrier HMS Eagle, the
Dutch destroyer Van Galen came into collision with her
but neither ship suffered casualties nor major damage. In
the second incident two cargo vessels from Iron Curtain
countries “gate-crashed” the party off the Danish coast.
For the first part of the exercise Magnificent joined a
carrier support group, which sailed from the Firth of
Forth on 15 September, 1952, to cover a convoy on passage from Methil to Bergen and return.16 The plan of
operations called for Magnificent and Theseus sharing
the daylight searches, with the former flying patrols during the first period after dark and Mindoro flying night
anti-submarine patrols. The weather became increasingly unpleasant as the convoy drew near the Norwegian
coast and cloud base was down to about 1,000 feet one
morning when Mindoro “scrambled” two fighters to intercept “enemy” aircraft. One of them failed to report
soon after taking off and although a long search was
made only the tail wheel of the plane was found floating
in the sea. Conditions improved for the Bergen-Methil
convoy and the Canadian Avengers sighted three submarines, one definite “kill” being claimed. Convoy and
support group entered the Firth of Forth to end phase
one of the exercise. Two days later Magnificent was at
sea again with the carrier group operating within 25
miles of and supporting an amphibious group which had
a reinforced battalion of U.S. marines on board for the
assault in northern Denmark. The weather deteriorated
on 21 September as the group steamed to get in position
for the landing next morning. The carrier support group
meanwhile remained off the entrance to the Skagerrak to
provide air patrols, but by afternoon a moderate gale
*Large scale Allied military manoeuvres in Europe were conducted at the same time as the exercise.
†Short Title SACEUR; General Matthew B. Ridgway, USA.
Furies warming up for launching
grounded all planes. Owing to unacceptable surf conditions on the morrow the landing place had to be changed
and the marines finally drove ashore on to the sheltered
beach at Skagen, Denmark. This landing and subsequent
re-embarkation was covered by air craft patrols.
The finale of the exercise was a general replenishment, and Magnificent then proceeded to the Firth of
Clyde under the temporary command of her Executive
Officer, while Captain Dyer, who had transferred to
HMS Swiftsure, attended the critique of Mainbrace on
board Eagle in Oslo harbour.17 Although the exercises
had been generally successful and the show of strength
encouraging, it was pointed out by Admiral Lynde D.
McCormack, USN, Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT), in his final remarks that the concentration of forces had left the remainder of his area of responsibility rather bare. Nevertheless, it had shown that
NATO’s northernmost partners could count on strong
backing in a crisis.
With her Commanding Officer back on board, Magnificent provisioned in the Clyde and at midnight on 1
October made a rendezvous with the remainder of TG
155.318 and the northern convoy, ONF 27, of which she
formed a part. An anti-raider Support Group* was in the
vicinity to assist the convoy which was, for the purposes
of Exercise Emigrant, en route from Londonderry to
New York and liable to be attacked by raiders and submarines. Early in the game one of the Avengers ranging
ahead detected the raider, USS Wisconsin, closing at 30
knots. In a flurry of activity surface attack units were
sent to intercept and two strikes of 80 aircraft were
ranged from Wasp and Wright. The exercise continued
until 8 October when Magnificent and Quebec (the latter
had been one of the raiders) were detached for Halifax
where the carrier secured on 9 October before a large
gathering of friends and relatives after an absence of
four months and seven days.
The Honourable Ralph Campney, Minister of National Defence, the Defence Research Board and visiting
Foreign Attachés joined Magnificent on 17 October, and
wearing the Flag of Rear-Admiral R. E. S. Bidwell,
*Two carriers, USS Wasp and Wright, with nine U.S. destroyers.
“Over the fence.” Avenger barrier landing.
CBE, CD, RCN, Flag Officer Atlantic Coast, the ship
spent a day in the local Halifax area. These dignitaries
were treated to an intensive programme of exercises,
which included participation by La Hulloise, HM Submarine Artemis and aircraft. The Minister and FOAC
disembarked by helicopter at 1615 and Magnificent returned to HMC Dockyard. She carried out one more
cruise to complete the year’s schedule of flying exercises, visiting Hampton Roads and then joining forces
with Sheffield in an area north of Bermuda for combined
manoeuvres. At the end of the voyage Magnificent and
La Hulloise returned to Halifax and the carrier commenced boiler cleaning in preparation for a long refit at
Jetty 9, Halifax Shipyards Ltd. She was moved to the
refitting berth by tugs on 12 January, 1953.
Ships of the Canadian Coronation Squadron* were
busy painting and polishing at the end of April 1953 in
preparation for the forthcoming Fleet Review at Spithead. For the carrier this work had to be combined with
DLT for VS 881 and a general post-refit work-up.
Commodore H. S. Rayner, DSC and Bar, CD, RCN, had
relieved Captain Dyer and, with the Carrier Air Group
on board, the ship joined the squadron for the voyage to
England in early May. Foggy conditions precluded flying until the third day out. Arriving in United Kingdom
waters the Canadian squadron dispersed and the period
prior to the review was used by Magnificent to exercise
her Sea Furies and Avengers in the English Channel
with the co-operation of HM Submarine Acheron. Relaxation was provided by a visit to Torquay and, after all
serviceable planes had flown to RNAS, Lee-on-Solent,
the carrier berthed at Portsmouth on 29 May. Coronation
Day, 2 June, was observed by those remaining in the
ship with church services. Ashore, a large number of the
carrier’s company had seats or obtained vantage points
along the procession route in London.
On 8 June Magnificent was lying in St. Helen’s
Roads and early next morning she made rendezvous
with an assembly group consisting of Quebec, Ontario,
HMAS Sydney, HM Ships Perseus and Adamant ten
miles south of the Isle of Wight before proceeding
through the Needles Passage to moor in the review anchorage at Spithead. Army and RCAF contingents, with
official guests, were ferried out to Magnificent on 15
June and as the wind and state of the tide caused the ship
to lie at a slight angle to the review lines everyone had a
good opportunity to see HM the Queen as she passed
down the starboard side in the Royal Yacht Surprise.19
South of the carrier the cadets of the Italian Training
Ship Amerigo Vespucci manned yards in salute to port, a
picturesque reminder of other fleet reviews held off
Portsmouth in bygone days. The highlight for the Carrier
Air Group was the participation by eight Sea Furies and
eight Avengers in the impressive fly-past after the ship
inspection. In the evening the Fleet was illuminated and
there was a general firework display to round off a
memorable day. Two days after these events the carrier
unmoored and with Quebec, Sioux, Sydney, La Hulloise
and Swansea shaped course for Halifax, the CAG rejoining when under way. On account of thick weather the
two carriers and Sioux were detached to take a more
southerly course on 20 June in the hope of finding better
conditions. The squadron reformed four days later and
the CAG flew to Shearwater before the Coronation
Cruise ended alongside in the home port at 1530 on 25
The annual docking was once again due and Magnificent spent two weeks for this purpose at Saint John in
July. Fog had settled over Halifax when she was ready to
sail for the next cruise in August and the CAG had to be
brought to her by lighter. It cleared on the 17th and the
carrier slipped but shortly afterwards was forced to return to harbour with an unserviceable turbo-generator.
Another false start was made the following day and it
was not until 21 August that Magnificent finally got
away, accompanied by Quebec. A training cruise was
made to Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Quonset
Point, Rhode Island, and the end of the month found
both ships operating under the orders of Commander
Carrier Division 14, south of Rhode Island.* The Canadian ships entered New York on 4 September but by the
9th the carrier was back with TG 81.4 while Quebec
returned to Halifax. For this phase Magnificent assumed
tactical control of the group as Admiral Erdmann had
remained at Quonset Point with his flagship, which had
developed a boiler defect. On completion of the exercise
*Quebec, wearing the Flag of Rear-Admiral R. E. S. Bidwell,
CBE, CD, RCN; Ontario, Sioux, Swansea, La Hulloise with Magnificent.
*Rear Admiral W. L. Erdmann, USN, with Task Group 81.4
consisting of the aircraft carrier USS Gilbert Islands with nine
destroyers and two submarines.
Rough weather during Exercice Mainbrace.
En route to Coronation Review, 1953.
“Carrier Row”, Coronation Review, 1953.
Sunday Divisions at Provincetown, Massachusetts.
the Canadian carrier detached for Norfolk where she lay
for four days, her Commanding Officer attending a conference before another large-scale exercise.
Billed as “History’s Greatest Maritime Manoeuvres,”
Exercise Mariner was one of the most important events
in the career of Magnificent. Over a 19-day period 300
ships, 1,000 aircraft† and half a million men from nine
NATO countries20 took part in co-ordinated operations,
which ranged over large sea areas of the North Atlantic,
North Sea and English Channel; RCN ships participating
were Magnificent, Quebec, Algonquin, Swansea and La
Hulloise. The object was to test the efficiency of the participating navies and give them experience in working
together under simulated war conditions. Canadian warships were part of “Blue Force,” representing NATO
powers, which were opposed by “Orange Force” consisting mainly of submarines, land-based bombers and surface raiders. Manoeuvres were arranged so that the two
forces were in contact as much as possible.
Mariner began for the carrier on 16 September when
she sailed as Commander Task Group 203.6 to provide
anti-submarine and air defence for ten logistic ships
forming an Iceland convoy of the “Blue Force.”21 Avengers of 881 and Sea Furies of 871 flew an almost roundthe-clock schedule to prevent “enemy” submarines and
long range shore-based aircraft from attacking. The “enemy” cruiser, USS Worcester, harassed the convoy until
driven away by three of the screening destroyers. Later
six Avengers made a twilight rocket strike on the cruiser.
The following day, 21 September, a Sea Fury while on
the final leg of its landing circuit had an engine failure
and was forced to ditch. In 32 seconds the carrier’s Sikorsky helicopter had retrieved the pilot, unhurt, this
being the first time such a rescue had been effected by
the RCN.
The first phase ended off Cape Race and the convoy
became a logistic support group. After the supply vessels
had replenished the escorts, all ships, including Magnificent, integrated with a fast carrier force headed by USS
Bennington. En route to Iceland on the afternoon of 23
September, eight Canadian Avengers and approximately
34 aircraft from the USN carriers were launched at 1330
and placed under the control of USS Wasp for a strike.
Three-quarters of an hour later fog, light at first but rapidly thickening, rolled over the ocean and a recall for the
planes was issued at 1420. Ten managed to land before
the cloud settled to a low ceiling. Repeated attempts
were made to guide the rest in by radar but the pilots
could not get low enough to see the decks. They could
be heard, frequently, by the anxious listeners in the fogenveloped ships as engines were opened up to run from
the sea after unsuccessful attempts at landing. The Tacti†Canadian contribution included three RCAF Maritime squadrons of Lancasters and naval aircraft.
cal Commander of the Task Force, Rear Admiral Hugh
Goodwin, USN, ordered normal formation to be abandoned and, to eliminate the hazard of masts and high
structures, the battleship, USS Iowa, and accompanying
cruisers dropped astern of the carriers, who were manoeuvred into line abreast. At 1629, when the planes had
an estimated fuel time of two hours, it became obvious
from reports of aircraft, out-lying ships and fleet meteorological officers, that there was no chance of reaching
any open area before every plane would be out of fuel.
Faint hope was revived when a signal came from the
“Blue Force” submarine, USS Redfin, 110 miles to the
west, with the information that ceiling in its immediate
vicinity was one hundred feet with visibility of two
miles. The carriers could not reach the spot in time but
the aircraft would be able to make it before dark and the
decision was therefore made to head for Redfin’s position so that the pilots might ditch in a group in the immediate vicinity of the submarine if necessary.
The fog ahead began to thin just before sunset and the
ceiling to lift perceptibly. Planes were turned back towards the carriers and one by one dropped down through
the white blanket to whichever deck was convenient.
Never had the first touch of the flight deck felt so reassuring to the ship’s Avengers, plus one Skyraider from
Bennington, which landed on Magnificent before 1828,
the time all planes were reported safe. It was indeed miraculous that an isolated patch of warm water had
opened the fog at exactly the critical moment to permit
the aircraft to land on friendly decks instead of in the
cold North Atlantic. The visiting American pilot was
handsomely entertained in the wardroom that evening
and returned to Bennington the next day.
Having survived the perils of fog the fleet was struck
by severe south-westerly gales later in the week and the
carrier’s aircraft had to be securely lashed down to prevent movement on the heaving decks. Magnificent and
her group were luckier than most as their course coincided with the advance of the “eye” of the storm but
there was plenty of broken crockery, spilled food, etc.,
as witness to the strength of the storm. The Royal Navy
squadron consisting of the battleship HMS Vanguard,
the carrier HMS Eagle, the cruiser HMS Sheffield, and
six destroyers joined at this stage. These ships formed
part of a combined striking force, which ploughed
through mountainous seas towards Denmark Strait
whilst Magnificent with the support group and logistic
ships continued to Reykjavik. Having driven off “enemy” attempts at interference and escorted their charges
safely to port the Canadian carrier and her destroyers
formed a “hunter-killer” group to harass the opposing
submarines. There was a considerable amount of action
and green flares were sighted several times indicating
that torpedoes had been fired in the vicinity. An Avenger
on one occasion spotted the periscope wake of a submaHMCS MAGNIFICIENT 1948-1957
rine and directed USS Rich, which was tracking with her
underwater equipment, over the target.
Up in the bleak Denmark Strait Vanguard prevented
the cruiser, HMS Swiftsure, from slipping through to
harass “Blue” shipping, but “Orange” submarines
pressed home several good attacks on large units of the
fleet. An unfortunate mishap occurred at this time when
Swiftsure and the destroyer HMS Diamond collided in
the dark; 32 men were injured but none seriously. Both
ships withdrew from the fray.
An unusually fine day on 30 September permitted the
replenishment of major “Blue” warships from the logistics group, which had put to sea from Iceland. Magnificent and her screen provided air and surface antisubmarine protection while this drill was in progress.
For the final session of Mariner, the “Blue” Fleet, an
impressive array of ships, steamed towards the British
Isles to launch air strikes against bases in the United
Kingdom. “Orange” Fleet aircraft attacked with theoretical bombs, including an atomic type, just before dawn
on 1 and 2 October but stormy seas prevented the carriers from flying off fighters in retaliation. The British
elements left for the Clyde while the remainder continued southward. When the exercise was completed at
1100 on Sunday, 4 October, Magnificent was 180 miles
west-south-west of Land’s End, Cornwall and after detaching the USN destroyers the ship steamed up the Irish
Sea to Bangor Bay and thence to Belfast.
Anti-submarine exercises were conducted in an area
north and west of Inishtrahull for which Magnificent was
joined by Algonquin, Swansea and La Hulloise to form
Task Group 37.2. On completion Magnificent visited
Portsmouth and then Glasgow, where she collected nine
Sea Furies and one Avenger. There was considerable
congestion on the flight deck due to the large park of
aircraft and no further flying was carried out for the remainder of the month.22 A series of gales hit the ship on
the way home, where she arrived on 2 November having
flown ashore the 30th CAG to Shearwater.
The annual Support Air Group sea-training programme occupied Magnificent in early December 1953.
Algonquin met her off the coast but had to return to harbour with an engine defect having been relieved by
Haida as plane guard. At this time Commodore Rayner
was flown ashore by helicopter to attend the presentation
of an analysis of Exercise Mariner in Norfolk, Virginia,
and command of Magnificent was delegated to her Executive Officer. The next day, 2 December, a severe
storm prevented any flying and heavy seas caused damage to the bows, a motor cutter, and one of the diesel
tanks. HMCS Prestonian took over as rescue ship on 3
December and course was shaped southward to find better weather. After a good period of deck landing, the air
group disembarked to the RCAF Station, Summerside,
where a Naval Air Facility had been established, and the
Dawn launch of Furies during Exercise Mariner.
South of Iceland in Exercise
carrier reverted to extended notice for steam at Halifax
on 9 December.
During January and February 1954, Magnificent lay
alongside undergoing general repairs by the ship’s company and dockyard. On 1 March she sailed for England
and on the 9th began a long electronic and general refit
at Portsmouth.23 By the time this period ended in May a
total of 683 officers and men had attended courses at RN
training establishments. Amongst events of general interest in which personnel from Magnificent had participated was the unveiling of an extension to the Naval
War Memorial on Plymouth Hoe by Her Royal Highness
Princess Margaret on 20 May. The memorial commemorates officers and men of the Royal Navy, Commonwealth and Colonial Navies from the Plymouth Command, who were lost at sea during the Battle of the Atlantic and who have no known grave. To take part in this
ceremony, which was attended by Commodore Rayner,
Magnificent sent an unarmed party of 50 men with an
officer in charge.
Having carried out radar and radio trials off the Isle of
Wight in conjunction with aircraft provided by the Royal
Naval Air Station, Ford, Magnificent proceeded to Belfast where a quantity of stores destined for Canada was
struck down and the ship continued to Halifax, arriving
on 11 June.
The flying programme for the year began in July
1954 with VS 881 and VF 871 doing their carrier qualifications. Afterwards VS 881 went to the deck in night
training and on 24 July both squadrons participated in a
Navy Day fly-past while Magnificent had a static display
of aircraft for visitors on her flight deck. Algonquin
acted as rescue ship in the next session of night flying
when the pilots of VS 880 re-qualified. July was
rounded off by a joint armament strike by VS 881 and
VF 871 on a smoke float target; total deck landings for
the month were 541. Before returning to Halifax, Magnificent joined Algonquin and U.S. Submarine Ray to
form Task Group 301.1 and to carry out day and night
anti-submarine exercises in the Gulf Stream area.*
After three days in port Magnificent and Algonquin
*HMCS Prestonian relieved Algonquin, who returned to harbour with defective radar.
rendezvoused with HMC Ships Toronto and Prestonian
in an operational area off Long Island, New York, where
two U.S. submarines were used as targets for antisubmarine drills. Magnificent parted company on 12
August and, after a short stay at Quonset Point, joined
Task Group 81.4.* During the second phase of these
manoeuvres, which was broken by another visit to
Quonset Point, an Avenger had to make an emergency
landing on the U.S. carrier Antietam, the Canadian ship’s
arrester wires being inoperative. This was the first landing carried out by an RCN plane on an angleddeck. A
13-gun personal salute was fired to the Flag of Rear
Admiral Fitzhugh Lee on 26 August as Magnificent detached for Halifax with Algonquin, Toronto and Prestonian taking station on her.
In September 1954 a week of welcome relaxation in
Halifax was only the lull before the storm as the next ten
days the carrier was thoroughly embroiled in the annual
NATO exercise, code name New Broom II. Primarily
one of convoy support the operation kept VS 881 airborne for long hours on numerous patrols. After New
Broom II Magnificent topped up with fuel oil, aviation
gasoline and provisions at her home base and with Quebec as plane guard she shaped course southward. Air
squadrons progressed their combat readiness training
and on 26 September an Avenger flew an ordinary seaman to San Juan, Porto Rico, to make an air-line connection so that he might attend his father’s funeral in Toronto. Flying was secured the next day to permit the removal of sponsons and W/T whip aerials for the Panama
Canal transit. Quebec detached for Colon for logistics
and Magnificent began the canal passage, which took
just over nine hours. It was reported that all locks were
successfully negotiated without casualties except for the
First Lieutenant’s fingernails, which were chewed to the
quick as the paint work on both sides passed within a
few inches of the lock walls.
The frigate HMCS Stettler from Esquimalt took station on the carrier and flying drills continued between
Balboa and San Diego. Two days out two Avengers were
flown to San Jose, Costa Rica, to land a rating suffering
from acute appendicitis, but unfavourable local weather
forced the planes to return with the patient. Another
“mercy” flight, as the carrier approached the U.S. coast,
was more successful; two Avengers landed a man, who
had been granted compassionate leave at the USN Air
Station, San Diego. After Magnificent had berthed at the
air station pier a programme of entertainment was arranged for all hands including visits to television and
radio shows. The ship’s band with a volunteer guard
from several branches of the Service impressed the local
*Carrier Division 14 was now commanded by Rear Admiral
Fitzhugh Lee, USN, flying his Flag in the aircraft carrier USS
Resuming course after recovering aircraft.
inhabitants by performing the ceremony of Beating Retreat at the head of the pier on Harbour Drive, one of the
main thoroughfares of San Diego.
The group continued up the coast in thick fog and secured in San Francisco remaining there until 22 October.
Canada was also represented in the harbour by HMC
Arctic Patrol Vessel Labrador, which had recently made
an historic voyage from east to west through the NorthWest Passage. On the last leg of their cruise Magnificent
and Stettler received close escort by Lancaster aircraft
from the RCAF Station, Comox, B.C. Approaching
Vancouver Island eight Avengers and six Sea Furies
flew over HMC Dockyard, HMCS Naden, and the city
of Victoria before landing at the airport, Patricia Bay. In
the early morning of Monday, 25 October, the group was
off Esquimalt harbour. The Queen’s Harbour Master and
press representatives boarded from the pilot boat and
Magnificent secured at the RCN’s west coast base to
receive an enthusiastic welcome, both official and unofficial.
The two squadrons were overhead to land on as the
carrier, with 162 cadets from HMCS Venture embarked
to watch flying, drew clear of Esquimalt bound for Vancouver. The carrier, with Crusader on her quarter, altered into the light wind which permitted VS 881 only to
embark; the fighters were ordered to land at Sea Island
Airport. At Vancouver Magnificent was a great attraction, over 6,300 being shown over her when the ship was
open to visitors. The Minister of National Defence arrived by helicopter as Magnificent, with Crusader and
New Glasgow manoeuvred for flying operations off
Vancouver on 5 November. After 14 aircraft of VS 881
and VF 871 had performed a strike, they landed on and
the ship group proceeded to English Bay. Mr. Campney
left by helicopter and Magnificent later returned to Esquimalt.
When Magnificent finally steamed out of Esquimalt
she had HMC Frigates New Glasgow and Stettler in
company, the whole forming Task Group 301.1. Three
minesweepers, HMC Ships Comox, Fortune and James
Bay swept ahead along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, detaching off Cape Flattery. Stettler returned to Esquimalt
the next day while the other ships continued to Long
Beach. Owing to a defective condenser, which necessitated New Glasgow remaining in harbour, the carrier’s
helicopter was used as plane guard on the leg to Balboa
but day flying only was conducted, including antisubmarine exercises with the U.S. Submarine Carbonero. Magnificent made a quick trip through the Panama
Canal joining Quebec in Colon. The two sailed again on
27 November and in Bermudian waters the helicopter
was sent to Kindley Field for the Flag Officer Atlantic
Coast and a portion of his staff. The Admiral flew his
flag in the carrier between 2 and 4 December for the
purpose of carrying out the annual operational inspection; off Halifax he disembarked by helicopter and the
air squadrons were flown ashore to Shearwater. The
carrier was once again due for her annual refit after a
year during which she had steamed 33,755 miles, and
the work began at Pier 7, Halifax Shipyards, on 15 December.
Sea-going cruises for 1955 did not start until April
but this enforced inactivity was well compensated by the
busy schedule of the next nine months. A total of 34,260
miles was steamed in 138 days on three major exercises,
Fogbank, New Broom IV and Sea Enterprise, and on
visits to ten countries. For the last exercises mentioned
the ship logged the greatest distance, 7,596 miles for any
single voyage since commissioning in 1948. Naval
Aviation was equally busy, 4,000 air hours being flown
for 1,975 deck landings; seven aircrew personnel from
ditched planes owed their lives during the year to the
rescue helicopter. In the important business of public
relations Magnificent at Halifax was host to 400 members of the Junior Board of Trade during June and later,
whilst in New York, took part with RCN and USN units
in “United States and Canada Naval Week.”
This busy year opened with full-power trials on 31
March and in the middle of April the carrier stood off
the harbour approaches waiting for an improvement in
the weather to complete embarkation of all aircraft. Low
visibility prevailed and the planes had to be hoisted in by
derrick prior to sailing for the West Indies. Magnificent,
Haida and Micmac secured in San Juan, Avengers and
Sea Furies having been flown off to Isla Grande airport
to permit maintenance of flying efficiency while the ship
was in harbour. They rejoined on 29 April off Porto Rico
and the group began exercises with the U.S. Submarine
Argonaut in Bermudian waters. After a week-end in
Fury barrier crash.
Grassy Bay the ships cleared Bermuda on 9 May for the
ten-day passage to the United Kingdom, a feature of
which was the high proportion of westerly winds making
it necessary to steam at high speed in the opposite direction to the mean line of advance when operating aircraft.
This combined with the normal demands for fuel replenishment of the Tribal Class destroyers, and the length of
the voyage, made it necessary to initiate special fuel
conservation arrangements. The latter were relaxed towards the end of the passage and the group arrived with
a good margin of fuel. Magnificent lay at Portsmouth for
some days and amongst official calls made by the Commanding Officer was a visit to the Naval Member Canadian Joint Staff (London), this trip being made by helicopter, which landed at the South Bank heliport in London. With members of the National Defence College on
board, the carrier returned to Canada at the end of May.
Fog interfered with flying on the latter part of this voyage, rather spoiling a convoy exercise* with frigates of
the First Canadian Escort Squadron, which rendezvoused with the group. Planes of VF 871, VS 880, and
VS 881 were ranged and launched for the flight to
Shearwater before all ships secured alongside in Halifax
on 7 June.
There were many interested spectators on 8 August,
1955, when aircraft of VC 920, the Reserve Squadron
from HMCS York, Toronto, and the first to be embarked
for carrier training, came in on the final approach for
touch-down. During the next few days all the nine reserve pilots qualified in deck landing and, as an informal
tribute, were presented with a large brass star with wings
inscribed “To the Amateurs – VC 920 from the Pros –
HMCS Magnificent.”
Commodore E. P. Tisdall, CD, RCN, took up his ap*Given the code name, perhaps too appropriately, Fogbank.
pointment as Senior Canadian Officer Afloat (Atlantic)
(SCOA(A)) and his Broad Pennant was hoisted in the
carrier on 15 August before a cruise to New York. Two
days out from Halifax Magnificent and Micmac met with
Quebec, Huron, Haida, and HMCS Crusader and the
force later berthed at New York. Some 35 USN ships
entered harbour on 19 August making the total number
of warships present a post-war high. A “United States
and Canada Naval Week” was declared and the carrier
was open to visitors over the week-end; comparatively
few guests came on board, probably owing to the very
hot weather prevailing.
The Canadian group was back at its home port on 27
August. Commodore Tisdall remained in the ship and,
with the hangar crowded with planes of VF 871, VS 880
and VS 881, the carrier sailed as flagship of Task Force
301 on 4 September for exercises which were to keep
her at sea continuously for the next 24 days.* For the
first period, Exercise New Broom IV, weather and sea
conditions were excellent and flying continued from
dawn to dusk. The operation was one of convoy protection and the Sea Furies had considerable success in detecting surfaced and schnorkelling submarines.24 There
was one serious accident on the 13th when a fighter
failed to develop full power for take-off and descended
into the sea just off the starboard bow of the ship. The
aircraft remained afloat on its back for some seconds
giving the pilot time to extricate himself and be hoisted
into the helicopter.
All ships of the force topped up with fuel from USS
Nantahala and then steamed eastward to a rendezvous
for the next phase, Exercise Sea Enterprise. In position
51° 37’ N 34° 42’ W Prestonian, Toronto and Lauzon
detached to join TG 219.3.25 The weather went from bad
to worse making it impossible to give oil to the escorts
and by 17 September the fuel consumption of one destroyer was causing anxiety. An alteration to the southward proved of no avail as the storm stopped moving
and began to spread out, increasing in intensity. Course
was altered to the east again and the escorts were sent in
to Londonderry for fuel on the 20th. Magnificent made
her way, unescorted, through the Minches and contacted
the Underway Replenishment Group† in heavy fog. The
carrier fuelled from RFA Olna and the following day,
after some delay caused by equipment difficulties, embarked fresh provisions from RFA Retainer. The thick
fog slowed down the replenishment exercise and it was
not until the evening of 22 September that TG 219.3
whose screen had by now been augmented temporarily
by the Canadian destroyers, started to move towards the
*HMC Ships Magnificent, Algonquin, Haida, Huron, Micmac,
Prestonian, Toronto and Lauzon.
†The Underway Replenishment Group comprised TG 219.3
and three RFA’s, 01na, Wave Sovereign and Retainer.
operational area.
Exercise Sea Enterprise was a maritime tactical drill,
which had for its strategic setting a war between “Blue,”
representing NATO powers, and “Orange.” For this purpose “Blue” held the United Kingdom, Shetlands, Faeroes and Iceland whilst “Orange” was considered to control Norway north of 61°N. The main “Blue” carrier
striking force, TG 219.1, conducted air strikes for a period of two days against land targets in the Trondelag
area of central Norway and then carried out refuelling
operations with the Underway Replenishment Group.
Opposition was provided by aircraft and submarines and
in the replenishment period an “Orange” surface force
representing two “enemy” cruisers entered the exercise
area. Magnificent and her four destroyers formed TG
219.2 and worked in a support role as a “Hunter-Killer”
group. For the carrier the exercise proved to be an endurance test for, dogged by bad weather, she was only
able to operate aircraft on two afternoons for a total of
18 hours flying time. There was no contact by the group
with “enemy” submarines although HM Submarine
Taciturn sighted Algonquin at 1758 on 24 September.
Two minutes later Magnificent came into view but the
submarine completed her attack on the first target. Algonquin was considered to have been sunk but the carrier escaped unscathed as Taciturn had not time to reload. In spite of the lack of action Sea Enterprise gave
the Canadian ships good experience in seamanship and it
reproduced faithfully the authentic sea-warfare atmosphere of uncertainty, constant threat of attack and unpleasant climatic conditions.
The manoeuvres having secured at midnight on 27
September, the force entered Trondheim Fjord, Norway,
where warships of NATO nations were lying, and Magnificent came to anchor in 42 fathoms off the City of
Trondheim. A critique of Sea Enterprise followed and,
after a week in the rather exposed anchorage, the Canadian carrier shortened in and weighed for Plymouth. In
the fjord Huron, Micmac, Haida, Algonquin, Prestonian,
Toronto and Lauzon took station in a circular formation
around Magnificent. Shortly afterwards the First Canadian Escort Squadron parted company and Task Force
301 continued down the Norwegian coast.
Magnificent passed the breakwater and steamed up
Plymouth Sound to HM Dockyard, Devonport where she
secured astern of the battleship HMS Vanguard. Here a
considerable amount of maintenance work was done
including the water washing, externally, of four boilers.
Gale force winds caused cancellation of departure on the
19th but the next day the force left its berths. The three
destroyers were detached to Amsterdam and Magnificent, for the second time in her career, secured to buoys
in Rotterdam to receive a cordial welcome.
Flying started again after leaving the Dutch port on
28 October and power failure caused an Avenger to fall
into the sea close ahead of the ship; fortunately all the
occupants were rescued by helicopter. Magnificent hove
to on the 29th in the vicinity where the destroyer HMCS
Athabaskan was sunk during the Second World War
and, following a short service, a wreath was cast on the
water by Commodore Tisdall.
A few hours were spent in Gibraltar and a full day’s
flying was conducted off the Spanish coast including, as
the cruise continued, a shadowing and interception exercise with the Shackleton aircraft of 224 Squadron, RAF,
based on the Rock. In calm, clear weather, luckily, the
carrier made a turn of 180° in confined waters with the
assistance of two inadequate tugs before berthing in Valencia, Spain. This visit generally was rather disappointing as communication between the carrier’s billet was
difficult, and the town, in spite of its size, had little to
offer libertymen. The Broad Pennant of SCOA(A) was
transferred to Micmac and on leaving Spain the force
split, Micmac and Haida proceeding in company while
Huron remained as rescue destroyer to the carrier.
Shortly before arrival at Genoa, USS Lake Champlain
with her escort of destroyers and accompanying supply
ship, all belonging to the U.S. Sixth Fleet, was encountered also on her way to the Italian port. At 0715 on 11
November a pilot was embarked and Magnificent
berthed alongside Andrea Dorea Pier with the destroyers
secured across the end of the same jetty with a “Mediterranean moor.”* Three days later the carrier had to move
to an anchorage outside the harbour as the pier was required for the transatlantic liner, Cristoforo Colombo,
which regularly berthed there. The Canadian ships
cleared for Marseilles on 15 November, the Broad Pennant now being worn in Huron; the latter proceeded with
Micmac leaving Haida with Magnificent. A strong northeasterly wind with low ceiling and poor visibility in rain
made for bad flying conditions until the carrier passed
through the Strait of Bonefacio, between Corsica and
Sardinia, after which the weather improved. The whole
force rendezvoused in the approaches to Marseilles.
Here, as at Genoa, the Canadian Ambassador to the
country came down from the capital and remained in the
city. On both occasions the effect was to add to the dignity and importance of the visit.
Prior to sailing on 22 November, the Broad Pennant
was shifted to Haida, whose turn it was for inspection.
In Gibraltar Commodore Tisdall rejoined Magnificent
and the whole force started for home on the 27th. Once
out into the Strait between Europe and Africa the full
strength of an easterly gale was felt; this moderated
slowly and flying operations, with emphasis on armament and strike exercises, were carried out. Whilst the
*Method of securing stern to a jetty with anchors out forward.
Particularly suitable in the Mediterranean, where many localities
experience little or no appreciable tide.
destroyers fuelled in Ponta Delgada, Azores, for the
greater part of one day Magnificent continued with flying drills to the southward of San Miguel Island. At dusk
the destroyers left harbour and by 1730 the squadron had
formed up for the last leg of the voyage. The flight deck
and hangar were scenes of great activity on 6 December
as the planes of VF 871, VS 880, VS 881 and the rescue
helicopter were ranged for the flight to Shearwater.
Magnificent fired a personal salute of 13 guns to FOAC
as she entered harbour.
The movement of Magnificent, which had been undergoing a self-refit since December, to sea with Haida
on 27 February, 1956, heralded the commencement of
Operation Spring Tide, the object of which was to workup two task groups, one from the Atlantic command the
other from the Pacific in anti-submarine warfare. Prior to
sailing, VS 881, HS 50, a detachment of HU 21 and No.
1 Drone Target Unit26 had joined the carrier and, for the
first phase, she conducted exercises en route to Bermuda. Following Carrier Qualifications (Carquals) for
VS 881 the ships anchored in Five Fathom Hole for a
short time on 2 March. At sea again the next day, Magnificent was joined by the First Canadian Escort Squadron* and HM Submarine Alderney for more manoeuvres, the routine for which being that the ships exercised
by day and made their southing during the dark hours.
For the first time the Drone Unit launched targets from
the deck of the carrier, primarily to test the efficacy of
the ship’s anti-aircraft fire.
Alongside at the U.S. Naval Base at Chaguaramas
Bay, Trinidad, hands were kept busy painting ship until
13 March. On that day the carrier and her four destroyers
were joined by Alderney and HM Submarine Ambush for
more drills at sea prior to Haida, Algonquin and Ambush
parting company for Kingstown, St. Vincent. There was
an uncomfortable swell in the anchorage at Bridgetown,
Barbados, where Magnificent arrived on 16 March, making boatwork almost impossible with the result that there
had to be a hurried alteration in transport arrangements
for SCOA(A)’s official call on the Governor of Barbados. Commodore Tisdall was transported by helicopter
to the local airport some 12 miles out of town. Here the
only vehicle available was a 1935 Plymouth automobile
with defective steering, but in spite of this the call was
paid almost on schedule; the return journey was made
more sedately in the gubernatorial Armstrong Siddeley.
The Governor returned the compliment the next day,
also travelling from shore by the ship’s helicopter.
Departure from Barbados was made on 20 March and
the units from St. Vincent rejoined at midday for the
next phase of the operations, nicknamed Exercise Big
Hello. The force, now known as “Blueland,” prepared to
*HMC Ships Algonquin, Micmac and Iroquois. Short title
Cancortron one.
engage an enemy force, “Orangeland,” represented by
Canadian ships from the West Coast, who had started a
“war” on the night of 20/21 March when they struck at
key targets in the Panama Canal Zone. From intelligence
reports it was learned that the “enemy,” short of fuel,
was making his way northward to rendezvous with a
tanker south of Porto Rico. Early in the exercise Magnificent received a “Mayday” distress signal from the
Commanding Officer of VS 881, whose aircraft had had
a power failure and was about to be ditched. All ships
joined in the search and there was general relief when it
was learnt that Micmac had saved the crew unhurt. After
fuelling the destroyers Magnificent detached and landed
five Avengers of VS 881 to the U.S. airfield, Roosevelt
Roads, Porto Rico, for practice flying ashore. At this
time three planes belonging to the Air Early Warning
Flight carried out a maximum radius search for “Orangeland” force* but without success. During the first search
sortie of the next day an AEW aircraft located the “enemy” at 140 miles distance. Magnificent was only able
to launch one air strike and after recovering it she withdrew to the eastward leaving the destroyers to shadow.
The latter intercepted and destroyed the “enemy” after
Throughout 24 March the ships took it in turns to fuel
from USS Elokomin south of Porto Rico. Magnificent,
having flown off VS 881 to the air-field, anchored in
Roosevelt Roads to land squadron personnel and stores
in a tank landing craft (LCT) provided by the USN. She
then continued to South West Roads, St. Thomas, U.S.
Virgin Islands. VS 881 remained at the U.S. air station
for two weeks of flying training including bombardment
spotting and rocket practice at Culebra Island.
By Colours on Sunday 25 March in addition to the
carrier there were assembled in the roads Quebec, five
destroyers and three frigates. A fleet work-up programme started on Monday, West Coast ships being
given priority in helicopter control and anti-submarine
drills. Magnificent spent 28 March alongside Fernandez
Juncos wharf in San Juan and at the week-end, accompanied by Iroquois, New Glasgow and Ste. Therese secured at the West India Company Wharf at Charlotte
Amalie, St. Thomas. This was the Easter holiday and the
little town of 12,000 inhabitants was somewhat
swamped by the influx of libertymen. Charlotte Amalie,
which was named after the consort of King Christian V
of Denmark, is very picturesque, spreading from the
water’s edge up to three spurs, known as “fore-top,”
“main-top,” and “mizzen-top,” to old-time sailors. For
hardy climbers there was an excellent view to be had
from the mountain at the back of the town; to the east St.
John and the British Virgin Islands, to the west Culebra
*HMC Destroyers Crescent and Cayuga; HMC Frigates New
Glasgow, Jonquiere, Ste. Therese; HMC Cruiser Quebec.
Island and to the south St. Croix.
After a pleasant period of relaxation Magnificent
slipped her lines on 2 April, turned in the narrow harbour and headed to sea for more manoeuvres. Emphasis
was put on helicopter exercises with Astute and training
in helicopter control for the West Coast ships. Aircraft
of VS 881 finally returned from Roosevelt Roads and as
the ship lay at anchor in South West Roads on the 7th
Canadian Naval Auxiliary Vessel (CNAV) Porte Dauphine came alongside with the squadron’s maintenance
personnel and stores. This Canadian fleet sailed together
for the last time on 9 April, escorts forming a circular
screen on the main body, which consisted of Magnificent, Quebec, and Crusader. Astute attempted to penetrate the screen and the force then split up for its different destinations. The carrier approached Port-au-Prince,
Haiti, on 12 April with Huron, Haida, Micmac and Astute. During this period in port the President of the Republic of Haiti, General Paul E. Magloire, was received
on board Magnificent.
A 21-gun salute to the Republic of Cuba was fired by
the carrier on 19 April in the entrance to Havana harbour
and answered by Cabana Fortress. RMS* Mauretania
was lying across the desired line of approach and it required a considerable amount of manoeuvring before
Magnificent was moored in the restricted berthing area.
Early in the stay a guard and band was landed for the
customary wreath-laying ceremony at the national
monument to José Martí and SCOA(A) called on the
President of the Republic, His Excellency Major General
Fulgencio Batista Zaldivar who seemed well-disposed
towards Canada and Canadians generally. This presidential goodwill permeated down to the lesser officials and
set the pattern for cordial relations during the visit.
Flying and ship’s drills between periods in harbour
emphasized combined anti-submarine exercises and prepared the force for the NATO operation, New Broom V.
This opened on 1 May with Magnificent, fresh from
three days alongside at Norfolk, Virginia, and her five
destroyers providing close support to a convoy bound
from Norfolk to Gibraltar. Two RN and two U.S. destroyers screened the convoy whilst the U.S. carrier,
USS Tarawa, and six destroyers acted as a “HunterKiller” group in distant support. Air cover, apart from
that available in the carriers, was given by four USN
blimps with RCAF and USN Neptune aircraft. At one
stage a submarine was reported 30 miles away on the
starboard bow of the convoy and a strike of two helicopters was at once despatched. However, the enemy was
undetected and managed to get within 4,000 yards of
Magnificent, who, in compliance with the rules of the
game, was thereby put out of action for four hours. At
0700 on 3 May “peace” was declared for eight hours so
*Short Title for Royal Mail Ship.
“Whirlybird” fly past of HS 50.
that the convoy ships could regroup and take station for
the return passage, for which there were to be two convoys, one medium and the other fast. New Broom V
ended two days later off Norfolk. Having transferred
SCOA(A) and part of his staff to Micmac, Magnificent
detached and headed towards Halifax as the other ships
entered Norfolk for the exercise critique. Despite a chill
wind and temperatures in the low thirties, a large crowd
of relatives turned out to greet the sun-tanned homecomers when the carrier secured at Halifax on 7 May. The
sea period recently completed, was of importance to the
RCN as it was the first time that helicopters had worked
with the fleet. Their effectiveness and versatility was an
important addition to the ships and provided a tremendous stride forward in anti-submarine potential.
The Broad Pennant of SCOA(A) was transferred to
Haida, and Magnificent with Huron crossed the Atlantic
to Portsmouth. With the Commandant, directing staff
and students of the National Defence College embarked,
she returned again in early June. The homeward trip was
marked by fair weather permitting surface and flying
drills, including the testing of Huron in helicopter control. A rendezvous was made with Astute in order to put
on a comprehensive anti-submarine warfare demonstration for the benefit of the National Defence College personnel. Fog precluded Avenger participation but helicopters were employed and Astute gave a solo display of
diving, etc.; the thick weather finally cleared as the carrier was off Macnab Island entering harbour. After this
trip Magnificent made short cruises only in the vicinity
of Halifax for the balance of June, the Broad Pennant
being shifted back to her.
Reserve air squadron VC 920 joined Magnificent,
which was now commanded by Captain A. B. F. FraserHarris, DSC and Bar, CD, RCN, in August on her next
cruise and made 101 deck landings with but one accident. The carrier returned to Halifax and on 20 August
put to sea again to receive VS 881 and HS 50 prior to
beginning ten days of training in a submarine area to the
The last NATO exercise for Magnificent was the
sixth of the New Broom series for the starting point of
which she steamed wth the First Canadian Escort Squadron and St. Laurent on 8 September. The threat on the
9th of an approaching storm from the south-west and
deteriorating weather caused the first phase to be cancelled, the force making off to the south-east while the
USN ships steered to the westward. Magnificent suffered
some damage to boats and Algonquin, with Haida as
escort, had to be detached to Halifax with a seriously
damaged topmast. Phase Two opened with the convoy
tracking to the west and the Carrier Support Group, including Magnificent, some 20 to 25 miles to the south
busily flying helicopters and planes to search for “enemy” submarines. An Avenger reported a disappearing
radar contact and a sonobuoy barrier was laid between it
and the convoy. A further contact subsequently classified the echo as non-submarine. Through the night of the
14th the group swept to the northward across the wake
of the convoy to confuse any shadowing submarine.
Two Avengers were launched shortly after dawn to
check the weather, which was found to be unsuitable for
general flying and, at 0900, New Broom VI secured.
During the carrier’s next spell in harbour the Broad
Pennant of Commodore Tisdall was struck and Magnificent reverted to the status of a private ship under the
direct orders of Flag Officer Atlantic Coast. The end of
Magnificent’s association with the air arm was at hand
but she had one more three-week training period commencing 25 September when VS 880 was flown on from
Shearwater. A two-day operational visit was paid to
Boston followed by five days flying and surface exercises in which Magnificent, St. Laurent, Assiniboine,
HM Submarine Alliance and VS 880 participated. Pro-
ceedings were enlivened when one of the aircraft generated a strange submerged contact one morning and, after
Alliance had safely surfaced, all units concentrated on
the mysterious interloper. Contact was lost but a routine
search and investigation by ships and aircraft was not
discontinued until late afternoon.
The last plane airborne was recovered after lunch on
10 October, 1956, and there was much gaiety on the
flight deck as appropriate ceremonies were held. However, an undertone of sadness was also there as this
marked the end of the scheduled flying aboard the old
“Maggie,” who had served naval aviation so long and so
Off Halifax all VS 880 aircraft were launched to
Shearwater and the carrier secured alongside Jetty 3,
bows south. Within a few days complement was sharply
reduced with the departure of the air facility and destoring commenced in preparation for the sailing of the ship
to England in accordance with arrangements agreed
upon with the Royal Navy over the previous five years.
Following Privy Council approval, the Admiralty had
been informed in October 1951 that Canada would pay
for substantial alterations to Magnificent, including the
strengthening of her deck to take heavier aircraft and the
fitting of new equipment such as improved lifts, arrester
gear and safety barriers.27 It was not anticipated that the
modernization refit would take place for two or three
years but, after being taken in hand, Magnificent would
then be non-operational for at least another two years.
To meet this situation the Admiralty, in the course of
preliminary negotiations, presented Naval Headquarters
with three alternatives:
(a) Borrow a Carrier temporarily during the period
of refit, or
(b) Exchange the Magnificent for a modernized
Light Fleet Carrier, or
(c) Purchase one of the partly built Light Fleet Carriers on which construction was stopped in the
UK in 1945 and then complete and modernize
During a visit to London in November 1951, Mr. Brooke
Claxton, the Minister of National Defence, discussed the
matter with British officials and the following April the
Cabinet Defence Committee came to the conclusion that
it would be best for Canada to acquire her own aircraft
carrier to replace Magnificent.29
During succeeding years the possibility of keeping
Magnificent, in addition to the new vessel, as a helicopter carrier and training ship was closely studied but a
ministerial decision finally ruled out the idea.30 As her
career with the RCN was drawing to a close the retention of Magnificent was suggested in a letter from Sir
Anthony Eden, the British Prime Minister, to the Right
Honourable Louis St. Laurent, Prime Minister of CanHMCS MAGNIFICIENT 1948-1957
ada.31 The Canadian Naval Board was prepared to recommend the placing of the ship in de-humidified reserve
but the government decided in September 1956 that she
should go back to the Royal Navy.
Magnificent left her berth in Halifax on 29 October,
1956 and was joined by the Prestonian Class frigate,
Sikorsky Helicopter landing on special platform
HMCS Buckingham.
Sikorsky landing approach to HMCS Buckingham.
HMCS Buckingham, off Chebucto Head for mid-ocean
helicopter trials on the frigate which had been specially
fitted with a platform aft to receive a Sikorsky of HU
21’s Detachment 3. These trials, which were to have a
great future significance for the RCN, were part of a
series being conducted over a period of three months
under the sponsorship of Commander Operational
Evaluation (COMOPVAL). After three days of exercising in company, Buckingham, with the helicopter embarked, returned home. Magnificent landed stores for her
successor HMCS Bonaventure in Belfast and on 7 November she was lying at the Tail-of-the-Bank, Greenock,
awaiting a favourable tide for Glasgow where 50 Sabre
jet aircraft were to be collected for the RCAF. A bombshell fell at about 2000 in the form of a signal ordering
the ship to return to Halifax at best speed as she was
required to act as a troop-ship and headquarters vessel in
connection with the United Nations action in the Middle
An immediate recall was sent out to all hands on
shore and by the morning watch of the following day
Magnificent was at sea with the prospect of encountering
gales which were reported as “covering the Atlantic
from the Davis Strait across to Europe.” On passage, a
continual stream of messages poured in and the ship’s
company had a busy time carrying out the instructions in
them as a major start was made in getting the carrier
ready for her new role. In spite of strong winds and a
large swell Magnificent made good time and five days
and eleven hours after leaving Scotland she berthed in
the evening of 13 November. A horde of dockyard
workmen and naval personnel immediately came on
board and began to prepare her for Operation Rapid
Step. Guns, ammunition, ready-use lockers, etc., were
removed and the equipment and fittings required for 500
extra men were brought on board.* “A” hangar was converted into a dormitory with double-decker bunks; additional washplaces and sanitary facilities were installed
and the sonobuoy flat became a sick-bay annex. While
this work was in progress “B” hangar was being rapidly
filled with army stores of all descriptions.
Magnificent was next moved to Pier 9B to embark
army ammunition and 203 vehicles. In the middle watch
on Sunday, 18 November, the last of the trucks was
hoisted on to the flight deck and at 0800 the ship returned to Pier 4 to take on 14 heavy vehicles. Except for
the embarkation of the 950 officers and men of the First
Battalion Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada,† Operation
Rapid Step had now been completed. Everyone on board
Magnificent was keyed up and ready to go, but it was
not to be. Orders were received to revert, from 1530, to
eight hours’ notice for steam and two days later the operation was placed at 24 hours warning.
For the rest of November and the first 11 days of December Magnificent lay in a state of suspended animation while the United Nations pondered over the requirements of its newly formed Emergency Force. Although nothing was officially announced it was strongly
suspected that Colonel Abdel Nasser, President of
Egypt, objected to the Queen’s Own because in name
and appearance they were too much like the “Soldiers of
the Queen,” a number of whom had not been too
friendly towards him in recent days and were still “dug
in” 22 miles south of Port Said on the Canal road.33
Eventually it was decided that Canada’s military con*Ship’s Company was to be reduced to 600 men.
†Chosen by the Government to be the major component of the
Canadian contribution to the United Nations force for the Middle
Port Said bound.
tribution to UNEF would consist of “housekeeping
troops”, and the Queen’s Own beat an honourable retreat
back to Calgary.34 Once again Magnificent became a bee
hive of activity, ammunition and vehicles being offloaded and Operation Rapid Step II‡ swinging into action. Further reorganization internally, was also necessary as the ship would be used for transport duties only
and not as a headquarters’ vessel as originally intended.
The carrier with 406 army personnel35 and supplies36
for UNEF slipped her lines on 29 December to the accompaniment of a rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” given
fortissimo by three bands, HMCS Stadacona, the Royal
Canadian Artillery and the pipes and drums of the Royal
Highland Regiment of Canada (Black Watch). Terceira
in the Azores was raised at daybreak on 4 January, 1957,
and a mail drop made by helicopter.*
This procedure was repeated at Gibraltar and two
days later Magnificent met with the oiler, USS Mississinewa, and a supply ship, USS Hyades, both belonging
to the U.S. Sixth Fleet. The three ships steamed in line
abreast for five hours at 12 knots whilst the carrier received oil and water from the tanker and also provisions,
which were passed via that vessel from Hyades. Magnificent was ahead of schedule and it was decided to
anchor for a few hours in Marsaxlokk Bay, Malta, so
that she might have her usual “tiddly” appearance re‡Reloading of stores, vehicles and equipment for the new army
*The air arm was represented by a Sikorsky of Detachment
Number 1, HU 21, during this period.
HMCS Magnificent secured to buoys at Port Said, Egypt.
stored with a coat of paint. However, a message was
received from General Burns on the night of 8 January
requesting that the ship arrive at Port Said as soon as
possible. Speed was increased to 17 knots and contact
with Malta limited to a helicopter flight with the mail
and an able seaman whose parents lived on the island.
The next night Magnificent was hit by a short but severe
Mediterranean storm, which badly smashed a motor cutter and gave the passengers something of a shake-up.
Everyone was curious to see Port Said, which had recently been so much in the news, and all “goofing”37
stations were taken as the ship steamed past the breakwaters into the wreck-cluttered harbour and moored with
two anchors forward and lines to two buoys astern.
Magnificent immediately became the target for visitors
both official and unofficial. Amongst the former were
His Excellency the Canadian Ambassador to Egypt, Mr.
E. H. Norman, and General Burns, while the latter included tradesmen and peddlers, who attempted to come
on board with the mob of excited stevedores hired by a
local contractor to unload Magnificent.38 Disembarkation began with the vehicles on the flight deck on Saturday, 12 January, and by 0230 on Wednesday all the
trucks and the stores in “B” hangar had been removed.
Shifting, below decks, was done by ship’s company
working parties assisted by Swedish and Finnish soldiers
of UNEF* and the native workmen were employed on
the flight deck and in the lighters, owing to their propensity for looting.† For this purpose, it was reported, they
usually worked in threes; the first man on passing a carton would slash it open with a knife; the second, following closely, would fold back the opening and select the
article to be stolen; the last man would carry out the actual “hoist”, stowing the swag beneath his large nightshirt-like garment.39 During the operations the helicop-
ter, with the UN emblem painted on its side, proved invaluable for a variety of jobs. One small example was
when a power unit had to be moved from the after to the
forward section of the ship when both the flight deck
and the hangar were blocked with stores and equipment.
The unit was hoisted on to the after lift and then taken
forward by helicopter to its designated spot.
On Monday, 14 January, the Sikorsky picked up General Burns at El Ballah and flew him on an inspection
flight over the Canal. The next day, with Captain FraserHarris as a passenger, the helicopter piloted by Lieutenant-Commander W. H. Frayn, RCN, took up the General
again and made its way to El Arish in the Gaza Strip,
which had only that morning been evacuated by the Israelis and was awaiting the arrival of an occupying UN
force of Yugoslav troops. An hysterically happy mob of
Arabs pounced upon the aircraft as it landed, endangering themselves and the helicopter. Captain Fraser-Harris,
the first to climb out, was literally overwhelmed and had
great difficulty in extricating himself from these unwelcome embraces so that the machine could be flown to a
quieter spot. Thanks to the competent handling of the
helicopter no one was decapitated and General Burns,
having carried out the formalities required of the occasion, was flown back from the town to El Ballah. The
helicopter made several other trips to and from the
United Nations bases and the Commanding Officer was
taken to call on the Canadian Ambassador in Cairo.
Twenty days had been allocated for unloading but
Magnificent was actually cleared of her UN stores40 in
eight, after which an extensive cleaning and painting
programme was necessary to make her shipshape again.
Libertymen, 120 in each party, were landed on 16, 17
and 19 January for organized trips to Cairo and the
Pyramids as guests of the Egypian Government. Limited
leave (0900-1300) was also given in Port Said on the
18th and 19th. Those going on shore and boats’ crews in
addition to their usual naval uniform wore UN flashes,
Tricky landing by helicopter in the Middle East.
*Finnish, Swedish and Indian troops of UNEF provided a security guard during unloading operations.
†One enterprising stevedore on the flight deck threw a large
can of paint down to his friend in a small boat. Hurtling past the
occupant, the tin passed through the bottom of the boat, which
very quickly became flooded. Eventually help came and the angry
boatman was last seen, under tow, shaking his fist at Magnificent.
HMCS Magnificent “ships them green” in the Atlantic.
Spray-covered Sabres.
arm bands and the bright blue beret of UNEF.
Having fulfilled all her obligations41 to the UN force,
Magnificent sailed for Naples on 20 January, 1957, and
as soon as she was within helicopter range a suspected
appendicitis case was flown off to the Italian port. The
visit was strictly a rest and recuperation for the men of
Magnificent and the ship’s sports officer had been sent
on ahead from Egypt to make the necessary arrangements. As a result of his efforts there were two all-day
trips to Rome with audiences being granted by His Holiness Pope Pius XII on both occasions; an all-day excursion to Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius; three halfday trips
to Pompeii and a performance on board by an outstanding variety troupe. Combined with the undoubted
charms of Naples itself this varied programme served to
satisfy all tastes.
The lay-over ended on 27 January and two days later
at dusk the carrier passed through the Strait of Gibraltar.
Throughout 1 February Magnificent steamed up a turbulent Irish Sea and on the 2nd entered the Firth of Clyde.
This time no world-shaking signal was received and 59
Sabre jet aircraft* were hoisted on board at King George
V dock, Shieldhall, Glasgow. A party of officers and
men left for Bonaventure and on the return trip down the
Clyde, Magnificent was given a farewell salute by “Angel,” the faithful helicopter, which had given such yeoman service in the preceding weeks and was now going
to Bonaventure.
Severe storm conditions caused the carrier to heave to
on three consecutive nights during the ocean passage
and it was feared at one stage that some of the Sabres
might break loose from their moorings. By Thursday, 14
February, with a following wind and sea, the carrier was
making good an average of 22 knots and a firm estimated time of arrival (ETA) signal was made to Halifax.
In the approaches Rear-Admiral Bidwell and Mayor
Leonard E. Kitz came on board by helicopter to welcome the ship and in the words of her Commanding Officer “it was with the Admiral’s flag flying from the
peak and with the city’s Chief Magistrate as an honoured
guest that Magnificent entered her home port for the last
time.” The end of a successful enterprise was marred by
an unfortunate mishap as Magnificent was about to
berth. The naval tug, Glendyne, which was in attendance, capsized and two of her company lost their lives.
The month of March was spent in further destoring
and on 10 April Magnificent sailed for the last time from
Halifax.42 Casting off from a jetty crowded with cheering people she exchanged salutes with many ships of the
fleet as she made her way down harbour. At the entrance
the carrier fired her saluting guns in answer to the army
cannon, which could be heard booming out from Citadel
Hill, and then shaped course, in bright sunshine, southeastward to clear the ice off Newfoundland. A few days
out the carrier answered a call for medical assistance
from a German merchant ship. A suspected appendicitis
case was transferred by jackstay and later successfully
operated on in the sickbay. Another seaman in a Greek
vessel was reported seriously ill but the call for help was
cancelled as Magnificent was closing the ship’s position
owing to improvement in the condition of the patient.
Without further incident the carrier berthed at Plymouth
and work began to prepare her for paying-off. Magnifi-
“Farewell Maggie.”
HMC Ships St. Laurent and Nootka alongside.
*These aircraft had been replaced by more modern aircraft in
the RCAF squadrons in Europe and were now destined for auxiliary squadrons in Canada.
cent reverted to the Royal Navy on 14 June, 1957, the
main draft of personnel going up to Belfast to join
Bonaventure, which had commissioned in January, for
passage home; she subsequently joined the RN Reserve
Fleet and was still lying at Plymouth in the summer of
From the day that she first made landfall on the coast
of Nova Scotia in 1948, “Maggie,” as the largest unit in
the RCN, always had “star billing” in the press so that as
the years passed, her exploits were watched with interest
by the public from coast to coast. Whether ceremonial
occasions, “showing the flag,” or large scale manoeuvres, Magnificent was always there. Looking back, a lot
of her story does not appear very exciting but it is the
stuff which a fleet must have to maintain efficiency,
namely ceaseless exercising. However, like a real
trouper, Magnificent had kept her most spectacular performance as a grand finale to a long career during which
she had provided excellent facilities for the RCN air arm
in the period of its greatest expansion.
A Vampire jet fighter, Sea Hornets and Sea Furies going to
North America to give aerial displays.
Vice-Admiral Sir Philip L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and two
HM Cruisers Jamaica and Glasgow and three frigates. The
squadron was still under the command of Admiral Sir W. G.
During this period there was an “incident” aboard Magnificent involving 32 ratings of the Aircraft Handling Party, who
refused to fall in at 0745 on 20 March. Having been addressed by
the Commanding Officer on the messdeck, they later all obeyed
the pipe “Flying Stations” at 0900. No disciplinary action was
U.S. Ships Philippine Sea, Missouri, Wright, Salem, Des
Moines, Worcester and 16 destroyers.
786 tons. The owners, Shell Nederland N.V., subsequently
paid the equivalent in sterling of approximately $12,586.54 to the
Government of Canada.
Flag Officer, Heavy Squadron (Home Fleet) and Flag Officer Commanding Second Aircraft Carrier Squadron.
TG 48 consisted of Indomitable, Magnificent, two destroyers and eight imaginary destroyers as close screen. Four destroyers made up to TG 49.
1,032 hours were flown, 663 by Avengers and 369 by Sea
Acting Admiral The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, PC,
Ships in harbour included Magnificent, Daring, one submarine depot ship, three cruisers, three destroyers, seven frigates,
five minesweepers, two landing craft tank and HMS Surprise, the
C-in-C’s despatch vessel.
Military coup d’etat on 23 July set up a government
headed by General Mohammed Naguib. King Farouk abdicated.
U.S. Ships Laffey, Lowry, James C. Owens, and Douglas
H. Fox.
That the Canadian carrier’s sojourn with the Mediterranean
Fleet was of mutual benefit is evidenced by the following message
received from the Commander-in-Chief: “I am sorry you are leaving us today as you have played such a full and valuable role with
the Mediterranean Fleet. On behalf of everybody in the Fleet I
send you and your ship’s company our best wishes for the future.”
Original signatories were Belgium, Canada, Denmark,
France, Italy, Iceland, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway,
Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. Greece and
Turkey joined in October 1951. Federal German Republic subsequently joined in 1954.
Two aircraft carriers HMS Theseus and USS Mindoro; a
cruiser, HMNZS Bellona and eight U.S. Destroyers.
King Haakon and Crown Prince Olaf of Norway and more
than 250 other high ranking Allied officers were at the conference.
Six USN ships; ONE 27 consisted of two USN ships.
A modified Loch-Bay Type frigate used normally as a
despatch vessel by the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean.
Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France,
Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal. While
Exercise Mariner was in progress, big Allied manoeuvres, code
name Weld Fast, were held in the Mediterranean. More than
100,000 troops, ships, aircraft and submarines of five NATO nations, (United Kingdom, United States, Greece, Turkey and Italy)
TG 203.6 consisted of Magnificent, and U.S. Destroyers
New, Rich, Holder and The Sullivans.
In addition the 54-foot Bermudian yawl, Pickle, a gift from
the Admiralty, had been embarked at Portsmouth for transportation to Canada. Since her arrival in Halifax CNAV Pickle has
been employed as a sail-training vessel in the Atlantic Command
(maintained by HMCS Shearwater 1955-60) and has taken part in
a number of ocean races including the Newport-Bermuda Race in
On the voyage over, cargo included 14 Fireflies, ex-RCN,
for Ethiopia.
Schnorkel. A device used by a submerged submarine to
obtain fresh air for the boat’s company and her diesel engines.
For the period of Sea Enterprise this group consisted of the
Canadian frigates with HM Norwegian Destroyers, Oslo and Stavanger, and HM Norwegian Frigates, Haugesund, and Tromsö.
Prestonian became Task Group Commander until 26 September.
Formed at Shearwater on 1 March, 1955, with a complement of one officer and ten men, this mobile unit provided radiocontrolled drones for anti-aircraft training in ships of the Atlantic
PC 4596, 1 October, 1951. NS 8020-500/RRSM (2).
Letter CNS to Secretary, C of S Committee, 15 November,
1951. NS 8020-500/RRSM (2).
Minutes of 85th Meeting of the Cabinet Defence Committee, 23 April, 1952. NS 8000-CVL 22 (1).
Correspondence on NS 8000-RRSM (2).
Correspondence on NS 1700-147/1 (1).
On 29 October Israel had invaded Egypt and quickly conquered the Sinai Peninsula. Fearing for the safety of the Suez
Canal Britain and France sent an ultimatum to Egypt and Israel on
the 30th demanding that both countries withdraw their armed
forces to a distance of ten miles from the Canal. On rejection of
the ultimatum by Egypt, Britain and France, after carrying out air
bombardment, which started on 31 October, of Egyptian airfields,
occupied Port Said and Port Fuad on 5 and 6 November. Early on
4 November the General Assembly of the United Nations approved a Canadian resolution concerning the formation of an international UN force to “secure and supervise the cessation of
hostilities.” Approval was given on the next day to another resolution in favour of establishing a UN command and naming a Canadian, Major-General E. L. M. Burns, DSO, OBE, MC, CD, on an
emergency basis, in command of the force.
At a Press Conference in Ottawa on 5 January, 1957, Abdel Khalk Hassouna, Secretary-General of the Arab League confirmed this rumour. However, the preparation of the Queen’s Own
for possible overseas service had been undertaken on an emergency basis before Major-General Burns had been consulted as to
his requirements for a balanced expeditionary force. See statement
by the Honourable Ralph Campney, Minister of National Defence,
Armed Forces News, Ottawa, 8 November, 1956, and speech
made by the Honourable Lester Pearson, Minister of External
Affairs, on 27 November, 1956. Canada, House of Commons Debates, Official Reports 4th (Special Session), 4-5 Elizabeth II, 26
November, 1956, to 8 January, 1957 pp. 51-65.
A close comradeship was established between the battalion
and the ship during its sojourn in Halifax. Soldiers worked on
board Magnificent, stood picquet duty and visited at the weekends. Buttons of the type worn on naval mess jackets were presented to QOR officers by Captain Fraser-Harris as a reminder of
this friendly liaison.
Members of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, Royal
Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Royal Canadian
Army Service Corps, and a headquarters’ detachment.
One hundred tons of supplies, 233 vehicles weighing approximately 800 tons, and four RCAF Otter aircraft.
The first recorded use of this term in the RCN was aboard
HMCS Labrador on her cruise to Arctic waters in 1954. It was the
practice of the ship’s company to rush on deck whenever an unusual spectacle was to be seen. To provide ample warning the pipe
“Hands to Goofing Stations” was made so that polar bears or walruses and huge icebergs, etc., would not be missed by the enthusiastic.
Arrangements were made later for the Egyptian police to
station a man at the ship’s ladder and to maintain a 24-hour patrol
around the carrier.
Reports of Proceedings, HMCS Magnificent, January
1957, NSC 1926-RRSM 21 (5).
Owing to adverse wind conditions the four Otter aircraft
were not flown off until Saturday, 19 January. To the RCAF goes
the honour of making the last fixed-wing flight from Magnificent
whilst she was being operated by the RCN.
Amongst the messages of appreciation received by the ship
was one from General Burns which read, in part: “I take the present opportunity of thanking you and all the crew of the Magnificent for the big contribution you made to UNEF. I think that apart
from the actual “hardware” and personnel that you brought along,
you gave the force a big lift in morale and that extended to all
members of the Force, not only the Canadians in it.”
Vice-Admiral DeWolf, Chief of the Naval Staff, ended his
message of farewell to HMCS Magnificent with the words: “I
speak for the Navy when I say ‘Well done, Maggie’.”
The completion of HMCS Bonaventure, the first aircraft
carrier owned outright by the country, was an occasion
of great rejoicing. With the addition of the new vessel
Canadian naval aviation had definitely come of age.
As described in the previous chapter the Cabinet in
April 1952 had authorized the acquisition and modernization of an aircraft carrier, to replace Magnificent. At
that time the most suitable ship appeared to be the modified Majestic Class light fleet carrier, HMS Powerful,
which, after being laid down by Harland and Wolff in
November 1943 and launched in February 1946, had lain
uncompleted at Belfast since May 1946 when work had
been stopped on her. During negotiations with the Royal
Navy the Honourable Mr. Brooke Claxton, then Minister
of National Defence, proposed that the United Kingdom
should be asked to spend the purchase money, 21 million dollars, on Canadian cheese.1 Owing to an acute
shortage of gold and dollar reserves the British regretfully had to put the lid on this savoury suggestion.2 The
agreement to buy Powerful finally made on 29 November, 1952, was back-dated to 12 July, the parties being
the Minister of Defence Production in Canada and “The
Commissioners for executing the office of Lord High
Admiral of the United Kingdom and Ireland (hereinafter
called the Admiralty).”3 The latter placed a contract with
the builders for completion of the ship and within two
weeks the banging of hammers once more reverberated
around Powerful. A team under an officer with the title
Principal Royal Canadian Naval Technical Representative (PRCNTR) was sent to Northern Ireland and during
the construction programme worked closely with the
firm and Admiralty representatives. Shortly before
Christmas 1952 a press release from Naval Headquarters
in Ottawa revealed that Powerful was to be re-named
The name of the carrier is taken from a small island
off the Gaspé peninsula in the Gulf of St. Lawrence
known as Bonaventure Island.4 It is rich in history and
legend, one of the latter being that it was named by the
French explorer, Jacques Cartier, who was anchored in
the lee on 14 July, 1534, the day of the Feast of St.
Bonaventure. Another authority has stated that Sieur de
Champlain, whilst on a voyage of exploration up the
Gaspé coast in 1603, gave the island its name.5 However, the most likely origin is that the place was known
from even earlier times by fishermen from Brittany and
Portugal as “Ile de Bonne Aventure” for the good luck
that attended them there.
Another legend, as old as the known history of Gaspé,
concerns an enormous ogress called “Gougou,” who
lived in a cave on Bonaventure. Being of great height
she could wade over to the mainland without getting her
knees wet and it was her habit to gather up there a handful of unfortunate Indians, which she put in her pocket to
be enjoyed later as a bedtime snack. Black and red stains
on the rocky cliffs still show where “Gougou” puts her
cloak out to dry.
Amongst mere mortals who have visited Bonaventure
Island may be mentioned Sir William Phipps (or Phips),
who set up the English flag there for a time in the late
seventeenth century, and the Janvrins, privateers from
the Channel Islands who used the island as a refitting
base when not preying upon French shipping. No history
would be complete without including another privateer
of great courage and ability, Captain Jean Paul Duval,
who made the island his headquarters in early colonial
days and whose descendants still live on or near it.
Today Bonaventure Island, which in appearance
represents a giant whale its “head” rising up to 400 feet
at the northern end and tapering until level with the sea
at the “tail” or southern end, is a government-protected
bird sanctuary for thousands of gannets, gulls and other
sea-birds. In view of the function of the ship and as a
compliment to the great French-speaking early explorerseamen, the name Bonaventure is very suitable for a
Canadian aircraft carrier.
In respect to illustrious forbears Bonaventure is also
well endowed. There have been ships bearing the name
in the Royal Navy since about 1475 in the reign of Edward IV and they have piled up an impressive record of
battle honours:
Lowestoft 1665
Orfordness 1666
Schooneveld 1673
Barfleur 1692
Four Days’ Battle 1666
Sole Bay 1672
Texel 1673
Malta Convoys 1941.
The actions between 1665 and 1692 were fought by one
ship, a fourth-rate of thirty-eight guns, built in 1649 and
finally sunk as a breakwater in 1748 after an illustrious
career spanning six reigns and the commonwealth interregnum.
The last battle honour commemorates the activities of
a Dido Class cruiser, which had a short but adventurous
life in the Second World War. On Christmas Day 1940
Bonaventure and the cruiser, HMS Berwick, whilst escorting a convoy bound for the Middle East, fought a
brief action with the 10,000-ton German cruiser Admiral
Hipper. The next day she sank the German merchant
vessel, SS Baden. Later, as one of the escorts of a convoy in the Mediterranean, Bonaventure helped to repulse
heavy air and surface attacks, during which an Italian
destroyer blew up. The cruiser’s luck ran out on 31
March, 1941, when she was torpedoed and sunk by an
Italian submarine when in company with a GreeceAlexandria convoy. Within two years of her sinking a
new HMS Bonaventure had joined the British fleet. This
was a submarine depot ship, which from the date of
commissioning in early 1943 was stationed in the Clyde
area as a base for “X” craft (midget submarines). Submarines based on Bonaventure were used to attack the
Tirpitz, lying in Kaa Fjord, Norway, in September 1943.
After the war Bonaventure was sold to commercial interests and is still plying the ocean under the name of
Clan Davidson.
On 17 January, 1957, following traditional religious
services, the ship’s company and over 900 guests were
assembled in the hangar of the latest Bonaventure for the
solemn commissioning ceremony. Commodore J. V.
Brock, DSO, DSC, CD, RCN, the Naval Member Canadian Joint Staff [NMCJS (London)] introduced the Honourable Ralph Campney, Minister of National Defence,
who then made a speech outlining Canada’s interest in
acquiring the warship. In the next part of the ceremony,
after an introduction by Vice-Admiral DeWolf, the
Chief of the Naval Staff, Mrs. Campney named the ship.
The Minister’s wife immediately afterwards unveiled a
scroll of the carrier’s battle honours and Captain H. V.
W. Groos, CD, RCN, the Commanding Officer, having
read his personal appointment, commissioned Bonaventure.
Belonging to the modified Majestic Class, with a
strengthened flight deck to take jet aircraft, the new light
fleet carrier has many Canadian ideas incorporated to
make her one of the most modern ships of her type
afloat; electrical and electronic equipment valued at over
$3,000,000, including two million dollars-worth of fire
control and radar units, was ordered from firms in Canada. Her steam turbines, which give a full speed of
nearly 25 knots, turn twin shafts fitted with three and
four-bladed propellers. Although the arrangement is unusual it gives a significant reduction in vibration at high
speeds. At the time of her commissioning, main armament consisted of four 3”/50 twin mountings and the
ship carried Trackers, Banshees, and Sikorsky helicopters, which allowed her to act in both anti-submarine
warfare and fighter-operational roles.
During the building of Bonaventure the Royal Canadian Navy was able to take advantage of a major British
break-through in the technique of operating aircraft; this
consisted of three major improvements in design and
equipment, namely the angled-deck, steam catapult and
mirror-landing aid, all of which have been adopted by
the United States Navy.
Ever since the first landing of a Sea Vampire on the
deck of HMS Ocean in December 1945, experts were
faced with the problem of how to compensate for the
high landing speed of jet aircraft. It was found that flight
deck barriers had to be moved further forward owing to
their inability to stop such planes after the long “pullout”* of the deck arrester wire. A re-location of barriers
drastically reduced the space available for deck parking.
In the summer of 1951 a solution to angle the landing
area on carriers was proposed and trials carried out with
an angled deck painted on the flight decks of HM Ships
Illustrious and Triumph proved the feasibility of the
scheme. Advantages include elimination of the barrier, a
much longer landing area, a good deck park, simplification of deck landing and improvement of morale. The
fully angled deck also makes it easier to operate aircraft
in rough weather and reduces wastage due to landing
accidents, which have shown a significant decrease in
number since the introduction of the new method.6
The steam catapult fitted in Bonaventure is of a type
*“Pull-out” refers to the distance that the deck arrester wire
is extended after an aircraft has engaged it on landing.
Vertical view showing angled-deck, HMCS Bonaventure.
invented by Commander (E) C. C. Mitchell, RNVR, of
Brown Brothers, Ltd., Edinburgh, to provide the answer
to the lack of plane acceleration when taking off. The
original hydro-pneumatic purchase type of catapult had
from its early days tended to branch out into a greater
mass of mechanism as increased performance was required of it. With the advent of jets, the catapult had
reached a practical limit unless its machinery was to become so large that it would be difficult to fit into a ship.
The steam catapult7 gives greatly increased power for
despatching jets at any foreseeable take-off speed and
reduces the necessity for a carrier to steam for lengthy
periods into the wind to fly off its aircraft. In certain
conditions a ship can boost off its planes when stationary, this factor, combined with the others, thus making
the invention one of great use in naval air tactics.
The Mirror Landing Sight as used in Bonaventure
was the third of the inventions to simplify plane carrier
drills. The sight was evolved in conjunction with a device called “Audio” which gives audible information on
the plane’s air speed. On his final approach the pilot
keeps light reflected from a gyro stabilized mirror on the
flight deck in a horizontal line with fixed datum lights to
left and right of it. To obviate the necessity of looking
down at instruments, “Audio” gives off sound signals
from which the pilot can tell whether he is coming in too
fast or slow. It is no longer necessary to cut engine to
land the aircraft on to the deck; the pilot now flies
straight down at a shallow angle into the arrester wires
with engine power on. The technique does away with the
necessity of having to have a Landing Signals Officer
(LSO) to guide each plane down to the deck but the
older method of control is still useful when mechanical
aids fail or prove inadequate.8
Another innovation aboard Bonaventure, developed
by Canadian naval engineers, is the aviation fuelling
equipment, which ensures that only pure, properly constituted fuel is available for her aircraft. Three main requirements had to be met:
(1) The transformation of two standard fuels (kerosene and high octane gasoline) into the special
ized mixture necessary for turbine-driven aircraft.
(2) The need to ensure that all contaminants, particularly water, were removed from fuel.
(3) The need for both under-wing and over-wing fuelling in the least possible time as speed is essential in carrier operations.
Built by a Canadian engineering company the lay-out
consists of two sets of fuel blending apparatus and 14
two-outlet fuelling stations, each complete with fuel filter, water separators, power operated hose reels and special tank filling nozzles. The blending arrangement is the
first to be installed in a major war vessel and is thus an
important industrial achievement.9 To accommodate the
Mirror-landing aid, HMCS Bonaventure.
two different kinds of fuel required by turbine and piston-engined aircraft, the aviation fuel capacity of
Bonaventure was increased over that originally planned
for her class.
Finally, on the subject of the carrier’s equipment,
mention may be made of her closed circuit television
system, which relays direct visual information of ships
and aircraft in the vicinity to key points in the ship. One
feature of this arrangement is that in the briefing room
the brightness of the monitor has been specially filtered
so that night vision of the airmen will not be adversely
affected. To meet all the heavy demands for electrical
power the ship has a plant capable of generating 3,200
kilowatts of direct current and 300 kilowatts of alternating current power.
Trials began for Bonaventure and her multitude of fittings and accessories after the pomp and ceremony of
commissioning were over and on 21 January, 1957, having completed a series of “runs” at full power over the
Arran measured mile in the Firth of Clyde, the Commodore Superintendent Contract Built Ships, Commodore
W. P. Carne, RN, accepted her on behalf of the Admiralty, whose technical officers had been responsible for
overseeing the work of construction. Captain (L) J.
Deane, CD, RCN, then accepted her from the British for
the Chief of Naval Technical Services and Captain
Groos signed for Bonaventure to become part of Her
Majesty’s Canadian Fleet.10
The carrier was at sea for more trials nearly every day
until the end of the month, when she returned to the
Royal Naval Aircraft Yard, Sydenham, Belfast. Here she
remained until early in March, while installation of aircraft-operating equipment was completed and dead-load
testing of the steam catapult carried out. On 4 March
Bonaventure moved to Bangor Bay for heeling trials and
thence to Plymouth to load stores and ammunition. Next,
tests of the aviation fuel system, etc., were conducted
from Portland and on 31 March the ship was secured to a
buoy in Fareham Creek, Portsmouth.
Bonaventure steamed into a foggy English Channel to
begin flying trials on 2 April. In spite of mist patches
giving visibility of less than one and a half miles and a
light wind of six to ten miles per hour, the carrier found
some open spaces between shipping to receive two Sea
Hawk fighters, two Trackers, two Gannet antisubmarine aircraft and two Avengers for flying trials.
Two Banshees based at RNAS Ford made several passes
over the deck in preparation for landing on the next day.
The ship anchored in Sandown Bay, Isle of Wight, on
completion and, owing to the thick weather, was unable
to resume trials until 5 April. Just before midday a Banshee landed on the flight deck and in the afternoon the
first catapult launches of the fighter were conducted.
After a highly successful day of flying, during which
Bonaventure showed that she would be able to fulfil all
her carrier functions, the ship returned to Sandown Bay.
Flying trials, sonar equipment tests and gunnery exercises in the Channel were finally completed on 12 April
and the following day Bonaventure cleared the breakwater at Portland bound for Belfast. She berthed at the familiar jetty at the aircraft yard and prepared for another
spell alongside for final adjustments to the steam catapult and aviation fuel system. Work at her building shipyard was completed by 26 May when the carrier slipped
for Portsmouth. As she entered the English Channel in a
rough sea Bonaventure closed RFA Wave Master, south
of the Wolf Rock for a fivehour replenishment exercise
under way. The tanker’s hose was disconnected and
speed increased to rendezvous with the frigate, HMS
Tumult, off Portland for another replenishment drill.
More tests occupied the carrier off the south of England until 8 June and she then returned to Belfast to
complete with stores and personnel for passage to Canada; included in the deck cargo was an experimental
hydrofoil craft, Bras D’Or, which had been built in the
United Kingdom for the Defence Research Board of
Canada. In the first dog-watch of Wednesday, 19 June,
1957, Bonaventure steamed down Belfast Lough having
exchanged many messages of good will, official and
unofficial, with the large number of friends the ship had
made during the lengthy stay at her birthplace. First Canadian contacts were made on 26 June when RCAF Neptune aircraft carried out a homing exercise on the carrier
to be followed by the arrival of an RCN Tracker, which
made an air drop of important documents. The first
meeting between the pride of the RCN and her home
base had been planned as a gala occasion but, unfortunately, Halifax turned shy and enveloped itself in a thick
fog. A boat loaded with representatives of the press and
HMCS Bonaventure homeward bound.
radio was guided by radar to join the ship off the light
vessel and later in the forenoon the Honourable Alistair
Fraser, MC, KC, Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia,
Rear-Admiral Bidwell (FOAC), and Mr. Leonard A.
Kitz, Mayor of Halifax,* were embarked from a small
craft, also brought in by radar. Groping her way towards
the jetty Bonaventure was momentarily in sight of the
ships in port, who raised a fog-splitting clamour on
whistles and sirens. A large crowd was on hand, and
after a draft of 325 men out of Magnificent had come
ashore, more than 2,000 people rushed on board to greet
the company.
Bonaventure lay immobile at Halifax until the middle
of September while work was completed on a new senior officers’ bridge on the flight deck. Following a tenday work-up cruise which started on 16 September to St.
Margaret’s Bay, St. Ann’s Bay and Gabarus Bay in Cape
Breton Island and Chedabucto Bay, Bonaventure sailed
on her first flying-training session with HMCS Sioux as
plane-guard. Two months previously ten pilots flying
Trackers had qualified in angled-deck, mirror-aided
landings in USS Wasp off the New England coast and
they now had the opportunity of using their own landing
platform.11 The Carquals of VF 870’s Banshees and VS
880’s Trackers were watched for two hours on 1 October by the Minister of National Defence, the Honourable
G. R. Pearkes, VC, DSO, MC, MP, who, with the Chief
of the Naval Staff and FOAC, arrived and later departed
by helicopter. Drills were interrupted on the next day by
the report that a Banshee was missing on a flight from
the ship to Shearwater some 35 miles away. A concentrated search was conducted by naval and air force
planes with all available vessels co-operating but nothing was found. Carquals continued in the Halifax approaches for a few more days before the carrier transported HS 50, helicopter squadron, to the U.S. Naval
*His Worship later presented a mural to be hung in the men’s
First time alongside in Halifax, HMCS Bonaventure.
Base at Argentia, Newfoundland. Both day and night
landings were then exercised, Sioux acting as planeguard until 17 October, interrupted only by a short call
into Halifax for fuel.
Received by a guard and band on 18 October, Commodore J. V. Brock, DSO, DSC, CD, RCN, embarked in
Bonaventure as Senior Canadian Officer Afloat (Atlantic) [SCOA(A)] and the carrier, accompanied by HMCS
Ottawa, began a transatlantic voyage five days later. En
route to Belfast every opportunity was taken to keep the
aircrews of VS 881 and VF 870 in training but a long
westerly swell produced a badly pitching deck as a result
of which a Tracker was lost over the side but the crew
was rescued. An S 58 Sikorsky helicopter was launched
and serviced from a platform on Ottawa’s deck for
evaluation tests, Bonaventure providing aircraft fuel as
necessary. In the quieter water of the North Channel
eight Trackers, four Banshees and one helicopter were
launched to fly to Sydenham. Bonaventure secured
alongside the familiar jetty and did not go to sea again
until 4 November. Flying proceeded all that day with an
interesting interlude in the afternoon when three minute
Army Auster reconnaissance aircraft landed on the flight
deck to become “carrier qualified”. The ship anchored in
Red Bay but had to weigh again in the first dog watch
when an unpredicted north-east gale started to blow,
Securing Banshee for catapulting.
Tracker aircraft–“Touch and Go”.
leaving Bonaventure off a lee shore.
A special anti-submarine exercise involving the defence of a convoy represented by RFA Wave Monarch
and defended by Bonaventure, Ottawa, HM Ships
Whitby, Hardy and Scarborough started in the Londonderry area on 11 November. Bad weather fouled up the
proceedings for aircraft with the result that the attacking
submarines had the edge on the defenders before the
exercise ended at 2100 on the 12th. Poor conditions persisted after the carrier had rendezvoused with the First
and Third Canadian Escort Squadrons. The ships fuelled
from RFA Wave Prince in the lee of San Miguel Island,
Azores, and thence shaped course to the westward on 21
November. After a trip, which had afforded little opportunity to operate aircraft, Bonaventure with the Third
Canadian Escort Squadron in company, the First having
detached to Argentia for fuel, arrived off Sambro Light
Vessel and proceeded up harbour.
Boisterous wind conditions in Halifax harbour deferred the start of Exercise Beaverdam some 24 hours
until 6 December, 1957. Off the entrance ten Trackers of
VS 881 and five helicopters of HS 50 landed on while
the destroyers St. Laurent, Ottawa, Haida and Micmac
took station on the carrier, the whole forming TG 301.0.
Low ceiling and visibility cut down considerably the rate
of flying intensity so that there was never any close contact with the opposing submarines. The exercise ended
off Chebucto Head in the evening of 12 December as the
destroyers were detached for home. Bonaventure stood
on and off from the land until the morrow when all aircraft flew off to Shearwater and the carrier also entered
Captain Groos relinquished command of Bonaventure
to Captain W. M. Landymore, OBE, CD, RCN, on 17
January, 1958. A major storing period was necessary for
the long spring cruise which started on 20 January with
the carrier sailing from Halifax wearing the Broad Pennant of Commodore Brock. Ten Tracker aircraft from
VS 881, six helicopters of HS 50, and one helicopter
from Squadron HU 21 joined from Shearwater and, with
Sioux as plane-guard, Bonaventure steamed for the Ber-
mudian area. Speed was worked up on the 22nd for fullpower trials and the flight deck was constantly in use
both day and night so that pilots could get their landing
qualification. On the cruise, for the first time in the history of the RCN, flying and fuelling operations were
carried out simultaneously when the carrier provided oil
for Sioux, Nootka, Algonquin and Micmac using both the
abeam and astern methods for the first ship and abeam
fuelling, only, for the others. The First Canadian Escort
Squadron parted company but, with the Third, rejoined
off Porto Rico. Near San Juan all ships, including
Bonaventure, took oil from USS Chukawan and then
anchored for the night in Sir Francis Drake Channel. For
the next three days the Canadian Fleet and aircraft
worked with HM Submarines Alcide and Alliance on a
variety of anti-submarine drills in the general vicinity of
the Virgin Islands. After another spell at anchor in Sir
Francis Drake Channel the A/S routine was resumed
with a carrier defence exercise, which was in preparation
for Exercise Aswex I-58. For this, three units (a convoy,
the carrier USS Leyte, and Bonaventure) each with their
own screen were formed; the exercise was four transits
of a large area by the convoy, during which it was to be
attacked by three U.S. submarines, including the nuclear-powered Seawolf. Both the Trackers and helicopters gave a very good account of themselves, and the
excellent water conditions permitted sonobuoy barrier
tactics to be used with considerable success.
Bonaventure secured alongside in Mayport, Florida,
on 15 February and exchanged HS 50 for VF 871
Squadron which had flown down from Shearwater.
Nootka was now in attendance and the two ships sailed
for Charleston on 21 February. Day Carquals for the
Banshees were completed without incident but an arrester wire failure later made it necessary to suspend all
flying. The carrier returned to Mayport for repairs and
on 25 February was awaiting the first four aircraft of VF
871 when a message was received that one Banshee had
crashed into the sea some time after take-off, the pilot
Launching Banshees from HMCS Bonaventure.
being killed.
Another tragedy occurred on 4 March, after the delayed visit to Charleston. A Banshee made a normal
deck landing but appeared to suffer a brake failure which
caused it to topple over the port side of the flight deck.
The air sea rescue helicopter was on the spot within seconds but it was too late the save the pilot’s life.
Prior to arriving at Bermuda, HMS Bulwark was met
and the two carriers exercised cross-operating, Bonaventure recovering and catapulting Sea Venoms and Sea
Hawks while Bulwark recovered and launched Trackers.12 The ships joined the British Home Fleet13 in
Grassy Bay and the combined fleets commenced Exercise Maple Royal I, a co-ordinated programme giving
practice in many aspects of sea warfare. Whilst the operation which was controlled by the Royal Navy progressed, the First Lord of the Admiralty, the Earl of Selkirk, and the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, Admiral Sir William W. Davis, KCB, DSO and Bar, visited
the Canadian carrier at different times. Manoeuvres
ended on 14 March and the Fleet entered Halifax.14
At the commencement of Maple Royal II on 18
March the sea breezes off Chebucto Head quickly dispersed any fumes lingering after the lively social programme which had been organized in Halifax to welcome the Royal Navy ships. For this next period the
fleets were under the tactical command of the Fleet
Commander, Commodore Brock, and the Flag of FOAC,
Rear-Admiral H. F. Pullen, OBE, CD, RCN, was worn
in St. Laurent as the latter was on board the carrier to
witness the exercises. The cross-operating technique
developed between Bonaventure and Bulwark proved an
asset when a Tracker landing at night on the former
dipped its port wheel over the deck edge. Previously,
during Maple Royal I, Bonaventure’s large mobile crane
had got out of control and edged its way over the side,
the driver jumping clear, so that the process of retrieving
the plane had to be attempted by jacking and the use of a
fork-lift machine. Two other Trackers which were
awaiting recovery touched down on Bulwark as an
emergency landing deck thus relieving anxiety and necessity for speed aboard Bonaventure. Canadian warships sailed past the Royal Navy Fleet on 22 March in an
impressive farewell and Bonaventure, now wearing the
Flag of Rear-Admiral Pullen, steered for a further two
days of exercising in the Grand Banks area.
Maple Royal I and II, which were the largest peacetime naval air manoeuvres staged by the two navies, had
been an exacting and valuable climax to the carrier’s
working-up routine. The fact that a Canadian officer was
in control of the second phase demonstrates the growth
in size and stature of the Royal Canadian Navy in the
last 20 years.*
*In the second paragraph of his farewell general message
HMCS Bonaventure gathering way.
The month of April 1958 was not very successful in
respect to exercising; Bonaventure sailed for the Grand
Banks on the 17th but although she did not return to
Halifax until 25 April only a few hours of flying were
possible. A convoy protection exercise, New Broom
VIII, requiring a passage from the Halifax approaches to
the Gulf of St. Lawrence and return, got started on 1
May. For the next four days with the exception of about
eight hours Bonaventure maintained two aircraft from
VS 881 in the air continuously by day and night, and
two helicopters of HS 50 from dawn to dusk. By prearrangement the ship was “sunk” on the morning of 6
May and was detached to proceed to Halifax, where she
secured at midnight. A week of boiler cleaning, defuelling, and de-ammunitioning followed and on the
13th Bonaventure sailed for Saint John, N.B., looking
rather like a mobile parking lot as 150 cars belonging to
the ship’s company were secured on her flight deck for
the trip. The carrier docked at Saint John on 15 May and
remained in dockyard hands until August.15
Fourteen weeks of breathing dockyard dust ended on
20 August when Bonaventure, having successfully completed trials during the previous week, headed for the
open sea. At Halifax there was a busy period getting the
ship ready for operations and on 2 September she
berthed for the first time at the new Shearwater jetty.
This was a distinct improvement for Bonaventure whose
function requires her to maintain close liaison with the
Commodore Brock aptly summed up the achievement of Maple
Royal. “Mark Twain once remarked that although he had lived in
a time of terrible troubles and known many dreadful things, none
of them had actually happened to him. For some years past there
have been fears expressed in many quarters that our two navies
had drawn too far apart to work together, but we have now all
seen that these doleful predictions were quite clearly untrue.”
air station.
Flying training started on 8 September, Trackers and
Banshees of various squadrons being put through their
paces. By 1 October Bonaventure was back at Shearwater and on that day the Broad Pennant of SCOA (A)
Commodore M. A. Medland, CD, RCN, was hoisted. A
week later four destroyers, St. Laurent, Ottawa, Huron
and Haida took station on the carrier, which had VS 881
and HS 50 embarked, as she headed out into the Atlantic
bound for the Mediterranean.
Hurricane “Janice” howled down on to the squadron
forcing it to heave to for a few hours but no damage was
done although winds were still gusting up to 60 miles
per hour when Bonaventure entered the Straits of Gibraltar. Off the Rock the Queen’s Harbour Master ordered
the ships to an anchorage, where a tanker supplied them
with fuel. The voyage continued to Malta in the middle
watch of 22 October and by the 24th the carrier, with her
escorts, lay in Grand Harbour awaiting the commencement of Exercise Medaswex 26 on 27 October. For these
manoeuvres British, Canadian and Italian warships
worked together for four days. Weather conditions were
not of the best but Bonaventure’s planes were airborne
for a creditable number of hours and were successful in
hunting “enemy” submarines.
After a further brief visit to Malta the Canadian task
group made an uneventful night passage through the
Straits of Messina to Naples. Bonaventure shackled on
to buoys close to the sea-wall on the morning of 3 November. The sunlit Italian port with its beautiful surrounding scenery had all its old charm and the local naval authorities were very hospitable. However, for the
libertyman in search of entertainment and souvenirs the
high prices charged made Naples an expensive “run
The two-day trip to Toulon began on 8 November and
on the 9th a rendezvous was made with HMS Sheffield,
which was wearing the Flag of Flag Officer Flotillas
Mediterranean. Italian authorities refused permission for
the flying of fixed-wing aircraft in the vicinity of their
coast but it was possible to conduct an A/S exercise using helicopters. Toulon was reached on 10 November
and 48 hours later Bonaventure was at sea for Exercise
Medaswex 27. Unfortunately early in the proceedings
there was a recurrence of Tracker hook failure, which
had been troublesome previously; also about this time it
was discovered that the flight deck arrester gear required
a major overhaul. All fixed-wing flying was therefore
suspended and Bonaventure withdrew from the exercise
two days early in order to enter Gibraltar. Six Trackers
were launched to the RAF Station, North Front, Gibraltar, and Bonaventure anchored off the Rock on 16 November to await a berth alongside.
It was now obvious that there could be no using of the
flight deck by Tracker aircraft until after the ship’s visit
to Portsmouth, the next port of call. The planes at North
Front were flown, via Lisbon and Bordeaux, to the
USAF Station, Shepherds Grove, Suffolk, England. Although her participation would be considerably less than
that originally planned Bonaventure sailed with her task
group and units of the Royal Navy, Portuguese, German
and French navies for Exercise Sharp Squall on 24 November.16 The same day five more Trackers were
launched to make their way to Shepherds Grove. The
Bay of Biscay was calm making it possible to carry out
some good A/S drills, the submarines coming off second
best to the surface ships, which were aided by the excellent operating conditions. Off the entrance to the Solent
the group was augmented by St. Croix, and as the ships
sailed hard by Southsea promenade Bonaventure discharged her six-pounder guns in salute to the Flag of the
Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth.
Bonaventure sailed for home on 6 December and off
Portland Bill altered course to receive her Tracker aircraft, which had been flown down to the RAF Station,
St. Mawgans, Cornwall the day previous. In the area of
the Azores on 9 December an ambitious flying programme started. That afternoon a signal was received
through the NATO organization asking the carrier to
provide fuel for the destroyer USS Thomas J. Gary. A
rendezvous was arranged and in due course the destroyer
hove in sight; as she approached, an ill-coordinated
“band” of about eight pieces struck up with a lively but
quite unrecognizable tune. Amidst cheers and laughter
on board Bonaventure, a large sign reading “Sonny’s
Service Station – Open all night – U.S. Credit Cards
accepted,” was unfurled and lighted on the carrier’s side.
Whilst this was going on it was observed that Gary was
not wearing an ensign and Bonaventure’s signalman
asked her to what NATO country she belonged. The
HMCS Bonaventure in Grand Harbour, Valetta, Malta.
“On the Rails,” Tracker ready for catapulting.
destroyer’s response was to run up “Old Glory” to the
accompaniment of more cheers from the carrier. On
completion of fuelling Gary cast off and as she faded
into the darkness the pipe “Hands muster on the fantail
mop up fuel oil” sounded across the water.
The exercise programme for the passage continued at
a high pitch until 15 December when Bonaventure secured to the air station jetty. Christmas and New Year
festivities and leave were the order of the day until early
in January 1959.17 From the 15th to the 29th VS 880
were qualified in day deck landings in a period during
which Bonaventure, with Haida, put to sea for five days
and then transported HS 50 to Bermuda, and returned.
“Fortunately the month had only twenty-eight days.”
The latter remark by her Commanding Officer summed
up the general feeling in Bonaventure concerning February 1959. It was a succession of nagging troubles, which
started when the carrier sailed for carquals on the 2nd.
The Atlantic ocean was at its worst and this combined
with extremely cold weather caused burst pipe joints,
damage to fittings, etc. Bonaventure returned to harbour
on 5 February but the following day put to sea again.
Heavy snow and gales once more descended on the ship
and the flying programme had to be drastically reduced.
By Sunday, 8 February, the weather outlook in the immediate vicinity was depressing and the course was
shaped for the Bermuda area. Within 48 hours every-
thing was right for flying but the “gremlins” were still at
work. A Tracker coming in on a normal landing, picked
up two wires, of which one parted and the other disengaged. Fortunately the plane happened to be pointing
straight down the axial deck and, with brakes full on
travelled the length, coming to rest after its nose wheel
had passed over the forward end of the flight deck. The
carrier anchored that night off St. David’s Head, Bermuda, to unravel the tangle of wires.
Bonaventure shortened in and weighed for another
flying session on 11 February. On the first recovery the
nose wheel of the aircraft was tripped by an arrester
wire, which then parted. The plane shuddered to rest
amidst flying wire and broken bits of propeller blading.
Here again fate was kind in that no one was injured although the catwalks were crowded with spectators
watching to see how the repaired wires would work. The
carrier anchored and although attempts were made to rerig the arrester system, insufficient serviceable wire
could be salvaged; the ship departed for Halifax, having
detached Haida to remain off Bermuda. Bonaventure
arrived off Halifax on a Saturday afternoon but as the
weather was calm she was able to land her own party
and berth unaided alongside Shearwater jetty. Thus
ended a month, as far as sea time was concerned, during
which the ship had suffered from a variety of mishaps,
the climax for the weary participants being an uptake
explosion when a boiler was being flashed up in the later
stages of the period.
The carrier was back in Bermudian waters on 7
March to collect HS 50, which had been training at the
U.S. Naval Base on the island. She lay in Grassy Bay
and then moved to the vicinity of Sable Island to participate in Exercise Beaverdam III. On both that day and the
next snow flurries and freezing temperatures made flight
deck operations hazardous. A shuttle service was organized with Shearwater, and the air station was used when
the deck was unsafe. By this arrangement most of the
scheduled air patrols demanded by the exercise were
carried out.
On completion of Beaverdam III Bonaventure returned to Halifax until 25 March when she slipped,
wearing the Broad Pennant of SCOA (A), bound for
Norfolk, Virginia. Ships in company, and forming Task
Group 301.0 for the passage, were Algonquin, St. Croix,
Restigouche, Athabaskan and Nootka. The group berthed
in Norfolk Navy Yard for two days prior to leaving for a
NATO exercise, New Broom IX. This operation was divided into three phases and during the first a Tracker
crashed into the sea whilst the carrier was making a recovery of aircraft. The duty planeguard, USS Rowe, immediately closed the spot but none of the crew of four
escaped from the plane.
The tenth anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization was celebrated at Norfolk after New Broom
IX ended on 4 April. Early on the agenda was an official
luncheon given by the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, Admiral Jerauld Wright, USN, for His Excellency
J. M. A. H. Luns.18 On 6 April all ships were represented
in a parade ceremony, followed by a cocktail party for
500 guests aboard Bonaventure; the same evening
SACLANT gave an Anniversary Ball. Bonaventure,
with Athabaskan, Restigouche and St. Croix, cleared
harbour for home on completion of the festivities. Off
New York the group joined Algonquin, wearing the Flag
of FOAC, and Nootka. Bonaventure arrived at Halifax
on 10 April, berthing on Shearwater’s jetty. Two more
days, the 15th and 16th, were spent at sea carrying out a
flying programme for the benefit of the RCAF Staff College. The Minister of National Defence and high ranking
air force and navy officers witnessed the drills of the
second day, disembarking by helicopter on 17 April. The
remainder of the month was spent in making preparations for the forthcoming training voyage.
The Spring Cruise, 1959, started on 4 May. Bonaventure made a quiet trip to Bermuda and from the 7th lay
alongside in the dockyard painting ship. Looking very
“tiddly” the carrier was ready to sail on the tide on 16
May but wind conditions were unfavourable for movement out of the yard. On the morrow, Sunday, the
weather was quiet and Bonaventure was joined by Lanark and Swansea as she departed for San Juan, Porto
Rico. Whilst in the Porto Rican harbour no fewer than
six submarines were in company and arrangements were
made for A/S exercises with three boats of the British
Sixth Submarine Flotilla when Bonaventure left on 26
May. Lanark and Swansea had been detached to Halifax
and HMCS Fort Erie, which had joined in San Juan,
took over as plane-guard. About 500 miles east of New
York the carrier steamed to meet HM Submarine Ambush. As arranged the rendezvous took place the following morning for the commencement of five days of exercising. One hundred and twelve submarine hours were
available but owing to marginal weather less than half
could be utilized. Bonaventure broke off the exercises on
7 June and entered New York harbour, without Fort
Erie, which was despatched to Halifax. During the visit
the carrier lay at the United States Line pier, number 86,
quite close to Manhattan.
New York State was celebrating the 350th Anniversary of the arrival in that area of Henry Hudson in his
ship, Half Moon, and the steaming into harbour of the
U.S. Second Fleet marked the commencement of official
celebrations.19 The latter event was witnessed from the
Battery, Manhattan Island, by a number of celebrities
including Mr. R. M. Nixon, Vice-President of the United
States, and SACLANT. The next day, 12 June, there was
a parade through the streets of New York, a detachment
from Bonaventure bringing up the rear of the armed
forces section.
Banshee taxis
after landing
Dusk recovery in the
North Atlantic
The ship’s company was given free entry to several theatres, dances, the ball games and boxing matches, all of
which helped to make the stay an enjoyable one.
Bonaventure sailed and groped her way in heavy fog
from the Ambrose Light to Sambro Light, off Halifax. In
the early morning of 15 June, after anchoring, HS 50,
together with 170 officers and men required for ceremonies in connection with the forthcoming Royal Visit to
Canada, were landed. Bonaventure then steamed out to
Sea/Air Rescue Station Number 5,20 Crusader being in
company from the 16th. The carrier was in station by 18
June and at 1325 the Royal Flight, which was tracked by
radar, passed overhead. Bonaventure, and her escort,
immediately lifted patrol and returned to Halifax, where
she secured at Jetty 4 to commence a long maintenance
The carrier was completely “shut-down” during July
1959 with only 100 officers and men remaining on
board; the others were either on long leave or in the
Royal Guards and Battalion. Almost a third of the ship’s
company took part in the ceremonial on the Garrison
Grounds in connection with the presentation of her Colour to the RCN, Atlantic Command, by HM the Queen.
A thick fog, interspersed with short, heavy showers, lay
over Halifax on the forenoon of 1 August but by 1400
the skies had cleared and the sun shone during the impressive ceremony.
All hands had rejoined Bonaventure by early September and it was back to a sea-going routine on the 12th.
The carrier now had a new Commanding Officer, Captain J. C. O’Brien, CD, RCN, and he was on the bridge
with Captain Landymore when she steamed seaward
with Crusader. The turn-over was completed by noon
and the following day Captain Landymore was flown
ashore to HMCS Shelburne. The object of the short
cruise was to test the arrester gear with 100 Banshee
landings and this was successfully accomplished by 14
September; an inspection of the gear in harbour showed
nothing untoward. On local cruises flying training
started in earnest on 17 September for Banshees and
Trackers and continued into the second week of October. Bonaventure lay at Halifax after 11 October preparing for a transatlantic voyage.
A speed of advance of 21.5 knots was maintained by
Bonaventure after she had left Halifax on 4 November,
1959. For the first few hours at sea HMCS Terra Nova
was in attendance as plane guard but was detached that
evening. Helped by an almost continuous westerly gale a
fast passage was made and in the vicinity of Rathlin Island the ship replenished with furnace fuel oil from RFA
Wave Ruler on the 9th. Algonquin, Athabaskan, Iroquois, and Sioux took station on the carrier and the Canadian group sailed up the Firth of Clyde to the fleet
anchorage in the picturesque harbour of Lamlash, Isle of
Arran, where it became part of a task force under the
command of Flag Officer Flotillas (Home).
Lamlash was the assembly port for a NATO fleet of
approximately 25 ships, which were preparing to take
part in Exercise Sharp Squall IV, phase one of which
started on 11 November with representative units from
the navies of Canada, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway and Britain participating. On the programme were a
replenishment at sea and two advanced anti-submarine
exercises. The weather, generally, was good with the
exception of Friday the 13th when a 55-knot southeasterly gale forced all ships to run for adjacent anchorages. In the early part of Sharp Squall IV Bonaventure
lost a Banshee off the bows as it was taking off; Athabaskan rescued the pilot and he was returned to the carrier by whaler one hour later.
There was a break in the exercises on 16 November
and the carrier paid an operational visit to the RN Aircraft Yard, Belfast, where VF 870 was off-loaded prior
to flying to the RN Air Station, Yeovilton, Somerset, for
shore-based training.* Bonaventure returned to the fray
on the 19th and for the second “blow” of Sharp Squall
again had Athabaskan as her plane-guard. Units of the
French fleet participated in this phase, which comprised
a variety of advanced tactical exercises. Manoeuvres
ended at one minute to midnight on 23 November and
Bonaventure made towards Portsmouth with her escorts.
Ships were required to enter harbour at widely separated
intervals and were therefore split into three groups, the
carrier, by herself, forming the second. Boisterous winds
were whipping up “white caps” on the Solent when
Bonaventure came to anchor but the following day the
weather had moderated sufficiently for her to enter harbour. A 17-gun salute was fired to the Commander-inChief Home Fleet21 and the shore authorities replied
with an 11-gun salute to Commodore J. Plomer, OBE,
DSC and Bar, CD, RCN, who had relieved Commodore
Medland as SCOA (A) in October. The carrier berthed
on Pitch House Jetty and later moved to Middle Slip
Jetty to progress catapult dead-load trials.
As usual Portsmouth proved to be a friendly, popular
port of call, catering to most tastes. The Canadians gave
a Christmas party for orphans ranging in age from three
to 15. This was an unqualified success thoroughly enjoyed by both hosts and guests, for whom a big thrill
was the arrival of Santa Claus by helicopter on the flight
deck. Musical entertainment was provided by the
“Bonaventure Drifters,” a sextet of talented musicians,
whose specialty is country-style music. The group also
gave a performance at the NAAFI22 auditorium before
an audience, which was so appreciative that they were
induced to give a second show. Another visitor to
Bonaventure during the visit was Mrs. S. W. Tracey,
*This was necessary because of catapult unserviceability in
Bonaventure at this time.
daughter of an officer who served in HMS Bonaventure
between 1901 and 1903. This lady presented a battle
honours plaque (which had been carried in her father’s
ship) to Captain O’Brien for retention by the carrier as a
continuing link with former warships of the name.
Banshees of VF 870 from Yeovilton and three Trackers of VS 880, which had been deployed to the RAF
Station, Thorney Island, were recovered at 1630 on 3
December as Bonaventure sailed for home, accompanied
by Algonquin, Iroquois, Sioux and Athabaskan. Commodore Plomer and two of his staff officers were transferred from Algonquin by helicopter and the carrier
steadied on a course for Ushant at 18 knots; later, speed
had to be reduced during the dog-watches as the smaller
ships started to “bump.” At 2200 Bonaventure further
eased speed to flush lubricating oil while the destroyers
detached on a course for the French coast. The carrier
was ten miles off Ushant at first light on 4 December
when a message was received that a member of the
ship’s company was required at home in Canada for
compassionate reasons. Contact was made with the
French naval authorities at Brest and, the carrier having
got into the lee of one of the inshore islands, a helicopter
took off to land the man at Guipavas air-field. The opportunity was also taken to transfer the remainder of the
Commodore’s staff from Algonquin to Bonaventure. The
destroyer was then detached to join the others with orders to proceed to the Azores at best speed.
Early on Saturday morning, 5 December, Bonaventure was making good headway, alone, across the Bay of
Biscay. In the Gulf Stream to the east of Nova Scotia a
small storm was developing but, although it was expected to move rapidly across the Atlantic at 50 knots,
curve north-eastwards and pass up the west coast of Ireland, it seemed that Bonaventure would be southwest of
Cape Finisterre out of harm’s way. In actual fact the
storm path became easterly and at one time the ship was
only 50 to 60 miles from the centre.
By 0800 on 6 December the carrier was hove to beset
by gigantic waves and winds of hurricane force.23 Generally Bonaventure rode it out very well but an occasional wave out of phase was dangerous as it swept
down the starboard side and across the flight deck normally some 39 feet above the waterline. At one point the
Damage Control Department had to take prompt action
when the forward lift opened and the hangars began to
fill up with free-surface water which might have threatened the stability of the ship. Hands were also kept busy
baling out water which poured into the forward messes.
Bonaventure was battered by the storm for another 24
hours before she could resume course. During that time
the port mirror had been badly twisted; the window on
the starboard side of the compass platform had been
stove in; a big wave crashing in to the starboard mirror
sponson had torn the welded seams open and buckled
the steel bracket supports.
The centre of the storm was moving northward into
the Bristol Channel as the carrier increased speed in the
forenoon of 7 December to run south-westward from the
heavy-weather area. Ships were in distress in the Straits
of Dover and as far north as the Pentland Firth, while
radio reports indicated that a number of crack liners,
including RMS Queen Elizabeth and SS United States,
were hove to. Conditions continued to improve during
the night but another storm from the Grand Banks made
things uncomfortable for a few hours on the 8th. After
this, wind and sea slowly settled down and flying, on a
limited scale, was recommenced on 10 December. Two
days later, having closed the rendezvous position of HM
Submarine Alderney, the first detail of two Trackers was
launched at 0715. One plane crashed on take-off and no
trace could be found of the crew. Bonaventure picked up
the aircraft dinghies by grapnel and sadly left the area.
Algonquin, Iroquois, Sioux and Athabaskan, all of
which had suffered damage of some kind during the big
storm, were met and at 0930 on 13 December the carrier
stood off the entrance to Halifax. Evidently the weather
was determined to keep the pressure up to the bitter end
and winds gusting up to gale force delayed berthing until
1300 whilst friends and relatives waited in the pouring
rain. On Monday morning dockyard officials carried out
a preliminary survey of the storm damage and it was
decided that Bonaventure should undergo repairs at
Saint John. She was sailed to the New Brunswick port
on 10 January, 1960, and remained there, in the hands of
the Saint John Drydock Company, until March.
Repairs were completed on time but Bonaventure’s
adverse weather “cloud” again settled over her and sailing was delayed for 48 hours by strong winds. She finally departed from Saint John on the morning tide of 14
March. In Halifax there was a hectic week of storing and
trials before the carrier, with Trackers on board, sailed
for Bermuda. Excellent weather off the island enabled
considerable progress to be made in carquals and by the
“Bows under.” “Bonnie” in a heavy swell.
end of the month VS 880 had made 236 arrested landings. For this cruise La Hulloise acted as plane-guard
until 24 March and was replaced the next day by Athabaskan. The programme went ahead uneventfully and
the carrier returned to Shearwater jetty to replenish.
Twelve Trackers of VS 880 were hoisted on board by
crane and five helicopters of HS 50 flew on for the last
period of squadron work-ups, for which Bonaventure
slipped at 1000 on 13 April. In the early hours of the
14th Shearwater asked the carrier to try and obtain direction-finder bearings on an overdue Tracker. Although
she was able to “read” the aircraft there was insufficient
time to get bearings before the contact faded. However,
the ditching position was obtained by intercepting a
message between two shore authorities and Bonaventure
increased speed to close the area, some 800 miles to the
southwest. Maximum revolutions were rung on at 0130
but two hours later news was received that the crew had
been found by the U.S. Coastguard. On successful completion of the carrier-qualifying period Bonaventure secured to Jetty 4, HMC Dockyard, Halifax.24 A Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation television crew, which had
been aboard for the last ten days obtaining film and recordings for a special RCN anniversary programme, left
the ship at this time.
Bonaventure singled up and slipped for Exercise
Shortstop on 2 May, 1960. Zero hour was on the 4th and
by the end of the manoeuvres on 17 May, Trackers of
VS 880 had flown 104 sorties in 453 hours and the helicopters of HS 50 had flown 83 sorties in 123.7 hours.
Halfway through Shortstop the rescue helicopter was
called upon to pick up a sick seaman from the former
USS Hoggatt Bay,25 which was under tow by a Dutch
tug; the patient was subsequently landed at Halifax. Refuelling from the carrier was exercised on a number of
occasions, Nootka receiving oil four times, Halda three
times, and Iroquois twice during the month. Bonaventure, herself, refuelled twice from USS Calooshatchee.
On completion of Exercise Shortstop there was a layover of two days at Shearwater jetty.
The year 1960 was a very important milestone in the
history of the RCN, it being the Fiftieth Anniversary of
the formation of the Service. On 19 May 48 ships, including Bonaventure, took part in a sail past, 29 warships manning and cheering ship for the Chief of the
Naval Staff. Fifty naval aircraft roared overhead in salute and, after passing the reviewing stand in the dockyard, a Tracker of VS 880 was launched from the carrier’s catapult. Bonaventure berthed on Jetty 4 and the
following day the Fleet held its regatta in Bedford Basin;
Navy Day was celebrated on 21 May and 4538 visitors
toured the ship. Ashore, on the Monday a large crowd
witnessed the Trooping of the Queen’s Colour in honour
of Her Majesty’s birthday. Amongst visiting warships in
Halifax for the festivities were two RN frigates, HM
Ships Troubridge and Ulster, and the Spanish training
ship Juan Sebastian de Elcano; Bonaventure acted as
host ship for the last mentioned.26
It was back to the training routine on 26 May when
Bonaventure, with Nootka, started flying drills for
Trackers and helicopters en route to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On 1 June a 21-gun National Salute fired in
honour of the United States was followed by a salute,
replied to gun for gun, to the Flag of the Commandant
Fourth Naval District, as the ship approached the U.S.
Navy Yard. The carrier and her escort returned down the
Delaware River on the 7th for more anti-submarine manoeuvres in the Halifax-Bermuda exercise area, where
she was joined by HM Submarine Auriga, St. Croix and
Kootenay. The current programme ended at Halifax on
11 June.
The weather was kind to Bonaventure in the latter
part of June and early July. Two successful training
cruises were made, one to Bermuda and the other locally, fighters, A/S aircraft and helicopters all being put
through their paces. Back at Shearwater jetty on 15 July
the Broad Pennant was shifted to HMCS Cape Scott and
Bonaventure shaped course on the next day for Ingonish,
The carrier was lying at anchor in South Bay off Ingonish Beach on 17 July awaiting the arrival of Their
Excellencies the Governor-General and Madame Georges P. Vanier from the Province of Nova Scotia’s Keltic
Lodge. A Royal Salute was fired and as His Excellency
disembarked from the helicopter he was greeted by a
guard and band, with the ship’s company at ceremonial
divisions. The ship weighed anchor and during a sunny
afternoon the Governor General was given a flying
demonstration by the embarked squadrons. From early
on 18 July until the evening of 19 July the vice-regal
party visited Charlottetown, P.E.I., whilst Bonaventure
waited in Hillsborough Bay. She was under way again
Battened down for heavy seas.
“Off the angle.”
A Tracker
becomes airborne.
on the 20th in thick fog, which lasted until the ship was
off the entrance to St. John’s, Newfoundland. Prior to
leaving by helicopter for Torbay Airport with Madame
Vanier the Governor General spoke to the company at
divisions and put the seal on a popular visit when he
“ordered ‘Splice the Main Brace’ and granted an amnesty to all men under punishment.”
Having recovered her helicopters Bonaventure reentered the fog off the coast for the return trip. Full
power trials were conducted and, approaching Nova
Scotia, the fixed-wing aircraft were launched to Shearwater. A salute was fired to the Flag of Rear-Admiral
Pullen, who was shortly retiring as FOAC, and in the
last dog-watch of 22 July Bonaventure secured at Jetty 4
to end the sea-going activities of a month during which
she had steamed almost 3,500 miles. The annual refit
period was now imminent and the usual preparations
were completed by the end of July. The carrier was
taken in hand by the Saint John Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, N.B., and leave and courses occupied all
hands until late October 1960. An Expeditor (C-45) aircraft, allocated for the duration of the refit, was an invaluable asset; some 3½ tons of freight and over 400
passengers were moved by the plane, which was also
useful in assisting the ship’s aviators to maintain their
Bonaventure was back at Halifax and ready for sea by
14 November. Between that date and the 28th the carrier, with Cayuga attendant upon her, gave flying training to VS 880 Detachment One and VF 870. For most
nights Bonaventure anchored in St. Margaret’s Bay and
in the forenoon of 23 November she conducted heeling
trials there. Flying stations were secured on completion
of the current exercises and the carrier made fast to the
north jetty, South Boston Naval Annex. After official
calls had been made and returned Captain O’Brien participated in an arboreal ceremony on 30 November.
Bonaventure had on board two maple trees from Kent-
ville, Nova Scotia, which were a present from the Canadian Government to replace trees destroyed near the admiral’s quarters by a hurricane in the previous fall. Rear
Admiral C. F. Espe, USN, and the Canadian ConsulGeneral, the Honourable S. D. Hemsley, broke ground in
front of the residence and the maples were duly planted
to the accompaniment of suitable music provided by the
Boston naval base band.
Bonaventure and Cayuga put to sea on 5 December
and flying was resumed, VF 870 taking part in a ground
support exercise at Camp Gagetown, New Brunswick,
between the 6th and 9th. The Chief of the Naval Staff,
Vice-Admiral H. S. Rayner, DSC, CD, RCN, and Commodore of the Barracks, Commodore Medland, were airlifted by helicopter from Shelburne and Bonaventure
steamed towards a rendezvous with Task Force 301.*
Admiral Rayner transferred to Cape Scott and thence to
Crescent to witness manoeuvres by the force; at 1700 on
15 December he was flown by Tracker to the RCAF
Station at Greenwood, Nova Scotia. The Task Force
entered Halifax on 16 December. Commodore Medland
left by helicopter for HMC Dockyard and Bonaventure
*HMC Ships Cape Scott, Haida, Sioux, Micmac, Crescent,
Nookta, Inch Arran, Outremont and Victoriaville.
Banshee fighter takes off.
VF 870 Banshee flypast.
made fast to Jetty 4. On 19 December, 1960, the carrier
was again wearing the Broad Pennant of SCOA (A) as
Commodore Plomer had returned from Cape Scott.
The Command and Operations Teams from the Carrier attended the Joint Maritime Warfare School in Halifax between 18-24 January, 1961, for briefings and tactical games in preparation for a forthcoming NATO antisubmarine symposium. In the evening of the 24th
Bonaventure steamed away from her base with members
of the Permanent Joint Board of Defence on board and,
having flown them off a few days later to the American
Air Force base at Bermuda by helicopter, she began exercising off the islands.
VS 880 “spread” of Trackers.
Battling heavy seas on passage Bonaventure arrived,
on 10 February, at the entrance to Norfolk, Virginia,
where she fired a National Salute to the United States
followed by a personal salute to Admiral R. L. Dennison, USN, the Commander-in-Chief Atlantic Fleet.
Rear-Admiral K.L. Dyer, DSC, CD, RCN, who had now
become FOAC, joined the ship two days later and with
34 members of the annual NATO ASW Symposium
Tracker breaking formation.
accommodated on board she sailed again on 13 February
in company with Columbia, Chaudiere, Kootenay, Terra
Nova and Restigouche for Exercise Tout Droit. By 2000
on the 14th the exercise was over and the carrier landed
all her passengers at Norfolk prior to returning to Bermudian waters. For the next six weeks Bonaventure
spent her time exercising with the brief interruption of a
six-day visit to Porto Rico. Arriving home on 28 March
she had to remain at sea overnight owing to high winds
but finally secured at HMC Dockyard the next afternoon.
On 5 April Banshees, Trackers and helicopters flying
from Bonaventure’s deck put on an extensive demonstration for the benefit of the Minister of National Defence, the Honourable D. L. Harkness, who had flown
out from Shearwater. On completion the Minister was
returned to the air station and Bonaventure secured at
Shearwater Jetty to prepare for another NATO exercise,
code name New Broom X. These manoeuvres and two
local cruises, carried out for the purpose of giving aerial
displays for the members of the Army Staff College,
occupied the ship until the end of the month when she
was given a rest to carry out self-maintenance alongside.
The Broad Pennant was shifted to Cape Scott and,
with her squadrons struck down, Bonaventure put to sea
on 23 May with Algonquin. Sioux replaced the latter as
plane-guard the following day and flying training continued in spite of rough seas; this phase ended alongside
the Naval Air Station at Quonset Point, R.I. During the
spell in harbour the RCN joined in local festivities when
Bonaventure landed two parties of 50 men each to take
part in Kingston Decoration Day and other ceremonies
at Woonsocket, R.I. It was back to the flying routine for
the carrier on 1 June in a session, which lasted until the
6th when she and Sioux secured at Brooklyn Army Terminal, New York.
Dozing pigeons and starlings, not to mention the local
inhabitants in the immediate vicinity, had a rude shock
on 10 June as the sounds of Bonaventure firing a 21-gun
salute to mark the birthday of HRH Prince Philip reverberated from the surrounding buildings. Apart from
these pyrotechnics the visit was a quiet one and the ships
sailed within 48 hours for extensive operations with
Task Force 83.3, consisting of a carrier and five destroyers under the command of Rear Admiral G. Koch, USN.
The Canadian group was augmented by Athabaskan and
the whole party exercised its skill and ingenuity to trap
the two USN submarines provided as targets. For one
day Bonaventure took over the duties of directing ship,
Rear Admiral Koch having transferred by helicopter
from his flagship, Essex. Their share of the exercise
completed, Bonaventure and Athabaskan detached and
by 26 June had returned to Halifax.
For the month of July 1961 the carrier was once again
involved in large-scale NATO manoeuvres for which her
planes flew frequent missions. During one sortie a Sikorsky belonging to HS 50 crashed ahead of the ship but its
crew was saved by USS Voorhis, one of the two escorting destroyers. In the forenoon of the 12th ten NATO
newsmen arrived by Tracker aircraft from USS Independence and were later addressed by Rear Admiral
Bryan, USN, who came on board by high line from USS
Neosho while Bonaventure was refuelling from the
tanker; on completion of a short news conference the
Admiral was flown over to USS John Paul Jones. A
post-mortem was subsequently held at Norfolk to examine the lessons learnt in Exercise Riptide II.
Two thousand visitors toured Bonaventure on Navy
Day at Halifax, where she lay from the end of July until
the third week of September. Wearing the Broad Pennant of a new SCOA(A), Commodore M. G. Stirling,
CD, RCN, and with a new Commanding Officer, Captain F. C. Frewer, CD, RCN, Bonaventure next departed
with VS 880 Detachment One, HS 50, and HU 21 Detachment One on board for exercises, which were to take
her into far northern waters. Course was set via the Strait
of Belle Isle for the training areas off the coast of Labrador and flying operations started on the 25th in compliance with the orders for Exercise Jaswex 3/61. On completion Restigouche, St. Croix, and Haida were sent in to
refuel in Hamilton Inlet, where they were joined by
Bonaventure early on 1 October. A few hours later the
latter weighed anchor and stood off the land to launch
four Trackers, which flew to Goose Bay airport. The
aircraft were overhead again at 1900 and, having recovered them, Bonaventure shaped course in a northerly
direction with her attendant destroyer escorts in company.
Exercise Trapline, which started in the evening of 2
October, had as its main objective the detection of the
“enemy” submarine, HMS Aurochs, by the opposing
surface and air forces. The exercise area abounded with
icebergs and growlers, which required bridge watchkeepers to be constantly on the alert, particularly at
night; the presence of large masses of ice also made it
difficult for searching aircraft as they had to spend a
large part of their time investigating false contacts.
Bonaventure’s rescue and utility helicopter (known as
“Pedro”, the little burro) was kept particularly busy
transferring personnel and material between ships. Eight
landings were made by the Sikorsky on the platforms of
destroyer escorts, 20 on board Neosho, and 130, most of
which were in the course of planeguard duties, on the
carrier’s flight deck.
During the first day no contact was made with the
lurking submarine and on 3 October Restigouche, St.
Croix, and Haida, were sent to patrol between Resolution and Button Islands at the entrance to Hudson Strait.
The “enemy” remained undetected by this group until
the 7th when he was caught trying to leave Ungava Bay
and brought to successful action. Bonaventure, meanwhile, with Algonquin and Huron, had passed through
Gray Strait into Ungava Bay to conduct flying operations. Trapline ended at 2100 on 8 October and the
squadron took station for the homeward trip. On the
way, parties of officers and men were exchanged between Neosho and Bonaventure, that from the former
staying aboard the carrier for 24 hours during which a
Thanksgiving Dinner was shared with the hosts whilst
the Canadian sailors remained in the tanker for the last
24 hours at sea before arrival at Halifax.
At her home port Bonaventure was given ten days of
respite after her recent 5,200-mile voyage before resuming her flying training programme off the Nova Scotian
coast. The first period was marked by the return of VF
870’s Banshees to her decks for pilot re-qualification.
The fourteenth of November 1961 found Bonaventure
and Columbia steaming away from the Bermuda area
towards Charleston when at 1130 the 9000th arrested
landing since commissioning was made by Lieutenant
K. Miller, USN, in a CS2F aircraft. St. Croix and Restigouche hove into sight and exercises started in the operational area with the USN submarine Trout. The last
named proved to be a worthy adversary and the exercises had been of considerable benefit by the time they
ended. Bonaventure headed into Charleston, South Carolina, where she secured at Pier Kilo. On the Sunday
Fleet Divisions were held in the naval base, the carrier’s
contribution being 100 officers and 600 men. After a
pleasant week during which the local inhabitants did
their utmost to make the visit of the Canadians a memorable one, Bonaventure, Columbia, Restigouche and Iroquois sailed down river. Off Quonset Point she parted
from her escorts and made her way to the familiar air
station jetty. This three-day rest period was the prelude
to the autumn A/S exercises after which Bonaventure
“Out of the Chocks.” HS 50 taking off.
Tracker and crew with war load, HMCS Bonaventure.
berthed in Halifax. In a final survey of activities in 1961
it was found that the count for arrested landings by
fixed-wing aircraft during the past year had reached the
grand total of 2,920.
In the course of her career the carrier has been host to
many and varied visitors, the first party in 1962 being
from the National Defence College. Later in January
Bonaventure was hauled by tugs to Shearwater Jetty for
the embarkation of 12 Trackers belonging to VS 880
prior to sailing for exercises. During the next few weeks
the ship’s fixed-wing planes, and helicopters which had
flown on as she headed seaward, made frequent sorties
on patrol and interception missions. The high pressure of
training for the air component was kept up even when
Bonaventure visited San Juan, Porto Rico, in midFebruary, VS 880 and HS 50 being sent to continue flying operations from Isla Grande Airport. At the beginning of March the squadrons returned on board as the
carrier headed back to Bermuda, where she lay in Grassy
Bay on the 5th. Algonquin, Huron and Haida weighed
with her the next day and the Canadian ships left for the
Newport operations area and exercises with U.S. Task
Group 83.4.
Three frigates of the Seventh Canadian Escort Group,
Victoriaville, Outremont and Lanark, which had been
with Bonaventure in San Juan, were on their way home
from Bermuda in the middle of March, conducting a
convoy exercise en route. Contact was made with this
group and from the 14th Bonaventure gave long range
air support. Internal defects made it necessary for Haida
to speed on to Halifax alone but the other two destroyer
escorts and Bonaventure integrated with the “convoy.”
Later the carrier detached for full power trials and finally
steamed into her home port on 16 March. Since leaving
Porto Rico seven Argentinian naval aviators had been
the guests of the wardroom in order that they might gain
experience of air/sea operations, and in connection with
this liaison their country’s naval attaché to Canada,
Rear-Admiral E. G. M. Grunwaldt, Argentine Navy, was
received on board by FOAC some days after Bonaventure’s return. Having toured the ship the party, which
included most of the visiting flyers, was dined by
Air and sea units of the Atlantic Command were deployed in early April 1962 for exercises off the coast of
Nova Scotia. Bonaventure operated her Trackers and
Sikorskys with both CNS and FOAC as spectators until
the 10th when the two Senior Officers transferred to
Crescent by jackstay during the refuelling of the destroyer escort. By 19 April the carrier had finished her
sea time for the month and also passed the 10,000 mark
for arrested landings.
In the early months of summer Bonaventure continued her flying training schedule locally and on exercise
cruises, which were interrupted by lay-overs in Norfolk
and Bermuda. On 16 June she was leaving Halifax with
aircraft of VS 880, HS 50, and one from VX 10 embarked to rendez-vous with ships of the Fifth Canadian
Escort Squadron. A modified bent-line, consisting of
Bonaventure, Terra Nova, Kootenay and Gatineau, was
formed around Chaudiere and at 1115, after three
Trackers from Shearwater, had roared overhead in farewell salute, the warships stopped engines while the ashes
of the late Surgeon-Commodore A. McCallum, OBE,
VRD, RCN, were committed to the deep. At the end of
the service Chaudiere returned to harbour with the
mourners while the other ships continued to southern
The Jaswex 62 programme of exercises was conducted off Bermuda for most of June and was in progress on the 26th when the RCN’s yacht Pickle, which
had just competed in the Newport-Bermuda Race, sailed
through the area bound for Halifax. In-the forenoon
watch of 28 June, having detached Kootenay, Restigouche, and Gatineau to carry on with Jaswex,
Bonaventure shaped course northward with St. Croix
although her aircraft continued to supply air support as
long as possible. Commodore Stirling was flown ashore
to Shearwater and the ship returned to the familiar surroundings of the city of Halifax.
Wearing the Broad Pennant of SCOA(A) Bonaventure was off again to sea on 3 July. Six destroyer escorts
joined with her for A/S exercises, which included a 24hour sustained search for an “enemy” submarine, HMS
Alderney. By 6 July the manoeuvres were over and eight
Trackers were launched to fly to Quebec Airport, where
they were to be based during Bonaventure’s stay in the
city; the fixed-wing planes were followed by a helicopter carrying Commodore Stirling to make his official
calls on local dignitaries. Alongside at Wolfe’s Cove
Jetty the carrier quickly became the centre of attraction
for residents and tourists. On Saturday SCOA(A) met
250 military and civilian guests at a flight-deck reception, which was followed by a stirring performance of
the Sunset Ceremony by a contingent from HMCS
Cornwallis on the jetty. A similar display was given the
following night in the Citadel with Commodore P. Earl,
CBE, CD, RCNR, taking the salute. Bonaventure eventually pulled away from the quay after a successful visit
during which some 16,000 people took advantage of the
“open ship” periods whilst many thousands more had
viewed the carrier from the shore.
Now due for a refit Bonaventure returned to Halifax
and commenced the disembarkation of her ammunition,
a task, which was completed in the creditable time of
just under ten hours. The Broad Pennant of SCOA(A)
was shifted from her and on 23 July she steamed to Lauzon, P.Q. On arrival Bonaventure and a Swedish
freighter were placed in Champlain Dock and pumping
commenced to empty the drydock of water. With her
reduced Ship’s Company accommodated in Cape Scott
at the entrance to the dock the Royal Canadian Navy’s
largest and most important unit was turned over to the
tender mercies of dockyard workmen.
At the time of writing Bonaventure has been in commission over five and a half years, with the prospect of
many more to come. Canada being deeply committed to
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for the defence
of the Free World, the carrier will, no doubt, in the future, as in the past, be frequently working with the warships of her allies. Her historic French motto, “Non Por
Nos Toz Seus” meaning, in English, “Not for us alone,”
is appropriate to the situation in which the nations find
themselves in the present age when mutual co-operation
and assistance are imperative if mankind is to survive.
Final bill, excluding provision of certain North American
equipment, for Powerful came to approximately 31 million dollars. NS 8000-CVL 22.
“Ibid. Letter from United Kingdom High Commissioner to
Under Secretary for External Affairs.
Ibid. Copy of Agreement.
Displayed in a prominent position in the wardroom mess of
HMCS Bonaventure is a three-dimensional map of the island
reproduced, personally, and presented to the ship by Mr. E. D.
Baldock, Chief Cartographer, Maps Compilation & Reproduction,
Department of Mines & Technical Surveys, Ottawa.
Blodwen Davies, Gaspé, Land of History and Romance,
Toronto, 1949.
The optimum angle has to be considered for each class of
aircraft carrier.
The principle is a slotted cylinder having no rams or hydraulic purchases. Aircraft is connected to a hook directly attached to a piston driven along the cylinder by high pressure
steam from the ship’s main boilers. A sealing device is used to
keep the slotted cylinder steam tight.
The efficiency of the “Batsman” or LSO, at night, had been
greatly increased in the RCN in 1954 by an invention of Lieutenant-Commander S. E. Seward, CD, RCN. Lengths of one and a
half inch lucite rods were attached to service coveralls and to
specially designed paddle-shaped bats. When light from small
bulbs was shone along the rods, the resulting neon-line illumination was visible to a plane more than 1,000 feet away.
Tests have shown that the equipment will extract 100% of
water and 99.99999% of dust from contaminated aviation fuel.
The remaining .00001% is considered acceptable.
At the commissioning ceremony the White Ensign and Canadian Blue Ensign were hoisted but, the day after, Bonaventure
reverted to wearing the British Red Ensign as she was still under
the control of her builders. As soon as she had been accepted the
White Ensign was once again worn.
During the trials Lieutenant A. P. Lavigne, RCN, made the
33,000th landing on Wasp since she had recommissioned in 1951.
Banshees made only “touch and go” landings on Bulwark
as her catapult had not been tested with a static load equal to this
HM Submarine Depot Ship Maidstone; HM Cruiser Ceylon; six destroyers; two frigates; two submarines; two RFA’s; HM
Aircraft Carrier Bulwark.
Canadian ships taking part in the Maple Royal Exercises
were: Bonaventure, St. Laurent, Ottawa, Assiniboine, Saguenay,
Algonquin, Haida, Micmac, Nootka, Sioux, Outremont, La Hulloise, Swansea. HM Submarines Alcide and Amphion of Sixth
Submarine Squadron, based at Halifax, also worked with the Canadian Fleet.
During the refit a “village under canvas” was set up at Oak
Point on the Saint John River for families of the ship’s company.
The army made available tents, floor boards, camp beds, mattresses, chairs and tables whilst a number of other friends and
authorities collaborated in various ways to make the project a
success. A party of six (under the direction of the ship’s army
liaison officer) known as the “Bonaventure Construction Company,” started work in mid-May and the first campers arrived in
June. When the village was finally dismantled it was agreed that
the camp had been a great success and had provided an inexpensive and rewarding holiday for both parents and children.
Without Huron which had been in collision with the
French destroyer Maille-Breze during Exercise Medaswex 27 and
was now in dry dock at Toulon.
At the end of 1958 Bonaventure had received four silver
trophies, which had been brought to Canada by the First Sea Lord,
the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, PC, GCB, GCSI, GCIE,
GCVO, DSO, LLD, DCL, D.Sc. These trophies, which included a
rose-bowl, a sugar dredger, a twin-handled tankard and a glass
and silver cigar lighter, were originally presented before the First
World War, 1914-18, to HMS Bonaventure, the fifth of name. The
silver will remain in the care of the RCN as long as there is a
Bonaventure in commission with the Canadian Fleet.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, President
of the NATO Council and permanent representative to the Council.
Henry Hudson, English navigator and explorer, undertook
to find a passage to China either by the north-east or north-west
route, for the Dutch East India Company. He sailed from the
Texel on 6 April, 1609, and was in the Barents Sea the following
month. Owing to the fact that some of his men were disheartened
and mutinous Hudson agreed to an alternative plan and shaped
course for Virginia to seek the passage in about 40 degrees north
latitude. An accident off Newfoundland on 5 June made it necessary for Half Moon to put into the Kennebec River. On 3 September Hudson entered the bay of New York and went 150 miles up
the river that now bears his name to approximately the position of
the present city of Albany. Having decided that his course was not
leading to the south seas or China he returned down river. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Toronto, Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc.,
50° 15’ N, 43° 30’ W. Ships of the Royal Navy were stationed several hundred miles apart from the British coast to a
position in mid-ocean. From this point to the coast of Newfoundland Canadian warships were responsible, the area being covered
by Bonaventure, Crusader, and HMC Frigates Lanark and Cap de
la Madeleine.
Admiral Sir W. Davis, KCB, DSO and Bar (C-in-C, Allied
Forces, Eastern Atlantic).
Short title for “Navy Army and Air Force Institutes.”
Duration of Force 12 (64-71 knots): 1000/6th-1500/6th;
Highest wind speed (average): 68 knots at 1000/6th; Maximum
wave height, estimated: 65 feet.
On this cruise “Bonnie” had clocked up the 100,000th mile
steamed since commissioning. Also a Tracker made the 5000th
arrested landing on the carrier. Immediately following the latter
event, at a mock ceremony on the flight deck, Captain O’Brien
bestowed appropriate “honours” on the plane’s crew.
Ex-Escort Helicopter Aircraft Carrier (CVHE); 10,400
tons full load, built in 1943 as an Escort Aircraft Carrier.
A four-masted topsail schooner of 3,420 tons (at threequarters load). Vessel is named after Juan Sebastian del Cano,
first circumnavigator of the world (1519-1526), who succeeded to
the command of the expedition led by Magellan after the latter
was killed in the Philippines.
Previous chapters have shown how in the past 20 years,
Canada’s naval air arm has grown from a small nucleus
of dedicated enthusiasts to a well-organized force one
tenth of the whole navy, which itself has more than doubled in size since 1950.1 Having looked at the day-today story of each carrier as she has held the key position
in the Fleet, it is now proposed to review the role of Naval Aviation in the concept of national defence, examine
the challenges to which it has had to respond and discuss
the trend of possible future developments.
Conceived in the Second World War as an antisubmarine force, naval air had scarcely begun to take
shape when other considerations started to exert an influence on future planning. First and foremost, the defeat
of the enemy’s U-boat campaign in the North Atlantic
and the successful invasion of Europe in 1944 indicated
that the composition of the Canadian fleet would have to
be changed for its redeployment to the Far East. In that
vast theatre, carrier task forces were required to operate
aircraft against the Japanese fleet or to strike crippling
blows at the enemy’s far-flung empire. This new tactical
situation also complemented the Canadian navy’s desire
to prepare for post-war diversification with the result
that the acquisition of light fleet carriers was approved.
With the surrender of Japan in August 1945 the RCN
in common with all Western Allied Military forces rapidly demobilized. Fortunately, planning and training for
a new fleet air arm had gone too far for it to be obliterated as in 1918 but the struggle for survival was a tough
one. Many of the skilled air personnel, so painstakingly
assembled, retired happily to “Civvy Street” and those
remaining had to reorganize with the prospect of financial wherewithal being greatly reduced; the abandonment at this time of plans to man a second light fleet
carrier was to have an adverse effect on the full development of air potential in future years. The great weakness of the young air branch was the dearth of senior
officers with any direct experience in naval aviation to
set it off on the right course.* In the years immediately
after the war Captains Lay and Bidwell, who had commanded Nabob and Puncher respectively, took it in turns
to head the flying organization until they were required
for other responsible appointments. To follow these experienced officers the RCN had to get outside help.
Starting in 1946 a succession of air experts, seconded
from the Royal Navy and the United States Navy, served
in Ottawa, the first being Captain Rotherham, RN, who
held the appointments of Deputy DNAD, then DNAD
and finally Director of Naval Aviation in the period June
1946 to January 1949.† In April 1949 Commodore Lay
completed his tour of duty as Assistant Chief of Naval
Staff (Plans) (Air) to be followed by the first of four senior Captains, RN, who have held the post of Assistant
Chief of Naval Staff (Air) with the rank of Commodore
Second Class whilst holding appointment.
From the foregoing it will be seen that, at first, Naval
Aviation, undermanned and equipped with obsolete aircraft, could only play a minor role in a fleet, which was
also suffering from the post-war “let-down” as it tried to
spread its inadequate resources to meet all commitments.2 By 1948 the international climate had changed
and with the coining of the phrases “Iron Curtain” and
“Cold War” the western nations began to realize that
they could no longer afford to let their defences sag in
the face of provocation and aggression. The result was
the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,
to whose naval command Canada agreed to contribute
anti-submarine forces, as it was in this aspect of sea warfare that her navy was most experienced.3 From this time
onwards can be dated the emergence of naval aviation as
an increasingly important element in a growing fleet.
The rebuilding of international defence organizations
had scarcely begun when fighting broke out in Korea
*In April 1948 aviation was given direct representation on the
Naval Board, an important step that had been urged by Captain
Lay in his various reports on the air arm. For details on Headquarters organization see Appendix A.
†See page 15.
and United Nations military forces had to be sent to the
Far East; three Canadian destroyers, Cayuga, Sioux and
Athabaskan had arrived in the theatre within five weeks
of the start of hostilities. The question of vital importance to the UN naval command was whether the Communists were going to use submarines, but as the months
passed it became obvious that enemy naval participation,
apart from inshore minelaying, was negligible. The aircraft flying from UN carriers were therefore used for the
most part in army ground support, and bombing and
strafing raids. For this reason proposals made in both
1951 and 1952 that Magnificent4 should be sent to Korea
were not followed up as the air arm was considered to be
equipped as an anti-submarine force so that logistical
and training considerations militated against participation.
With Magnificent definitely ruled out, the chances of
the air arm getting into the fight were remote. However,
in May 1953 following an official Admiralty request, the
Cabinet Defence Committee approved the loan of twelve
Sea Fury fighters, with 14 pilots, for service aboard
HMS Warrior in Korean waters.5 Special training for
VF 871* began, but on 27 July, 1953, an Armistice
came into effect and the squadron was not required.
The Canadian fleet air arm as a whole was denied the
opportunity of combat experience in Korea but two of its
officers saw service in the campaign. LieutenantCommander D. H. P. Ryan, RCN, was appointed the
navy’s official observer with orders to report on all matters affecting the employment of the UN naval forces,
with particular reference to aviation; he subsequently
served in two carriers, HMS Theseus and USS Philippine Sea, and with the Tactical Air Control Party attached to the U.S. 5th Cavalry before rendering comprehensive reports on the function of naval aircraft in the
fighting.6 The second Canadian naval airman to get to
Korea, Lieutenant (P) J. J. MacBrien, RCN, happened to
be on an exchange appointment with the United States
Navy when his squadron, number 781 equipped with
Panther jets, embarked in USS Oriskany.7 The carrier
became part of Task Force 77 off the Korean coast in
November 1952, and during the next six months Lieutenant MacBrien flew 66 sorties, approximately 50 of
these being ground attack strikes against billeting areas,
industrial centres, rail installations and power plants. In
December he took part in the biggest carrier strike of the
war to that date, the planes attacking four large North
Korean rail junctions.† For his activities on one of these
raids MacBrien became the first RCN officer to be
awarded the United States decoration, the Distinguished
Flying Cross. His DFC citation reads:
“For extraordinary achievement while flying a jet
*See page 57.
†One place, Hysinjin, was almost completely destroyed.
fighter on a combat mission over Communist-held North
Korea on 1 February, 1953, Lieutenant MacBrien led a
flight of jet aircraft against an enemy supply storage area
near the town of Pukchong on the vital east coast supply
The mission was accomplished despite marginal flying
weather and heavy anti-aircraft fire “with courageous
leadership and outstanding demonstration of pilot skill.”
While the bloody land struggle surged up and down
the Korean peninsula, giving advantage first to one side
and then the other, and UN naval forces maintained their
largely uneventful blockade, the nations of the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization slowly flexed their muscles. From the RCN’s point of view, a significant event
was the appointment of an American admiral as Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) on 30
June, 1952, with headquarters at Norfolk, Virginia. In
the NATO chain of naval command, the Flag Officer
Atlantic Coast became Commander Canadian Atlantic
Sub-Area (COMCANLANT) in a joint command, the
other half of which was headed by his RCAF equivalent
with the title of Air Commander Canadian Atlantic SubArea (COMAIRCANLANT). At this time the two services reached an important agreement on the coordination of their efforts.8 A joint operations headquarters was
to be set up at Halifax and Esquimalt and it was agreed
that “in maritime operations the predominant partner
will usually (but not invariably) be the Naval Commander concerned.”9
In the autumn of 1952 NATO staged its first largescale joint manoeuvres, and inevitably many weaknesses
in the channels of communication were revealed. As the
object of the exercise was to show some of the European
members that in the event of invasion the Alliance could
come to their assistance with carrier-borne air strikes
and amphibious landings, the anti-submarine aspect did
not feature very prominently. In spite of this, RCN pilots
were able to further test the effectiveness of the Avenger,
an old but modernized aircraft, which was being used as
a stop-gap until the new ideas on anti-submarine warfare
could be incorporated in a more modern machine.10 The
Sea Fury was still carried in Magnificent for fleet protection and strike duty but all propeller-driven fighters had
been outdated by the experience of American carriers
flying jets off Korea. Naval planning still visualized the
fighter as a necessary weapon in the fleet’s armament
and the Banshee F2H3 jet aircraft had, accordingly, been
chosen to succeed the Sea Fury.
After the return of its destroyers from the Far East the
Canadian navy bent its efforts further to the forging of a
capable anti-submarine weapon; when it is remembered
that NATO was confronted by the largest potentially
hostile submarine fleet the world has ever seen, this was
probably Canada’s most important contribution to the
military forces of the organization. By the mid 1950’s
numerous co-ordinated anti-submarine manoeuvres had
taken place, the standards of both exercises and equipment improving steadily each year, but the whole problem was becoming more complex.
The German U-boat of the Second World War, although it wreaked havoc in its day, was neither an efficient surface vessel nor a good submersible. Once Allied
aircraft were capable of providing long-range patrols
over the whole distance of a convoy’s route the submarine was forced to spend more of its time below the surface and this necessity accelerated the development of
the Snorkel or Snort as it is known today. Compelled to
change his habits the submariner soon found that the
new situation was in some ways very advantageous. Not
only was his hydrophone listening range extended as the
submarine went deep but he was able to utilize water
temperature layers to confuse the hunting ship’s sonar.
New boats were therefore designed to go deeper and
faster, another advantage of deep operating being that
the maximum quiet speed could be increased. A submarine moving at its safe, quiet speed became difficult to
find and if detected could use its vastly improved maximum speed to avoid pre-set explosives, which were now
required to be effective at a far greater depth than heretofore. When dealing with a conventional submarine,
anti-submarine forces still had the chance of catching
their quarry when it raised its periscope for a celestial
navigation check11 or broke surface with her snort every
eight hours or so to get air. However, the shape of things
to come was revealed when the world’s first atomicpowered submarine, USS Nautilus, made a submerged
crossing of the North Pole in August 1958; shortly afterwards her sister-ship, USS Seawolf, beat the record by
remaining submerged for 60 days in the Atlantic on a
cruise of 15,700 miles. With the prospect of having to
search for submarines capable of diving to 700 feet and
proceeding at over 20 knots under the water, the task of
the hunters had become considerably harder.
In spite of the advantages, that had accrued to the underwater “enemy” over the years, the picture by the date
of Bonaventure’s commissioning was not one of unrelieved gloom. The carrier’s anti-submarine capability
was concentrated firstly in her fixed-wing aircraft. For
the detection of a boat snorting, or with raised W/T
mast, the Tracker was fitted with a long-range radar set
while for the submerged submarine the plane could drop
a sonobuoy. The latter is a small, floating listening station, which “reports” back by radio the kind of sound
signal its hydrophone is hearing below the surface; a
whole area can thus be covered by the laying of a barrier
of sonobuoys. Another device, which projects from the
tail of the aircraft, is the sensitive Magnetic Anomaly
Detector (MAD) that indicates a disturbance in the
earth’s field as it passes, over a submarine. Having located its target the Tracker can bring its formidable ar“AIRCRAFT VERSUS SUBMARINE”
mament of rockets, homing torpedoes and depth-bombs
into action.
The adaptation of the helicopter for use in the antisubmarine role has helped to reduce the favourable odds
enjoyed by the submarine, as the work of HS 50 in
Bonaventure has proved. Fitted with dunking sonar,
which is lowered by a long cable to the desired depth in
the ocean, the Sikorsky HO4S-3’s have the great advantage of being able to hover above a suspected area. Having pinpointed a submarine, a helicopter is able to use its
speed advantage during the attack whilst calling for assistance, if required, from surface ships or other aircraft.
In the second year of Bonaventure’s active life the
Canadian anti-submarine defences were greatly
strengthened when in May 1958 the RCAF put the CL
28, or Argus, four-engined, long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft into service. A modification of the
basic Bristol Britannia design, the 33 new planes were
able to carry the most up-to-date anti-submarine weapons and equipment, including 21 radio and radar installations, MAD, sonobuoys and a device for air navigation
and tactical air control (ANTAC). The Argus, heavily
armed with large bombs, missiles and homing torpedoes
and with a maximum endurance of 24 hours at reconnaissance speed, was a powerful addition to the antisubmarine forces.
A year after the Argus aircraft had joined Maritime
Air Command on the East Coast, another long step forward was taken in the co-ordination of Canadian antisubmarine resources. This was the establishment on 1
July, 1959, of Maritime Headquarters Atlantic under the
command of FOAC (title: Maritime Commander)12 with
the chief of RCAF Maritime Command as his deputy; a
similar organization headed by FOPC has been set up on
the West Coast. This logical development from the
RCAF/RCN agreement of 1952 means that the Air
Force’s P2V-7 Neptunes and Argus aircraft and the
Navy’s Trackers, Sikorskys and sub-hunting escorts
work as a combined team from a centralized plot under
one overall head.
Previous mention has been made of small-ship helicopter landing trials conducted from platforms specially
fitted to HMC Ships Buckingham and Ottawa; in this
connection it is interesting to note that in 1943 the suggestion was made that some of the Canadian frigates
under construction should be completed as antisubmarine helicopter carriers.13 By 1962 trials conducted
in the 50’s had been evaluated and the decision taken to
fit the seven St. Laurent Class destroyer escorts with a
landing platform and a hangar.14 In addition each ship
will have new Canadian equipment, Variable Depth Sonar (VDS), which will enable her to lower sonar gear
through thermal layers, thereby depriving the submarine
of one of its new-found advantages. A press release from
Ottawa, dated November 1962 gives the information that
HMCS Assiniboine – The “New Look”.
Sea King helicopter “dunking.”
the RCN is negotiating for twin-engined, turbinepowered Sikorsky HSS-2 helicopters to replace the
HO4S-3’s for service in the carrier and the destroyer
Apart from these planned improvements to its antisubmarine capability the navy has of recent years been
steadily working to better its existing detection equipment. With more than a hundred modifications from the
original aircraft incorporated, a new version of the
Tracker (CS2F-2) is in service with VS 880. Some of
the more important changes include a new radar system,
improved MAD, and the fitting of Anti-Submarine Warfare Tactical Navigation System (ASWTNS). The aircraft is now able to make use of a technique known as
Explosive Echo Ranging (EER or “Julie”) to flush out a
“silent” enemy. Small charges are dropped with sonobuoys and if the sound of the resulting explosion
bounces off a submarine it will be transmitted to the aircraft through the sonobuoy’s radio equipment.
From a review of the changes in Canadian equipment
over the years it can be seen that the main concentration
has been on submarine detection and some of the best
brains of the Defence Research Board are continuously
striving to find the answers to this knotty problem. As
knowledge of the environment in which the submarine
moves is of vital importance, the oceanographic work of
Sikorsky Sea King being down to DDE.
various government agencies (coordinated by the Joint
Committee on Oceanography) is particularly effective in
solving the mysteries of the deep.
Although great advances have been made in technology, the tactical problems which confront the RCN in its
anti-submarine role within NATO remain, for the most
part, unchanged. Firstly, the protection of sea communication in the Atlantic still has to be given top priority,
and from a historical study of the pros and cons it would
seem that the age-old method of sailing merchantmen in
protected convoys, the larger the better, may still be the
best method of giving them cover from enemy attacks.
With the “vital area” around a convoy now considered to
be a circle of at least 125 miles radius from its centre the
escorting forces have to be an integrated combination of
aircraft, surface ships and submarines. Bonaventure’s
resources are well-suited to this task but the announced
paying-off of VF 870 in September 1962 and the retirement at that time of the Banshees due to old-age, will
leave her without adequate defence against air strikes.
As Bonaventure’s size does not permit her to accommodate most of the modern versions of manned interceptor
bomber, the question of a replacement is difficult, but
experiments, if successful, with vertical take-off and
landing aircraft (VTOL) may enable her again to operate
fighters from her deck.* Alternatively a helicoptercarrying headquarters ship might be developed for duty
with a convoy or as anti-aircraft guard for the fleet.
Armed with medium and long-range missiles this vessel
would be able to ward off interference from the air and
generally co-ordinate the defence facilities for the area
through which she is steaming.
The RCN’s second major task, which, of course, is
closely integrated with the first, is to intercept hostile
submarines approaching to launch intermediate range
ballistic missiles (IRBM-1500 nautical miles) against
NATO forces or continental North America. Until such
time as an unmanned reporting barrier can be perfected,
patrolling submarines and long-range maritime aircraft
must carry the major share of this burden. Brought up to
date, the flying boat may yet make a come-back as a
very useful member of the team. With the ability to
alight on the water and remain listening in one small
area while conserving fuel, it has had its usefulness further improved in recent years by the invention of hydroski. This device, a non-buoyant hydroplane suspended
below the flying-boat, will keep it waterborne at a speed
of at least 20 knots and permit the machine to operate in
seas with waves up to eight feet.16
In the 1960’s the third Canadian naval obligation to
NATO is that the RCN can, as occasion should demand,
quickly concentrate part of its strength in a Hunter-Killer
force to search for and hunt a submarine to destruction.
In this, as in all other aspects of anti-submarine tactics,
combined team-work is essential. It can well be argued
that, having progressed so far in the integration of resources, the Navy should consider relieving the RCAF
of the heavy burden of manning Maritime Air to ensure
complete interchangeability of personnel and dovetailing
of services.
Looking ahead it seems probable that by the end of
the century atomic-powered merchant ships, capable of
submerging, will be protected by warships of the same
kind, all travelling at high speed in the depths of the
ocean. The United States Navy plans to have, by 1968, a
total of 86 nuclear-powered submarines in commission;
these will eventually become the capital ships of her
fleet. To date, the most efficient instrument to detect one
of the new fast submarines has been found to be another
of its own kind.† Inevitably Canada will have to first
*If VTOL aircraft are to be used at sea their present lack of
range has to be overcome. This is caused by the necessity of having to reduce fuel weight to compensate for the heavier, more
powerful engine, (required for vertical take-off) as compared to
the lighter engine fitted in a non-VTOL aircraft of the same
weight. If the engine weight is increased the speed of fuel consumption increases to further aggravate the range problem.
†Once problems of radio communication between aircraft or
surface vessel and a submerged submarine have been overcome,
the latter will be able to act in the role of a highly efficient under
acquire her own conventional submarines and ultimately
move on to the atomic-powered version. The matter is
given urgency now that submarines can remain beneath
the polar ice for long periods and thus operate off her
long northern coast-line. It is in these waters, mainly
neglected in the past, that future sea battles may be
Emphasis on submarines in no way detracts from the
importance of maintaining air and surface antisubmarine units; experiments with hovercraft and 70-80
knot, hydrofoil-equipped vessels give a clue as to the
shape future water-borne subchasers will take. In view
of the current trend the question of the vulnerability of a
very large, expensive aircraft carrier has to be seriously
considered although statistics show that the type is more
efficient and economical than a number of its smaller
counterparts. However, as the nation’s financial resources have not permitted her to play in the “big
league” of countries armed for global war, this is not a
Canadian problem. For the RCN a more modest carrier,
capable of operating helicopters and VTOL aircraft,
should still be a fleet requirement for many years to
come. Such a vessel can also be useful for another naval
responsibility, namely, support of land-force operations,
which tends to be obscured by the pre-occupation with
anti-submarine problems. By her reaction to the Suez
Crisis Canada has demonstrated that she is a staunch
supporter of United Nations police-force intervention
and she will doubtless be called upon to provide troops
for other “brush fires.” The part played by Magnificent
in the events of December 1956-January 1957, shows
that a second carrier, which could be used on such occasions without weakening the country’s defences, would
be a useful addition. Such a ship could be usually stationed on the Pacific Coast, where Canadian-U.S. maritime defence forces have as important a task to carry out
as those on the eastern seaboard.
Unrestricted movement of goods across the ocean
lanes remains today for Canada, one of the leading trading nations of the world, as vital as it has at any time in
her history. Starting in the First World War the greatest
threat to this freedom of the seas has been the submarine
with the result that the main thread running through the
story of Canadian Naval Aviation has been the striving
for technical advantage in a ceaseless air/sea contest, in
which first one side and then the other has gained the
upper hand. To cloud the issue there has been, and still
remains, the overriding consideration of the state of the
economy and what funds the country is prepared to allot
for its defence.
Naval Aviation will be called upon to adapt and meet
changing situations but the lessons of the past still hold
good, one of the most important being that the Service
water detection and reporting unit.
should retain control of its flying section. Whatever new
weapons or techniques are evolved the air arm of the
Royal Canadian Navy is able to meet the challenge with
a highly-trained team of men, both “flying birds” and
“penguins,” whose enthusiasm and skill is second to
none in the world.
The authorized complement of the RCN in February 1950
was 9,600 officers and men. By 1962 complement had risen to
Expenditure on the Naval Services dropped from approximately $242 million for the year 1945-46 to some $43 million for
the year 1947-48. Canada, Report of the Department of National
Defence, 1953, Ottawa, Queen’s Printer, 1953.
The Minister of National Defence, Mr. Brooke Claxton,
stated in the House of Commons on 9 June, 1950, “our role in
naval operations is definitely known by all Canadians and certainly recognized by the House of Commons. It is anti-submarine
work, largely in the waters across the North Atlantic and coastal
protection on both coasts, something which I have stated since
1947 and which I do not think anyone has ever disagreed with.”
Canada, House of Commons Debates, Official Report 2nd Session,
21st Parliament, IV, 3437
NS 1650-40 (3) and (5).
“General Intelligence-Korea.” NS 1480-146/187 Sub. 2.
Two other officers, Lieutenant R. Heath, RCN, and Lieutenant W. J. Walton, RCN, served with the USN Squadron VC 3
in Formosa but saw no action.
“RCN-RCAF Agreement for the Co-ordination of Maritime
Operations.” NS 1550-12 (3).
Avengers remained in front-line service with the United
States Navy until June 1954 and with the Royal Navy first-line
squadrons until 1955.
The development of the Ship Inertial Navigation System
(SINS), which permits a submarine to navigate accurately by dead
reckoning when submerged makes even this unnecessary.
Under the NATO organization the former
Memorandum from SO (Fuel), Operations Division to
DOD, 23 January, 1943. NS 1700-913 (1).
Two Mackenzie Class destroyer escorts under construction
will also be equipped with helicopter-handling facilities.
Fitted with the latest anti-submarine gear the Sea King’s
gross weight will be in the region of 17,000 lbs. On an officially
sanctioned trial the remarkable speed of 210.65 miles per hour has
been attained by the helicopter.
Statistics show that 90% of the year the Atlantic is below
this; even in the worst months, January and February, the height is
only exceeded on an average of two days out of seven.
April 1948
December 1948
January 1949
April 1949
April 1949
March 1951
March 1951
June 1953
Commodore 2nd Class W. L. M. Brown, DSO, OBE, DSC, RN
June 1953
June 1955
Commodore 2nd Class H. P. Sears, RN
June 1955
September 1957
September 1957
July 1958
Commodore J. V. Brock, DSO, DSC, CD, RCN
July 1958
April 1961
Commodore R. P. Welland, DSC, and Bar, CD, RCN
April 1961
October 1962
October 1962
July 1964
Commodore H. N. Lay, OBE, RCN, (Act.)
Commodore H. N. Lay, OBE, RCN
Commodore 2nd Class C. N. Lentaigne, DSO, RN
Commodore 2nd Class C. L. Keighly-Peach, DSO, OBE, RN1
Commodore A. H. G. Storrs, DSC and Bar, CD, RCN
Commodore A. B. F. Fraser-Harris, DSC and Bar, CD, RCN
Commodore Keighly-Peach also held the appointment of “Chief of
Naval Aviation” from September 1951 to June 1953.
Explanatory Note
DNA was made ACNS (Air), member of the Naval Board; a successor to DNA was obtained on loan from the RN.
A further re-organization of the air section occurred in September 1951, when the position of DNA lapsed and ACNS (Air) was
given the additional title of Chief of Naval Aviation with a Deputy
CNA and an Assistant CNA to help him. The arrangement of a
CNA and two Deputies lasted until March 1955, when it was abolished and DNA re-instituted. ACNS (Air) remained a member of
the Naval Board and in 1957 this office and that of ACNS (Warfare) were combined on a trial basis. On 1 January, 1960, ACNS
(Air & Warfare) ceased to be a member of the Naval Board and
became directly responsible to the Vice Chief of the Naval Staff for
naval aviation.
Although a Directorate of Naval Air Division was established at
Naval Headquarters in April 1944, there was no direct staff representation on the Naval Board for the flying component of the RCN
until 1948. At first DNAD was responsible to ACNS (also not a
member of the Naval Board) but from April 1946 he was invited to
be present at Naval Board meetings when air matters were up for
discussion. Two years later, in April 1948, approval was given to
the establishment of two new Naval Board members, ACNS (Plans)
and ACNS (Air), but owing to the lack of a senior specialist the
former carried out both duties.
The 1949-50 expenditure for the Naval Services almost doubled
from the previous year’s $45 million to $73 million. Early in 1949
it had been decided that the existing arrangement of one man being
joint ACNS (Plans) (Air) was unsatisfactory and the incumbent
Commodore Brown also held the appointment of “Chief of Naval
Aviation” between June 1953 and March 1955.
Commander (P) J. S. Stead, RCN, (Temp.) (Act.)
April 1944
April 1945
Commander (A) J. H. Arbick, OBE, RCNVR, (Temp.)
May 1945
February 1946
Captain R. E. S. Bidwell, CBE, RCN
February 1946
December 1946
Captain G. A. Rotherham, DSO, OBE, RN, (Act.)
January 1947
May 1948
May 1948
January 1949
Captain G. A. Rotherham, DSO, OBE, RN, (Act.)
Captain C. N. Lentaigne, DSO, RN
January 1949
April 1949
Captain H. C. Rolfe, RN
September 1949
October 1951
Captain A. B. F. Fraser-Harris, DSC and Bar, CD, RCN
March 1955
October 1955
Captain G. C. Edwards, CD, RCN, (Act.)
October 1955
June 1956
Captain G. C. Edwards, CD, RCN
June 1956
August 1957
Commander V. J. Wilgress, CD, RCN
September 1957
July 1958
Commander J. B. Fotheringham, CD, RCN
July 1958
June 1960
Captain G. C. Edwards, CD, RCN
June 1960
August 1960
Captain G. C. Edwards, CD, RCN
August 1960
May 1961
Captain V. J. Wilgress, CD, RCN
May 1961
December 1963
Captain J. B. Fotheringham, CD, RCN
January 1964
July 1964
Captain H. N. Lay, OBE, RCN, (Act.)
October 1943
September 1944
April 1944
January 1946
Captain F. L. Houghton, CBE, RCN
January 1946
January 1947
Commodore H. G. DeWolf, CBE, DSO, DSC, RCN
January 1947
March 1948
Commodore H. G. DeWolf, CBE, DSO, DSC, RCN
April 1948
August 1948
Commodore G. R. Miles, OBE, RCN
August 1948
June 1949
Commander A. G. Boulton, DSC, RCN
June 1949
September 1949
Commodore K. F. Adams, RCN
September 1949
October 1951
Captain K. L. Dyer, DSC, CD, RCN
October 1951
March 1953
Commodore H. S. Rayner, DSC and Bar, CD, RCN
March 1953
January 1955
Captain A. H. G. Storrs, DSC and Bar, CD, RCN
January 1955
August 1956
Captain A. B. F. Fraser-Harris, DSC and Bar, CD, RCN
August 1956
June 1957
January 1957
January 1958
Captain R. E. S. Bidwell, RCN
Captain H. V. W. Groos, CD, RCN
Captain W. M. Landymore, OBE, CD, RCN
January 1958
September 1959
Captain J. C. O’Brien, CD, RCN
September 1959
August 1961
Captain F. C. Frewer, CD, RCN
August 1961
August 1963
Captain R. W. Timbrell, DSC, CD, RCN
August 1963
Commander (P) H. J. Gibbs, RCNVR, (Temp.)
November 1945
December 1945
Commander (P) H. J. Gibbs, RCN (R), (Temp.)
January 1946
September 1946
Commander A. E. Johnson, RCN (R), (Temp.)
September 1946
June 1947
Captain H. S. Rayner, DSC & Bar, RCN, (Act.)
June 1947
June 1948
Commander (P) A. B. F. Fraser-Harris, DSC, RCN
July 1948
November 1948
Captain A. B. F. Fraser-Harris, DSC and Bar, RCN, (Act.)
December 1948
August 1949
Captain E. W. Finch-Noyes, CD, RCN
August 1949
June 1951
Captain D. L. Raymond, CD, RCN
June 1951
February 1953
Captain A. H. G. Storrs, DSC and Bar, CD, RCN
February 1953
January 1955
Captain D. G. King, DSC, CD, RCN
January 1955
July 1957
Commander R. W. Timbrell, DSC, CD, RCN
July 1957
September 1957
Captain R. P. Welland, DSC and Bar, CD, RCN
September 1957
July 1960
Captain T. C. Pullen, CD, RCN
July 1960
October 1962
Captain G. C. Edwards, CD, RCN
October 1962
October 1964
Captain D. H. P. Ryan, CD, RCN
October 1964
Lieutenant-Commander (P) W. H. Bradley, RCN, (Act.)
July 1947
November 1948
Lieutenant-Commander, (O) R. I. W. Goddard, DSC, RCN, (Act.)
December 1948
April 1950
Lieutenant-Commander (P) R. E. Bartlett, RCN
April 1950
May 1951
Lieutenant-Commander (P) R. E. Bartlett; RCN
May 1951
March 1952
Lieutenant-Commander (P) R. A. B. Creery, RCN
March 1952
March 1953
Lieutenant-Commander (P) J. W. Roberts, CD, RCN
May 1953
April 1954
Lieutenant-Commander (O) M. H. E. Page, RCN
April 1954
June 1954
Lieutenant-Commander (P) H. J. Hunter, RCN, (Act.)
July 1947
September 1949
Lieutenant-Commander (P) V. J. Wilgress, RCN, (Act.)
September 1949
January 1951
Lieutenant-Commander (P) N. Cogdon, RCN, (Act.)
January 1951
May 1951
Lieutenant-Commander (P) N. Cogdon, RCN
May 1951
March 1952
Lieutenant-Commander (P) J. B. Fotheringham, RCN
March 1952
April 1953
Lieutenant-Commander (P) D. W. Knox, CD, RCN
April 1953
June 1954
Lieutenant-Commander A. B. F. Fraser-Harris, DSC and Bar, RCN
May 1947
July 1948
Lieutenant-Commander (P) R. A. Monks, RCN
July 1948
November 1948
Lieutenant-Commander (P) L. R. Tivy, RN
April 1949
June 1951
Lieutenant-Commander (P) J. G. Wright, DFC, RCN
June 1951
August 1953
Lieutenant-Commander (P) J. P. Whitby, RCN
August 1953
May 1954
Lieutenant-Commander (P) A. J. Tanner, RCN, (Act.)
January 1946
May 1946
Lieutenant-Commander (P) C. G. Watson, RCN, (Act.)
May 1946
May 1947
Lieutenant-Commander (P) H. J. G. Bird, RCN, (Act.)
May 1947
August 1948
Lieutenant (P) J. P. Whitby, RCN
August 1948
September 1948
Lieutenant-Commander (P) V. J. Wilgress, RCN, (Act.)
September 1948
May 1949
Lieutenant-Commander (P) N. Cogdon, RCN, (Act.)
May 1949
December 1950
Lieutenant (P) D. D. Peacocke, RCN
December 1950
May 1951
May 1951
November 1952
Lieutenant (P) D. D. Peacocke, RCN
VF 870
Lieutenant (P) D. D. Peacocke, RCN
Lieutenant-Commander (P) D. M. Macleod, RCN
November 1952
February 1953
February 1953
April 1954
Lieutenant-Commander (P) R. H. Falls, CD, RCN
November 1955
December 1957
Lieutenant-Commander (P) W. J. Walton, CD, RCN
January 1958
April 1960
Lieutenant-Commander (P) K. S. Nicolson, CD, RCN
April 1960
September 1962
Lieutenant-Commander (P) R. A. Monks, RCN, (Act.)
May 1947
January 1948
Lieutenant-Commander (P) J. B. Fotheringham, RCN, (Act.)
January 1948
November 1948
Lieutenant-Commander (P) R. A. B. Creery, RCN, (Act.)
December 1948
April 1950
Lieutenant (P) W. D. Munro, RCN
April 1950
April 1951
Lieutenant (P) W. D. Munro, RCN
May 1951
November 1951
Lieutenant-Commander (P) D. H. P. Ryan, RCN
November 1951
July 1952
Lieutenant (P) R. Heath, RCN
July 1952
November 1952
November 1952
March 1953
VF 871
Lieutenant (P) R. Heath, RCN
Lieutenant (P) M. Wasteneys, RCN
March 1953
March 1954
Lieutenant-Commander (P) J. W. Logan, RCN
March 1954
January 1956
Lieutenant-Commander (P) R. A. Laidler, CD, RCN
January 1956
July 1957
Lieutenant-Commander (P) J. J. Harvie, CD, RCN
July 1957
March 1959
Lieutenant-Commander (P) O. W. Tattersall, DSC, RN, (Act.)
January 1946
January 1947
Lieutenant-Commander (P) R. E. Bartlett, RCN, (Act.)
February 1947
August 1948
Lieutenant (P) D. D. Peacocke, RCN
August 1948
September 1948
Lieutenant-Commander (O) J. A. Stokes, RCN, (Act.)
December 1948
April 1950
Lieutenant-Commander (P) D. W. Knox, RCN, (Act.)
April 1950
May 1951
Lieutenant-Commander (P) D. W. Knox, RCN, (Act.)
May 1951
November 1951
Lieutenant (P) E. M. Davis, RCN
November 1951
November 1952
Lieutenant-Commander (P) E. M. Davis, RCN
November 1952
March 1954
Lieutenant-Commander (P) F. G. Townsend, RCN
March 1954
January 1956
Lieutenant-Commander (O) J. Lewry, CD, RCN
January 1956
September 1957
Commander (P) H. D. Buchanan, CD, RCN, (Act.)
September 1957
February 1960
Commander W. J. Walton, CD, RCN
February 1960
August 1961
Commander D. M. Macleod, CD, RCN
August 1961
June 1963
Commander R. C. MacLean, CD, RCN
June 1963
VS 880
Lieutenant-Commander (P) J. B. Fotheringham, RCN, (Act.)
May 1947
January 1948
Lieutenant-Commander (O) R. I. W. Goddard, DSC, RCN, (Act.)
January 1948
November 1948
Lieutenant-Commander (P) J. W. Roberts, RCN, (Act.)
December 1948
April 1950
Lieutenant-Commander (P) J. N. Donaldson, RCN, (Act.)
April 1950
May 1951
Lieutenant-Commander (P) J. N. Donaldson, RCN
May 1951
October 1951
Lieutenant-Commander (P) W. H. L Atkinson, DSC, RCN
October 1951
November 1952
Lieutenant-Commander (P) W. H. I. Atkinson, DSC, RCN
November 1952
August 1953
Lieutenant-Commander (O) M. H. E. Page, RCN
August 1953
August 1954
Lieutenant-Commander (P) R. W. J. Cocks, RCN
August 1954
May 1955
VS 881
Lieutenant-Commander (P) N. J. Geary, RCN
May 1955
June 1956
Lieutenant-Commander (P) V. M. Langman, DSC, RCN
June 1956
November 1956
Lieutenant-Commander (P) H. J. G. Bird, CD, RCN
November 1956
April 1959
Commander (P) W. H. Fearon, CD, RCN
April 1959
July 1959
Lieutenant (P) J. N. Donaldson, RCN
September 1946
August 1947
Lieutenant-Commander (P) W. E. Widdows, RCN, (Act.)
August 1947
May 1948
Lieutenant-Commander (P) C. G. Smith, RCN, (Act.)
November 1948
June 1949
Lieutenant (P) R. J. Watson, RCN
May 1952
January 1953
Lieutenant-Commander (P) R. J. Watson, RCN, (Act.)
January 1953
February 1954
Lieutenant-Commander (P) V. J. Murphy, RCN
February 1954
July 1954
Lieutenant-Commander (P) B. L. Hayter, CD, RCN
July 1954
October 1954
Lieutenant-Commander (P) V. M. Langman, DSC, RCN
October 1954
March 1955
Lieutenant-Commander (P) J. R. Burns, RCN
March 1955
February 1957
Lieutenant-Commander (P) A. T. Bice, CD, RCN
February 1957
April 1959
Lieutenant-Commander (P) G. D. Westwood, CD, RCN
April 1959
August 1961
Lieutenant-Commander S. R. Linquist, CD, RCN
August 1961
August 1963
Lieutenant-Commander R. H. Williamson, CD, RCN
August 1963
VU 32
VT 40
Lieutenant-Commander (P) J. P. Whitby, RCN
May 1954
October 1954
Lieutenant-Commander (P) R. A. Lyons, RCN
October 1954
February 1956
Lieutenant-Commander (P) C. G. Patton, RCN
February 1956
September 1957
Lieutenant-Commander (P) D. H. McNicol, CD, RCN
September 1957
May 1959
Lieutenant-Commander (P) W. H. Fearon, RCN
March 1953
September 1954
Lieutenant-Commander (P) (O) R. O. DeNevers, DFC, CD, RCN
September 1954
November 1956
Lieutenant-Commander (P) J. C. Sloan, CD, RCN
November 1956
April 1959
Lieutenant-Commander (P) B. W. Mead, CD, RCN
April 1959
July 1962
Lieutenant-Commander S. M. Rowell
July 1962
VX 10
Lieutenant-Commander (P) J. D. Lowe, CD, RCN
September 1951
May 1953
Lieutenant-Commander (P) J. D. Lowe, CD, RCN
May 1953
August 1953
Lieutenant-Commander (P) (O) J. H. Beeman, RCN
August 1953
April 1955
Lieutenant-Commander (P) (O) J. H. Beeman, GM, CD, RCN
April 1955
January 1956
Lieutenant-Commander (P) R. V. Bays, CD, RCN
January 1956
November 1956
Lieutenant-Commander (P) H. R. Welsh, CD, RCN
November 1956
June 1958
Lieutenant-Commander (P) W. H. Frayn, CD, RCN
June 1958
January 1961
Lieutenant-Commander W. E. James, MBE, CD, RCN
January 1961
August 1962
Lieutenant-Commander R. T. Murray, CD, RCN
August 1962
July 1964
Lieutenant-Commander D. A. Muncaster, GM, CD, RCN
July 1964
VH 21
HU 21
HS 50
Lieutenant-Commander (P) G. H. Marlow, CD, RCN
July 1955
September 1957
Lieutenant-Commander (P) F. R. Fink, GM, CD, RCN
September 1957
July 1960
Lieutenant-Commander K. L. Gibbs, CD, RCN
July 1960
January 1962
Lieutenant-Commander E. A. Fallen, CD, RCN
January 1962
September 1964
Commander J. D. Lowe, CD, RCN
September 1964
VU 33
Lieutenant-Commander (P) D. J. Fisher, CD, RCN
November 1954
August 1956
Lieutenant-Commander (P) R. A. Shimmin, CD, RCN
August 1956
August 1958
Lieutenant-Commander (P) A. J. Woods, CD, RCN
August 1958
July 1961
Lieutenant-Commander S. E. Soward, CD, RCN
July 1961
July 1963
Lieutenant-Commander A. A. Schellinck, CD, RCN
July 1963
HM SHIPS Nabob and Puncher
HMCS Magnificent RML 21
Smiter Class Escort Carriers
Overall Length
Breadth at flightdeck
Breadth at waterline
Nabob D.77
15,390 tons
495’ 8”
Puncher D.79
14,170 tons
492’ 00”
107’ 2”
102’ 00”
69’ 6”
69’ 6”
25’ 5”
24’ 8”
Two 5” thirty-eight calibre dual purpose guns with Bofors and Oerlikons
for anti-aircraft defence.
Geared turbines; single screw; full
speed 18 knots.
HMCS Warrior
Improved Colossus Class Light Fleet Carrier
18,000 tons full load
Length on water682’
Length on flight700’
Beam (water-line)
Breadth of flightdeck
112’ 2”
Majestic Class Light Fleet Carrier
18,000 tons full load
Length overall
694’ 3”
Beam on water-line
Breadth of flightdeck
112’ 5”
Thirty Bofors guns for anti-aircraft
Parsons geared turbines; twin-screw;
full speed 25 knots.
HMCS Bonaventure CVL 22
Modified Majestic Class Small A.S.W. Aircraft Carrier
20,000 tons full load
Length overall
Beam on water-line
Breadth of flightdeck
112’ 5”
Parsons geared turbines; twin-screws,
three and four bladed; full speed 25.5
Four 3”/50 twin mountings.
Six quadruple two-pounder pompoms
and 19 Bofors guns for anti-aircraft
Parsons geared turbines; twin-screw;
full speed 25 knots.
Fairey Swordfish
Fairey Firefly F.R.1
torpedo-spotterreconnaissance aircraft. Crew of 3 for
reconnaissance or 2 for torpedo strikes.
Metal structure, fabric covered. The
Swordfish IV, as used in Canada, had
an enclosed cockpit.
One 690-HP Bristol Pegasus III M 3 or
750-HP Pegasus XXX.
Maximum speed 139 m.p.h. Cruising
104-129 m.p.h. Range 546 miles with
normal fuel and one 1,610-lb. torpedo.
Maximum range for reconnaissance
with no bomb-load and extra fuel,
1,030 miles. Service ceiling 10,700
One Vickers gun forward and one
Vickers “K” gun or one Lewis aft. One
18-inch torpedo or one 1,500 mine or
1,500 lb. weight of bombs.
Supermarine Walrus
Two-seat carrier-borne fighter reconnaissance aircraft. All-metal stressed
skin construction.
One 1,990 h.p. Griffon.
Maximum speed, 316 m.p.h. Range
1,300 miles. Service ceiling 28,000 feet.
Four fixed 20 mm guns in wings. Provision for eight 60 lb. rocket-projectiles or
two 1,000 lb. bombs below the wings.
Fairey Firefly IV
Spotter-reconnaissance amphibian for
carrier-borne or catapult duties. Crew
of three. Metal hull and composite
wood and metal wings, fabric covered.
One 775-h.p. Bristol Pegasus II.
Maximum speed, 135 m.p.h. Cruising
95 m.p.h. Range 600 miles. Service
ceiling, 18,500 ft.
One Vickers gun in bows, two amidships. Light bombs below wings.
Supermarine Seafire XV
As for Fairey Firefly F.R.1 with following changes:–wings clipped; beard radiator replaced by coolant radiators extending from leading edges of center section;
four-bladed airscrew in place of earlier
three-bladed type.
One 2,250 h.p. Rolls-Royce Griffon 74.
Maximum speed, 386 m.p.h. Range,
1,300 miles. Service ceiling 28,400 feet.
As for Fairey Firefly F.R.1.
Fairey Firefly V. (A/S)
Two-seat carrier-borne anti-submarine
reconnaissance and strike aircraft. Allmetal stressed-skin construction.
As for the Fairey Firefly IV.
As for Fairey Firefly IV.
Four fixed 20 mm guns in wings. Provision for sixteen 60 lb. rocket projectiles
or two 1,000 lb. bombs below the wings.
Hawker Sea Fury F.B.X1
fighter-bomber or tactical reconnaissance aircraft. All-metal stressed-skin
One 1,850 h.p. Rolls-Royce Griffon.
Maximum speed, 383 m.p.h. at 13,500
ft. Cruising 255 m.p.h. Range 430
miles (normal) or 640 miles (with auxiliary tank). Service ceiling 35,500 feet.
Two 20 mm guns and four 0.303 guns.
Single-seat carrier-borne fighter bomber.
All-metal stressed-skin construction.
One 2,550 h.p. Bristol Centaurus 18.
Maximum speed, 460 m.p.h. Range, 700
miles at 30,000 feet or 1,040 miles with
two 90-gallon drop-tanks.
Four fixed 20 mm guns in wings and
provision for 12 60 lb. rocketprojectiles or two 1,000 lb. bombs below the wings.
Avro Anson V
Twin-engined monoplane.
Two 450-h.p. Pratt & Whitney Wasp
Maximum speed, 188 m.p.h. Range,
790 miles. Service ceiling, 19,000
Single-seat jet-propelled fighter. Cantilever low-wing monoplane. Aluminum-alloy structure.
Two Westinghouse J-34-WE 34
Maximum speed, approximately 600
m.p.h. Range (with tip tanks), 2,250
miles. Ceiling 56,000 feet.
Four 20 mm cannon and Sidewinder
air-to-air homing missile.
Twin-engined light transport. Lowwing cantilever monoplane. All-metal
structure. (Used as navigation and
multi-engine pilot trainer.)
Two 450 h.p. Pratt & Whitney Wasp
Junior radial air-cooled.
Maximum speed, 230 m.p.h. Range
(with nose tank), 1,500 miles. Service
ceiling, 20,500 feet.
Pilot’s compartment in nose, seating
two side-by-side, with dual controls.
Passenger cabin seating five to seven
North American Harvard (“T-6”)
Two-seat jet Trainer.
One Rolls-Royce Nene.
Maximum speed, 600 m.p.h. Service
ceiling, 47,500 feet.
Two .50” machine-guns.
Grumman Tracker CS2F
Carrier-based anti-submarine search and
attack aircraft. High-wing monoplane
with a crew of four.
Two 1,525 h.p. Wright R-1820-82 built
by Canadian Pratt & Whitney.
Maximum speed, 280 m.p.h. Range
1,350 miles. Service ceiling, 22,000 feet.
Homing torpedoes, depth-bombs and
Bell HTL
Beechcraft Expeditor (C.45)
Three-seat carrier-borne or shorebased anti-submarine strike aircraft.
All-metal stressed-skin construction.
One 1,750 h.p. Wright Cyclone.
Maximum speed, 261 m.p.h. Range,
1,130 miles. Service ceiling, 22,600
Four depth-charges and one homing
weapon. Sixteen sonobuoys for submarine detection.
McDonnell Banshee F2H3
One 550 h.p. Pratt & Whitney radial aircooled.
Maximum speed 205 m.p.h. Range 750
miles. Service ceiling, 21,500 feet.
Lockheed T.33 or Silver Star
Grumman Avenger A.S.3
Two-seat General Utility Helicopter.
One vertically-mounted 178 h.p. Franklin six-cylinder fan cooled.
Maximum speed, 92 m.p.h. Range 212
miles. Service ceiling 11,500 feet.
Side-by-side seating in convertible open
or covered compartment.
Sikorsky S-55 (HO4S-3)
Twelve-seat Utility or Anti-submarine
One 700 h.p. Wright R 1300.
Maximum speed, 112 m.p.h. Range, 360
miles. Service ceiling, 10,600 feet.
Pilot’s compartment seats two side-by
side. Cabin located below main lift ing
rotor seats from seven to ten stretchers,
which can be loaded by hydraulic poweroperated hoist while aircraft is hovering.
Homing torpedo or depth-bombs.
Piasecki, or Vertol, Hup-3
Medical evacuation and light cargo
One 550 h.p. Continental R-975-46.
Maximum speed, 105 m.p.h. Range
340 miles. Service ceiling 10,000 feet.
Crew of two and four passengers or
three stretcher cases.
Two-seat Primary and Advanced
Trainer. Low-wing cantilever monoplane. All-metal structure with aluminum-alloy spars.
April 1915
Naval Service of Canada starts recruiting for the Royal Naval Air Service
19 December, 1945
5 June, 1918
Authorization given for the construction of two Naval Air Stations
Royal Canadian Naval Air Service
established by Order-in-Council
Royal Canadian Naval Air Service
Captain H. N. Lay, OBE, RCN, appointed to study and report on all aspects of United Kingdom and United
States naval air operations
24 January, 1946
5 September, 1918
5 December, 1918
April 1943
Summer 1947
23 March, 1948
7 April, 1948
August 1943
5 September, 1943
12 January, 1944
Report by Captain Lay
HMS Nabob, escort carrier, commissions
Cabinet approves manning of HM
Ships Nabob and Puncher with Canadian ship’s companies
1 December, 1948
23 April, 1952
5 February, 1944
1 April, 1944
22 August, 1944
30 September, 1944
14 February, 1945
Summer 1945
1 December, 1945
HMS Puncher, escort carrier, commissions
Directorate of Naval Air Division established at Naval Headquarters, Ottawa
HMS Nabob torpedoed
HMS Nabob pays off
Cabinet approves acquisition, on loan,
of two British Light Fleet Carriers
Four “Canadianized” air squadrons
formed by the Royal Naval Fleet Air
Royal Canadian Naval Air Section
established at RCAF Air Station,
Dartmouth, N.S.
Summer 1952
15 June, 1953
4 July, 1955
1 November, 1955
17 January, 1957
14 June, 1957
1 July, 1959
May 1960
Cabinet approves the formation of an
Air Component within the Royal
Canadian Navy
HMCS Warrior commissions. First
two Air Squadrons officially become
part of the Royal Canadian Navy.
Two others disband but remain RCN
on paper.
Disbanded Air Squadrons reform. Air
Group system introduced.
HMCS Warrior pays off and returns
to Royal Navy
HMCS Magnificent commissions.
Authorization given to the establishment of an Assistant Chief of Naval
Staff (Air)
Dartmouth Air Station taken over by
the Royal Canadian Navy and commissioned as HMCS Shearwater
Cabinet approves purchase of a British Light Fleet Carrier
First large-scale North Atlantic
Treaty Organization exercises
Fly-past during Coronation Review
Anti-Submarine Helicopter Squadron
forms at HMCS Shearwater
First jet-equipped Squadron forms at
HMCS Shearwater
HMCS Bonaventure commissions
HMCS Magnificent pays off and
returns to Royal Navy
Joint RCN-RCAF Maritime Commands established on East and West
Royal Canadian Navy’s Fiftieth Anniversary Fly-past.
ARMOUR, Captain R. S. D., RN, “Forty Years of Deck Landing,”
Navy Year Book and Diary, 1958, London, the Navy League,
BLACKETT, P. M. S., Studies of War, Edinburgh & London,
Oliver & Boyd, 1962.
BRAGADIN, Marc’A., The Italian Navy in World War II, Annapolis Md., United States Naval Institute, 1957.
BROWN, Captain E., RN, Wings on my Sleeve, London, A. Barker,
BYRD, R. E., Skyward, New York, Halcyon House, 1937.
CAMERON, I., Wings of the Morning, London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1962.
CANADA, Report of the Department of National Defence, 1953,
Ottawa, Queen’s Printer, 1953.
CANADA, Royal Canadian Air Force, RCAF Logbook, 1924-49,
Ottawa, King’s Printer, 1949.
CUNNINGHAM, Viscount, Admiral of the Fleet, A Sailor’s Odyssey, London, Hutchinson, 1951.
ELLIS, F. H., Canada’s Flying Heritage, Toronto, University of
Toronto Press, 1954.
ELTON, Driscoll, Burchmore and Larkum, A Guide to Naval Aviation, New York & London, McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1944.
FERTÉ, Sir J. de la, Air Marshal, RAF, Birds and Fishes, London,
Hutchinson, 1960.
GAMBLE, S. C. S., The Story of a North Sea Naval Air Station,
London, Oxford University Press, 1928.
GAVIN, J. M., War and Peace in the Space Age, New York,
Harper & Bros., 1958.
GIBBS-SMITH, C. H., A History of Flying, London, HM Stationery Office, 1960.
GREAT BRITAIN, Air Ministry, Coastal Command, HM Stationery Office, 1942.
GREAT BRITAIN, Admiralty, Narrative of the Battle of Jutland,
London, HM Stationery Office, 1924.
GREAT BRITAIN, Admiralty, Fleet Air Arm, London, HM Stationery Office, 1943.
HIGHAM, R., The British Rigid Airship, 1908-1931, London,
Foulis & Co., 1961.
JANE, F. T., Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft, London, Sampson
Low, Marston & Co. 1948-1963 (Volumes various).
JANE, F. T., Jane’s Fighting Ships, London, Sampson Low,
Marston & Co., 1951-1963 (Volumes various).
KEMP, P. K., Fleet Air Arm, London, Herbert Jenkins Ltd., 1954.
KERR, Admiral Mark, Land, Sea and Air, London, Longmans
Green & Co., 1927.
LECKY, H. S., The King’s Ships, London, Horace Muirhead,
1913,Vols I, II, & III.
LEWIS, P., Squadron Histories, RFC, RNAS, and RAF, 1912-39,
London, Putnam & Co., 1959.
MACINTYRE, D., Fighting Admiral, London, Evans Brothers,
Ltd., 1961.
MACINTYRE, D., Wings of Neptune, London, P. Davies, 1963.
MORISON, S. E., History of United States Naval Operations in
World War II, Boston, Little, Brown and Co., 1950, Vols. I & II.
MORISON, S. E., History of United States Naval Operations in
World War II, Boston, Little, Brown & Co, 1959, Vol. X.
OUTERBRIDGE, Reverend L. M., HMS Puncher, Regina, published privately circa 1946.
PARKES, Oscar, British Battleships, 1860-1950, London, Seele
Services & Co., 1956.
“P.I.X.”, (Hallam, T. D.), The Spider Web, London, Blackwoods &
Sons, 1919.
POPHAM, H., Sea Flight, London, Kimber, 1954.
RAEDER, Grand Admiral E., Struggle for the Sea, London, Kimber, 1959.
ROBERTS, L., There Shall Be Wings, Toronto, Clarke, Irwin &
Co., 1959.
ROSKILL, Captain S. W., RN, The War At Sea, 1939-1945, London, HM Stationery Office, 1954-1960, Vols. I, II, & III.
RUTTER, O., The British Navy’s Air Arm, Washington-New York,
Infantry Journal-Penguin Books, 1944.
SAMSON, Air-Commodore C. R., RAF, Fights and Flights, London, E. Benn Ltd., 1930.
SCHULL, J, Far Distant Ships, Ottawa, King’s Printer, 1952.
SEVERSKY, A. P. de, Victory Through Air Power, New York,
Simon & Schuster, 1942.
SUETER, Rear-Admiral M. F., RN, Airmen or Noahs, London,
Pitman & Sons, 1928.
SULLIVAN, A., Aviation in Canada, 1917-1918, Toronto, Rous &
Mann Ltd., 1918.
THETFORD, O., British Naval Aircraft, 1912-1958, London, Putnam & Co., 1958.
TUCKER, G. N., The Naval Service of Canada, Ottawa, King’s
Printer, 1952, Vols. I & II.
UNITED STATES, A Calendar of Significant Events in the Growth
and Development of United States Naval Aviation, 1898-1956,
Washington, Bureau of Aeronautics, Department of the Navy,
WOODHOUSE, H., Textbook of Naval Aeronautics, New York,
The Century Company, 1917.
YOUNG, D., Rutland of Jutland, London, Cassell, 1963.
Aerodrome Dummy Deck Landing
Attack Dummy Torpedo
Air Defence Exercise
Airborne Early Warning
Attack Light Torpedo
Air Navigation and Tactical Air
Anti-submarine Warfare Tactical
Navigation System
British Overseas Airways Corporation
Canadian Escort Squadron
Combat Air Patrol
Canadian Anti-Acoustic Torpedo
Carrier Qualification
Canadian Forces Decoration
Canadian Expeditionary Force
Cadet Flying Unit
Canadian Joint Air Training
Canadian Naval Auxiliary Vessel
Canadian Naval Mission Overseas
Chief of the Naval Staff
Commanding Officer Atlantic Coast
Air Commander Canadian Atlantic
Commander Canadian Atlantic SubArea
Commander Operational Evaluation
Caribbean-United Kingdom Convoy
Carrier Vessel Escort
Duty Direction Officer
Deck Landing Training
Director Naval Air Division
Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Order
Explosive Echo Ranging
Elementary Flying Training School
Engine Room Artificer
Fleet Air Arm
Field Carrier Landing Practice
Flag Officer Atlantic Coast
Flag Officer Carrier Training
Flag Officer Pacific Coast
Fleet Requirements Unit
Knight Grand Commander Order of
the Indian Empire
Knight Grand Commander of the
Star of India
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal
Victorian Order
George Medal
North Africa-United States Slow
High Frequency Direction Finding
Gibraltar-United Kingdom convoy
His/Her Majesty’s Australian Ship
His/Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship
His/Her Majesty’s Ship
Helicopter Strike Squadron
Helicopter Utility Squadron
Halifax-United Kingdom convoy
Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile
United Kingdom-North Russia
Knight Commander of the Order of
the British Empire
Knight Commander of the Bath
Knight of the Garter
Landing Signals Officer
Merchant Aircraft Carrier
Order of the British Empire
(Military Division)
Navy Army and Air Force Institutes
Naval Air Facility
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Navigation Exercise
Naval Service Headquarters
United Kingdom-America Convoy
Officer of the Order of the British
United Kingdom-North America
United Kingdom-North America Slow
Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada
North Russia-United Kingdom
North Russia-United Kingdom
Royal Air Force
Rocket Assisted Take-Off
Royal Canadian Air Force
Royal Canadian Navy
Royal Canadian Naval Air Service
Royal Canadian Naval Air Section
Royal Canadian Naval Air Station
RNC of C
Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer
Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Royal Flying Corps
Royal Mail Steamship
Royal Navy
Royal Naval Air Service
Royal Naval College of Canada
Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer
Royal Naval Engineering College
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (Air)
Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic
Supreme Allied Commander Europe
Support Air Group
Senior Canadian Flag Officer (Overseas)
Senior Canadian Naval Officer Afloat
Senior Canadian Officer Afloat
Service Flying Training School
Ship Inertial Navigation System
Training Air Group
Telegraphist Air Gunner
Trans-Canada Airlines
Task Force
Task Group
Torpedo Spotter Reconnaissance
United States-Gibraltar Fast Convoy
United Nations
United Nations Emergency Force
United States of America
United States Army
United States Navy
United States Naval Air Station
United States Naval Flying Corps
United States Ship
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
United States-United Kingdom (Military Convoy
Heavier-than-air Composite Air
Variable Depth Sonar
Victory in Europe
Heavier-than-air Fighter Air Squadron
Heavier-than-air Helicopter Air
Heavier-than-air Search Air Squadron
Heavier-than-air Training Air
Vertical Take-off and Landing
Heavier-than-air Utility Air
Heavier-than-air Experimental Air
Winter Experimental Estabishment
Wireless Telegraphy.
Abbreviations, used in this volume, 146, 147.
Acadia, HMCS, fitted with winches for balloons, 5.
Acheron, HM Submarine, exercises with RCN aircraft, 85.
Acapulco, Mexico, visit by Warrior, 44.
Adamant, HMS, Coronation Review, 85.
Adams, Cmdre. K. F., RCN: Reserve Safe Flying Award, 63n;
command of Magnificent, 75; Broad Pennant struck, 81.
Admiral Hipper, German cruiser, 104.
Admiralty, see Royal Navy.
Admiralty Fleet Order, 22.
Advanced Training Flight, 58.
Aerial Experiment Association, formation of, and names of
members, vii, viin.
Aerial Patrols, institution of from Halifax and Sydney, N.S., 4.
Aero Club Certificate: required for RNAS candidates and cost of
obtaining, vii; not required after December 1916, vii.
Aero Club of Canada, sets examination for flying pupils, viii.
Aerodrome Dummy Deck Landing (ADDL), display of, 52.
Agreement on the Settlement of War Claims, arrangements for
air squadrons, 42, 48n.
Air Arm, Royal Navy, situation post W.W. 1, 12.
Air Board, takes over Baker Point, removes equipment from
Kelly Beach and sends party for combined exercises, 1921,
Airborne Early Warning (AEW): special flight of VS 881 detailed for, 59; 93.
Air Commander Canadian Atlantic Sub-Area, appointment, 124.
Air Mechanics, training in United Kingdom, 37, 39n.
Air Ministry, British, controls naval aviation, 12.
Air Radio Mechanics, training at HMS Ariel, 37.
Airships: C Star and Zero, plans for brought to Ottawa, 2; not
flown from East Coast, 5.
Albacore, aircraft: 826 Squadron and attack on Italian warships,
15, 15n; first squadron formed, 1940, 38.
Albatross, HMAS, 13.
Albatross, HMS, A/S patrols, 13.
Albemarle, USS, seaplane tender, visits Halifax, 65.
Alcide, HM Submarine: based at Halifax, 56; exercises with
naval aircraft in 1958 and takes part in Maple Royal exercises, 108, 122n.
Alderney, HM Submarine: exercises with Magnificent, 93, 115;
Alemán, Miguel, installed as President of Mexico, 1946, 44.
Alexander of Tunis, Viscount, Governor-General of Canada,
saluted by Warrior at Quebec, 43, 43n.
Alexandria, Egypt, British naval Base, 1941, 15.
Alford, Surgeon-Lieutenant-Commander E.G.L., RCN, undergoes pilot training and is presented with wings, 52.
Algonquin, HMCS: with Nabob, 25n, 28; Exercise Mariner, 87;
exercising in Northern Irish waters, 88; A/S exercises, 89,
89n; Task Force 301, 91, 91n; Exercise Sea Enterprise, 92,
93n; damaged topmast in Exercise New Broom VI, 95; fuels
from Magnificent, 108; Exercise Maple Royal I and Exercise Maple Royal II, 108, 122n, 111 112; 114; 115; 118; in
Ungava Bay, 119.
Allardyce, Flight-Lieutenant A. H., RNAS, short account of
career, viiin.
Alliance, HM Submarine: operates with Magnificent, 95; exercises with RCN aircraft, 108.
All-Weather Flying Flight, part of VT 40, 58.
Almirante Cochrane, Chilean battleship, name changed to Eagle,
Ambush, HM Submarine: 93; 112.
America and West Indies Station: 76; see also Squadrons, Ships.
Amerigo Vespucci, Italian Naval Training Ship (square-rigged):
salutes Magnificent off Gibraltar, 81, 81n; Coronation Review, 86.
Amet Sound, N.S., combined services exercises, 1930, 11.
Amphion, HM Submarine: exercises with HS 50, 62; takes part
in Maple Royal exercises, 108, 122n.
Angled-deck: first landing on by RCN plane, 89; general notes
on, 105, 122n.
Anson V aircraft, 50.
Antietam, USS: training RCN personnel, 59; flagship of Carrier
Division 14 and first RCN landing on angled-deck, 89,89n.
Antigonish, HMCS, 75.
Anti-submarine warfare, developments, 125, 126.
Araxos, Greece, 82.
Arbick, Commander (A) J. H., RCNVR, Director of Naval Air
Division and proposals re Dartmouth Air Station, 49, 72n.
Archer, HMS, escort carrier: joins British Fleet, 18: Captain
Lay’s visit to, 22.
Argentine Navy: 54; personnel aboard Bonaventure, 120.
Argonaut, US Submarine, 91.
Argus, aircraft, put into service, 125.
Argus, HMS, aircraft carrier, details of flight deck, 12, 13.
Ariel, HMS, Canadian air radio mechanics trained at, 37.
Ark Royal, HMS, aircraft carrier, commissioned 1914, 13n.
Ark Royal, HMS, aircraft carrier: joins fleet, 13; aircraft from
slow up Bismarck, 16; operations against Dakar and Oran,
37; sunk off Gibraltar, 37.
Armentieres, HMCS, 24.
Armistice, First World War, 11 November, 1918, 7.
Armistice, Korea, 27 July, 1953, 124.
Army, Canadian, contingent aboard carrier, 85.
Army Staff College, members visit Bonaventure, 118.
Arrester Gear, transverse, adaptation of by U.S. and British, 14.
Artemis, HM Submarine, 85.
Assiniboine, HMCS, first of name: participates in hunt for Bismarck, 16n; captures Hannover, 18; escorts Puncher, 30.
Assiniboine, HMCS, second of name: exercises with Magnificent, 95; Maple Royal exercises, 108, 122n.
Astute, HM Submarine: 94; 95.
Athabaskan, HMCS, first of name, sunk, 78, 78n, 92.
Athabaskan, HMCS, second of name: exercises with British
warships, 75; 111; 112; rescues pilot, 114; 115; 118; Korean action, 124.
Athenia, SS, sunk, 16.
Attacker, aircraft, 56.
Audacity, HMS: first escort carrier and MAC ship, brief history,
18; sunk, 18.
Audio, landing aid and description of, 105.
Auriga, HM Submarine, 116.
Aurochs, HM Submarine, Exercise Trapline, 119.
Aurora, HMCS: combined services exercises, 1921, 9; paid off,
Auster, aircraft: 73; 107.
Australia, Commonwealth of: orders seaplane carrier, 13; transfer of ships to, 36.
Avenger, aircraft: 25; 27; landing on damaged Nabob, 28; 30;
31; acquisition by RCN, 54, 54n; 56; 57; 58; last to be
flown by RCN, 65; 80; 81; Coronation Review, 86; Exercise Mariner, 87; 95; 106; 124, 128n.
Avenger, HMS, escort carrier, 883 Squadron embarks in, sinks,
Aylmer, HMS, escorts Nabob, 27.
B-17, aircraft, 75.
B-29, aircraft: 57; 75.
Baddeck, N.S., Aerial Experiment Association formed at, vii.
Baden, SS, sunk, 104.
Baffin, Canadian Government Ship, RCN helicopter loaned to
and rescue operations, 62, 62n.
Bahia Aguirre, Argentinian Naval Transport, crew for arrive at
Shearwater, 54.
Baker Point, N.S.: seaplane and kite balloon stations, 1918, 3;
construction starts at, 4; flying hours logged by USN personnel, 4; details of temporary hangars, 5n; description of
permanent buildings, 8; transferred to Air Board, 9; care
and maintenance and reactivated by RCAF, 1934, 10; Eastern Air Command base, 17; RCN flying section established
at, 49.
Baldock, E.D., presents map to Bonaventure, 103, 122n.
Baldwin, F.W. (Casey), engineer and member of Aerial Experiment Association, viin.
Ball, Chief Shipwright LIZ., RCNVR, shoring of Nabob, 34n.
Balfour Committee, 14.
Ballantyne, The Hon. C.C., Minister of the Naval Service, and
RCNAS, 1918, 7, 1On.
Banshee, aircraft, F2H3, twin-jet fighter: first of order arrives at
Halifax, 60; 61; 62; 64; 66; flying trials, 106; 107; 108;
114; 118; retiring from service, 127.
Barbados, B.W.L, 93.
Barnes, Lieutenant-Commander G.B.F., RCN, aerial observer
for exercises, 1930, 11.
Barracuda, aircraft: 22; 27; 31; 32; 37; 38.
Barron, Captain J., RAF, (formerly Flight-Commander RNAS):
consultations in Washington, 2; selection of air base sites in
Canada, 3; RCNAS cadet selection committee, 6.
Batista, Major-General, President of Cuba, 94.
Battler, HMS, escort carrier, 41.
Bay Bulls, Newfoundland, U-190 escorted to, 50n.
Beacon Hill, HMCS, escorts Puncher, 30.
Bearcat, aircraft, 76.
“Beat the Retreat,” performed in San Diego, 90.
Beaverbank, RCAF Pine Tree Station, 70, 70n.
Bedell, Flight Cadet W. V., RCNAS, dies en route to United
Kingdom, 6.
Beeman, Lieutenant-Commander J. H. RCN, rescues crew of
wrecked ship and award of George Medal, 60.
Bell, Doctor Alexander Graham, member of Aerial Experiment
Association, 1907, vii, viin.
Bell, helicopter, HTL, delivered to Shearwater, 55.
Bellona, HMNZS, cruiser, Exercise Mainbrace, 84, 100n.
Bellona, HMS, cruiser, Operation Newmarket, 32, 32n.
Bennington, USS, aircraft carrier, Exercise Mariner, 87.
Berwick, HMS, cruiser, 104.
Bevan, Rear-Admiral R. H., Flag Officer Northern Ireland, 41.
Bevan, Mrs. R. H., launches Warrior, 41.
Bickerton, HMS, frigate: Senior Officer 5th Escort Group and
Operation Goodwood, 27; torpedoed and later sunk, 27, 28.
Bidwell, Captain (later Rear-Admiral) R.E.S., RCN: command
of Puncher, 29; 57; 85; Flag Officer Canadian Coronation
Squadron, 85, 100n; FOAC, 99; 106; 123.
Birmingham, HMS, cruiser, Operation Newmarket, 32n.
Bismarck, German battleship: 15; sunk, 16; attacked by aircraft,
Black Ranger, RFA, 78.
Black Watch, U-boat depot ship, sunk, 34n.
Black Watch of Canada, Regiment, farewell to Magnificent, 97.
Bligh, HMS, frigate, 27.
Blimp, non-rigid airship: RCNVR officers sent to pilot’s course,
21; visit to Shearwater, 56; landing on Magnificent, 82;
Exercise New Broom V, 94.
Bofors, guns, installed in Puncher, 30.
Bogue, USS, escort carrier, 19.
Bonaventure, HMCS, light fleet aircraft carrier: 96; 100; 103;
battle honours, 104; commissions at Belfast, 104; details on
and propeller arrangement, 104; fuelling system, 105; joins
HMC fleet, 106; flying trials, 106; 106, 122n; 107; 108;
109; refit, 109, 122n; Mediterranean cruise, 110; 111; trophies, 111, 122n; NATO anniversary, 111; 112; Royal Visit
to Canada, 112; 114; encounters severe storm, 114, 115,
122n; flying statistics, 115, 122n; transports Governor General, 116; refit, 117; 118; Northern waters, 119; 120; 121;
possible future, 127.
Bonaventure, HM Ships of name: early history, 104; Dido Class
cruiser, short history of, submarine depot ship, 1943-45,
short history of, 104.
“Bonaventure Drifters,” 114.
Bonaventure Island, Gulf of St. Lawrence, 103.
Bonham-Carter, Rear-Admiral S. S., Third Battle Squadron and
administrative authority for RN Air Section, Dartmouth,
Borden, The Rt. Hon. R. L., Prime Minister of Canada, Canadian
naval air service in First World War, 2.
Boston Mass., U.S.A.: RCNAS cadet training 1918, 6; visit of
Bonaventure, 117.
Bouchard, Able-Seaman J.P.G., RCN, pilot rescue and award of
George Medal, 65.
Bras d’Or, hydrofoil craft, transported to Canada in carrier, 106.
Bras d’Or Lakes, Cape Breton Island, locale for first flight of
Aerial Experiment Association, vii, viin.
Breadner, Air Chief Marshal L.S., RCAF, former service in
RNAS, ix.
Bristol Britannia, aircraft, Royal Visit to Canada, 64.
Britannia, HMS, Royal Yacht and opening of St. Lawrence
Seaway, 64.
British Admiralty Maintenance Representative, Washington,
D.C., 24.
British Columbia, Province of, Centennial celebrations, 64, 64n.
British Cabinet, accepts Canadian proposal re carriers, 36.
British Columbia Aviation School Limited, formation of and
plane crash, 1916, viii.
British Overseas Airways Corporation, 65.
Brock, Commodore J.V., RCN: Naval Member Canadian Joint
Staff (London), attends commissioning of Bonaventure,
104; SCOA(A), 107; tactical command during Maple Royal
exercises, 109,109n.
Bryan, Rear Admiral, USN, 118.
Buckingham, HMCS, frigate: 62; helicopter landing trials, 96.
Bud, Norway, geographical location of, 31, 34n.
Bud Worm, aircraft spraying, 59.
Bulwark, HMS, light fleet aircraft carrier: visits Dartmouth,
N.S., 64; Maple Royal exercises, 108, 122n; 108; 109.
Bureau of Aeronautics, formed 1921, 14.
Burke, Lieutenant-Colonel C.J., RFC, viii.
Burns, Major-General E.L.M., Canadian Army: Commander of
UN Force, 97, 101n; visits Magnificent at Port Said, lands
in Gaza Strip, 98.
Burrard Drydock and Shipbuilding Company Limited, Vancouver, B.C.: modifications to Nabob, 24; refits Puncher, 30.
Burrard Inlet, B.C., Vancouver Flying Club, 1915, viii.
Byrd, Lieutenant R.E., USN (Ret’d), (held rank of Acting Lieutenant-Commander in Canada): Officer-in-Charge, USN
Air Force in Canada and CO Baker Point, 4; patrolling from
Dartmouth Air Station, 1918, 4; 7; closing down of American air stations in Canada, 7; visit to Baker Point, 1919, 8.
CC-1, HMCS, submarine, 71.
CC-2, HMCS, submarine, 71.
CH-14, HMCS, submarine, 9.
CH-15, HMCS, submarine, 9.
Cabinet, Defence Committee of the Cabinet, War Committee of
the Cabinet: desire to preserve RCNAS, 10; Quebec Conference, 23; approval for manning of two escort carriers,
24; decision re manning of light fleet carriers, 36; naval
contribution to war in Far East, 35, 39n; formation of Naval
Air component, 38; loan terms for carriers and aircraft, 42;
discussions re light fleet carriers, 45, 48n; decision to take
over Dartmouth Air Station, 53, 72n; decision to buy carrier, 96, 101n; approves loan of RCN planes and pilots for
Korean service, 124.
Cadet Flying Unit (CFU 1), established temporarily for naval
cadets and UNTD, 63.
Caio Duilio, Italian battleship, 15.
California, SS, seamen rescued by helicopter, 61.
Calooshatchee, USS, 116.
Cambridge Bay, N.W.T., ice-field forecast station, 64.
Cameron, Lieutenant, C.E.F., RCNAS cadet selection committee, 6.
Campney, The Hon. R., Minister of National Defence: accepts
first Tracker, 61; 85; 90; 97, 101n; commissioning of
Bonaventure, 104.
Campney, Mrs. R., names Bonaventure, 104.
Canada, HMS, base at Halifax, screens volunteers for RNFAA,
Canadian Aeroplanes Limited, Toronto factory, 2.
Canadian Air Force, formed in Europe, 1918, 5.
Canadian Anti-Acoustic Torpedo Gear, description of, 27.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 115.
Canadian International Air Show, 61.
Canadian Joint Air Training Centre, Rivers, Manitoba, 56.
Canadian National Air Show, 57.
Canadian Naval Mission Overseas, establishment of and negotiations for light fleet carriers, 35, 35n, 36.
Canadian North-West Atlantic Command, institution of, 19, 19n.
Canadian Services College Royal Roads, air training for cadets,
Canadian Special Service Squadron, visits NATO countries,
1950, 77.
Cap de la Madeleine, HMCS, frigate, 112, 122n.
Cape Scott, HMCS: 65; 116; 117, 117n; 121.
Carbonero, USS, submarine, 90.
Carne, Commodore W.P., RN, accepts Bonaventure from builders, 106.
“Carqual”, carrier qualification, 107.
Carrier Air Group, 18th: formation of, 47; reforms, 50; reforms,
53; based at Quonset Point, 53; reformed, 55; renumbered,
May 1951, 55; 80.
Carrier Air Group, 19th: formation of, 45; to UK to re-equip, 47;
reformed, 50; reformed, 53; renamed, 55; 73; 77.
Carrier Air Group, 30th: formation of, 55; disbanded, 58; 80; 82;
Coronation Review, 85, 86.
Carrier Division 14, USN, RCN ships operate with, 86, 86n.
Carrier Vessel Escort (CVE): 18; Admiralty proposes RCN man
two, 24.
Carrington, Lord, First Lord of Admiralty, 66.
Cartier, Jacques, French explorer, 103.
Cartier, HMCS, selected to be kite balloon ship, 5n.
Casement, Commander R., RN, commissions Warrior for RN,
Catalina, aircraft, sights Bismarck, 16.
Catapult Aircraft Merchant Ships, introduction of, withdrawn
from service, 17.
Catapult, hydro-pneumatic, limits to performance, 105.
Catapult, steam, principle of and fitted in Bonaventure, 105,
Cataraqui, HMCS, Naval Division at Kingston, Ontario, and
administrative authority for VC 921, 63.
Cayuga, HMCS, destroyer: 47; 93n; 117; service in Korean waters, 124.
Ceylon, HMS, cruiser, 108, 122n.
Champlain, French explorer, 103.
Champlain, HMCS, destroyer: combined services exercises,
1930, 11; exercises with RN Home Fleet, 1934, 11.
Charleston, South Carolina: 76; 119.
Charlottetown, P.E.I., 117.
Charlottetown, HMCS, frigate, escorts Warrior to Esquimalt,
Chaudiere, HMCS, destroyer, escorts Puncher, 30.
Chaudiere, HMCS, destroyer escort: 118; 121.
Cherbourg, France, 78.
Chevron, HMS, destroyer, plane guard for Magnificent, 83.
Chezzetcook, N.S., firing and bombing range, 55.
Christian IV, King of Denmark, 94.
Chukawan, USS, fuels Canadian ships, 108.
Churchill, Manitoba, ice-field forecast station established, 64.
Churchill, The Rt. Hon. W.S., Prime Minister of United Kingdom: 23n; transfer of warships, 36.
Cincinnati, USS, 30.
Clan Davidson, SS, formerly HMS Bonaventure, 104.
Claxton, The Hon. B., Minister of National Defence: discussions
in UK re carriers, 45; visits air station at Dartmouth, 52; 96;
negotiations re Canadian carrier, 103, 122n; statement re
role of RCN, 124, 128n.
Cleopatra, HMS, cruiser, visits Istanbul, 83.
Coastal Command, RAF: reconnaissance role, 1939, operational
control, operations off Dutch, Belgian and French coasts,
1940, 15, 15n; patrols, 16; 38.
Cole, Mr. A., (ex-Sergeant-Major, RAF), Foreman, Aircraft
maintenance party East Coast air stations, 1919, 8.
Collishaw, Air Vice-Marshal R., RAF, former service in Canadian Fishery Protection Service and RNAS, ix.
Columbia, HMCS, destroyer, hunt for Bismarck, 16n.
Columbia, HMCS, destroyer escort: 118; 119.
Columbia, SS, mid-ocean transfer of sick soldier, 81.
Combat Air Patrol (CAP), 76.
Comet IV, aircraft, Royal Visit to Canada, 65.
Commander Canadian Atlantic Sub-Area, appointment, 124.
Commanding Officer Atlantic Coast, screens volunteers for
RNFAA, 22.
Commander Operational Evaluation (COMOPVAL), helicopter
trials, 96.
Comox, HMCS, minesweeper, sweeps ahead of Magnificent, 90.
Congress, United States, creates Bureau of Aeronautics, 14.
Conte Di Cavour, Italian battleship: escorted by aircraft into
Halifax, 1919, 9; 15.
Conte Rosso, SS, liner, renamed HMS Argus, 12.
Contest, HMS, destroyer, plane guard to Magnificent, 82.
Convoys: HXF-1, 16n; OB-327, 17; HG-76, ONS-9, 18; UT-10,
24; JW-59, 27; CU-38, UGF-13, GUS-48,30, 30n; JW
59,RA-59, 37; ONF-27, 85, 100n.
Convoy Conference, held at Halifax, 1918, to arrange aerial
protection, 4.
Convoy System: adopted 1917, 2; organized by RN, 1939, 16.
Copenhagen, Denmark, visit by Canadian Special Service
Squadron, 77.
Cormorant, HMCS, attached to Marine Section of Shearwater,
Cornwallis, The Hon. E., founder of Halifax, N.S., 53n.
Cornwallis, HMCS, 121.
Coronation Squadron sails from Halifax and composition of, 56,
85, 85n.
Corsair, aircraft: attack on targets in Japan, 1945, 23; embark in
Puncher, 30; 37.
Corunna, HMS, destroyer, Exercise Castinets, 82.
Cosh, Lieutenant-Commander (P) D.R.B., RCNVR, 27n.
Council, Privy: decides against forming CNAS, 1917, 2; approves decisions taken at Washington meeting. 1918, 3; decision re Magnificent, 96, 107n; see also cabinet.
Courageous, HMS, aircraft carrier: 13; torpedoed and sunk, 16.
Creery, Captain W.B., RCN, Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff
nd RN man-power shortage, 24, 34n.
Crescent Class destroyers, acquisition of, 42.
Crescent, HMCS, destroyer: 44; 45; 56; 79n; 82; 83; 93n; 117,
117n; 120.
Crete, Battle of, FAA participation, 37.
Crispin, HMS, anti-aircraft “Q” ship, and sunk by submarine
torpedo, 17.
Crispin, HMS, destroyer, plane guard to Magnificent, 83.
Cristoforo Colombo, liner, 92.
Crusader, HMCS, destroyer: 90; 91; Royal Visit to Canada, 112,
Cuba, Republic of: 45; 94.
Cuba, cruiser, salute to Warrior, 45.
Culebra Island, West Indies, 94.
Cull, Lieutenant-Colonel J. T., RAF, (formerly WingCommander, RNAS): designated by Admiralty for overall
command of RCNAS, 1918, tours proposed air station sites
and arranges for USN to start flying patrols in Canada, 3,
3n; recommends establishment of flying substations, problems in forming NAS, 5; 6; 7; conference on closing of air
stations, returns to U.K., 8.
Culley, Lieutenant S.D., RAF, flies plane from towed lighter and
shoots down Zeppelin, ix.
Cumbrae Strait, Scotland, 31.
Cunningham, Admiral A. B. (later Admiral of the Fleet Sir
A.B.): Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Fleet, and Battle of Matapan, 15; First Sea Lord, personal message to
CNS for man-power help, 23.
Curtis, Air Marshal W.A. RCAF, former service in RNAS, ix.
Curtiss Aeroplanes and Motors Limited, aircraft manufacturers,
Toronto, 1915, vii.
Curtiss Aviation School, number of candidates graduating from,
Curtiss, Glenn, American inventor and member of Aerial Experiment Association, viin.
Curtiss HS2L, aircraft: first flight over Halifax, 4; loaned for
forest patrol duty, 8.
Curtiss JN, aircraft, built by Curtiss Ltd. in Toronto, 1914-18,
Curtiss Tractor, aircraft, used for fund raising in Vancouver,
1916, viii.
Cuxhaven, Germany, attacked by RNAS seaplanes, 1914, 1.
Dakota, aircraft: reports disabled motor-boat in St. Lawrence,
42; housed at Shearwater, 54.
Daniels, J. B., U.S. Secretary of the Navy and closing of Canadian air stations, 8.
Daring, HMS, destroyer, plane-guard to Magnificent, 82.
Dartmouth, N.S., incorporated as a city, 1961, and presentation
of mace by RCN, 66, 72n.
Dauntless, HMS, cruiser: escorted by aircraft to Halifax, 1919,
9; combined exercises, 1930, 11.
Davis, Admiral Sir W. W., Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet,
108, 114, 122n.
Deane, Captain (L) J., RCN, accepts Bonaventure, 106.
Debert, N.S., NAF established at, 66.
Deck Landing Control Officer (DLCO) : introduction of, 14; see
also Landing Signals Officer.
Deck Landings night, first time for RCN, 46.
Deck landing technique: British and American compared, 54;
DLCO’s position fitted in Magnificent, 75.
Defence Production, Minister of, purchase of carrier, 103.
Defence Research Board, 126.
De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd., Toronto, Ontario, manufacturers of Tracker aircraft under licence, 61.
De Long, USS, destroyer, tows in plane, Halifax, 1918, 4.
Dennison, Admiral R. L., USN, Commander-in-Chief Atlantic
Fleet, 118:
Department of the Naval Service, draws up scheme of recruitment for CNAS and uniform specifications, 3.
Department of Public Works: obtains land for air stations, 4;
takes over Kelly Beach, 9.
Depth-charges, used by Coastal Command aircraft, 16.
Desbarats, G. J., Deputy Minister of the Naval Service attends
conference in Washington, 8.
Des Moines, USS, 76.
Deutschland, German submarine, voyage to Norfolk, Va., 1917,
Devonshire, HMS, cruiser, Selenium operations, 31.
DeWolf, Captain (later Vice-Admiral) H. G.: Director of Plans
Division and submits paper on Naval Air, 21; assumes
command of Warrior and appointed SCNOA, 44, 44n; 45;
48; takes part in Tracker ceremonies, 61; accepts and presents Wilkinson Trophy, 65, 65n; assumes command of
Magnificent 73; 74; Chief of the Naval Staff and farewell
message to Magnificent 99, 101n; Bonaventure commissioning ceremonies, 104.
Diamond, HMS, collision during Exercise Mariner, 88.
Dido, HMS, cruiser: Operation Selenium I, 31n; supports carriers
in strike, Operation Prefix, 32.
Diogo Gomes, Portuguese frigate, rescues Canadian pilot, 83.
Donaghue, Lieutenant, USN, CO North Sydney air station, 1918,
Dornier 24, flying boat, sunk by aircraft during Operation
Groundsheet, 32.
Dorsetshire, HMS, cruiser, sinking of Bismarck, 16.
Douglas H. Fox, USS, 83, 100n.
Dragon, HMS, cruiser, air escort into Halifax, 1919, 9.
Dreadnought Class, battleships, Anglo-German rivalry, vii.
Drone Target Unit, Number 1, Detachment 1 embarked in Magnificent and brief history of, 93, 100n.
Duke of York, HMS, battleship, Operation Goodwood, 27n.
Dunedin, HMS, cruiser, capture of Hannover, 18.
Dunkirk, France, evacuation of British Army, 37.
Dunning, Squadron-Commander E.H., RNAS, makes first landing on ship under way, is killed on later attempt, 12.
Durban, HMS, cruiser, combined services exercise, 1930, 11.
Duval, Captain Jean Paul, 103.
Duxbury Bay, USS, sea-plane tender, visits Dartmouth, N.S., 54.
Dyer, Captain (later Rear-Admiral) K.L., RCN: FOAC and presents mace to City of Dartmouth, 66; command of Magnificent, 81; 85; 118.
Eagle, HMS, aircraft carrier: commissioned 1920, 13; formation
of 825 Squadron, 1934, 37.
Eagle, HMS, aircraft carrier, 1950: collision during Exercise
Mainbrace, 84; 85; 87.
Earl, Commodore P., RCN, 121.
Eastore, CNAV, transports salvaged Firefly, 55.
Eden, The Rt. Hon. Sir A., Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, proposes retention of Magnificent, 96, 101n.
Edwards, Lieutenant-Commander (P) G.C., RCNVR, CO of 842
Squadron and participation in Operation Tungsten, 27n.
Edwards, Air Marshal H., RCAF, former service in RNAS, ix.
Egypt: invasion of, 1956, 62; abdication crisis, 83, 100n.
Eisenhower, D.D., President of the United States, dedication of
St. Lawrence Seaway, 64n.
El Ballah, site of UN Camp in Suez Canal Zone, Egypt, 98.
Electrical Artificers, 37.
Ellenikon, Greece, RCN Sea Furies diverted to, 82.
Elokomin, USS, 93.
Empire Audacity, SS, ex-German ship Hannover, 18.
Empire Macalpine, SS, first MAC ship, 18.
Empress, HMS, former cross-channel steamer converted to seaplane carrying and raid on German ports, 1914, 1.
Empress of Scotland, RMS, 22.
Engadine, HMS, former cross-channel steamer converted for
seaplane carrying, air raid on German ports, 1914, and Battle of Jutland enemy sighting report, 1.
Engine-room Artificers (ERA’s), conversion to equivalent air
category, 37.
Enright, USS, escorts Puncher, 30.
Erdmann, Rear Admiral, USN, 86, 86n.
Escort Carriers, Cabinet decision re manning, 24.
Escort Groups, C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4, proposal to acquire escort
carriers to operate with, 21.
Esmonde, Lieutenant-Commander (A) (P) E., RN, CO of 825
Squadron and posthumous award of Victoria Cross, 37.
Espe, Rear Admiral C.F., USN, 117.
Esquimalt, HMCS, sunk by U-190,52.
Essex, USS, 118.
Ethiopia, Kingdom of, receives ex-RCN Firefly aircraft, 89,
Euryalus, HMS, cruiser, 82.
Exercises: Argus I, 61, 72n; Argus II, 61, 72n; Assiniboine, 56;
Aswex I-58, 108; Beaverdam, 108; Beaverdam III, 111; Big
Hello, 93; Caribex 50, 76; Castinets, 82; Emigrant, 85;
Fogbank, 91, 91n; Homecoming, 78; Jaswex 3/61, 119;
Jaswex 62, 121; Limelight, 64; Mainbrace, 83; Maple Leaf,
78; Maple Royal I, 108; Maple Royal II, 108; Mariner, 86,
87, 88; Matrix, 61, 72n; Medaswex 26, 110; Medaswex 27,
110; Morning Star, 61, 72n; New Broom II, 89; New Broom
IV, 91; New Broom V, 94; New Broom VI, 95; New Broom
VIII, 109; New Broom X, 118; Rising Star, 60; Riptide II,
118; Scuppered, 52; Sea Enterprise, 91, 92; Sharp Squall,
110; Sharp Squall IV, 114; Shortstop, 116; Spring Tide, 93;
Symphonie Deux, 80; Teamwork, 56; Tout Droit, 118; Trapline, 119; Weld Fast, 86, 100n.
Expeditor, aircraft, 117.
Explosive Echo Ranging, 126.
F-100, aircraft, rescue of pilot, 70, 71.
Fairchild Packet, C-119, aircraft, Suez Canal crisis, 1956, 62.
Fairey Aviation of Canada Ltd.: alterations to Avenger aircraft,
54; repair facilities at Patricia Bay, 69.
Farouk, King of Egypt, abdicates, 83, 100n.
Fencer, HMS, 27n.
Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP), interference with at
Shearwater and move to Debert, N.S., 66.
Fink, Lieutenant-Commander F.R., RCN, rescues crew of Kismet II and award of George Medal, 60.
Firebrand, aircraft, 80.
Firefly, aircraft: Used in Norwegian operations, 25; crash aboard
Puncher, 33; 38; 41; 42; 44; 45; 47; 50; ‘hook bounce’, 54;
Mark IV and Mark V, 74; transfer to Ethiopia, 89, 100n.
Fishery Protection Service, ix.
Fiume, Italian cruiser, Battle of Matapan, 15.
Five Fathom Hole, Bermuda, fleet anchorage, 74.
Flag Officer Atlantic Coast, NATO Command, 124.
Flag Officer Carrier Training (FOCT), Puncher transferred to
administration of, 33.
Flag Officer Pacific Coast, VU 33 placed at disposal of, 69, 72n.
Fleet Air Arm, RCN, discontinuation of term, 38.
Fleet Air Arm, RN: title adopted April 1924, administrative
control reverts to Admiralty, 1937, 14; major tasks, 1939,
15; important victories and units with RAF, 16; RCN personnel loaned for training, 21; rates of pay in Nabob and
Puncher, 24, 34.
Fleet Requirement Unit: formed at Dartmouth Air Station, 1946,
50; trains first pilot, 1947, 52; renumbered from 743 to VU
32, 56.
Flotillas, RN: 10th Minesweeping and Operation Shred, 32;
Sixth Submarine, 112; Home, 112.
Flying Boats: transatlantic flight by USN, 1919, 8; F.3 type to
Eastern Passage for combined services exercises, 1921, 9;
PB5M, USN, visit to Dartmouth, 54; use in A/S warfare,
Foam, HMS, minesweeper, escorts Puncher, 30.
Focke Wulf Condor, aircraft: activities in North Atlantic, 17;
shadow Audacity and destruction of, 18.
Force 1: Operation Goodwood, 27, 27n; composition, February
1945, 31, 3ln.
Force 2; Operation Goodwood, 27; composition, February 1945,
Force 4, composition, 25, 25n.
Formidable, HMS, aircraft carrier: Battle of Matapan, 15, 37,
38; Far East War, attack on Tirpitz, 23; Operation Goodwood, 27n; Ship’s Bell at Shearwater, 70n.
Fort Erie, HMCS, frigate, 112.
Forth, HMS, 80.
Fortune, HMCS, minesweeper, sweeps ahead of Magnificent,
Fraser, The Hon. A., Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, 106.
Fraser, HMCS, destroyer, escort for HXF 1, 16n.
Fraser, Lieutenant J.G., RCNVR, trained as airship pilot, 21.
Fraser-Harris, Captain (later Commodore) A.B.F., RCN: commands Shearwater, 1948, 53; commands Magnificent, 95;
visits Gaza Strip, 98.
Frayn, Lieutenant-Commander W.H., RCN, pilot of UN helicopter, 98.
Freetown, Sierra Leone, 13.
Frewer, Captain F.C., RCN, commands Bonaventure, 118.
Frobisher, N.W.T., ice-field forecast station, 64.
Fulmar, aircraft: 17; 37.
Furious, HMS, aircraft carrier: exercises with RCN units, 1934,
11; first deck landing on a moving vessel, flight deck alterations, 12, 13, 13n; Operation Goodwood, 27n.
Gallipoli, Turkey, first aerial torpedo attack, 1.
Gambia, HMS, cruiser, 82.
Gannet, aircraft, 106. Gareloch, Scotland, 31.
Gatineau, HMCS, 121.
General Blyth, USS, tanker transport, 30.
General Hodges, USS, helicopter rescue, 57.
Genoa, Italy, visit of Canadian ships, 92.
George Medal, awards: 60; 61; 65.
Georges Leygues, French cruiser, NATO exercises, 80, 80n.
Georgia, Strait of, Nabob grounds in, 24.
German Air Force, loans Focke Wulf aircraft to navy, 17.
Gibbs, Acting Commander (P) H. J., RCNVR, commands RCN
Air Section, 49.
Gibraltar: visit of Canadian Special Service Squadron, 78; 92;
helicopter mail drop, 97.
Gilbert Islands, USS, 86, 86n.
Gilbert Jr., diesel ship, towed by RCN ship, 80.
Glasgow, HMS, cruiser: 53; 54; 75, 100n; 76, 76n.
Glendyne, tug, capsizes, 99.
Glen Martin Maryland, aircraft, reconnaissance flight for Bismarck, 15.
Glorious, HMS, aircraft carrier, 13.
Glory, HMS, aircraft carrier, 83.
Gneisenau, German battle cruiser, attacked by aircraft, 37.
Golden Anniversary of Flight, 1959, celebrations at Baddeck,
N.S., 64.
Goodwin, Rear Admiral H., USN, Exercise Mariner, 87.
“Goofing Stations,” origin of term in RCN, 98, 101n.
Gordon Mowat Memorial Trophy, presented for first time, 65.
Gossen, Norway, air raid, 1944, 25.
Gothenburg, Sweden, visit of Canadian Special Service Squadron, 77.
Gotland, Swedish cruiser, visits Halifax, 56.
“Gougou,” legendary ogress, 103.
Grand Harbour, Malta: 80; 110.
Grant, Rear-Admiral H. T. W., RCN, 41.
Gray, Lieutenant Robert Hampton, RCNVR: history of service
career, citation for DSC and recommendation for VC, 23;
member of 803 Squadron, 37; school named in memory of,
Groos, Captain H. V. W., RCN: commissions Bonaventure,
Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, designer of
Tracker, 61.
Grumman S2F, aircraft: Canadians serve with USN to gain experience on, 59; see also Tracker, aircraft.
Grunwaldt, Rear-Admiral E. G. M., Argentine Navy, visit to
Bonaventure, 120.
Guantanamo, Cuba, USN base and visit by RN and RCN ships,
75, 76.
“Guppy,” Air Early Warning Aircraft, description of, 59.
Haida, HMCS: 47; sinking of U-190, 52; 53; loses anchor at
Bermuda, 74; pulls Magnificent off rocks 75; European
Cruise, 1952, 82; 91; Exercise Spring Tide, 93; 108; Maple
Royal exercises, 108, 122n; Mediterranean cruise, 110; 116;
117, 117n; 119.
Haiti, Republic of, 94.
Half Moon, sailing vessel, early exploration by Henry Hudson,
112, 122n.
Halifax, aircraft, bomber, sea rescue of crew, 33.
Halifax International Airport, opens 1960, 70, 72n.
Halifax, N.S., City of, bicentenary celebrations, 1949, 53, 53n.
Halifax Shipyards Ltd.: construction of Argentinian naval transport, 54; 85; 90.
Hamilton, Sub-Lieutenant P. A., RCN, first winner of Mowat
Trophy, 65, 72n.
Hammerfest, Norway, 27.
Hanlan’s Point, Toronto, flying-boat base, 1915, viii.
Hannover, SS, German merchant ship, captured, 18.
Hardy, HMS, anti-submarine exercise, 1957, 107.
Harkness, The Hon. D. L., Minister of National Defence, visits
Bonaventure, 118.
Harland & Wolff, Ltd., shipbuilders, Belfast, Northern Ireland:
construction of Warrior, 41; construction of Magnificent,
73; construction of Bonaventure, 103.
Haro, HMCS, attempts to tow Nabob, 24.
Harvard, aircraft: used by FRU 743, 50; crash on N.B. coast, 61.
Hassouna, Abdel Khalk, Secretary-General of Arab League, 97.
Haugesund, HM Norwegian frigate, Exercise Sea Enterprise, 91,
Havana, Cuba: 45; 76.
Hazen, The Hon. J. D., Minister of the Naval Service, naval air
arm, 1917, 1.
Heath, Lieutenant R., RCN, service with USN, 124, 128n.
Helicopters: Admiralty order for, Canadian pilots training in, 21;
RCN Flight Number One formed, 55; spectacular rescue by,
57; work with fleet on A/S duty for first time, 94; proposal
to operate from frigates in W.W. II, 126, 128n.
Hellcat, aircraft: Norwegian operations, 1944, 25; 30.
Helldiver, aircraft, 30.
Hemsley, The Hon. S.D., Canadian Consul-General Boston, 117.
Hermes, HMS, aircraft carrier: first RN carrier built as such, 13;
sunk, 37.
High Commissioner, United Kingdom, arrangements re training
flying personnel, 34n.
High Frequency Direction Finding (HF/DF), fitted in Nabob, 24.
Hobbs, Flight Sub-Lieutenant B.D., RNAS, shoots down Zeppelin L-43, ix.
Hobbs, Captain J. W., RAF: RCNAS liaison officer at North
Sydney, 1918, 4; inspects areas for sub-stations, 5.
Hoffar, Messrs., Burrard Inlet, B. C., viii.
Hoggatt Bay, USS, 116, 122n.
Holder, USS. Exercise Mariner, 87, 100n.
Home Fleet, RN: exercises with RCN, 1934, 11; hunt for the
Bismarck, 16; Operation Goodwood, 27; last operation in
W. W. II, 34n; 82, 100n; exercises with RCN ships, 108,
Hood, HMS, battle-cruiser, sunk by Bismarck, 16.
Hope, Lieutenant-Commander A. M., RCN air observer for exercises, 1930, 11.
Hose, Captain (later Rear-Admiral) W., RCN: represents Canada
at Washington conference, 1918, 3; Treasury Board proposals, 1933, 11.
Houghton, Captain F. L., RCN: Commanding Officer of Warrior
and accepts ship for RCN, 41; Honorary Naval Attaché,
Mexico, 44; proposes motto for Warrior, 48.
Hoxa Gate, Scapa Flow, 28.
HS 50, helicopter squadron: formed, July 1955, 60; training at
Key West and first torpedo drop by RCN helicopter, 62; 64;
fights forest fires in Newfoundland, 66; supplies MidCanada Line, 69; wins. trophies, 69; 107; 108; Exercise
New Broom, 109; 116; cruise to Northern waters, 118, 119;
A/S capability, 125.
HU 21, helicopter squadron: formerly VH 21, 59; rescue work in
1955, 61; Springhill coal mine disaster, ice survey, trials in
Buckingham, 62; Golden Anniversary of Flight and St.
Lawrence Seaway, 64; aboard Labrador and loss of two
planes in Frobisher Bay, 68; supplies Mid-Canada Line, 69;
frigate landing trials, 96; helicopter attached to UN Force,
97, 97n, 98, 99; cruise in Northern waters, 118, 119.
Hudson, Henry, early explorer and search for north-west passage, 112, 122n.
Huron, HMCS, destroyers: Canadian Special Service Squadron,
77; 91, 91n; 92; Mediterranean cruise, 110; collision with
French destroyer, 110, 122n; 119.
Hurricane, aircraft, used on CAM Ships, servicing by RCAF
and effectiveness in CAM Ships, 17.
Hyades, USS, stores Magnificent in Mediterranean, 97.
Hydrofoil craft, experiments with, 127.
Hydro-ski, 127, 128n.
Hysinjin, Korea, 124, 124n.
Illustrious, HMS, aircraft carrier: raid on Taranto, 15; 22; 23;
angled-deck trials, 105.
Imperial Munitions Board, approached re provision of aircraft
for proposed CNAS, 1.
Inauguration Day, Canadian personnel attend ceremonies, 44.
Ince, Flight Sub-Lieutenant A.S., RNAS, destruction of German
plane and award of DSC, viii.
Inch Arran, HMCS, frigate, 117, 117n.
Indefatigable, HMS, aircraft carrier: Norwegian operations,
1944, 25, 25n; Operation Goodwood, 27n; 38.
Independence, USS, 118.
Independencia, Argentine aircraft carrier, ex-Warrior, 48.
Indomitable, HMS, aircraft carrier, Exercise Castinets, 82.
Indian Beach, North Sydney, temporary flying boat station, 4.
Influenza, Spanish: outbreak of, 1918, 5; delays start of RCNAS
training, 6.
Instrument Flying School, merged into VT 40, 58.
Interdepartmental Committee of the Militia and Naval Departments, considers formation of CNAS, 1.
Iowa, USS, Exercise Mariner, 87.
Iroquois, HMCS: escorts Puncher, 31; 93, 93n; 112; 114; 115;
Isla Grande Airport, Porto Rico, Canadian aircraft visit, 91.
Istanbul, Turkey, Magnificent visits, 83.
Jamaica, HMS, cruiser, America and West Indies Squadron and
target for RCN planes exercising, 74, 75, 100n.
Jamaica Producer, SS, rescues crew of ditched bomber, 33.
James Bay, HMCS, minesweeper, sweeps ahead of Magnificent,
James C. Owens, USS, 83, 100n.
James, Lieutenant W. E., RCN, helicopter pilot, rescues lighthouse keeper and award of Order of the British Empire, 61.
Janney, Sub-Lieutenant E.L., RNCVR, cadet selection committee for RCNAS, 6.
Janvrins, early privateers, 103.
Jellicoe, Viscount, of Scapa, Admiral of the Fleet, tours Canada
and makes recommendations for peace-time RCN, 9.
Jet Flight, part of VT 40, 59.
John, Rear-Admiral Caspar, visits Magnificent, 82, 100n.
Johnson, Acting Commander A.E., RCN(R), Commanding Officer Naval Air Section, 1946, 50.
Johnson, Lieutenant R.S., USN, engineer consultant on building
air stations, 1918, and dies of Spanish influenza, 5.
John Paul Jones, USS, 118.
Joint Air School, Rivers, Manitoba, 52.
Joint Air Training Plan, 22.
Joint Committee on Oceanography, 126.
Joint Maritime Warfare School, Halifax, 117.
Jones Vice-Admiral G.C., RCN, Chief of the Naval Staff: 31;
arrangements with RCAF for use of air facilities, 49.
Jonquiere, HMCS, frigate, 93.
Juan Sebastion De Elcano, Spanish sail training ship, visit to
Halifax, 116, 122n.
Kaa Fjord, Norway, anchorage for Tirpitz, 27.
Kamikaze, aircraft, Japanese suicide dive-bombers, 13, 13n.
Karel Doorman, Dutch aircraft carrier, visits Shearwater, 66.
Kearsarge, USS, visits Halifax, 53.
Keats, HMS, frigate, Operation Goodwood, 27.
Kelly Beach, North Sydney, N.S.: site of air station and start of
construction, 3, 3n; USN starts operating from North Sydney, flying hours logged, 4; details of temporary hangars,
5n; epidemic of Spanish influenza, 5; disposal of aircraft
bombs and ammunition, 7; equipment removed by Air
Board, turned over to Department of Works and re-opened
by RCAF in Second World War, 9; Eastern Air Command
base in Second World War, 17.
Kelly Lake, Halifax, N.S., municipal airport opened at, 70.
Kempthorne, HMS, frigate, Operation Goodwood, takes personnel off Nabob, 27.
Kent, Duchess of, visits Shearwater, 58.
Kent, HMS, cruiser, Norwegian operations, 27.
Kenya, HMS, cruiser, America and West Indies Station, 46.
Kilbotn, Norway, Home Fleet air raid on, 32, 34n.
Kilmorey, Earl of, Hereditary Vice-Admiral of Ireland and
launching of Magnificent, 73.
King George V, HMS, battleship, sinking of Bismarck, 16.
King George V Dock, Glasgow, 30.
King Haakon of Norway: salute to fired by Magnificent, 77;
attends pratique on Exercise Mainbrace, 85, 100n.
Kingsmill, Vice-Admiral (later Admiral, Sir) C.E., RN (Ret’d.),
Director of the Naval Service: proposals for CNAS, 1917,
1; visit to Halifax, 1917, 2; attends air patrol conference at
Boston, 1918, 3n; approves suggestion re air base in Newfoundland, 5; witnesses flying display at Halifax, 1918, 7.
Kings Wharf, Port of Spain, Trinidad, visit by Magnificent, 80.
Kismet II, SS, freighter wrecked off Cape Breton coast and rescue of crew by helicopter, 60.
Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, first flight by Wright Bros., 1903,
Kitz, L.E., Mayor of Halifax, N.S.: boards Magnificent, 99;
boards Bonaventure and presents mural to ship, 106, 106n.
Koch, Rear Admiral G., USN, Commander of task force, transfers to Bonaventure, 118.
Königsberg, German cruiser, sunk in East Africa, 1915, 3n.
Königsberg, German cruiser, sunk in Norway, 1940, 37.
Kootenay, HMCS: 116; 118; 121.
Korea: hostilities, June, 1950, 124; Armistice signed, July, 1953,
Kvitholm, Norway, 31, 34n.
L-43, Zeppelin rigid airship shot down by Canadian RNAS pilot,
1917, ix.
L-43, Zeppelin rigid airship shot down by Canadian RNAS pilot,
L-53, Zeppelin rigid airship, shot down by Canadian RNAS
pilot, ix.
L-70, Zeppelin rigid airship, shot down by Canadian RNAS
pilot, ix.
Labrador, HMCS, Arctic Patrol Vessel: helicopters embarked
in, 62; loses two helicopters in Arctic waters, 68; visits San
Francisco, 90.
Lac à la Tortue, aerial forest patrol, 8.
Lady Evelyn, HMCS, considered for ballon ship, 1918, 5n.
Lady of Fatima, trawler, helicopter mercy errand, 65.
Laffey, USS, 83, 100n.
La Hulloise, HMCS, frigate: 78; 82; Coronation Review, 85,
85n; Exercise Mariner, 87; 88; Maple Royal exercises, 108,
122n; 115.
Lake Champlain, USS, 92.
Lakehurst, N.J., U.S.A., USN air-field, Canadian officers sent to
for airship training, 21.
Lanark, HMCS, frigate: 112, 122n; 119.
Lancaster, aircraft: 56; Exercise Mariner, 86, 86n; escort for
Magnificent, 90.
Landing Signals Officer (LSO or “Batsman”): superseded, 105,
122n; see also Deck Landing Control Officer.
Landymore, Captain W.M., RCN: command of Bonaventure,
108; 112.
Langley, USS, aircraft carrier, commissioned 1922 and fitting of
transverse arrester gear, 14.
Laurier Pier, Montreal, Warrior berths at, 42.
Lauzon, HMCS, 91, 91n. Lauzon, P.Q., 121.
Lavigne, Lieutenant A.P., RCN, 107, 122n.
Lay, Captain (later Rear-Admiral) H.N., RCN: proposals for
RCN naval air, 21; missions to investigate naval aviation,
terms of reference and visits to US and UK, 22 ,34n; comprehensive reports on mission, 23; Commanding Officer of
Nabob, 24; Assistant Chief of Staff (Plans) (Air), 123.
“Leads,” Norway, stategic importance of, 25.
Leckie, Flight Sub-Lieutenant R., RNAS (later RAF and Air
Marshal, RCAF): shoots down Zeppelins L-22 and L-70,
transfers to RCAF, 1940, and becomes Chief of the Air
Staff, 1944, ix; Director of Flying, Air Board and participation in combined services exercises, 1921, 9; arrangements
for RCN to use RCAF air facilities, 49.
Lee, Rear Admiral F., USN, Commander Carrier Division 14,
1954, 89, 89n.
Lemoyne, P., Sieur d’Iberville, early Canadian explorer, 45, 45n.
Lend-Lease, supply of escort carriers to RN, 24.
Lepsoyrev Channel, Norway, air raids, 1944, 25.
Leyte, USS, aircraft carrier, exercises with RCN units, 108.
Liaison Section, Army Carrier Borne, established at Dartmouth
Air Station, 1947, 52.
Liberator, aircraft, scope of Atlantic patrols, 19.
Light Fleet Carriers: acquisition of proposed by Naval Staff, 35;
offer of transfer by Admiralty, terms of transfer agreed
upon, 36; revised terms, 38.
Lisbon, Portugal, visit by Canadian Special Service Squadron,
Littorio, Italian battleship, 15.
Liverpool, HMS, cruiser, 80, 80n.
Loch Craggie, HMS, 83.
Loch Lomond, HMS, 80.
Loch More, HMS, 83.
Loch Veyatie, HMS, 83.
London, HMS, cruiser, 22.
London, Treaty of, 1930, 13.
Long Branch, Toronto, early Canadian flying school, viii.
Loring, HMS, frigate, 31.
Lowry, USS, 83, 100n.
Luns, His Excellency J.M.A.H., attends NATO Anniversary
celebrations, 111, 122n.
Macbrien, Lieutenant (P) J.J., RCN, first Canadian to be
awarded U.S. DFC and service in Korea, 124.
Macdonald, The Hon. Angus L.: Minister of National Defence
and naval aviation, 34n; manning of CVE’s, 24; visit to
Puncher in UK, 31; Premier of Nova Scotia and welcomes
Warrior, 41.
Mackenzie Class, destroyer escorts, construction of, 126, 128n.
Mackenzie King, The Rt. Hon., Prime Minister of Canada: Quebec Conference, 23n; naval personnel for the Far East, 36n.
Maclaren, Sir H., Director of Electrical Engineering, Admiralty,
opens new Electrical Building at Shearwater, 59.
MacLaurin, Major C., RAF: RCNAS recruiting, 6; appointed
Acting Director of Air Service, 8; inspects air stations,
1919, extension of duty requested, demobilized, and appointed to Air Board, 9; Air Station Superintendent Vancouver, 1919, and killed in air crash, 1922, 9n.
Maclean, Able Seaman A. K., RCN, rescue of pilot and award of
George Medal, 65.
“Mae West,” inflatable life-jacket, 37, 37n.
Magloire, General P. E., President of Haiti and visit to Magnificent, 94.
Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD), 125.
Magnificent, HMCS, light fleet carrier: offered on loan to RCN,
36, 39n; Coronation Squadron, 56; launched and commissioned, motto and battle honours, flying trials and berths at
Halifax for the first time, 73; cruise to Hudson Bay, 74; incident with A. H. party, 75, 100n; grounds, drydocked, 75;
visit to Havana, 76; hit by lighter, 78, 100n; docks, 79; 80;
81; transports Red Cross supplies to Greece, 82, 83; refit,
85; Coronation Review, 85, 85n, Exercise Mariner, 86; 87;
88; 89, 100n; 89, 89n; transits Panama Canal, 89, 90; 91,
91n; 92; visit to Genoa and Marseilles, 92; 93; 94; end of
scheduled flying 95; frigate helicopter landing trials, lands
stores for Bonaventure at Belfast, urgent signal to return to
Canada, 96; sails with troops and stores for UNEF, arrives
Port Said, 97; unloading complete, sails to Naples, messages of appreciation, 98, 100n; returns to Canada with Sabre jet aircraft, sinks tug Glendyne, sails from Halifax for
last time, 99; personnel from join Bonaventure, reverts to
RN, 100; decision not to send to Korea, 124, 128n.
Magor, Flight Sub-Lieutenant N. A., RNAS, sinks UC-72, ix.
Maidstone, HMS, submarine depot ship, Maple Royal exercises,
108, 122n.
Maille-Breze, French destroyer, collision with Huron, 110, 122n.
Mainguy, Rear-Admiral (later Vice-Admiral) E. R., RCN:
FOPC, 44; takes salute at Shearwater, 54; Chief of the Naval Staff and inspects Shearwater, 59; assumes command of
Canadian Special Service Squadron, 77.
Malahat, HMCS, Naval Division, Victoria, B.C., 63.
Malaya, HMS, battleship, exercises with RCN units, 1934, 11.
Mallard, HMCS, attached to Marine Section, Shearwater, 62.
Malta: flying-boat base, 1941, 15; helicopter mail drop, 97; visit
of Bonaventure, 110.
Maple Bay, B.C., combined services exercise, 1930, 11.
Marsaxlokk Bay, Malta: 80; 83.
Martin P 5 Marlin aircraft, 65.
Martlet, aircraft: in Audacity, destruction of Focke-Wulf, 18; 22.
Marine Section, Dartmouth, RCAF, responsibilities of and taken
over by RCN, 1951, 55.
Marine Section, Dartmouth, RCN, formerly Air/Sea Rescue
Unit, 62.
Maritime Headquarters, Atlantic, establishment of, 125, 128n.
Martí, José, Cuban National Hero, 45.
Massey, The Rt. Hon. Vincent, Governor-General of Canada,
visits Shearwater, 56.
Mauretania, RMS, 94,94n.
Matapan, Battle of, FAA participation, 15, 37.
“Mayday,” signal of distress, 93.
Mayport, Florida, visit by Bonaventure, 108.
McCallum, Surgeon-Commander A., RCN, sea funeral, 121.
McCormack, Admiral L. D., USN: Supreme Allied Commander
Atlantic, 85.
McCurdy, J. A. D., engineer (later the Hon. Lieutenant-Governor
of Nova Scotia): Manager of Curtiss Aeroplanes Ltd., Toronto, 1915, vii; member of Aerial Experiment Association,
viin; opens flying school, 1915, viii; presents wings to observers’ course at Shearwater, 58.
McDonald, W. C., Member of Parliament, welcomes Warrior to
Canada, 41.
McDonnel Aircraft Corporation, St. Louis, U.S.A., 61.
McGrigor, Rear-Admiral (later Admiral) R. R., Rear-Admiral
First Cruiser Squadron: 25, 25n; reports on torpedoing of
Nabob, 28n; inspection and farewell message to Puncher,
McNab’s Island ,N.S., 2.
Mediterranean Fleet, British, composition of 82, 100n.
“Mediterranean Moor,” description of, 92, 92n.
Medland, Commodore M. A., RCN: SCOA(A), 110; Commodore, RCNB, 117.
Merchant Aircraft Carrier (MAC), details of, 18.
Mermaid, HMS, submarine, target for RCN aircraft, 80.
Messerschmitt, aircraft: destruction of in operations, 25; Operation Prefix, 32.
Meterological Section, Shearwater, prepares first Canadian longrange sea-ice forecast, 62.
Michael E., SS, first CAM Ship, 17.
Micmac, HMCS, destroyer: 41; rescues aircrew, 42; visit to
Cuba, 76; cruise to NATO countries, 77; tows broken down
vessel, 80; Task Force 301, 91, 91n; rescues Commanding
Officer of VS 881, 93; 93n; Maple Royal exercises, 108,
122n; 117.
Mid-Canada Line, position of, 69, 69n.
Middlesex, HMCS, 41.
Midway, USS, visits Halifax, 53.
Miles, Commodore G.R., RCN: commands Magnificent, 74; 75.
Miller, Lieutenant K., USN, 9000th landing on Bonaventure,
Mindoro, USS, aircraft carrier, Exercise Mainbrace, 84, 100n.
Minoru Park, Vancouver, used as flying field, 1915, viii.
Mirror Landing Aid, description of, 105.
Mississinewa, USS, fuels Magnificent, 97.
Missouri, USS, joint RCN-USN exercises, 76, 100n.
Mitchell, Commander (E) C.C., RNVR, inventor of steam catapult, 105.
Montcalm, HMCS, Naval Division at Quebec, 64.
Montreal, P.Q., visit by Warrior, 42.
Mountbatten, Earl of, Burma Acting Admiral (later Admiral of
the Fleet): Commander-in Chief Mediterranean Fleet, 82,
100n; trophies for Bonaventure, 111, 122n.
Moville, Northern Ireland, visit by Canadian Special Service
Squadron, 77.
Mowat, Sub-Lieutenant G.C., RCN, killed in aircraft accident
and trophy presented in memory of, 65.
Muncaster, Lieutenant D.A., RCN, saves life of helicopter pilot
and award of George Medal, 61.
Murray, Rear-Admiral L.W., RCN: appointed Commander-in
Chief Can. North-West Atlantic, 19; Commanding Officer
Atlantic Coast and screening of RNFAA volunteers, 22;
takes passage to UK in Puncher, 33.
Mustang, aircraft, transported in Nabob, 24.
Nabob, HMS, escort carrier: Cabinet agrees to provide ship’s
company for, 24; personnel sent to man, specifications, 24;
commissions, starts working up, runs aground, 24; unrest
in, complement, 24; refloats after grounding, drydocked at
North Vancouver, 24; introduction of Canadian scale of
victualling, 24, 24n; joins Home Fleet, sails on first operation, 25; Operation Goodwood, torpedoed and details of
damage sustained, transfers personnel to frigate, 27; transfers personnel to Algonquin, arrives Scapa Flow after torpedoing, reduces draught, drydocked and details of casualties sustained in torpedoing, post-war history pays off, 28,
34n; supplies spares for Puncher, 31; Cabinet decision re
manning, 35.
Naden, HMCS, shore establishment at Esquimalt, 90.
Naguib, General Mohammed, coup d’etat in Egypt, 83, 100n.
Nairana, HMS, escort carrier, Operation Prefix, Operation Muscular, 32.
Nantahala, USS, fuels Magnificent, 91.
Naples, Italy: 80; 98; 110.
Nasser, Gamal Abdel, President of Egypt, reaction to proposed
UN Emergency Force, 97.
National Defence College: 91; 94; 119.
Nautilus, USS, crossing of the North Pole, 125.
“Navalaire,” Shearwater’s paper, ceases publication, 65.
Naval Air Division, Director of: appointed and terms of reference, 35, 39n; visits UK, 1944, 36; proposal re Baker Point,
49, 123.
Naval Air Facility, Debert, N.S., landing practice conducted at,
Naval Air Facility, Scoudouc, N.B., 57.
Naval Air Facility, Summerside, P.E.I.: established, 57; VS 880
withdrawn, 61; 89.
Naval Air Reserve: approval of formation, 50, 72n; 63, 64.
Naval Air Stores Depot, established, 52.
Naval Aviation, adoption of term, 38, 39n.
Naval Aviation, Canadian, future of, 127, 128.
Naval Board: naval air recommendations, 22; formation of air
section, 35; manning of air squadrons, 36; taking over of
light fleet carriers, 36; taking over of Dartmouth Air Station, 52, 72n; air training of Reserve Divisions, 63, 72n;
taking over of Patricia Bay, 69, 72n; naval air representation on, 123n.
Naval Member, Canadian Joint Staff (London): 91; 104.
Naval Reserve Safe Flying Award, 1954-55, 63, 63n.
Naval Service Act, Royal Assent given to, viin.
Naval Service of Canada: selects candidates for RNAS, vii;
number recruited for RNAS, ix.
Naval Staff: proposes acquisition of Light Fleet Carriers and
formation of air section, 35; raising of Reserve Air Squadrons, 63, 72n; approves formation of VU 33, 69, 72n.
Naval War Memorial, Cape Helles, 83.
Naval War Memorial, Plymouth, England, unveiled, 89.
Navarin, Greece, visit by Magnificent, 82.
Navex, navigation exercise, 76, 76n.
Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) 114,122n.
Needham, Lady Hyacinth, launches Magnificent, 73.
Nelles, Commodore (later Vice-Admiral) P.W., RCN: Chief of
the Naval Staff, 1936, and plans for small aircraft carrier,
13; training of officers as pilots and observers, 21; Quebec
conference, 23; Senior Canadian Flag Officer (Overseas),
1944, 35n.
Nelson, HMS, battleship, exercises with RCN, 1934, 11.
Neosho, USS: 118; Exercise Trapline, 119.
Neptune P2V, aircraft: RCAF, 94, 106, 126; USN, 54, 55, 94.
Neptuno, Portuguese submarine, 83.
New, USS, Exercise Mariner, 87, 100n.
Newfoundland, Province of: severe forest fires, 66; accession as
tenth province, 75.
New Glasgow, HMCS, frigate, 90, 93n.
New Liskeard, HMCS, frigate, sinking of U-190, 52.
New Orleans, U.S.A., 30.
Newport-Bermuda Race, 121.
Newport News, USS, visits Halifax, 53.
New Waterford, HMCS, frigate, 24.
New York, State of, Henry Hudson celebrations, 112.
Nieuport, Aircraft, viii.
Niobe, HMCS, cruiser: vii; receives ship’s company of Shearwater, 71.
Niobe, HMCS, RCN base, Greenock, Scotland, Warrior personnel attached to, 41.
Nixon, R.M., Vice President, U.S.A., Henry Hudson celebrations, 112.
Nonsuch, HMCS, Naval Division, Edmonton, Swordfish aircraft
flown to, 50.
Nootka, HMCS, destroyer: 43; 45; sinking of U-190, 52; voyage
to Hudson Strait, 74; grounding of Magnificent, 75; Maple
Royal exercise, 108, 122n; 111; 116; 117, 117n.
Norfolk, HMS, cruiser: sinking of Bismarck, 16; 31n.
Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.A.: 24; paying off of Puncher, 33; 86;
111; 118.
Norman, E.H., His Excellency, Canadian Ambassador to Egypt,
Norrington, Lieutenant (later Major) H., RAF, conference in
Washington and re-organization of air station Dartmouth
1919, 7, 8.
North Atlantic Treaty Organizations: observer training at Shearwater, 56; 57; 76, 77, 78; 80; list of member nations, 83,
100n; Exercise Mariner, 86, 87, 88; tenth anniversary, 111;
ASW symposium, 118; Canadian naval contribution, 123,
124; first large-scale manoeuvres, 124.
North German Lloyd Line, purchase of Nabob, 28.
North Star, aircraft, 62.
North Sydney, N.S.: aerial protection for convoys, 1918, 5; destruction of temporary slipway, 7; details of air station,
1918, 8.
Nova Scotia, Government of, bodies of three members recovered, 63.
O’Brien, Captain J.C., RCN, 112.
Observers’ Course: sent to England for instruction, 1948, 53;
wings presentation ceremony, 58; last NATO course, 1956,
last RCN course,, 1956, 60.
Observer’s Mate, re-classification as naval aircrewman, 60.
Observer Officer: shortage of, 1945, 38; branch abolished, 1955,
Observer School, HMCS Shearwater, training of officers for
NATO countries, 56.
Ocean, HMS, light fleet carrier: 35; 80; first landing of jet aircraft on, 104.
Ocean Wave, fishing vessel, helicopter rescue, 65.
Olaf, Crown Prince of Norway, critique of Exercise Main brace,
85, 100n.
Oliphant, Lieutenant D.A., RCN, rescues crews of crashed helicopters, 68.
Olna, RFA, Exercise Sea Enterprise, 92, 92n.
Onagawa Bay, Japan, aerial attack on shipping in, 23.
Ontario, HMCS, cruiser: 75; Coronation Review, 85, 85n.
Operational Flying Course, 53.
Operational Flying Training School, becomes part of VT 40, 58.
Operations: Dragoon, invasion of Southern France, 1944, 30,
30n; Goodwood, strike against Tirpitz, 1944, 27, 34n;
Groundsheet, raid in Norwegian waters, 32; Judgment, raid
on targets in Norway, 34n; Muscular, Norwegian strike
cancelled, 32; Newmarket, 32, 32n; Offspring, 25; Prefix,
32; Rapid Step II, further changes to Magnificent for UN
duty, 97, 97n; Selenium, 31; Shred, minesweeping sortie off
Norwegian coast, 32; Torch, Allied invasion of North Africa, 1942, 18; Tungsten, FAA attack on Tirpitz, 1944, 27;
see also Exercises.
Operations Room and Ground Instructional Centre, established
at Air Station, Dartmouth, N.S., 52.
Orders-in-Council: PC 2460, establishment of flying school and
aeroplane factory, viiin; PC 1379, authority to establish two
air stations, 1918, 3, 10n; PC 2154, approval of pay, uniform, title, etc. for RCNAS, 5, 10n; PC 2707, detailed scale
of pay for RCNAS, 5, 10n; PC 3009, orders disbanding
RCNAS, 7, 10n; PC 2478, transfers Baker Point from Naval Service to Air Board, 1920, 9, 10n.
Ordnance Artificers, conversion to equivalent air categories, 37.
Oriskany, USS, aircraft carrier, Korean campaign, 124.
Oslo, HM Norwegian destroyer, Exercise Sea Enterprise, 91,
Oslo, Norway, visit of Canadian Special Service Squadron, 77.
Ottawa, HMCS, destroyer escort: helicopter trials, 107; Exercise
Beaverdam, 108; Maple Royal exercises, 108, 122n; 110.
Otter, aircraft, to Suez in Magnificent and last fixed-wing aircraft to fly from her deck, 97, 98, 101n.
Outremont, HMCS, frigate: Maple Royal exercises, 108, 122n;
117, 117n; 119.
P.61, aircraft, “Black Widows”, 30.
Paddon, Petty-Officer J. N., RCN, commendations from CNS,
65, 72n.
Panama Canal, first White Ensign ships pass through, 1917, 71.
Panther Jet, aircraft, Korean campaign, 124.
Parachute, descent by, made from captive balloon, 1918, 5.
Patricia Bay, B.C., airport: accommodates 825 Squadron, 44;
visit by 881 Squadron, 57; headquarters of VC 922, 63;
headquarters of VU 33 and site of Victoria International
Airport, 69, 72n.; 90.
Patrician, HMCS, destroyer, combined services exercises, 1921,
Patriot, HMCS, destroyer, combined services exercises, 1921, 9.
Pearkes, The Hon. G. R., Minister of National Defence, 107.
Pearson, The Hon. L. B., Minister of External Affairs, statement
on Suez Crisis, 97, 101n.
“Pedro”, Bonaventure’s rescue helicopter, 119.
Pegasus, HMS, aircraft carrier: formerly Art Royal, 13n.;
equipped with fighters for convoy protection in W.W.II, 17.
Permanent Joint Board of Defence, embarks in carrier, 117.
Perseus, HMS, Coronation Review, 85.
Petty Officer Mechanics, training of, 37.
Phaleron Bay, Greece, visit by Magnificent, 82.
Phantom FH 1, aircraft, 76.
Philadelphia, U.S.A. visit of Bonaventure, 116.
Philante, HMS, convoy exercises off Larne, Northern Ireland,
Philippine Sea, USS, aircraft carrier, visit by RCN observer in
Korea, 124.
Phipps (or Phips), Sir W., sojourn on Bonaventure Island, 103.
Piasecki, helicopter: rescues civilian pilots, 60; Arctic rescue,
Pickle, ex-German yacht: transported to Canada by Magnificent
88, 100n.; Newport-Bermuda Race, 121.
Pine Tree Line, location of, 70n.
Pitt Meadows, Coquitlam, B.C., British Columbia Aviation
School, Ltd., moved to, viii.
Plomer, Commander (late Commodore) J., RCN: Joint Chairman
RCN/RCAF Committee, 1948, 53; appointed SCOA (A)
and visit to UK, 114.
Pointe St. Antoine, St. Lawrence River, Warrior runs aground
near, 42.
Pola, Italian cruiser, sunk in Battle of Matapan, 15.
Poliomyelitis, outbreak of in Magnificent, 80.
Ponta Delgada, Azores, Canadian destroyers refuel at, 93.
Pope Pius XII, 99.
Porte Dauphine, CNAV, transports VS 881, 94.
Port Mouton, N.S., Magnificent runs aground, 75.
Porto Rico, 119.
Port Said, Egypt: landings made by British and French troops,
96, 101n.; Magnificent arrives with UN stores, 98.
Portsmouth, England: 78; 85; 114.
Powerful, HMS, light fleet carrier, launched and bought by Canada, renamed Bonaventure, 1952, 103, 122n.
Premier, HMS, escort carrier: Operation Selenium, 31: Operations Shred and Groundsheet, 32.
Prestonian, HMCS, frigate: 89, 89n.; 91, 91n.
Prince of Wales, HMS, battleship, sunk by Japanese aircraft, 16.
Princess Margaret: visit to Canada, 64; unveils Naval War Memorial, 89.
Principal Royal Canadian Naval Technical Representative, 103.
Prince Philip: visit to Canada, 65; 118.
Prinz Eugen, German heavy cruiser: at Bergen, 1941, 15; sails
with Bismarck, 16; attacked by RNFAA aircraft, 37.
Propellers: arrangement in Magnificent, 79; arrangement in
Bonaventure, 104.
Provincial Institute of Technology, Calgary, Sea Fury aircraft
loaned to, 62.
Pullen, Rear-Admiral H.F., RCN: Exercise Maple Royal II, flies
flag in Bonaventure, 109; retires as FOAC, 117.
“Pull-out”, technical description of, 104, 104n.
Pulsifier Aircraft Ltd., provide Seabee amphibian for rescue duty
at Dartmouth air station, 55.
Puncher, HMS, escort carrier: Cabinet agrees to provide Canadian ship’s company, 24; commissions, details of, 29; sails
for East Coast, 30; to North Africa and returns, 30; to
United Kingdom, 30; trials in the Irish Sea and has breakdown in Cumbrae Strait, 31; joins Home Fleet, 31; Selenium operations, 31; aircraft gun accident, 32; Operations
Shred and Groundsheet, 32; loses anchor in Scapa Flow,
32; Operation Prefix, 32; flies off aircraft to Orkney Islands
air station, 32; docks at Glasgow, 32; transferred to FOCT,,
squadron landing exercises, converted to troopship, transatlantic trips, loaned to Canadian Government, 33; heaves to
in gale, pays off, 1946, 33, 34n.; cabinet decision re manning, 35.
Pursuer, HMS, escort carrier, raid on Tirpitz, 1944, 27n.
Qu’Appelle, HMCS, destroyer, escorts Puncher, 30.
Quebec, HMCS, cruiser: 81, 82; Coronation Review, 85, 85n.,
86; Exercise Mariner, 87, 89, 90, 91, 93n; see also Uganda
Quebec Conference, August 1943, decisions taken re RN manpower shortage, 23, 23n.
Queen, HMS, escort carrier: Operations Newmarket and Prefix,
32, 32n.; brings Fireflies to Halifax, 50.
Queen Elizabeth II: dedication of St. Lawrence Seaway, 64n.,
65; Coronation of, 85; presents Colour, 112.
Queen Elizabeth, RMS, liner, 115.
Queen’s Colour, paraded for first time at Shearwater, 56.
Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, First Battalion: staged through
Shearwater, 62; return to Calgary, 97, 97n., 101n.
“Queen’s Steps”, Shearwater Jetty, 65.
Querqueville, Airport, France, RCN aircraft flown to, 77.
R.89, German minesweeper, sunk by aircraft, 25.
Rainbow, HMCS, cruiser, 1914, vii.
Ramillies, HMS, battleship, 3rd Battle Squadron, Halifax, 1940,
Ranee, HMS, escort carrier, towing Nabob, 24.
Ravager, HMS, escort carrier, 41.
Ray, USS, submarine, exercises, 89.
Raymond, Captain D. L., RCN, commands Shearwater and final
report, 56.
Rayner, Acting Captain (later Vice-Admiral) H. S., RCN: commands Naval Air Section, Dartmouth, 1947, 52; commands
Magnificent, 85; Exercise Mariner, 88; 89; Chief of the
Naval Staff and visit to Bonaventure, 117.
Red Cross, stores for transported to Greece by Magnificent, 82.
Redfin, USS, submarine, Exercise Mariner, 87.
Redoubt, HMS, tows lighter with aircraft embarked, ixn.
Red River, Manitoba, disastrous floods and naval party sent to
assist in relief, 54.
Relentless, HMS, 83.
Repulse, HMS, battle-cruiser, sunk by Japanese aircraft, 1942,
Rescue Co-ordination Centre, Halifax, N.S., rescue of F.100
pilot, 71.
Reserve Air Group, assembles at Shearwater, 63.
Reserve, Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer, members of serve
with RN for air duties, 21, 22, 34n.
Reserve (Air), Royal Naval Volunteer: Canadian officers asked
to transfer to RCNVR, 22; number of Canadians serving
with, 22; obtains recruits from RCAF personnel, 36.
Reserve Safe Flying Award, 63, 63n.
Restigouche, HMCS, destroyer: 111; 118; 119.
Retainer, RFA, 92, 92n.
Revenge, HMS, battleship, 3rd Battle Squadron at Halifax, 1940,
Rich, USS, destroyer, Exercise Mariner, 87, 100n.
Ridgway, General Matthew B., USA, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, (SACEUR), Exercise Mainbrace, 83, 83n.
Riviera, HMS, sea-plane carrier, raid on Cuxhaven and Wilhelmshaven, 1914, 1.
Riverton, tug, 75.
Robert Hampton Gray Memorial School, 70, 70n.
Rodney, HMS, battleship: exercises with RCN, 1934, 11; sinks
Bismarck, 16.
Roland Linie Schiffart, acquires SS Nabob, 28.
Roosevelt, F.D., President, U.S.A., Quebec Conference, 1943,
Rosyth, Scotland: Nabob docks, 28; 77.
Rotherham, Commander (later Captain) G.A., RN: sailing of
Bismarck from Norway, 1941, 15; first Director of Naval
Aviation, RCN, 15,123.
Rotterdam, Netherlands: visit of Canadian Special Service
Squadron, 77; 92.
Rowe, USS, 111.
Royal Aero Club, viii.
Royal Air Force: formation of, 1918, 3; control of CNAS officers, 5; search for Bismarck, 15; CAM ship pilots, 17.
Royal Canadian Air Force: early activities, 11; convoy protection, 17; CAM ship servicing unit at Dartmouth, 17; personnel volunteer for RNFAA, 36, 39n.; provides facilities
for RCN at Patricia Bay, 44, 48n; agreement with RCN,
1946, 49, 72n; agreement with RCN re stores depot at
Dartmouth, 52; withdrawal from Marine Section, Dartmouth, 1951, 55; 61; RCN pilot training, 68, 72n.; joint use
of Patricia Bay facilities, 69, 72n.; 85; Exercise Mariner,
86, 86n.; 94; 98, 101n; co-ordination with RCN, 124, 128n.
Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, UN Middle East Force,
97, 101n.
Royal Canadian Artillery, band of, 97.
Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, UN Middle East Force, 97,
Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, UN Middle East Force, 97, 101n.
Royal Canadian Naval Air Arm, 38, 39n.
Royal Canadian Naval Air Section, Dartmouth, N.S.: formed,
1945, 49; first naval air display in Canada, 52.
Royal Canadian Naval Air Service: approval of title, 5; details of
uniform, recruiting, 6; training arrangements, end of recruiting, 6; demobilized, 7, 8, 10n.; letter re disbanding, 10, 10n.
Royal Canadian Naval Observer in Korea, reports of, 124, 128n.
Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve, see Reserve, Royal
Canadian Naval Volunteer.
Royal Canadian Navy: combined services exercises, 1921, 9;
fleet establishment, 11; strength at outbreak of W.W. II and
main task in 1939, 14; deployment of strength, 19; considers use of Blimps, 21; instructions to candidates for
RNFAA, 22; assistance to RN in man-power shortage, 23n;
personnel for Nabob, 24; 36; sends personnel for air maintenance training, 37; 38; establishes flying section at Dartmouth, 49; takes over RN aircraft at Dartmouth, 49; agreement with RCAF, 1946, 49, 72n; stores depot agreement
with RCAF, 52; deck-landing technique, 54; takes over Marine Section, Dartmouth, 1951, 55; Fiftieth Anniversary
celebrations, 65, 72n., 116; first transatlantic flight, 68; pilot training, 68, 72n.; use of facilities at Patricia Bay, 69,
72n.; ships in Maple Royal exercises, 108, 122n.; Queen’s
Colour, 112; demobilizes, 1945, and peacetime complement, 123, 128n.; co-ordination with RCAF, 124, 128n;
A/S developments, 125; role in NATO, 127. Royal Canadian Navy/Royal Canadian Air Force Board, transfer of
Dartmouth Air Station, 1948, 53.
Royal Canadian Navy/Royal Canadian Air Force Committee,
joint committee on naval air, 23.
Royal Flying Corps: recruiting team for arrives in Toronto,
1917, viii; amalgamated with RNAS to become RAF, 1918,
Royal Marines, display of marching at Dartmouth Air Station,
Royal Naval Aircraft Yard, Sydenham, Belfast: 106; 114.
Royal Naval Air Section Dartmouth, N.S.: established 1940 and
services aircraft of 3rd BS, 17; maintains MAC ship aircraft, 19; see also Seaborn, HMS.
Royal Naval Air Service: Canadians enrol in, vii; seniority of
Canadian Probationary Flight Sub-Lieutenants, viii; number
of Canadians serving in and famous names, ix; activities
1914-17, 1; joined with RFC to become RAF, 1918, 3; first
landing on moving vessel, 12.
Royal Naval College of Canada, closed as economy measure, 11.
Royal Naval Engineering College, Keyham, England, Canadian
officers appointed to, 37.
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, see Reserve, Royal Naval Volunteer.
Royal Navy: 2; 5n; 13; efforts to recover control of naval aviation, 14; takes over operational control of RAF Coastal
Command, 15n; hunt for surface raiders, 16; organizes
shipping into convoys, 1939, 16; training of Canadian flying personnel, 21; enlists Canadians for FAA, 22; manpower shortage, 23; selects light fleet carriers for RCN, 35;
forms “Canadianized” squadrons, 36; Canadian personnel
to trade schools, 37, 39n.; 38: 49; sends party to WEE, Namao, Alberta, 50; deck-landing technique, 54; proposals for
carriers, 96, 101n.; sale of carrier to Canada, 103; first jet
landing on a carrier, 104; loans Senior Officers for naval
aviation, 123; requests RCN air participation in Korean
campaign, 124.
Royal Netherlands Navy, receives aircraft from RCN, 65.
Royal Sovereign, HMS, battleship, 3rd Battle Squadron at Halifax, 1940, 17n.
Rufiji River, German East Africa, 3n.
Ryan, Lieutenant-Commander D.H.P., RCN, appointed RCN
Observer in Korea, 124.
Sabre, jet aircraft: 81; 99, 99n.
Safe Flying Award, trophy presented by officers of the Supply
Branch, 66, 66n.
Safety Equipment, for use in aircraft, 37.
Saguenay, HMCS, destroyer: exercises with RN Home Fleet,
1934, 11; hunt for Bismarck, 16n.
Saguenay, HMCS, destroyer escort, Maple Royal exercises, 108,
Saint John, New Brunswick: 74; 115; 117.
Saint John Shipbuilding and Drydock Company Ltd., refits
Bonaventure, 115, 117.
Saint Raphaël, France, 80.
Saints, Battle of the, 41.
Saipan, USS, aircraft carrier, deck-landing trials by 18th CAG,
Salem, USS, 76, 100n.
Saurel, CGS, trapped in ice, 62.
Savage, HMS, destroyer: 32; 82.
Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands: RN Home Fleet base and arrival of
Nabob, 25,28; arrival of Puncher, 31.
Scarborough, HMS, frigate, 107.
Scharnhorst, German battle-cruiser, attack by aircraft of 825
Squadron, 37.
Schnorkel, short description of, 91, 100n.
Scourge, HMS, 32.
Sea/Air Rescue Station Number 5, Royal Visit to Canada, 112,
Seabee, aircraft, rescue operations, 55.
Seaborn, HMS, RN Naval Air Section, Dartmouth, N.S.: recruiting centre for RNFAA, 22; disposal of aircraft, 1946, 49;
pays off, 49, 49n.
Seaborn, HMS, yacht: wears Flag of RA 3rd B.S. at Halifax,
1940, 17.
Seafire, aircraft: Norwegian operations, 1944, 25; 37; 38; 41;
temporary suspension from carrier operations, 1946, 42; 47;
50; withdrawn from service, 53; special flight of at CNE,
1949, 53.
Sea Fury, aircraft: 47; 48; first time at CNE, Toronto, 52; returned to store, 57; last to be flown from Shearwater, 62;
73n.; 80; 81; Fly-past at Coronation Review, 86.
Sea Hawk, aircraft, landing trials on Bonaventure, 106.
Sea Hornet, aircraft, 73, 100n.
Sea Hurricane, aircraft, 38.
Sea Ice Central, established at Shearwater, 1958, 64.
Sea Island Airport, Vancouver, fighters from Magnificent land
at, 90.
Seaman Branch, RCN: recruits train as air mechanics, 37;
trained as sonar operators, 60.
Sea-planes, bases for established on Canadian East Coast, 1918,
Sea-plane Carriers, early operating procedure, 13.
Searcher, HMS, escort carrier, Operations Prefix and Newmarket
32, 32n.
Seattle-Tacoma S.B. Corporation, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.,
builders of Nabob and Puncher, 29.
Sea Vampire, aircraft, makes first jet deck landing, 104.
Sea Venom, aircraft, lands on Bonaventure, 108.
Seawolf, USS, submarine, nuclear-powered: exercises with
Bonaventure, 108; submerged record, 125.
Seddon, Wing-Commander J.W., RNAS: sent to Canada by
Admiralty, 1, submits proposed organization for CNAS,
1917, 1; visits possible air station sites, leaves Canada at
end of mission, 2.
Selfridge, Lieutenant T., USA, American officer, member and
official observer for U.S. Government in Aerial Experiment
Association, viin.
Selkirk, Earl of, First Lord of the Admiralty, visits Bonaventure,
Senior Canadian Flag Officer (Overseas), liaison with RN for
acquisition of light fleet carriers, 35, 35n.
Senior Canadian Naval Officer Afloat (SCNOA): Commodore
DeWolf receives appointment, 44n.; joint RN-RCN exercises, 75.
Senior Canadian Officer Afloat (Atlantic) (SCOA [A])): 91; 92;
93; visits President of Cuba, 94; 107; 109; 114; 117; 118;
Service Flying Training School Number 31, Kingston, Ontario,
Shackleton, aircraft, exercises with Magnificent, 9.
Shamrock Bay, USS, 30.
Shark, aircraft, aircraft handling party training in Puncher, 30.
Shaw, Wing-Commander R.O., RCAF, joint chairman of RCNRCAF Committee for transferring Dartmouth Air Station,
1948, 53.
Shearwater HMCS, air station: commissioned 1948, 53; repairs
to main runways, 1953, 57; electrical building opened, 59;
Marine Section, formerly air/sea rescue unit, established,
62, 72n.; gale damage to buildings, 62; first sea/ice forecast,
62; Sea Ice Central established, 64; new jetty completed,
1958, 64;. description of facilities at, 70;. example of rescue
co-ordination, 70; ship’s band, 71; ship’s motto, 72; numbers borne, 72; maintains yacht Pickle, 100n.
Shearwater, HMS, former HM ships of the name: first three of
name, 71; fourth of name commissions, 1901, arrives Esquimalt, pays off and ship’s company sent to Niobe, 1914,
71; corvette, brief history of and battle honour, 71.
Shearwater, HMCS, sloop, commissions at Esquimalt, 1914,
acts as base ship for submarines, first White Ensign ship to
pass through Panama Canal, 1917, training ship at Halifax
and finally sold, 71.
Shearwater II, HMCS, shore establishment, commissions at
Esquimalt, 1914, 71, 72n.
Shearwater Flyers Football Team: 60; 71.
Shearwater Flying Club, incorporated, 1958, 71.
“Shearwater Players,” 71.
Shearwater Sailing Club: holds first regatta, 1949, 54; 71.
Sheffield, HMS, cruiser: America and West Indies Station, 1947,
and manoeuvres with Canadian warships, 46n., 85; Exercise
Mariner, 87; 110.
Shelburne, HMCS, 177.
Shell, 25, barge collision with Magnificent in Rotterdam, 78,
Ship Inertial Navigation System (SINS), 125, 128n.
Shoup, Lieutenant H.H.W., RCNVR, airship pilot trained in
U.S., 21.
“Sidewinder,” details of, 66, 72n.
Sikorsky HO4S, helicopter: first at Shearwater, 56; 66; rescue
during Mariner, 87; frigate landing trials, 96; 97, 97n.; 98;
99; 118; 120; 125.
Sikorsky HSS-2, helicopter, acquisition of by RCN, 126, 128n.
Sikorsky S-58, helicopter, evaluation tests on Ottawa, 107.
Silver Dart: fourth machine of Aerial Experiment Association,
viin.; replica flies, 64.
Sioux, HMCS, destroyer: sails with Nabob on operations, 25n.;
Coronation Review, 85, 85n.; Maple Royal exercises, 108,
122n.; 112; 144; 115; 117, 117n.; 118; Korean campaign,
Skagen, Denmark, Exercise Mainbrace, 84.
Skatestrommen, Norway, 31.
Skeena, HMCS, destroyer, exercises with RN Home Fleet, 1934,
Skyraider, aircraft: joint RCN-USN exercises, 1949, 76; lands on
Magnificent during Mariner, 87.
Slemon, Air Marshal R. C. , RCAF, message to RCN on work of
HS 50, 69.
Smith, Leading-Seaman P. A., RCN, Kismet II helicopter rescue
and Queen’s Commendation, 61.
Smuts, General J. C., South African statesman, chairman of
committee to study air command in UK, 3.
Snipe, HMS, frigate, visit to Halifax, 54.
Snorkel or Snort, development of, 125.
Somme, Battle of, 1916, viii.
Sonar, dunking, 125.
Sonar, variable depth, 126.
Sonobuoy: 95, brief description of, 125.
Sopwith Camel, aircraft, flies from deck of towed lighter and
shoots down airship, 1918, ixn.
Sopwith Schneider, aircraft: sent to Canada for use of CNAS,
1917, 1; given to USNFC by Admiralty, 1917, 2.
Soward, Lieutenant-Commander S. E., RCN, inventor of system
to improve efficiency of LSO, 105, 122n.
Spaak, P. H., Secretary-General of NATO and fly-past at Shearwater, 64.
Spicer, Petty-Officer R., RCN, S2F accident and commendation
of Chief of the Naval Staff, 59.
“Spider’s Web,” system of aerial reconnaissance developed by
RNAS, 1917, 2, 2n.
Spithead, Portsmouth, England, Coronation Review, 1953, 85,
Springhill, N.S., mine disaster, 62.
Squadrons, Air, RAF, 224 Squadron, Gibraltar, 1955, 92.
Squadrons, Air, RCAF: number 5 Flying Boat Squadron at
Dartmouth Air Station, 1934, 10; Search and Rescue
Squadron, withdraws from Dartmouth Air Station, 52; 102
Squadron, Marine Section at Dartmouth Air Station, 53;
410 Squadron, embarks in Magnificent, 81.
Squadrons, Air, RCN: Admiralty starts manning of, 36; renumbered May 1951, 55; US system of numbering, 1952, 56;
803 Fighter Squadron: 38; embarks in Warrior, 41; becomes RCN, 42, 42n.; forms part of 19th CAG, 45, 48, 50,
52; converts to Sea Fury XI, 52, 53; renumbered to 870, 55;
825 Squadron, torpedo anti-submarine: 38; embarks in
Warrior, 41; becomes RCN, 42, 42n.; based at Patricia Bay,
and death of CO, 44, 45; forms part of 19th CAG, 45; first
arrival at Dartmouth, 41, 50; converts to Firefly IV, 52;
forms part of 18th CAG, 53; re-equips with Firefly V, 53;
number changed to 880, 55; 826 Squadron, torpedo antisubmarine: re-equips and then disbands, remaining RCN on
paper, 38, 39n.; reforms and becomes part of 18th CAG, 47,
50, 53; sends advance party to collect Avengers, 54; renumbered 881 Squadron, 55, 78; 870 Fighter Squadron,
formerly 803 squadron, 55; 871 Fighter Squadron: formerly
883 Squadron, 55; training for possible service in Korea,
57; Exercise Mariner, 87; 880 Squadron, torpedo antisubmarine, formerly 825 Squadron and short history of, 55,
72n.; 881 Squadron, torpedo anti-submarine: formerly 826
Squadron and short history of, 55, 72n.; Exercise Mariner,
87; 883 Fighter Squadron: re-equips, then disbands, remaining RCN on paper, 38, 39n.; reforms and becomes part of
18th CAG, 47, 50; re-equips with Sea Fury aircraft and
forms part of 19th CAG, 53; re-numbered 871 Squadron,
55; see also HU 21; HS 50; VC 920; VC 921; VC 922; VC
923; VC 924; VF 870; VF 871; VH 21; VS 880; VS 881;
VT 40; VU 32; VU 33; VX 10; Fleet Requirement Unit
Squadrons, Air, RN: 757 Squadron, 23; 800 Squadron, sinking
of Konigsberg, 37; 803 Squadron: reforms, 1945, 37; brief
history of, 37; Battle of Matapan and service in Far East,
Lieutenant R. H. Gray, VC, RCNVR, 37; 806 Squadron,
52, 73; 821 Squadron, aboard Puncher, 31; 825 Squadron:
first formed, 1934, 37; short history of, reformed, 1945, 37;
826 Squadron, first formed 1940 with Albacore aircraft,
fighting in Western Desert, reformed 1945, 15n., 38; 827
Squadron, 80; 842 Squadron, Operation Tungsten, 27n.;
846 Squadron, Norwegian operations, 25; 852 Squadron,
service aboard Nabob during Norwegian operations, 1944,
24, 25, 28; 856 Squadron, Operation Selenium, 31; 881
Squadron: raid on Tirpitz April 1944, 27n.; Wildcats join
Puncher, 1945, 31; 883 Squadron, brief history of, reformed, 1945, 38; 1841 Squadron, 23; 1845 Squadron, embarks in Puncher, 30; 1790 Squadron, operates from
Puncher, 33; 1791 Squadron, operates from Puncher, 33.
Squadron, Air, Royal Netherlands Navy, Number 4, visits
Shearwater, 66.
Squadrons, Air, USN: 26 Squadron, anti-submarine, RCN personnel training, 59; 781 Squadron, operates in Korea, 124.
Squadrons, Ship, RCN: First Canadian Escort Squadron, 57; 91,
91n.; 92; 93; 95; 107; Third Canadian Escort Squadron,
107; Fifth Canadian Escort Squadron, 121; Seventh Canadian Escort Squadron, 119; Special Service Squadron, 77;
Coronation Squadron, 85, 85n.
Squadrons. Ship, RN: America and West Indies Squadron, combined services exercise, 11, 46; Special Service Squadron,
hydrogen bomb tests, 1957, 48; Third Battle Squadron,
based at Halifax, 1940, 17.
St. Croix, HMCS, destroyer escort: 110; 111; 116; 119.
St. John’s, Newfoundland, visit of Governor-General, 117.
St. Laurent, HMCS, destroyer escort: 95; 108; 109; 110.
St Laurent, The Rt. Hon., L., Prime Minister of Canada, return of
Magnificent to RN, 96, 101n.
St Lawrence, Cape of, Cape Breton, shipwreck on, 1955, 60.
St. Maurice Fire Protection Association, Quebec, borrows two
naval flying boats, 1919, 8.
Ste. Therese, HMCS, frigate, 93n.
Stadacona, HMCS, patrol vessel, voyage to Strait of Belle Isle to
select air station sites, 1918, 5.
Stadacona, HMCS, shore establishment at Halifax, band of, 97.
Staff, Chiefs of, British, planning for 1943, 18.
Staff College, RCAF, 112.
Star, HMCS, Naval Division, recruits air maintenance personnel,
Stations, Royal Air Force: Takali, Malta, 80; St. Mawgans, England, 110; Thorney Island, England, 114.
Stations, Royal Canadian Air Force: Comox, 90; Debert, 61;
Greenwood, 54; St. Hubert, 68; Scoudouc, 57, 61; Summerside, 57, 89.
Stations, Royal Naval Air: Arbroath, Scotland, 37; Culdrose,
England, 82; East Haven, Scotland, 38; Eastleigh, England,
37; Eglinton, Northern Ireland, 77; Ford, England, 68, 73,
89, 106; Hal Far, Malta, 80; Hatston, Orkney Islands, 15,
31; Lee-on-Solent, England, 78, 85; Machrihanish, Scotland, 31; Rattray, Scotland, 37; Yeovilton, England, 38,
Station, Air, USAF, Shepherds Grove, England, 110
Stations, Air, USN: Floyd Field, NY, 52; Quonset Point, 53,
118; San Diego, California, 90.
Stavanger, Norway, Norwegian operations, 32.
Stavanger, HM Norwegian destroyer, Exercise Sea Enterprise,
91, 100n.
Stead, Commander (P) (Acting) J. S., RCN, DNAD, 1944, 35,
Stettler, HMCS, frigate, 90.
Stewart, Major H., RAF: loaned to RCNAS and takes up duties
as liaison officer at Baker Point, 1918, 4; inspects sites at
Canso and Cape Sable, 1918, 5; RCNAS cadet selection
committee, 6.
Stirling, Commodore M. G., RCN, appointed SCOA (A), 118.
Stoker Branch, recruits from become Air Mechanic trainees, 37.
Stornholm, Norway, mining operations, 1944, 25.
Story, Vice-Admiral W. O., RN, (Ret’d.), Admiral Superintendent Halifax Dockyard, 1918: visit to Naval Air Station
Dartmouth, 5; details working party for air station, 1919, 7.
Strobeacon Landing Aid, installed at Shearwater, 70.
Stromeyer, Ensign W. H., USNRFC. makes parachute descent at
Dartmouth, 1918, 5.
Submarines: operate off North American littoral, 1918, 2, 5, 5n;
atomic-powered, 127.
Suerte, SS, Lebanese freighter grounds off Halifax and crew
rescued by helicopter, 66.
Sunset Ceremony, 121.
Supply Branch, officers of present Safe Flying Award, 66, 72n.
Support Air Group, 19th: formed, 55; re-numbered May 1951,
Support Air Group, 31st: formed May 1951, 55; at Scoudouc
and then Summerside, 1953, 57; ceases to exist, 58; carrier
training, 88.
Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT): Exercise
Mainbrace, 85; NATO anniversary, 111; Henry Hudson
celebrations, 112; institution of, 124.
Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), Exercise
Mainbrace, 83, 83n.
Surprise, HMS, Royal Yacht at Coronation Review, 1953, 86,
Swansea, HMCS, frigate: 53; hunt for missing B.29, 75, 76, 78;
Coronation Review, 85, 85n.; Exercise Mariner, 87, 88;
Maple Royal exercises, 108, 122n.; 112.
Swiftsure, HMS, cruiser: Exercise Mainbrace, 85; collision during Exercise Mariner, 88.
Swordfish, aircraft: attack on Italian Fleet in Taranto, 15; attack
on Bismarck, 16; aboard MAC Ships, 18; Operation Tungsten, 27n.; 37; RN and taken over by RCN at Dartmouth
Air Station, 49; flown to Naval Divisions, 50.
Sydney, HMAS, aircraft carrier: “attacked” by RCN aircraft, 7I;
Coronation Review, 85.
Symonds-Tayler, Vice-Admiral R. V., Commander-in-Chief
America and West Indies Station, and flies flag in Glasgow,
76, 76n.
T.33 Silver Star, jet aircraft: jet trainer, first arrives at Shearwater, 1955, 59; sets elapsed time records flight from Vancouver to Halifax, 61.
Tabard, HMS, 80.
Taciturn, HMS, submarine, Exercise Sea Enterprise, 92.
Taranto, Italy, attack on by RNFAA, 1940, 15.
Tarawa, USS, 94.
Task Forces: TF 21, 76, 100n.; TF 22, 76; TF 23, 76; TF 24, 76;
TF 25, 76; TF 48, 86, 100n.; TF 49, 82, 100n.; TF 77, 124;
TF 83.3, 118; TF 215, 75; TF 301, 91, 117, 117n.
Task Groups: TG 21, 30; TG 22.1, 76; TG 22.2, 76; TG 22.3,
76; TG 29.2, 76; TG 29.3, 76; TG 37.2, 88; TG 81.4, 86,
89, 89n.; TG 83.4, 119; TG 155.3, 85, 100n.; TG 203.6, 87;
TG 211.1, 75; TG 215.1, 76, 78, 79; TG 215.8, 74, 75; TG
215.9, 75; TG 219.1, 92; TG 219.2, 92; TG 219.3, 91,
100n; TG 301.0, 108, 111; TG 301.1, 89,90.
Tattersall, Lieutenant-Commander O. W., RN, Commanding
Officer of 825 Squadron, missing believed killed, 1947, 45.
Taylor, Rear-Admiral C. R. H., RCN, Commanding Officer
Atlantic Coast, 41.
Tecumseh, HMCS, Naval Division, Calgary: Swordfish aircraft
delivered to, 50; VC 924 attached to, 64.
Telegraphist Air Gunner, training of, 37.
Tenacious, HMS, 83.
Tennant, Vice-Admiral (later Admiral) Sir W., Commander-inChief America and West Indies Station: embarks in Warrior for exercises, 46; 75, 100n.
Terceira, Azores, mail drop made by helicopter from Magnificent, 97.
Teredo, HMS, 80.
Terra Nova, HMCS, destroyer escort: 112; 118; 121.
Terra Nova Airfield, Vancouver, used by flying club, 1915, viii.
Thane, HMS, escort carrier, torpedoed in Clyde approaches,
1945, 31.
Theseus, HMS, aircraft carrier: Exercise Mainbrace, 84, 100n.;
Korean campaign, 124.
The Sullivans, USS, Exercise Mariner, 87, 100n.
Thomas J. Gary, USS, 111.
Thorlock, HMCS, surrender of U-190, 50n.
Thornycroft, John I. and Co. Ltd., shipbuilders, Southampton,
England, plans for small aircraft carriers, 13.
Thrum Cap Shoal, Halifax, scene of helicopter rescue, 65.
Thule, HMS, 83.
Tirpitz, German battleship: attacks on by naval aircraft August,
1944, 23; aerial attacks on in April and August, 1944, 27;
midget sub. attacks, 104.
Tisdall, Commodore E. P., RCN: appointed SCOA (A), 91, 92,
93; Broad Pennant struck in Magnificent, 95.
Tobruk, North Africa, 83.
Toronto, HMCS, frigate: 89; 91; 91n.
Towey, HMS, 31.
Tracey, Mrs. S. W., presents plaque to Bonaventure, 114.
Tracker CS2F, aircraft: details of, 61, 61; transference to RNN,
65; flying trials on Bonaventure, 106; RCN pilot training
aboard U.S. carrier, 107, 108; Maple Royal exercises, 109;
hook failure, 110, 111; 115; 118; 119; 120; A/S equipment,
126; see Grumman S2F.
Training Air Group Number 1: formed 1947, 52; becomes selfcontained unit, 53; disbanded, 58.
Trans-Canada Airlines: date of formation, 11n.; uses facilities at
Dartmouth Air Station, 70.
Transport, Department of, 64.
Treasury Board, proposes cut in naval service appropriations, 11.
Trento, Italian cruiser, damaged in Taranto attack, 15.
Tri-pacer, aircraft, air crash, 1957, 63.
Triumph, Canadian trawler, taken in prize by German submarine
and operated as surface raider, 5, 5n.
Triumph, HMS, aircraft carrier, angled-deck trials, 105.
Tromsö, HM, Norwegian frigate, Exercise Sea Enterprise, 91,
Trondheim, Norway, NATO Fleet anchors off, 92.
Troubridge, HMS, frigate, 116.
Trout, USS, submarine, 119.
Trumpeter, HMS, escort carrier: 66; Norwegian operations, 25,
25n., 27, 28; Operation Newmarket, 32, 32n.
Tudor, HMS, submarine, 75.
Tughril, HM Pakistan ship, 83.
Tumult, HMS, 106.
Tustna/Stablen Fjord, shipping in attacked by Allied aircraft, 32.
U-53, German submarine, sinks merchant ships in US waters,
1916, In.
U-151, German submarine, lays mines at entrance to Delaware,
1918, 5.
U-190, German submarine: surrenders, May 1945, and aircraft
trials with, 50, 50n; sunk in Exercise Scuppered, 52; sinks
Esquimalt, April 1945, 52.
U-354, German submarine, torpedoes Nabob and Bickerton and
is sunk by aircraft from Vindex, 1944, 28n.
U-711, German submarine, sunk at Harstadt, Norway, 1945,
UC-36, German submarine, sunk by aircraft, 1917, 2.
UC-72, German submarine, sunk by Canadian RNAS pilot, ix.
Uganda, HMCS, cruiser: visit to Mexico, 44, 45; see also Quebec, HMCS.
Ulster, HMS, frigate, 116.
Under Secretary of State for External Affairs, 22.
Underway Replenishment Group, 92, 92n.
Unicorn, HMCS, Naval Division, Saskatoon, Swordfish flown
to, 50.
United Nations: seeks solution to Middle East crisis, 62, 96;
emergency force, 97, 98, 98n.; action in Korea, 124.
United States Coastguard, 115.
United States Fifth Cavalry Regiment, RCN Observer in Korea
attached to, 124.
United States Government, warning to Germany re unrestricted
U-boat warfare and declaration of war, 1917, 1, 2n.
United States Marines, Exercise Mainbrace, 84.
United States Naval Reserve Flying Corps, 2.
United States Navy: agrees to provide aerial patrols from Canadian bases, 1918, 3; commissions air station at Baker Point,
1918, 4; pays off air station at Baker Point, 7; disposal of
equipment, etc., at air stations in Canada, 1919, 8, 8n.; policy concerning auxiliary carriers, 18; deck-landing technique, 54, 62, 66; Sixth Fleet, visits Genoa, 92, 107; loans
officers to RCN, 123; future fleet, 127.
United States, SS, 115.
University Naval Training Division, air training of, 63, 63n.
University of Toronto, officers sent to for Aeronautical Engineering course, 37.
Valencia, Spain, 92.
Valiant, HMS, battleship, exercises, 1934, 11.
Vampire, jet aircraft: 73, 100; 80.
Vancouver, HMCS, destroyer: combined services exercise, 1930,
11; exercises with RN Home Fleet, 1934, 11; visit to Havana, 1929, 45.
Van Galen, Netherlands destroyer, 84.
Vanguard, HMS, battleship: 78; 87; 92.
Vanier, The Rt. Hon. G. P., Governor-General of Canada: investiture at Halifax, 65; 116.
VC 3, Air Squadron, USN, RCN officers serve with in Formosa,
124, 128n.
VC 920, Air Squadron: training at Shearwater, 63; short history
of, 63; first Reserve squadron to land on Magnificent, 91;
VC 921, Air Squadron: training at Shearwater, 63; short history
of, first winner of Reserve Flying Award and pays off, 63;
collision at Shearwater, 64.
VC 922, Air Squadron: training at Shearwater, 63; short history
of and winner of Reserve Safe Flying Award three times,
VC 923, Air Squadron: training at Shearwater, 63; short history
of and pays off, 1959, 64.
VC 924, Air Squadron: 62; training Shearwater, 64; short history of and pays off, 1959, 64.
VE Day, Victory in Europe, 32.
Vengeance, HMS, aircraft carrier: 35; 78.
Venture, HMCS, officers training establishment, Esquimalt: 69;
Vernam Field, Jamaica, RCN aircraft operate from, 74.
VF 870, Air Squadron: meaning of two-letter prefix, formerly
870 Squadron, 56; pays off, March, 1954, 57; reforms to fly
Banshee fighters, 1955, 60; 61; training at USNAS Key
West, 62; 64; at Cecil Field Florida, 66; wins Wilkinson
Trophy, 1959, 66; first landing on Bonaventure, 107; 114;
117; 119; paying off, 127; see Squadrons, Air, RCN.
VF 871, Air Squadron: meaning of two-letter prefix, formerly
871 Squadron, 56; sets time record, 61; wins Safe Flying
Trophy twice, amalgamates with VF 870, 66; 93; 108;
trains for possible service in Korea, 124; see Squadrons,
Air, RCN.
VH 21, Air Squadron: formed November, 1952, 56; name
changed to HU 21, April, 1955, 59; see Squadrons, Air,
Vian, Vice-Admiral (later Admiral) P.L.: Flag Officer Cmdg.
First Aircraft Carrier Squadron and recommends award of
Victoria Cross to Lieutenant Gray, RCNVR, 23; as Fifth
Sea Lord visits Magnificent, 73, 100n.
Vichy French, operations against, 1940, 37.
Vickers Vidette, seaplane, RCN/RCAF exercise, 1930, 11.
Victoria, Cross: 23; 37.
Victoria Flying Club, qualifies naval cadets to civilian pilot standard, 69, 72n.
Victoria International Airport, 72n.
Victoriaville, HMCS, frigate: surrender of U-190, 50n, 117,
117n; 119.
Victorious, HMS, aircraft carrier: attack on Bismarck, 16, 37.
Vigilant, HMS, frigate, 27, 28.
Vikeroy, Norway, Wireless Station bombed, 32.
Vindex, HMS, escort carrier: aircraft from sink U-354, 28n., 37.
Vipond, Petty Officer L. P., RCN, helicopter rescue of Kismet II
crew and Queen’s Commendation, 61.
Vittorio Veneto, Italian battleship, Battle of Matapan, 15.
Voorhis, USS, saves crew of helicopter, 118.
VS 880, Air Squadron: meaning of two-letter prefix, formerly
880 Squadron, 56; Naval Air Facility, Summerside, 61, 64;
wins Safe Flying Trophy, 66; Battle Honours, 66; West
Coast Detachment, 69; 93; 95; first landings on Bonaventure, 106; 116; 117; 118; 119; see Squadrons, Air, RCN.
VS 881, Air Squadron: meaning of two-letter prefix, formerly
881 Squadron, 56; amalgamated with VS 880, 66, 89, 93,
107; 109; see Squadrons, Air, RCN.
VT 40, Air Squadron: formed May, 1954, and composition of,
58; role 1954-59 and ceases to exist, 1959, 68; see Squadrons, Air, RCN.
VTOL, aircraft, vertical take-off and landing, possible use of,
127, 127n.
VU 32, Air Squadron: meaning of two-letter prefix, formerly
FRU 743, 56; becomes separate unit, 58; 64; role 1954-59,
takes over VT 40, role 1959-62, 68; see Squadrons, Air,
VU 33, Air Squadron: 64; formation of, short description of
duties, wins Safe Flying Trophy, 69, 70.
VX 10, Air Squadron: forms at Shearwater, 56; receives first
Tracker, 62; details on, makes transatlantic flight, trials
abroad Bonaventure, 68; wins air trophies, 68.
Wakeham Bay, Hudson Strait, visit by Magnificent, 1948, 74.
Walrus, aircraft: amphibian and description of, 13n.; at Dartmouth Air Station, 49.
Walton, Lieutenant W. J., RCN, 124, 128n.
Warrior, HMCS, aircraft carrier: 33; 36; 39n; launched, commissioned, 41; arrives Halifax for first time, 41, 42;
grounds in St. Lawrence, largest naval ship to berth in
Montreal, 42, 48n.; transit of Panama Canal to West Coast
and visit to Mexico, 44; drydocks at Esquimalt, 44; decisions re future employment, 45; visit to Havana, 45; 46;
trooping trip to UK, 47; ends flying employment with RCN,
at Bermuda, returns to UK, 47; pays off and commissions
with RN company, 48; battle honours and short history of
RN service, 48.
Warrior, HMS, aircraft carrier: commissions, March 1948, 48;
short history of service with RN, 48; 124, 128n.
War Transport, British Ministry of, takes over former CAM
ships, 17.
Washington, Conferences: to establish air bases on Canadian
East Coast, April 1918, 3; Atlantic Convoy Conference,
March 1943, 19.
Washington, Treaty of, 1922, 13.
Wasp, USS, aircraft carrier: 85, 85n; RCN pilots qualify on
board, 107.
“Watson’s Circus,” special flight of Seafires for CNE, 1949, 53.
Watson, Lieutenant-Commander C. G., RCN, former CO of 826
Squadron in UK, killed in air accident, 53.
Wave Master, RFA, 106.
Wave Monarch, RFA, 107
Wave Prince, RFA, 107.
Wave Ruler, RFA, 112.
Wave Sovereign, RFA, 92n.
Western Shipping Co., Ltd., purchase of sloop Shearwater, 71.
Whitby, HMS, 107.
Wildcat, aircraft: fly from Nabob during Norwegian operations,
25; 27n.; 31, 32.
Wilhelmshaven, Germany, attacked by RNAS seaplanes, 1914,
Wilkinson, Lieutenant-Commander L. D., RNVR, presents trophy to be competed for by Air Squadrons, 65, 65n.
Wilkinson Trophy, description of, 65, 65n.
William Carson, ferry ship, 62.
Wilson, Woodrow, President of U.S.A., signs formal declaration
of war with Germany, 1917, 2n.
Winter Experimental Establishment, Namao, Alberta, RCAF,
aircraft flown to, 50.
Wisconsin, USS, 85.
Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service, members of take passage in Puncher, 33.
Woods, Lieutenant A. J., RCN, hazardous flight to Halifax in
Attacker aircraft and Queen’s Commendation, 56.
Worcester, USS: 76, 100n.; 87.
Wrens, RCN, provide Guard of Honour, 58.
Wright Brothers, first flight, 1903, and offer of patents to British
Admiralty, vii.
Wright, Admiral J., USN, Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic
and NATO anniversary, 111.
Wright, USS: 76 100n.; 85.
“X” Craft, midget submarine in W.W.II, 104.
York, HMCS, Naval Division at Toronto, Ontario, administrative
authority for VC 920 and recruits personnel for Reserve air
maintenance duty, 63.
Yugo-Slavia, troops belonging to form part of UN Force in Middle East and occupy Gaza Strip, 1957, 98.
Zara, Italian cruiser, sunk at Battle of Matapan, 15.
Zest, HMS, takes Nabob personnel on board after torpedoing,
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