Current Bulletin

Peterborough Naval Association, 24 Whitlaw St. Peterborough, Ontario K9K 1K9
Clubhouse 705-743-6115, Admiralty Hall 705-749-3588


Veterans know the price paid for our freedom and they want all Canadians to share in this understanding. They are passing the torch or remembrance to us, the people of Canada, to ensure that the memory of their efforts and sacrifices will not die with them, and that an appreciation of the values they fought for will live on in all Canadians.


Paul Emory, Regular, October, 2018
Dave Gracie, Associate, October 2018
Arvin Hoss Wilson, Regular, Royal Canadian Navy, March 2019
Garry Pink, Associate, March 2019


CANADA AT D-DAY – 75th Anniversary – June 6, 1944

Canada was a full partner in the success of the Allied landings in Normandy.

Determined to end four years of often-brutal German occupation, on 6 June 1944, Allied forces invaded Western Europe along an 80-kilometre front in Normandy, France. Of the nearly 150,000 Allied troops who landed or parachuted into the invasion area, 14,000 were Canadians. They assaulted a beachfront code-named “Juno”, while Canadian paratroopers landed just east of the assault beaches. Although the Allies encountered German defences bristling with artillery, machine guns, mines, and booby-traps, the invasion was a success.

Other Canadians helped achieve this victory. The Royal Canadian Navy contributed 110 ships and 10,000 sailors in support of the landings while the R.C.A.F. had helped prepare the invasion by bombing targets inland. On D- Day and during the ensuing campaign, 15 R.C.A.F. fighter and fighter-bomber squadrons helped control the skies over Normandy and attacked enemy targets. On D-Day, Canadians suffered 1074 casualties, including 359 killed.


Dr. Roger Sarty

The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest campaign of the Second World War and the most important. Canada was a major participant: this country’s enormous effort in the struggle was crucial to Allied victory. While the ships and personnel of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) operated across the globe during the war, they are best remembered for their deeds during the Battle of the Atlantic.

At stake was the survival of Great Britain and the liberation of western Europe from German occupation. Britain could be saved from starvation, and strengthened into the launching pad for the liberation of Europe, only by the delivery of supplies, troops, and equipment from Canada and the United States. Everything had to be carried in vulnerable merchant ships that faced a gauntlet of enemy naval forces. The friendly territory closest to Great Britain, Canada’s east coast and Newfoundland (which had not yet joined confederation) were in the front line of the Battle of the Atlantic. Canada’s navy and merchant marine, augmented by seamen from Newfoundland, played leading parts in the battle throughout the war.

When Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, the German navy, which had prepositioned U-boats (submarines) and powerful surface warships in the Atlantic, began to attack British merchant ships. Halifax, the Atlantic base of Canada’s tiny navy, immediately became an indispensable Allied port from which to fight the Battle of the Atlantic. During the First World War, 1914 to 1918, the British had sent a strong force to Halifax for protection of Atlantic shipping, and in 1939 the same thing happened. Britain-bound merchant ships of many nationalities also came to Halifax, where Bedford Basin provided a magnificent secure anchorage in which ships could be organized into convoys which then set out under the protection of Allied warships. The convoy system had proven its worth during the First World War. HX-1, the first of the hundreds of convoys that would cross the Atlantic during the Second World War, sailed from Halifax on 16 September 1939.

Canada’s navy in September 1939 included only 3500 personnel, both regular force and reserve, and six ocean-going warships, the ‘River’ class destroyers His Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Fraser, Ottawa, Restigouche, Saguenay, St Laurent, and Skeena. A seventh ‘River,’ HMCS Assiniboine joined the fleet in October. All these ships were British built, Saguenay and Skeena according to special Canadian specifications. Destroyers were among the smallest full-fledged, ocean-going warships, but the ‘River’ class were thoroughly modern — fast and powerfully armed. In the early months of the war, the Canadian destroyers escorted the convoys, and also large Allied warships, within Canadian coastal waters.

Both British and Canadian authorities believed in 1939 that Canada’s navy could expand on only a modest scale, and mainly for operations along the North American seaboard. In early 1940, the government placed orders for the construction of 92 small warships: 64 ‘corvettes’, depth-charge-armed anti-submarine escorts, and 28 ‘Bangor’ class minesweepers. These rather slow and simple vessels were all Canada’s limited shipbuilding industry could produce, but they were adequate to patrol the entrance to ports and along coastal routes, where enemy submarines could most readily find ships to attack.

The German offensives in the spring of 1940 that conquered most of western Europe, and Italy’s entry into the war at Germany’s side in June of that year, transformed the war, not least at sea. From bases in France and Norway, right on Britain’s doorstep, the German submarine fleet, augmented by submarines from Italy, Germany’s Axis partner, launched devastating attacks against the overseas shipping on which Britain now wholly depended for survival. Canada rushed four of the ‘River’ class destroyers to British waters, and these protected convoys off the western shores of the British Isles against intense attacks by enemy submarines and aircraft.

Meanwhile, in the fall of 1940 the Canadian government embarked on full-scale naval expansion, laying down additional corvettes and Bangors as soon as the first ones were launched. Canada also began to produce merchant ships. The Royal Canadian Navy further assisted the short-handed Royal Navy by taking over seven of the fifty First World War-era destroyers the still-neutral United States made available to Britain. Canada, although its coasts were now almost unprotected, dispatched the four best of these old destroyers to British waters, together with the first ten corvettes to come from Canadian shipyards. It soon became clear that the old American ships and the new, only partly equipped, corvettes, crewed by former merchant seamen who had had only basic naval training and raw recruits, would need considerable work and time to become fully effective.

There was no time. By 1941, the Germans, encountering stronger defences in British waters, developed highly successful techniques for intercepting convoys at mid-ocean, where they were weakly escorted, if at all, and far from help. Air cover did not extend across the Atlantic, and the mid-ocean area beyond range of patrolling Allied aircraft became a killing ground for the U-boats. The submarines patrolled in long lines and, when one sighted a convoy, shadowed it, summoning the other submarines. They then attacked in a group – a ‘wolf pack’ – at night and on the surface, when their low profiles were nearly invisible to the escorting warships. The U-boats were much faster on the surface than underwater, and they were therefore able to move rapidly through a convoy, making multiple attacks, sometimes sinking with torpedoes three and four ships apiece.

In response to Britain’s call for help, Canada, starting in May 1941, took the lead in building a new naval base at St John’s, Newfoundland, and in supplying most of the warships that escorted convoys across the 3000 kilometres of ocean between Newfoundland and the British Isles. All of the Canadian warships that had been operating in British waters came to Newfoundland and, as additional corvettes were completed at Canadian shipyards, these, with incomplete equipment and virtually untrained crews, launched into the harrowing transatlantic escort mission. Small ships designed for calm coastal waters, with some crews unqualified even for that duty, had to face massed enemy attacks in some of the most stormy open ocean waters in the world.

The great demands on Canadian east coast ports increased rapidly. Growing numbers of ships flowed into the convoy system, and many of these were old vessels in need of constant repair and special services. These vessels had to be attended to even though Halifax, Sydney (since 1940 a major convoy port as busy as Halifax), Saint John, Pictou, and other smaller centres were already swamped with repair work for merchant vessels and warships that had been damaged by the enemy or by the heavy seas. All the while the Halifax base had the additional responsibility of equipping and crewing the scores of new Bangers and corvettes that arrived from builders along the St. Lawrence and on the Great Lakes. The old, cramped Royal Navy dockyard mushroomed with temporary buildings, and the navy took over adjacent army and municipal properties, which almost instantly became overcrowded as well.

At the end of 1941, senior officers warned that men and ships were being tested beyond their limits, with too little and inadequate equipment, insufficient training, and too little time to recover from the horrors they frequently witnessed as ships were blown apart and survivors froze to death within minutes in the frigid north Atlantic. Yet, the exhausted naval seamen and their little warships get no respite – only increased pressure. After the United States entered the war against the Axis powers following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941, the German navy initiated a major submarine offensive against the North American coast. As part of this offensive, early in January 1942 eight U-boats came in close to the shores of southern Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, torpedoing ships within a few kilometres of land. The quick, effective response of the RCN in organizing most coastal shipping into local convoys soon persuaded the Germans to concentrate against the less well defended US coast. Nevertheless, there were U-boats on station in Canadian and Newfoundland waters through much of 1942; these stayed hidden, dodged the Canadian defences, and sought targets of opportunity. They destroyed over 70 vessels, including 21 in the Gulf of St Lawrence, where deep, turbulent waters helped the submarines to escape detection.

The burden on the Canadian fleet became nearly unbearable. Because the United States, the source of much of the supplies for Britain, was now in the war, in the summer of 1942 the HX convoys shifted to New York. The United States Navy, however, was not yet in a position to defend these convoys, so Halifax-based Canadian warships shepherded them between New York and Newfoundland, and then brought westbound convoys from Newfoundland to New York. These tasks were in addition to the comprehensive network of coastal convoys between Canadian and northern US ports. At the same time, Canadian escort vessels still formed a major part of the mid-ocean force that took convoys between Newfoundland and British waters and, during the summer and autumn of 1942, these corvettes and destroyers faced a new German ‘wolf pack’ offensive that was stronger still than the assault in 1941.

Early in 1943, Britain withdrew Canada’s battered mid-ocean escort groups to British waters to free up crack British submarine-hunting ‘support’ groups to smash the wolf packs. The RCN needed to upgrade its escort fleet with new detection and weapons technology, something the British had already done with most of their escorts. In fact, the Canadian groups had little chance for rest in British waters since they became heavily engaged on the United Kingdom-Gibraltar convoy run, before returning to the north Atlantic battle. This all-out British effort, with Canadian support, succeeded, and Admiral Karl Dönitz the German commander-in-chief of the U-boat fleet, pulled his forces out of the central north Atlantic in May 1943. Although this was a decisive turn in the war, the Germans still had over 200 U-boats available, and soon they were using new equipment and tactics to challenge Allied defences. The Allies, meanwhile, recognized Canada’s large and expanding contribution to the war at sea by making Canadian and Newfoundland waters a distinct theatre of operations under Canadian command. In place of the previous command exercised by an American admiral based in Newfoundland, Rear-Admiral L.W. Murray established the Canadian Northwest Atlantic headquarters at Halifax on 30 April 1943.

All of the warships and merchant ships Canada could produce were urgently needed to transport supplies to Britain for the final buildup of Allied forces for the invasion of Normandy, the beginning of the liberation of France and northwest Europe. As a testament to its much-improved effectiveness based on new equipment and ships (anti-submarine frigates, true ocean-keeping vessels based on the corvettes but considerably larger, joined the fleet in increasing numbers), during the first half of 1944 the RCN took over full responsibility for escorting north Atlantic convoys to Britain. The navy also sent large numbers of its best escorts, including the venerable ‘River’ class destroyers, into the English Channel to support the invasion, which took place on 6 June 1944. Over 100 RCN ships ranging from large destroyers to troop transports participated in the Normandy landings.

Although the U-boats had little success against the invasion fleet, they were able with new ‘snorkel’ breathing tubes, enabling the submarines to ‘breathe’ and cruise under water for weeks at a time, to press their offensive in the coastal waters of Britain and Canada right to the end of the war. Thus, the Canadian fleet was continuously and heavily engaged in Canadian and Newfoundland home waters, as well as in protecting the by-then enormous transatlantic convoys that fed supplies to the Allied armies in Europe. This was an essential military contribution to the Allied cause. Moreover, the navy maintained its commitments in British and European coastal waters and also escorted convoys to the Soviet Union along the treacherous and unforgiving Arctic route.

Despite the turn of the tide, the German submarine fleet continued to strike effectively. Indeed, during 1944 and 1945, the Canadian fleet took its heaviest losses in action against submarines using sophisticated evasion tactics and armed with powerful new types of torpedoes. Among the ships destroyed by snorkel-equipped U-boats were the corvette HMCS Shawinigan, which was lost with no survivors among its crew of 91, close off Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland on the night of 24 November 1944, the Bangor minesweeper HMCS Claycquot, in the near approaches to Halifax on Christmas Eve 1944, and HMCS Esquimalt another Bangor lost off Halifax, on 16 April 1945, only three weeks before Germany surrendered. Both Bangors sank with heavy loss of life, many of the sailors falling victim to the lethally cold waters off Nova Scotia.

By the last months of the war the RCN had grown to a strength of over 95,000 personnel, 6,000 of them members of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service, and the fleet committed to the Battle of the Atlantic included some 270 ocean escort warships. Canada possessed the third-largest navy in the world after the fleets of the United States and Britain. The most important measure of its success was the safe passage during the war of over 25,000 merchant ships under Canadian escort. These cargo vessels delivered nearly 165 million tons of supplies to Britain and to the Allied forces that liberated Europe. In the course of these operations the RCN sank, or shared in the destruction, of 31 enemy submarines. For its part, the RCN lost 14 warships to U-boat attacks and another eight ships to collisions and other accidents in the north Atlantic. Most of the 2000 members of the Royal Canadian Navy who lost their lives died in combat in the Atlantic. Proportionally, Canadian merchant seamen suffered much more heavily, losing one in ten killed among the 12,000 who served in Canadian and Allied merchant vessels.

THE MERCHANT MARINE – BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC, 1939-1945 – 80th Anniversary

The achievements and sacrifices of Canadians during the Second World War were great and covered a broad spectrum of efforts. Wartime was often a time of great danger, but the danger was not faced only by those in military uniform. Those who served in Canada’s Merchant Navy, our country’s fleet of transport ships that carried desperately needed equipment, fuel, goods, and personnel to Europe and around the world, had to do their vital job knowing that their ships were prime targets for enemy action.

Most of those who served in the Merchant Navy would find themselves as participants in the Battle of the Atlantic, the struggle between the Allies and the Germans for control of the Atlantic Ocean. Merchant mariners showed tremendous bravery on this ocean battlefield, demonstrating the heroism of ordinary Canadians who chose to risk so much to help protect the rights of others.

  • A total of 12,000 men and women served in Canada’s Merchant Navy.
  • More than 25,000 merchant ship voyages were made during the war.

Going to War

It was known right from the beginning that Canada’s merchant ships would have an important role to play in the war effort. In fact, early information gathered by British intelligence agents about German ship movements led Canada to conscript all merchant ships two weeks before the war actually began. On August 26, 1939, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) took control of all shipping. Despite the fact that merchant crews were not compelled to sail on the dangerous ocean passages, most indeed did.

  • When the war began, Canada had 38 ocean-going merchant vessels. By war’s end 410 merchant ships had been built in Canada.
  • Because so many merchant sailors experienced the dangers of mines and submarines during the First World War, they knew firsthand the dangers of wartime shipping.
  • Merchant crews were given training at special schools such as the Marine Engineering Instructional School in Prescott, Ontario.

Facing the “Wolf Packs”

“Wolf-packs” of German submarines, known as U-boats, preyed on merchant ships, causing heavy losses and high mortality rates for merchant crews. The term U-boat is from the German word for submarines, Unterseebooten (undersea boats).

  • To help protect merchant ships, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) supplied air escorts and the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) organized merchant ships into convoys that were accompanied by armed naval escorts. These escorts included specially designed boats such as corvettes that could out maneuver submarines.
  • German production of U-boats was so efficient that for a time they could turn out U-boats faster than the Allies could sink them.
  • The German Navy continued to improve submarine technology during the war. For example, German scientists invented the snorkel – a breathing device that allowed U-boats to charge their batteries underwater and stay submerged for up to ten days. Previously, the submarines had to resurface frequently. This fact helped the U-boats in the face of the Allies’ air superiority and radar systems.

From the very beginning of the war, German submarines tried to cut supply routes across the Atlantic, threatening the transportation of vital goods and personnel to Britain. Along with the RCN and the RCAF, the Merchant Navy played a key role in the six-year campaign to clear the Atlantic of U-boats. It was far from easy – they faced fierce attacks by German submarines and hazardous, life-threatening weather conditions in the North Atlantic – but they put themselves in harms way in the quest for peace and freedom in the world.

  • The Battle of the Atlantic was the only battle of the Second World War that was waged close to North American shores. German U-boats attacked coastal shipping from the Caribbean to Halifax. During the summer of 1942, they even penetrated deep into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and sank ships.
  • Early in the war, many merchant ships were lost because escorting aircraft reached the limits of their flight capacity and had to turn back before the ships reached their destinations. The navy helped solve the problem by building flight decks on merchant ships, and even creating Merchant Aircraft Carriers (MACs) – tankers or grain carriers equipped with a deck and three or four aircraft.
  • The Battle of the Atlantic was a battle of technology as well as guns. When the Germans developed acoustic torpedoes that homed in on the noise made by a ship’s propellers, Allied scientists responded in 17 days with a noise-making device towed behind a ship that fooled the torpedo, diverting it harmlessly away.
  • Merchant mariners bore much of the brunt of the Battle of the Atlantic. The casualty rate was one in seven, a higher percentage of total casualties than those suffered by any of Canada’s fighting services. Approximately 1,500 Canadians died, including eight women. As well, 59 Canadian-registered merchant ships were lost.

The Canadian Merchant Marine had only forty-one ocean-going merchant ships at the outbreak of the Second World War. During the war this fleet expanded sharply because Canadian shipyards produced 403 merchant vessels. Most were taken over by Great Britain or the United States, but a significant number sailed under the Canadian flag. The cost of the war was high: fifty-eight Canadian-registered merchant ships were lost to enemy action – or probable enemy action — and 1146 Canadian merchant mariners perished at sea or in Axis prison camps. In addition, six Canadian government-owned, but British-registered, and eight Newfoundland-registered, merchantmen were lost to enemy action. Many other vessels serving the war effort were also lost at sea.

Canadian-Registry Merchant Ships Lost to Enemy Action 58 Newfoundland-Registry Merchant Ships Lost to Enemy Action 8 Canadian Government (British-Registry) Ships Lost to Enemy Action 6 Canadian-Registry Merchant Ships Damaged in Action 13 Canadian (British-Registry) Merchant Ships Damaged in Action 5 Canadian-Registry Merchant Ships Lost to Marine Causes 7 Canadian Pacific Ships Lost to Enemy Action 11 Canadian-Built, American-Owned, Ships Lost to Enemy Action 22

Canada Remembers Program

The Canada Remembers Program of Veterans Affairs Canada encourages all Canadians to learn about the sacrifices and achievements made by those who have served—and continue to serve—during times of war and peace. As well, it invites Canadians to become involved in remembrance activities that will help preserve their legacy for future generations.



Article by Eli Yarhi

On 7 and 8 May 1945, riots broke out after poorly coordinated Victory in Europe celebrations fell apart in Halifax and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Several thousand servicemen (predominantly naval), merchant seamen and civilians drank, vandalized and looted.

Though a subsequent federal inquiry blamed naval authority, the true causes lay in bureaucratic confusion, insufficient policing and antipathy between the military and civilians, fuelled by the presence of 25,000 servicemen who had strained Halifax wartime resources.

Halifax in Wartime

Halifax was a bustling port city during the Second World War. Massive transatlantic convoys carrying troops, munitions and supplies were assembled there and joined by armed naval escort and aircraft protection (see Battle of the Atlantic). As a result, the city’s population increased by nearly 60 per cent between 1939 and 1944 — nearby Dartmouth ballooned by just over 73 per cent — with temporary government and military jobs created to keep local war industries moving. All the while, tens of thousands of troops, airmen and sailors filed in and out of town.

As the families of visiting workers and stationed servicemen moved to town, it became clear that the city was not prepared to serve and house so many people. This lack of infrastructure placed strain on the city and bred contempt among the civilian and service populations. The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) itself could not host all of its personnel, and many men had to find billets in the city. While many Haligonians took in boarders and treated them fairly, some were known to inflate their rates at the sight of newcomers or servicemen who crammed into overstuffed quarters.

When the Wartime Prices and Trades Board was established in October 1941, food and fuel rationing increased in Canada. Halifax residents were more severely affected by rationing due to the onslaught of service personnel in the city, where civilians often complained that servicemen and departing ships cleaned them out of supplies. Residents experienced shortages of such basic services as water and electricity, which were diverted for military use. Blackouts and living in the constant threat of U-boat or air attacks also frayed nerves.

Halifax residents grew weary of the city’s transient population. According to the Royal Commission report on the VE-Day riot, “vandalism, including the breaking of plate glass windows and the tearing down of awnings and street signs, mostly by intoxicated Naval ratings on paydays, was a usual and expected occurrence [in wartime Halifax].” The RCN had expanded rapidly during the Second World War — from 3,500 regulars in 1939 to some 96,000 by 1945 — and personnel training suffered as a result, particularly “discipline ashore.” Over 18,000 Navy personnel were stationed in Halifax in May 1945.

Restaurants and hotels were not permitted to sell liquor in Halifax, and though private clubs could, servicemen were unable to join. The only place to purchase alcohol was from government stores; however, servicemen were not permitted to keep alcohol in their barracks. Illegal clubs and brothels were the only places, other than the wet messes on base, where sailors could drink.

Planning for VE-Day

Though its announcement came without warning on 7 May 1945, Allied victory in Europe had been anticipated for some time. Municipal and military officials in Halifax had begun to prepare for victory celebrations as early as September 1944. Official plans were made for thanksgiving church services and remembrance ceremonies at the Halifax Cenotaph, as well as parades, street festivals and fireworks to commemorate six years of service and sacrifice. Liquor stores were to be closed in order to prevent trouble.

After experiencing the unruly behaviour of sailors on shore leave over the course of the war in Europe, it was understood that service personnel would likely riot unless otherwise distracted. This feeling, coupled with antipathy between military and civilians, resulted in muttered threats among service personnel and Haligonians that the city would have a rough time on VE-Day. The mayor of Halifax, Allan Butler, and concerned citizens wanted to know what protections the armed services could provide against damage to the city.

Plans to curb mob mentality were formulated by local units of the Armed Forces as Allied forces closed in on Berlin in April 1945. The Royal Canadian Air Force, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Navy each developed plans for the day. The RCAF and Army imposed strict schedules and rules of conduct on their personnel and provided them with planned activities and events set within the confines of their garrisons. Measures set in place by the Navy were, by contrast, relaxed.

The understaffed Halifax police service and the Navy Shore Patrol also set forth policies that permitted crowds to form and curbed arrests for public intoxication. It was thought that arresting a sailor might cause a “serious riot.” RCN Rear Admiral Leonard Murray also argued that many in Halifax would say, “Here is a man who helped win the war and you are going to arrest him for being a little tight on VE-Day.”

The Riot

Victory in Europe was announced the morning of 7 May 1945 on civilian radio in Halifax, and residents were given the rest of the day off. Armed Services personnel continued to work through the day. However, trouble started that evening during a fireworks display. “Open gangway” (i.e., a holiday) was declared for Navy personnel for reasons that remain unclear.

General drunkenness and rowdy behaviour ensued, but violence soon erupted. Sailors and civilians began to snatch flags from their poles and smash windows, before sailors took over the driver’s seat of a tramcar, smashed its windows and set it on fire. When firemen came to put out the fire, sailors disconnected their hose before cutting it completely.

After three men were caught breaking into a liquor store and fled, the police called to protect the shop. However, a mob of sailors hurling projectiles overcame the police and looted the store along with civilians. Two more liquor stores were ransacked late into the night, with looters making off with over 2,000 cases of beer, wine and spirits.

Open gangway continued the next day. Though sailors had access to “wet canteens,” they emptied them of beer by 1 p.m. and went out looking for more. Along with civilians, they overpowered guards at Alexander Keith’s brewery and passed out cases to passersby. As crowds spilled downtown, window displays and store interiors were either vandalized, looted or both. People took whatever they could — including mannequins, with which they danced in the streets — but mainly clothes, jewellery and shoes (perhaps the most popular item).

Vandalism and theft aside, the general atmosphere in Halifax was described as convivial rather than criminal.Open gangway continued the next day. Though sailors had access to “we civilians they overpowered guards at Alexander Keith’s brewery and passed out cases to passersby. As crowds spilled downtown, window displays and store interiors were either vandalized, looted or both. People took whatever they could — including mannequins, with which they danced in the streets — but mainly clothes, jewellery and shoes (perhaps popular item).Vandalism and theft aside, the general atmosphere in s convivial rather than criminal.

In many instances, sailors reinforced police and shore patrol by holding back crowds at liquor stores and department stores. In the end, downtown Halifax descended to mob rule. By 5 p.m., the mayor declared VE-Day over; however, as rioting subsided in that city, it was taken up to a lesser scale across the harbour in Dartmouth. A military curfew was in force by 11 p.m. and the streets cleared.

Outcome and Investigation

The Toronto Star front page on 9 May 1945 reported that “the [Halifax] business area looks like London after a blitz” and that two sailors had died (the official number was three), including one 18-year-old who “succumbed to over-intoxication,” one found on the Dalhousie campus and another “killed in the rioting.”

Damages to property were assessed along with losses and casualties in the immediate aftermath, and a Royal Commission was appointed by order-in-council on 10 May 1945. The report, filed by Justice R.L. Kellock, tallied the damages in both Halifax and Dartmouth. Over 200 people were brought up on charges (117 civilians, 41 soldiers, 34 sailors and 19 airmen), either for being in possession of loot, drunkenness, being AWOL or other reasons. A total of 564 businesses were damaged, 207 shops looted and 2,624 windows smashed.

The federal government provided just over $1 million in compensation to businesses affected by the riot. The Nova Scotia Liquor Commission alone received $178,924 in reparations.

The Commission report laid blame squarely on Royal Canadian Navy Rear Admiral Leonard Murray, the only Canadian to command an Allied operational area during the Second World War. He was relieved of command and later retired from the Navy. In September 1945, he left for England, where he went on to practise law. Murray died in 1971.


The true causes of the riot were much broader than outlined in the Royal Commission, stemming from years of antipathy between the military and civilians in wartime Halifax. While this was due to exponential growth in the Royal Canadian Navy and the sheer scale of the Second World War effort, it should also be noted that Halifax already had a 200-year relationship with the services. The City and Armed Forces thought they were doing their best to prevent a riot when they decided to curb arrests in 1945. They looked back to a riot that had broken out on 25 May 1918 following the arrest of a drunken sailor. On that occasion, soldiers, sailors and civilians made a wreck of City Hall, where the police department was headquartered, and overwhelmed a significantly understaffed police force.

The VE-Day riots provided a lesson in planning when it came time to celebrate Victory over Japan in August 1945. VJ-Day celebrations in Halifax were low-key given what had happened months earlier.

The military, particularly the Navy, is still an important and respected element of Halifax’s society and economy today. The VE-Day riots are remembered as a black mark on the city’s otherwise proud contribution to the Second World War.


Thank God for Spring, however, at the time of writing this report we are having hopefully our last winter’s blast.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I am appealing to all our members to remit their 2019 Membership Dues (if not already done so) to continue your support of our association.

I will also remind you of our most important functions during the “Battle of Atlantic Weekend”.  The Battle of Atlantic Dinner and Dance will be held on Friday, May 3, 2019, with the reception at 6:00 pm and dinner at 7:00 pm.  Tickets and reservations will be available at Admiralty Hall, April 1, 2019.

The Service of Remembrance will be held as usual on Battle of Atlantic Sunday, May 5, 2019.  Participating units will fall-in on the PNA parking lot at 1245 pm, march across the bridge where the service will convene at our Memorial Cairn at 1:00 pm.  In the event of inclement weather, the service will be held inside Admiralty Hall.  Following the service there will be a social with refreshments served by our Ladies Auxiliary in Admiralty Hall.  All our welcome!

In conclusion, I would also like to remind our membership that this is our election year for all the association’s executive positions.  A nomination sheet will be posted on the Club House Bulletin Board by April 1, 2019.  The nomination meeting itself will be held as part of the regular meeting held on May 6, 2019.  Election night will be held at 7:00 pm on Monday, June 3, 2019.  If you have any questions about the election process nomination eligibility, etc. please contact June at the Club House Office 705-743-6115.

Looking forward to seeing all of you on the Battle of the Atlanticweekend and hopefully with a bright, sunny, warm Sunday.

John Carter



$12.00 per person

**Reservations must be made by Wednesday the week of the dinner**

Call the Club House at 705-743-6115


12 April 2019

Ham and Scallop Potatoes

26 April 2019

Roast Beef Dinner

10 May 2019

Stuffed Chicken Breast

24 May 2019

Spaghetti Dinner with Meatballs

07 June 2019

Pork Tenderloin

21 June 2019

BBQ Chicken Dinner

05 July 2019

Spare Ribs

19 July 2019

Steak and Baked Potato

BUFFET LUNCH:   EVERY WEDNESDAY from 12:00 1:00 pm, $7.00 per person




                           $12 pp. Reserve by Wednesday the week of the dinner 705-743-6115                           

OPEN MIC:        THE 4TH SATURDAY OF EVERY MONTH until June, starting

                               up again in September.


MONDAY & TUESDAY:       Open at 1500 (3:00 pm)

WEDNESDAY:                    Open at Noon

THURSDAY:                       Open at 1500 (3:00 pm)

FRIDAY & SATURDAY:    Open at 1400 (2:00 pm)


MONDAY HOLIDAYS:       Open 6:00 pm for Horseshoes


MONDAYS:                         Mixed League (7:00 pm)

TUESDAYS:                        Mens League (7:00 pm)

WEDNESDAYS:                Retirees(afternoon)

                                                 Sergeant’s Mess (7:00 pm)

THURSDAYS:                    Ladies League (7:00 pm


HMCS Ottawa has returned to Esquimalt after conducting torpedo readiness training with vessels of the United States Navy (USN) and supporting Operation Projection.

The Halifax-class frigate and its crew of 220 completed a month-long deployment on March 4 that included participation in a USN Submarine Commander’s Course (SCC), February 20 to 22, off the coast of Hawaii.

Ottawa sailed to Hawaii February 6 with HMCS Regina and Naval Replenishment Unit (NRU) Asterix. During their transit to Pearl Harbor, Ottawa served as the command platform for the initial task group under the leadership of Canadian Fleet Pacific Commanding Officer, Commodore Angus Topshee.

In Hawaii, they supported Regina’s and Asterix’s Operation Projection mission by working with partner navies and conducting key leadership engagements to enhance military cooperation and partnerships in support of Canada’s diplomatic efforts in the Asia-Pacific region.

Before taking part in the Submarine Commander’s Course, Ottawa was required to complete a Torpedo Readiness Inspection under the guidance of Sea Training Pacific (ST(P)). While on board, ST(P) staff helped the ship’s crew fulfil its Assisted Ship Readiness Training that included internal emergency response to fires and floods.

“With the help of Sea Training Pacific, Ottawa’s crew sharpened their skills and learned critical lessons that will be valuable moving forward, and I am proud of our capable and competent crew,” said Lieutenant Commander Tyson Bergmann, HMCS Ottawa’s Executive Officer.

The USN Submarine Commander’s Course saw Ottawa engage in exchange of unarmed torpedo fire between the ship and USN submarines. The torpedoes fired by Ottawa allowed the ship to conduct real-world training safely with other units as these torpedoes did not contain a payload and were unarmed.

“Ottawa was part of the combined task force designated to detect, track and engage U.S. submarines who were attempting to do the same to the surface ships involved,” said Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Mooney, one of Ottawa’s Bridge Watchkeepers.

“The anti-submarine warfare team did an outstanding job detecting and prosecuting the submarines and together, with the help of our USN counterparts, Ottawa was able to conduct two successful torpedo firings.”

Three USN submarines and a pair of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers – USS Wayne E. Myer and USS Michael P. Murphy – were involved along with MH60R Seahawk helicopters and a P3 Orion fixed wing, anti-submarine surveillance aircraft.

LCdr Bergmann rated his crew’s performance as “excellent” and commended them for overcoming the challenges faced in an anti-submarine warfare environment.

While deployed, the ship’s company hosted a video game tournament in its hangar to support the Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre, the ship’s namesake city. Together with a 50/50 draw, $2,000 of support was raised for the centre.

The crew of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Calgary has returned to home waters after a month-long deployment to Southern California – but they won’t be coming alongside right away. First they will be in the Strait of Juan de Fuca training with a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter.

Halifax-class frigates are required to complete Ship Without Air Detachment training roughly every six months. This qualification allows the ship’s crew to conduct helicopter operations when there is no Royal Canadian Air Force detachment embarked.

“It’s a collaboration of members from different trades and elements all working together,” says Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Stevens, who runs Calgary’s Deck Department. “Training will not just involve the deck crew. There are a lot of moving parts going on with landing a helicopter, which includes the Ops Room, Bridge, LSO (Landing Signal Officer) and FLYCO (Flying Coordinator).”

The exercise provides the ship’s company training to perform helicopter landings, personnel transfers, supply transfers and refueling operations.

CPO2 Stevens says sailors need to keep these skills refined because there are times while deployed when they need to interact with helicopters from other nations, as was the case last year during their Operation PROJECTION deployment in the Asia-Pacific region.

“We worked with helicopters of navies from all around the world and it was our sailors doing those helicopter operations. It’s really important to get everything perfect,” he says.

Calgary returned from that deployment just before Christmas but was deployed back to sea in early January to assist the United States Navy in readying three warships for a NATO deployment to the South China Sea, the Middle East and the Atlantic.

The Canadian Forces held a farewell for the CH-124 Sea King maritime helicopter marking its more than five decades of service replaced  by the CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopter.

After more than 55 years of service, the Sea King went out in style.

Two days of retirement festivities for the helicopter known as the workhorse of the Royal Canadian Air Force included a military parade and ceremonial flypast at its home base, 443 Squadron in Patricia Bay near Victoria.

Captain Don Leblanc said he’ll never forget his first flight in one of the machines more than three decades ago.

“It was nerve wracking but also exciting, especially when you do your first touchdown and everything is good,” the 33-year Sea King pilot told Global News.

During its five-plus decades in action, the Sea King fleet racked up some 550-thousand flying hours.

“At a hundred knots an hour, that’s the equivalent to 7,200 laps around the globe,” said Royal Canadian Air Force Commander Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger.

The first search and rescue Sea Kings arrived at Shearwater, Nova Scotia on Aug. 1, 1963, and were expected to serve primarily as submarine hunters in an effort to deter the former Soviet Union from violating Canadian sovereignty.

The venerable choppers were initially placed on aircraft carriers but when the large warships were scrapped in the 1970s, the Sea King was modified to land on smaller, less stable warships during the most adverse conditions.

“If anything the Canadian Armed Forces have shown how to fight with helicopters from the back of small naval ships and to do so in absolutely appalling weather anywhere around the world,” said Frans Jurgens of Sikorsky Aircraft, the Sea King manufacturer.

“It’s been a good machine,” recalled Sea King pilot Captain Troy Maa.

“It did everything that we needed it to do.”

“If you have a job to do then you call us and then if we can’t do it, then nobody can, because the Sea King is so versatile. She will do it all,” added Leblanc.

In its later years, the aging aircraft experienced mechanical problems that led to forced landings and crashes. In February 2003, a Sea King crashed on the deck of warship HMCS Iroquois – and in November 2012, another made an emergency landing in the middle of a Halifax business park.

Ten Canadian air crew members died in crashes or mishaps while operating Sea Kings over the past 55 years.

The mission to replace the Sea Kings with Sikorsky Cyclones has been plagued with delays and cost overruns. The new fleet is expected to be fully operational by 2021 – and Jurgens told Global News the Cyclone will be a “quantum leap in capabilities.”

The Sea Kings at 423 Squadron(12 Wing Shearwater) on the east coast were retired in January 2018. The Sea Kings at Patricia Bay will remain in operation until the end of the year as crews from 443 Squadron are trained to fly the new Cyclone.

“It’s going to be bittersweet for sure,” said Maa.

The Royal Canadian Air Force invited former military members to join current pilots like Maa and Leblanc for Sea King retirement celebrations on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2018.

For Leblanc, saluting the Sea King is like saying farewell to an old friend. The veteran pilot said he will also be calling it a career after his last flight later this month.“I’m retiring my wings with the aircraft, a bit of an homage and respect that the old girl always brought me home. So it’ll be a bittersweet moment. It’ll be very emotional, there’s no doubt about it.


Russian officials regularly announce new mega-projects involving the navy, but in reality, the force is battling problems with state financing, ageing shipyards, and delays in fulfilling orders, experts say.

The Kremlin is keen to display the strength of its armed forces — organising massive war games on NATO borders, backing President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, or showing off its “invincible” hypersonic missiles.It also relies heavily on hyperbole.

During Navy Day celebrations last July, President Vladimir Putin delivered the landmark news that the navy would receive 26 new ships from local builders by the end of the year.

But in fact, experts say, only eight of the ships that joined the fleet last year were new — the other 18 were old vessels that had been repaired.

Such overblown statements frustrate independent military analyst Alexander Golts.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu “has seriously said that over the last six years, the fleet has grown by 120 ships. He must be counting the lifeboats,” he joked.

The exact number is not known but Igor Delanoe, defence analyst at the Franco-Russian Observatory, estimates that about 44 ships entered into service between 2013 and 2018.

Russia’s naval shipbuilding is a combination of public and private endeavour.

The state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation owns about 40 shipbuilding companies, but has been criticised for poor quality of work.

Seeking to expand its global influence, Moscow launched an ambitious 10-year programme in 2011 to modernise its armed forces, including the navy.

Delanoe says none of the planned new ships was launched on schedule.

– ‘Problems with discipline’ –

Examples of recent difficulties include the renovation of the Komsomolsk-on-Amur submarine that took more than 10 years, and the 14-year-long construction of the Ivan Gren landing ship.

The most striking example of disastrous delays is the construction of the frigate Admiral Gorshkov, announced by officials as the Russian navy’s most advanced ship.

It took 12 years to be completed before going into service in July 2018. Eight such frigates were planned, but only one has gone into service — one of the projects hit hard by the crisis in Russia’s relations with Ukraine.

Since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, followed by the conflict with Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine that has killed some 13,000, Kiev has ceased military cooperation with Russia.

This caused problems since Ukraine used to make the gas turbine engines used in numerous Russian ships.

Moscow switched to a Russian manufacturer, NPO Saturn, but it failed to deliver the first replacement engines in 2017 as planned.

Another problem for shipbuilding is “irregular funding” for naval projects, says Delanoe, with Russian shipyards often reluctant to take on state contracts because “they don’t know when they’ll get paid”.

Details on the military budget are hard to find, but Russia’s state arms programme, GPV-2027, has allocated about 20 trillion rubles ($306 billion) to the defence sector for 2018-2027, with the navy expected to receive about 12 percent.

There are also problems with ensuring health and safety for shipyard workers.

In October last year, a 15-metre crane collapsed onto the bridge of the Admiral Kuznetsov, the navy’s only aircraft carrier, while it was undergoing repairs and modernisation near the Arctic city of Murmansk.

It emerged that the accident was caused by a power cut that stopped the pumps and caused the floating dock where the ship was moored to sink.

One worker was killed and the Admiral Kuznetsov risks being out of service beyond the original 2021 deadline.

This was no isolated incident. In the last six years, three fires have been reported on submarines under repair.

“There are problems with discipline, with respect for safety standards, that are quite abnormal,” said Delanoe.

– Syria role –

Russia nevertheless has “some reasons to congratulate itself”, said Andrei Frolov, editor-in-chief of the specialized Arms Exports journal.

“We are managing to put ships on the water… and despite the competition, our ships continue to sell abroad.”

Russia sells mostly submarines, but does not publish numbers on arms sales.

Among its transactions in recent years, the country has sold four submarines to Algeria and six to Vietnam, frigates to Vietnam and India, and four patrol boats last year to Algeria.

Amid a complex geopolitical situation and budgetary constraints, the Russian navy is gradually adapting and starting to build smaller ships that are heavily armed.

In a boon for the navy, the military operation in Syria that Russia launched in September 2015 to back Assad, saw the navy playing an active role.

The navy “played a strategic and geopolitical role for the first time in decades” after the collapse of the USSR, said Frolov.

“You can laugh about the Admiral Kuznetsov or the sinking dock… but if you look back at the state the navy was in up to 1997, you can say that the way it is now is the best possible result.”

Britain’s Ministry of Defence unveiled Monday its top three contenders for the planned Type 31e frigate, a scaled-down frigate that it wants to be able to both export and buy in numbers to eventually grow the size of the fleet.

The MoD announced contract awards to BAE Systems, Babcock and Atlas Elektronik UK, each worth up to £5 million (U.S. $6 million) to push ahead with the next phase of the competition, according to an MoD release.

The U.K. plans to initially build five of the frigates, with a top-line budget of £1.25 billion for the whole program.

“This is the first frigate competition the UK has run in a generation, and today we are funding three shipbuilding teams with extremely exciting concepts to continue developing their plans,” Britain’s defense acquisition minister, Stuart Andrew, said in the release. “Next year we will announce the winning bidder, and one of these designs will go on to bolster our future fleet with five new ships, creating UK jobs and ensuring our Royal Navy maintains a truly global presence in an increasingly uncertain world.”

The first Type 31 warship is slated for delivery in 2023. In 2015, the British government announced plans to build a fleet of at least five light, general-purpose frigates under the Strategic Defence and Security Review.

The shortlisting comes just days after the MoD named the contractors it was listing as contenders to build three fleet solid support ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the service that supplies the Royal Navy with ammo, food and fuel.

The British contender is a partnership comprising BAE, Babcock, Cammell Laird and Rolls-RoyceInternational bidders are Fincantieri of Italy, Navantia of Spain, Japan Marine United Corporation, and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering of South Korea.

A winning bidder is expected to be announced in 2020, with the first ship ready for sea in 2026.

One of the main tasks of the Fleet Solid Support vessels will be to provide the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier with task groups on deployment.

The Type 31 frigates and eight new Type 26 anti-submarine warfare frigates are planned to replace the British Royal Navy’s Type 23 fleet by the mid-2030s.

BAE already has a contract to build the first three Type 26s. A deal for the remaining five warships is expected early in the next decade.


  • CSC’s will be based on BAE Systems’ Type 26 design
  • The project is the largest procurement undertaken by the Government of Canada with a estimated budget of $60 billion.
  • The ships will replace the Halifax-class frigates and the retired Iroquois-class destroyers
  • The design phase has now started (February 2019)
  • 15 CSC’s are to be built by Irving Shipbuilding , Halifax, NS
  • Construction to start early 2020’s, delivery late 2020’s which means 10 years from design to completed construction. In my opinion the timeline is very disappointing – remember the National Shipbuilding Strategy was introduced February 2012!


The judge in the breach of trust case against the military’s former second-in-command has started releasing documents to the defence and Crown in preparation for trial this summer — but Vice Admiral Mark Norman’s lawyer has yet to see emails and text messages from the prime minister and his senior staff.

Earlier this month, lawyer Marie Henein threatened to ask the court to subpoena Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s former principal secretary, Gerald Butts, and Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick to testify in Norman’s trial if they don’t produce all documents relevant to the defence.

Judge Heather Perkins-McVey is reviewing the documents provided to the court to date to make sure they are relevant to the case.

Department of Justice lawyer Robert MacKinnon told the court Monday that all of the documents requested by the defence have been located and that searches were conducted of the personal email accounts of senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office and the Department of National Defence.

Norman is accused of leaking cabinet secrets. His defence team has alleged political interference in his case; Norman’s lawyers have claimed the Privy Council Office was directing the prosecution — possibly at the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office.

The emails and notes the defence wants to see could be key to making that argument.  

Henein also took issue Monday with tweets and public statements made by the Department of Justice following Norman’s last court appearance on March 6.

In light of the SNC Lavalin scandal, Henein said at that time she wanted to see any communications between the Privy Council and former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould about her client’s case. She noted that she had been requesting those communications since October.

On Twitter, the Justice Department fired back that night with a statement characterizing Henein’s request as a new one. Henein replied by calling the department’s description of her request “inaccurate.”

She added the department also should not be commenting on “why the pace of this litigation is going at the rate that it is.”

MacKinnon told the court Monday that the collection of Wilson-Raybould’s emails and texts is “ongoing” and that they will be available for the judge to review “within the next two weeks.”

The case of a second person charged in connection with the alleged leak of cabinet secrets, federal procurement official Matthew Matchett, will be back in court on Tuesday.

Both Matchett and Norman stand accused of leaking information related to a $668 million shipbuilding deal that was discussed in secret by a federal cabinet committee on Nov. 19, 2015.

Next bulletin, mid- September 2019. Don’t forget our elections for all Executive positions is scheduled for Monday, June 3, 2019 at 7:00pm

Bill Preston

Editor, 705-872-8685, 705-749-0290,

  • Articles may have been obtained from public, government, magazine, newspapers websites and may have been edited.
  • items and suggested topics are welcome.