On Sunday 7 May 2006, at HMCS CHIPPAWA, Winnipeg, Manitoba, the annual service that commemorates the Battle of the Atlantic was held in honour of HMCS OTTAWA and the twelve Manitobans that perished on 13 September 1942.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF HMCS OTTAWA
HMCS OTTAWA began life in 1931 as HMS CRUSADER before her commissioning into the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) on the 15th of June 1938 in Chatham, England. Originally stationed on the west coast, OTTAWA was transferred to Halifax, Nova Scotia following the outbreak of the Second World War where she escorted convoys between Great Britain and Canada.
In the first year of the war, OTTAWA conducted convoy escort duties in the western Atlantic. In the fall of 1940, OTTAWA deployed to Scotland to assist in local escort operations until her return to Canada in the spring of 1941. OTTAWA then joined the Newfoundland Escort Force where she continued her service off the coast of Newfoundland until her loss 15 months later.
On September 13th 1942, 500 nautical miles east of St. John’s, Newfoundland, OTTAWA was torpedoed. Less than 30 minutes later, unable to maneuver, she was hit a second time. This time the torpedo broke her in half, sinking her. Only 65 survivors were rescued from the freezing Atlantic waters.
HMCS OTTAWA – 12 Manitobans
Of the 113 Canadian sailors that perished in the OTTAWA, twelve were Manitobans.
Able Seaman Robert Pinder ASHLEY, Service No. V9615, RCNVR, 21 years old. Brother of Molly Ashley, of 296 Baltimore Road, Winnipeg, Manitoba. He attended Riverview and Lord Roberts Schools. Prior to enlisting in September 1939, he was employed by Dominion Paper.
Able Seaman William Thomas DAVIES, Service No. 4242, RCN, 20 years old. Son of Thomas and Katherine Davies, of 216 Third Street, Brandon, Manitoba.
Able Seaman Albert DOUGLAS, Service No. V9393, RCNVR, 28 years old. Son of John and Elizabeth Douglas, of Keewatin, Ontario. He left behind a wife and a two year old son.
Telegraphist Frederick Chaffer HOWARD, Service No. 3774, RCN, 19 years old. Son of William Chaffer Howard and Gertrude Maud Howard, of 205 Lenore Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Born in Burnley Lancashire, he immigrated to Canada with his parents. He was educated at Daniel Macintyre Collegiate. He was active in sports and played hockey for church teams. He enlisted in the Navy in Sep 1940.
Able Seaman Ralph Barry Nelson PALMER, Service No. V9785, RCNVR, 25 years old. Son of John Charles Nelson Palmer and Nora M. Palmer, of Winnipeg, Manitoba; husband of Iva Mabel Palmer, of 191 Furby Street, Winnipeg. He was educated at Gordon Bell.
Telegraphist Donald Hamilton POOLES,
Service No. V9834, RCNVR, 24 years old. Son of William Curtis Pooles and Charlotte E. Pooles, of Winnipeg, Manitoba; husband of Sarah Clementa Pooles, of Winnipeg. Was employed by Canadian Carbon Company prior to enlisting.
Ordinary Seaman Clifford John RASMUSSEN, Service No. V24916, RCNVR, 20 years old. Son of John Christopher and Gladys Rasmussen, of 321 Berry Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Was a former Sea Cadet at the age of 12. Went on active service with the Navy in October 1941. Went to Britannia, Assiniboine and Linwood Schools.
Coder Earl James ROBERTSON, Service No. V9967, RCNVR, 21 years old. Son of Robert and Mary Robertson, of Green and Lister Block, Fort Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Educated at Gordon Bell High School and formerly employed as a route messenger for CNR Telegraphs. His older brother Robert was later lost in the sinking of HMCS GUYSBOROUGH.
Leading Signalman David George SHEPPARD, Service No. V9817, RCNVR, 20 years old. Son of Henry John and Elizabeth Sheppard, of 333 William Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Worked as a messenger with Princess Messenger Company prior to enlisting in the Navy in May 1940.
Able Seaman Alexander Dyer SMITH, Service No. V24133, RCNVR, 29 years old. Son of William Smith, and of Ellen Smith, of Winnipeg, Manitoba; husband of Margaret Smith, and father of Brian who lived at 987 Spruce Street, Winnipeg. He was born in Airdrie Scotland in 1913, and came to Winipeg in 1919. He was employed at the Coca Cola Company. He attended the Somerset and Hugh John Macdonald Schools. He has two brothers serving in the armed forces: William Smith who is serving with the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders (and survived Dieppe) and CPO John D. Smith of the RCNVR.
Able Seaman Arthur Stanley SMITH, Service No. 4224, RCN, 20 years old. Son of Ernest Edwin and Florence Mary Smith, of 254 20th Street, Brandon, Manitoba.
Able Seaman Harry Kenneth SOUTHALL, Service No. V24012, RCNVR, 30 years old. Son of Henry Alfred Southall, and of Barbara Southall, of 222 Kilbride Street ,West Kildonan, Manitoba; husband of Jessie Southall, of Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was employed by W.H. Escott Company before joining the navy in August 1940. He received his education at Centennial and Machray Schools, where he was a member of the school hockey and football teams.