A Brief History of HMCS UGANDA/QUEBEC
UGANDA was commissioned by the Royal Navy on December 17th, 1942 as HMS UGANDA. While serving in the Mediterranean Sea she took a direct hit from a three thousand pound glider-bomb off Salerno Italy. There was no dry dock available that could handle her. She proceeded across the Atlantic ocean with only one of her four propellers working. She went to the U.S. Navy yard at Charleston, South Carolina, where for some months she came under repairs.
During that time the Canadian government was negotiating with Britain to obtain UGANDA. She was re-commissioned by the Royal Canadian Navy on October 21st, 1944, as HMCS UGANDA. The cruiser became the largest and strongest warship in the Royal Canadian Navy.
She was 555 feet in length, with the beam of 62 feet and displacement of 8800 tons. She had 9 six-inch guns neatly housed within three totally enclosed and heavily armored turrets. She also had eight 4-inch guns mounted in pairs, eight 40 mm Bofors AA guns mounted in two sets of four, two-pounder AA guns (pom-pom), and a number of twin and single barrelled 20 mm AA guns. Two mountings carrying three torpedoes each were located on each side of the ship.
UGANDA had four 3-drum Admiralty type boilers that generated 400 pounds per square inch of super heated steam. This powered the Parson turbines developing a total of 72,500 shaft horsepower that drove the ships four propellers. UGANDA had steam turbines driving her electrical generators, with a diesel driven back up for emergencies. Her compound evaporators, located in the engine room, produced approximately 66 tons of fresh water daily.
The RCN had to have some nine hundred and seven officers and men trained to man her. They did this by sending personnel to the Royal Navy to train on their cruisers. They came from every province in Canada, including Newfoundland. Eight-seven percent were RCNVR and RCNR, and the balance RCN. UGANDA was the first Canadian warship to go around the world. She was the only Canadian warship to fight against the Japanese.
She arrived at Fremantle Australia on May 4th, 1945, having traveled via Britain, Gibralter, Alexandria via the Suez Canal, Aden and Colombo Ceylon. She joined the British Pacific Fleet operational area south of Sakishima Gunto, and later joined the US Third Fleet 300 miles east of Japan.
While this was going on the Canadian government wanted the crew to volunteer for the war in the Pacific. The crew for one reason or another felt they had volunteered for “hostilities only”, (hostilities against CANADA) but now they found themselves in a war zone on the far side of the Pacific. When ordered to re-volunteer they voted “no”.
The ship was recalled home, arriving in Esquimalt at 0930, August 10th, 1945, as the only ship to vote itself out of the war. On August 1st, 1947 she was paid off into reserve status.
UGANDA was re-commissioned on January 14th, 1952 as HMCS QUEBEC. She was moved to her new station on Canada’s east coast. Another cruiser, HMCS ONTARIO, which didn’t come on steam until the war was over, was stationed on the West Coast.
In 1953, QUEBEC was the flag ship under Rear Admiral Bidwell which lead the Canadian ships to Spithead for the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The Canadian group consisted of a carrier, two cruisers, one destroyer, and two frigates.
Her story ends in June 1956 when she was sold for scrap to the Japanese.