The Royal Canadian Navy and the Battle of the Atlantic

Author: Donald E. Graves
Publisher: Robin Brass Studio, Toronto, 2002
ISBN: 1-896941-32-X

This past year we started serialising the book on October 21st with the book’s introduction.

Please scroll down to click on Episode One and then follow us twice a month, 1st and 15th, with new episodes  (All episodes will remain on line).

Episode One – Introduction    –  By Vice Admiral Hugh MacNeil (Retd.)   first  posted October 21st 2012
Episode Two Chapter 1 part 1 – Gives the background to the forming of the Royal Canadian Navy
Episode Three Chapter 1 part 2 – The trials and tribulations of the First World War
Episode Four Chapter 1 Chronicles 1 – Personal accounts from this time period the Early Days to 1918
Episode Five Chapter 2 part 1  –  Narrates the Long, Slow Years between the Wars 1919 -1939
Episode Six Chapter 2 part 2 – Commodore Carl Dönitz takes command of the newly formed U-Boot-Waffe
Episode Seven Chapter 2 Chronicles 2 – Personal accounts from the Interwar Period
Episode Eight Chapter 3 part 1 – Sees Canada’s lack of preparedness in Sept 1939
Episode Nine Chapter 3 part 2  – The U boat threat becomes a reality in 1940
Episode Ten Chapter 3 part 3 – The situation worsens in the spring of 1941
Episode Eleven Chapter 3 Chronicles 3 – The first months of the war – personal recollections
Episode Twelve  Chapter 4 Part 1 – looks at the commencement of the Battle of the Atlantic May 1941
Episode Thirteen Chapter 4 Part 2 – its a sad state of affairs and the losses continue
Episode Fourteen Chapter 4 part 3 -The struggle continues May ’41 – May ’42
Episode Fifteen Chapter 4 Chronicle 4-1941 Recollections of early days in the North Atlantic.
Episode Sixteen Chapter 5 part 1   “If we lose the war at sea….”
Episode Seventeen Chapter 5 part 2   “We lose the war”.
Episode Eighteen Chapter 5 Chronicles 5 1942 personal accounts of the early days of the Battle of the Atlantic.
Episode Nineteen Chapter 6 part 1 – in which the Battle of the Atlantic gets harder
Episode Twenty Chapter 6 part 2 – at last there is victory in sight in mid Atlantic
Episode Twenty One  Chapter 6 Chronicle 6 –  1943 recollections as the tide starts to turn in the battle with the U-Boats.
Episode Twenty Two Chapter 7 part 1 – in which the Royal Canadian Navy comes of age
Episode Twenty Three Chapter 7 part 2  –  Happier times for the RCN
Episode Twenty Four  Chapter 7 Chronicles 7  – 1944 recollections and the great role played by the WRCNs
Episode Twenty Five Chapter 8 part 1  – Leading up to D-Day
Episode Twenty Six Chapter 8 part 2 – Victory is in sight
Episode Twenty Seven Chapter 8 Chronicles 8 – 1945 recollections as the war nears its end
Episode Twenty Eight Chapter 9 -Epilogue  – Triumph and tragedy – the legacy of the Battle of the Atlantic.        FINAL EPISODE

Canada’s Naval Memorial Trust wishes to acknowledge and thank Donald Graves and Robin Brass for their co-operation with making this possible as well as Vice Admiral Hugh MacNeil (Retd.) and Mrs Jenson who gave their support.


Neil Baird
Baird Maritime, Victoria Australia
First published in Work Boat World, June 2012 and re-published in Action Stations Summer 2012 Edition

Military history, they say, is written by the victors. That is largely true but it fails to account for the contribution of the less prominent allies among the victors.
The United States and Britain, which undoubtedly contributed the most in men and materiel to the Allied victory in the Second World War, have featured disproportionately, perhaps, in the histories written about it. Other Allied countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Poland, The Netherlands, Norway and more all made very significant contributions in proportion to their capabilities at the time.
This high quality book very effectively puts the record straight with respect to the Canadian Navy’s contribution in the Battle of the Atlantic. It forcefully points out what few people now know, that the Canadian Navy grew from ten ships in 1939 to be the third largest Allied navy by 1945. A stupendous effort.
Most of that growth was necessitated by the German U Boot campaign in the North Atlantic. Its objective was to eliminate that threat. In the end the RCN, along with the larger Royal and US navies succeeded.That massive effort is brilliantly described here:

“On Escort Duty” by Harold Beament. This wartime painting shows a North Atlantic convoy 1942 escorted by the Flower Class corvette, HMCS Shawinigan, and two USN blimps. Commissioned in September 1941, Shawinigan was a veteran of the North Atlantic. On 25 November 1944 she was torpedoed in the Cabot Strait by U-1228 and lost with all hands. (Courtesy, Canadian War Museum, CWM 1057)