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Chapter 3

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Esquimalt Naval Base

by
Frederick V. Longstaff

The Victoria Book & Stationery Company, Ltd.
Victoria, B. C. 1941

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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Chapter 5

 p62  Chapter IV

The Transfer of the Ships and Base to the Dominion

Even after the transfer of the ships and base to the Dominion on 9th November, 1910, the Imperial Government could not evade all cruising duties and responsibilities on the Pacific Coast of North America, for there was the carrying out of the International Sealing Treaty of 1893 and the protection of British trade in Central America. For a few years only one sloop, the Shearwater, commissioned at Chatham in 1901, was on the Station, then a second sloop was provided by commissioning the Algerine at Hong Kong, and she made the passage to Esquimalt via Yokohama. (See Appendix E.)

In 1905, the number of ships on the Station was reduced from seven to one, and the Command reduced from that of a Rear-Admiral to that of a Commander-in‑Charge, the first of the latter being Commander T. A. Hunt, R. N., in the Shearwater. At the same time the Hydrographic Survey was carried on under Commander J. F. Parry, R. N.,1 in the Egeria. In August, 1906, Commander A. G. Allgood, R. N., took over command of the Shearwater with the title of "Commander-in‑Charge for station duties on the West Coast of North America". There was a succession of changes or re‑commissioning for each of the above vessels until the Egeria was sold in 1911. The Shearwater carried on, making annual patrols to the north in the summer and to the south in the winter, until the Great War in 1914, when she was paid off at Esquimalt and her Naval crew proceeded overland to Halifax.

In 1908, the Algerine2 arrived at Esquimalt on 25th June, from Hong Kong under Commander E. H. Edwards, R. N., having been commissioned there on 5th March of that year. Both the Shearwater and the Algerine were barquentine rigged with a combined topmast and topgallant mast, as the old idea of providing sails for long ocean passage was still current for "cruising ships" on the Pacific Ocean, and the hulls were painted white for the winter patrol in Mexican waters. While Esquimalt and its reduced Dockyard staff was still the base for the two Naval sloops-of‑war, yet Comox with its  p63 fine rifle range and dry camping ground was much used for the annual rifle training in all its branches.

As regards the understanding of the principles of Empire Defence and the preparations by the Permanent Force and the Active Militia in the defence of Canada, it should be remembered that the Militia Council was only authorized and constituted on 17th November, 1904, through the prolonged efforts of Sir Frederick Borden, the Minister of Defence, and Brigadier P. N. H. Lake.3 Thus continuity and effective planning for all branches of the Permanent and Active Militia Forces was at length introduced, then enabling the Dominion Government to take over the local land defences of Esquimalt after many years of correspondence and negotiation with the Imperial Government. This all required the formation, training and arming of units and of higher commands, including much training of the Permanent Staff Officers, and Exchange of Officers with the Imperial Army, and attendance at the Staff College, etc.

The local defence of the Canadian ends of ocean trade routes in 1906, was difficult to provide for, as no Canadian Naval Force was in existence. When authorized in 1910, the Officers had to be obtained and trained, which was comparatively easy. Not so was the obtaining of recruits for the Ratings, which was made harder by ordering all Postmasters across Canada to act as Recruiters. Then ships had to be obtained, commissioned and brought out to the bases. Thus a large number of young Canadians had to be "sea‑wise" or to acquire "sea‑sense". This change needed the passing of many years together with the compelling force of Empire danger, and was only supplied by the Great War of 1914.

The Naval Service of Canada Act of 4th May, 1910, was not the first attempt at forming a Naval Defence Force for the Dominion. The first, but little known attempt, was made in 1881. The scheme of 1881 was to form a Naval Reserve to be recruited from Canadian fishermen and was the cause of the arrival from Plymouth of the screw wood frigate Charybdis at St. John, New Brunswick on 26th July, 1881. But her hull, masts and rigging were in such bad repair, that she was declared useless for even a harbour training ship. She was eventually taken to Halifax where she arrived on 27th September, 1882 and was there handed over to Vice- p64 Admiral Sir F. Leopold McClintoch, Kt., F. R. S., the Commander-in‑Chief of the West Indies and North American Squadron. The idea of such a Canadian Reserve was first mooted by General Sir Edward Selby Smith, K. C. M. G., the General Officer Commanding the Militia in Canada, in his annual Report for 1879. He there urged the acquisition of a sea‑going frigate from the British Government to serve as a training ship. The Governor General, Lord Lorne, took the matter up with enthusiasm, and the Admiralty loaned the worn‑out frigate Charybdis, which had been built in 1858 at Woolwich, and had served on the Pacific Station for two commissions, 1862‑64 and 1869‑71. The idea of Sir Edward was to draft these Reservists to armed Atlantic liners in the case of war. If only a sea‑worthy iron frigate with a Post Captain in command had been loaned to Canada in 1881, an effective start of a Dominion Navy would probably have been made in those early days!

Let us return from 1882 to 1905, when on the reduction of the number of ships on the Station, Commodore J. E. C. Goodrich on 28th February, lowered his broad pendant on the cruiser Bonaventure, and was succeeded by Captain H. H. Torless, who took her across the Pacific to Hong Kong on 4th March, to join the ships on the China Station. On 25th February, a Civic leave-taking was given to Commodore and Mrs. Goodrich, in the Provincial Legislative Assembly, when Mayor G. H. Barnard presided.

In 1907, on Wednesday, July 19th,a the cruiser Monmouth, Captain J. A. Tuke, R. N., arrived in Esquimalt harbour from Yokohama to meet Prince Fushimi, a cousin of the Mikado. The Prince had been to England to return the Garter visit of Prince Arthur of Connaught to the Mikado in 1906. Prince Fushimi arrived from Vancouver on S. S. Princess Victoria of the C. P. R. on Monday, July 24th,b having lunch on board, and he stayed at Government House, where he was entertained to an official dinner the same night by Lieut.‑Governor Dunsmuir. On Tuesday at noon he proceeded in a naval steam launch from the Dockyard to the cruiser at anchor, there being a bluejacket guard of honour on the wharf. On reaching the Monmouth, the Prince's standard Kwozokuki was broken at the mainmast, and the ship left at once for Japan.

 p65  In 1909 a special squadron under the White Ensign, visited the Harbour of San Francisco to attend the Portola festival and the celebrations in commemoration of the reconstruction of the City after the great earthquake, consisted of the armoured cruiser Bedford, Commander E. E. Fitzherbert, the Algerine, Commander E. H. Edwards, and the Shearwater, Commander C. W. G. Crawford who was also "The Commander-in‑Charge for Station Duties on the West Coast of America". The festival opened on 19th of October with a parade depicting the arrival of the Spanish soldier explorer on the shore of the harbour which he had named after Saint Francis on 6th of November, 1769. The explorer was escorted by sixty men-at‑arms, and was followed by United States Navy bluejackets and soldiers, together with parties from the warships of Great Britain, Japan, Germany, Italy and Holland.

In 1909, on the 9th of August, a flotilla of United States Navy destroyers, on their way south from Alaska, anchored in Esquimalt harbour, under the command of Lieut. J. G. Church, U. S. N., flying his pendant in the Destroyer Whipple, of 480 tons and 8,300 horsepower.

Another result of the Imperial Defence Conference of 1909, held in London, in July, was the determination of the Dominion Government to create a Dominion Navy, to consist of Canadian Officers, Ratings and Ships. A start was to be made at once in training Officers, and Ratings, the former to be trained on shore while the latter were to be trained afloat. For the purposes of training afloat two old warships were bought from the Imperial Government, and the Canadian Naval College for officers was started on shore at Halifax. Sir Wilfred Laurier had a definite plan to proceed with the building of cruisers, etc., and small craft in Canada, so that in course of time Officers, Ratings and ships would really be products of the Dominion in every way. The two old cruisers Niobe, built 1897, and Rainbow, built 1891, were bought for use as training ships for the future Canadian ratings. Unfortunately this first programme was not completed as regards provision of modern ships of war, hence there were no new cruisers to protect the focal points of ocean trade routes in August, 1914. The two old training cruisers were ordered out on active service in the emergency to act as first line cruisers, and the Rainbow  p66 had the distinction of receiving the first Canadian Naval Volunteers of 1914‑1918.

The Naval Service of Canada was authorized on 5th May, 1910, and in June Rear-Admiral C. E. Kingsmill relinquished his post as Commanding Officer of the ships and vessels of the Marine Service of Canada, to become the first Director of The Naval Service. At the same time the Admiralty lent two executive officers in the persons of Commander C. R. Roper and Commander J. D. D. Stewart, to assist the Director, the first as a Staff Officer at Ottawa and the second to arrange for the purchase and bringing out of the Rainbow to Esquimalt from Plymouth.

The Marine Service provided the officers and men for the work ships such as the Hydrographic Survey, Lighthouse and the Buoy Service, Fishery Patrol, Customs, Quarantine, Tug Boats, etc., all of which wore the Blue Ensign with the arms and the crown of Canada in the fly. The personnel of this service were all civilians except the Fishery and Customs, who were a form of Police. Thus it was plain that though Canada had a number of civil government ships, yet they could not in any sense be considered ships-of‑war, hence Admiral Kingsmill for the Canadian Naval Service had to build everything from the very foundation and this without that vital urge of self preservation or the desire for sea travel in the young men from a large number of Canadian homes.

In July 1910, Commander Stewart proceeded from Ottawa to Portsmouth, where he found the Officers appointed to the Rainbow were being borne on the books of the Victory, which was the same as the Royal Naval Barracks. The above second class cruiser Rainbow, built in 1891, was commissioned on the 4th August following, and proceeding south she crossed the equator in the Atlantic, rounded South America, where she was in great danger several times from the huge seas and her high solid bulwarks which prevented the water from escaping fast enough for safety. Making several calls on her way northwards, she reached Esquimalt in November and entered the harbour for the first time, on the 8th and brought a total crew of 270 Officers and Ratings. A formal welcome was extended to the Officers, Warrant Officers and Ratings, many of the latter being active service men, with a few selected pensioners for special duties.

 p67  Among the Canadians present to welcome the Canadian training ship were Lieut.‑Governor T. W. Paterson, Senator the Hon. William Templeman, the Premier the Hon. Richard McBride, and Mayor A. J. Morley. It is interesting to observe that two of the officers in the ship had served on the Station before, namely Lieut. A. E. D. Moore who had served in the Amphion as Sub‑Lieut. under Captain John Casement from 1900 to 1902, while Staff Paymaster R. A. Jinkin had served under Captain F. G. Kirby in the Phaeton as a Clerk and Assistant Paymaster from 1897 to 1900. Captain T. L. Thorpe-Doubble, for a long time resident in Victoria and to whom the writer is much indebted for many historical notes, was appointed to the Amphion on 25th October, 1901, as the first Lieutenant on commissioning at Devonport under Captain J. Casement for the Pacific Station. The navigating officer was Lieut. J. D. D. Stewart, later to command the Rainbow. On arrival at Esquimalt Commander Stewart was faced with the tremendous task of carrying out a recruiting campaign all over Western Canada to build up the Permanent Naval Force, and at the same time secure the support of prominent men and organizations to build up lasting interests in the training of a Pacific Naval Force of ships for the defence of trade routes. He had also to devote much time and care to looking after the interest of the Imperial ratings who formed most of his crew. No Naval barracks were provided ashore as a training depot, nor were any officers or staff provided for the necessary recruiting organization in the four Western Provinces, nor was any attempt made to put up competition between the Provinces.

The Act authorizing the Naval Service of Canada became law on Wednesday, 4th May, 1910,c and provided for the establishment of a Department of the Naval Service and for transfers from the Department of Marine and Fisheries. It empowered the Governor-General-in‑Council to appoint a Naval Board to advise the Minister and to organize and maintain Permanent, Reserve and Volunteer Forces. The Governor-General-in‑Council was also empowered to place at the disposal of His Majesty, for general service in the Royal Navy, ships or men of the Naval Service.

A start was made with a Naval College at Halifax and the first term of cadets was entered after an examination  p68 in 1911. The printed annual Reports of the Naval Service gave much information on this work of making and training officers.

During the year 1912, owing to the uncertainty of the Naval policy and to the accommodation being limited, no special efforts were made to attract recruits. Postmasters were authorized to act as recruiting officers and forward recruits who come up to the standard. In the case of the vast inland population of Canada with little "sea sense" the plan was absurd and the Western Provinces only produced fifteen boys in the first year and in all Canada only fifty‑six, of which a large proportion deserted because they did not understand the conditions of life in the ships of the Canadian Navy.

Let us return to the memorable week in November, 1910, at Esquimalt. On Wednesday, 9th, the official representative of the new Naval Service took over the charge of the Royal Naval Dockyard from the Admiralty, that is to say, Mr. S. J. Desbarats, the Deputy Minister, formally took over the Naval Base from Commander Gerald W. Vivian, R. N., commanding the sloop-of‑war Shearwater, whose title was "Commander-in‑Charge for Station Duties on the West Coast of America." The management of the Dockyard was carried on by Mr. George Phillips, who transferred to the Canadian Service.

On Mr. R. L. Borden becoming Prime Minister on 10th October, 1911, over a Conservative Government, and after consultation with the Imperial Government who stressed the urgency because of the German threat in the North Sea, he introduced a new scheme for Canadian Naval contribution which was relentlessly opposed by the Liberals under Laurier. This great change of policy put a big obstacle in the way of steady recruiting for the new Navy, which was fatal to success. Future, the labour market was not then overstocked with young men, hence they were not looking far afield for a life of travel and adventure such as was to be found on ships-of‑war under the flag of Canada. In July, 1911, Commander Walter Hose,4 who had been promoted to the rank in December, 1908, proceeded to Esquimalt to relieve Commander Stewart, whose period of loaned service to Canada was completed. It is of special interest to note that Lieut. Hose, in the second half of 1908, attended the War Staff Course at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich,  p69 and also a course at the Military Staff College, Camberley, in combined naval and military operations. In February, 1909, he was appointed the Commander, under Captain Cecil S. Hickley, of the Cochrane, of 13,550 tons, one of the newest cruisers in the Navy, and in the Second Cruiser Squadron. Thus Commander Hose had been prepared for this job of organization and training. The actual handing over took place about the 3rd of August, and Commander and Mrs. Stewart left Victoria on Saturday, 5th August,d for Vancouver on the C. P. R. steamer, which was met outside the harbour by cheers from fifty officers and ratings of the Rainbow in the steam pinnace and two pulling boats.

The charge of the Naval Dockyard was added to the other duties of Commander Hose, so he now had the use of an office ashore. The new Captain of the training ship Rainbow was already interested and experienced in the training of a Naval Reserve, because while serving in the steel cruiser Charybdis (built in 1893) from 1897 till 1902 as a Lieutenant he assisted in the training of a number of Newfoundland fishermen. It was this experience which caused him to have a vision of the possibilities of training the fishermen of the British Columbia coast as Naval Reservists to serve on Canadian ships-of‑war. Instead of fishermen, a body of yachtsmen and landsmen at Victoria formed the pioneer Company of Volunteer Reserves in the whole of Canada, and the writer attended many of their drills. A number of Volunteer Reserve Companies were raised after the outbreak of war in 1914, but the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve as now constituted were authorized and recruited in 1923, and strange to say companies were not formed in Victoria or Halifax. This however is another story. From the starting of the Royal Canadian Navy in 1910, there were two parts missing, those soldiers of the sea, the Marines, and the Medical Officers. Because for many years the total force was so small, one medical officer for each coast was appointed for duty from the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps. But medical men were being commissioned in the R. C. N. V. Reserve, and they of course had to carry out so many weeks' training in barracks and afloat annually.

The idea of a Fishermen's Reserve was revived during 1938 by Lieut.‑Commander Roland Bourke, V. C., D. S. O. (R. N. V. R. Ret.) who introduced the idea to Ottawa, and  p70 in the new year of 1939 it was organized and commanded by Lieut.‑Commander Colin D. Donald, R. C. N., in H. M. C. motor vessel Skidegate. The first batch of fishermen were trained at the Naval barracks but slept in their own motor fishing vessels lying in the old drydock.

We will return to Ottawa in 1913,10 where the long continued Liberal opposition to the Conservative Naval Aid Bill and its rejection by the Senate on 30th May in that year, caused a great slowing down of the work of recruiting and training officers and ratings for the Permanent Naval Service all over Canada. But in a few months the pioneer Company of Royal Canadian Naval Volunteers (their first title) was formed in Victoria and started to hold drill meetings. On the 24th of July, the Hon. J. D. Hazen received a deputation from the Company, led by Mr. Stanley Geary, a former Petty Officer of the London Division of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. The Minister discussed freely the whole movement and expressed his sympathy with the work, but said that the present legislation did not permit enrolling such a force. However, he promised, with the sanction of Commander Hose, to give facilities for the drilling to take place in the Naval Dockyard pending the necessary legislation. It should be stated that the Naval Service Act of Canada did allow for the formation of a Volunteer force, but up to date no money had been authorized for the formation and equipment of such a force. The grant of money for the Volunteers was passed early in July, 1914, and the First Company enrolled on 9th of that month.

On August 8th, 1913, the Pioneer Company of R. C. N. V. was received by Captain L. Halsey, R. N., in H. M. battle cruiser New Zealand, when he complimented them on their efforts as pioneers and wished them every success. On 14th of August, 1913, the first drill was held in mufti, in the Naval Dockyard where the Armament building was allocated as the drill hall for the Volunteers. On the 18th of October, the first smoking concert was given by the Volunteers in the Naval Canteen on the recreation ground, when Officers and Ratings from the Algerine, Shearwater and Rainbow were the guests. The strength of the Company soon worked up to 140, and the training comprised seamanship, gunnery, pulling and sailing a naval cutter, signalling, rifle and company drill, and the training night was Thursday.

 p71  On 3rd January, 1914, Captain R. M. Corbett, R. N., succeeded Commander F. G. St. G. Brooker, R. N., in command of the Algerine, which had just lost a screw off Cape Flattery, and after being docked at Esquimalt, was eventually sent to Moran's Engineering works at Seattle to have a new one made and fitted. In the meantime the Shearwater replaced the former vessel on the Mexican patrol where she looked after British trade interests. On 25th of June, Vice-Admiral Kuroi paid a visit to Victoria in command of the Imperial Japanese training squadron consisting of H. I. M. ships Asama and Azuma.

Much assistance was given the Naval Volunteers by Captain Corbett, R. N., and the officers of the Algerine, and on 29th of January, 1914, Sir Richard McBride, the Premier of B. C., and Captain Corbett were present at drill display and competition with the six‑inch loader, against a team from the Algerine. On 29th of April, Commander E. R. G. R. Evans, C. B., (now Admiral Sir Edward Evans, K. C. B., D. S. O.) inspected a crew of the Volunteers at drill on the six‑inch gun and complimented them on the same. Again on 10th of June, Rear-Admiral C. E. Kingsmill, R. C. N., inspected the Company, and on 9th July, after each member had been legally enrolled, sixty‑one men were kitted up, and thus became the First Company of the Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve. In this achievement the Pacific Coast set an example of pioneer service to the rest of the Dominion.

Owing to the absence early in 1914, of the Shearwater and the Algerine on the Mexican and South American seaboards, the Canadian Government offered the use of the Rainbow to the Admiralty to take over the six weeks of the annual Bering Sea Fur patrol, and this offer was accepted. At the Volunteer drill night of 16th July, Lieut. Henry B. Pilcher, R. N., of the Rainbow, called for the names of 50 ratings to take part in a six weeks patrol to Bering Sea at the end of the month. A sudden call for the services of the Rainbow was coming along. The Japanese steamer Gomagataº Maru, Captain Yamamoto had arrived in Burrard Inlet on 2nd May, and had been held by the Immigration Authorities for some weeks in Quarantine. On 18th of July, the cargo of East Indians under Gurdit Sing, the charterer of the ship at Calcutta, grew violent because of the continued refusal by Inspector S. Reid of permission to land. On the same day Mr. H.  p72 H. Stevens went off on a tugboat and eventually rescued Captain Yamamoto from his ship. The next day, the 19th, an attempt was made to take the ship by a force composed of regular and special constables which went out in the tug Sea Lion, but it was repulsed by a shower of missiles. Then Mr. Reid sent a telegram to Ottawa asking for the Rainbow to be ordered to proceed to Burrard Inlet under Commander Hose to aid the Civil Power.

When the order to proceed to the Inlet was received at Esquimalt, the training ship was alongside the coaling wharf waiting to enter the drydock for the cleaning and painting of the hull. She spent most of the 20th of July taking on guns, stores and gear and stowing the same. At 5 P.M. the C. P. Coast Service steamer Princess Alice arrived in Esquimalt harbour from Vancouver with 111 ratings from the Niobe at Halifax, to complete the old cruiser for the Bering Sea patrol, and some photographs were taken by the writer. Later in the evening Major A. T. Ogilvie, R. C. A., led on board fifty Non‑commissioned Officers and Gunners of the Royal Canadian Artillery, from Work Point Barracks, armed as Infantry, and thus they might be said to be acting as Marines. It should be remembered that on the morning of the 20th there was only a skeleton crew of forty ratings in the Rainbow under the command of Lieutenants H. B. Pilcher and H. E. Holmes, together with the Warrant Officers.

Ashore at Vancouver City there were a hundred Officers and other ranks of the Irish Fusiliers under arms, forty Officers and other ranks of the Sixth Duke of Connaught's Own Regiment, and forty of the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders of Canada. The Sikhs aboard the Gomagata Maru were preparing their edge weapons. The Rainbow had sailed from Esquimalt at 10 P.M., on the 20th, and she anchored in the Inlet at 8.20 A.M. on the 21st. The tug Sea Lion took Mr. H. H. Stevens, Captain Yamamoto, Chief of Police McLennan, Immigration Inspector Reid, Captain J. W. Warden of the Special Police, Colonel Duff Stuart, Lieut.‑Colonel McSpadden and Major J. S. Tait out to the Rainbow and conferred with Commander Hose for over half an hour. Then the leaders in the tug boat party presented to Commander Hose a requisition signed by two magistrates asking for aid in subduing a rebellion against the authority of the Government. In consequence of this requisition Commander Hose had the guns and fire hoses of the cruiser laid and pointed  p73 to cover the Japanese steamer. After many attempts the Sikhs agreed to allow the crew of the ship to take her back to Calcutta, together with the 352 refused immigrants.

After the immigrant ship had got under way on the 23rd, the Rainbow followed her through Plumper Pass, the cruiser being piloted by Captain B. L. Johnson (then a member of the Vancouver Pilotage Association). After some delay off Trial Island and Macaulay Point, the old cruiser escorted the Japanese merchant ship to outside of Cape Flattery, and saw her heading into the Pacific for Yokohama. A special draft of Officers and Ratings, twenty in all, from Devonport arrived on the 24th, via the C. P. R. On Saturday, 25th, the Rainbow went into drydock for cleaning her copper sheathing only, and was there for three days. The fitting out of the ship for the Bering Sea patrol was being done, and coaling, also extra work in the engine room, and her Officers were: Commander W. Hose, Lieut.‑Commander H. N. Holme, Lieut.‑Commander J. H. K. Clegg, Lieut. E. G. Hallewell, Lieut.‑Commander J. C. Jenkins (E) and Mr. E. Haines (Gunner) acting as gunnery officer, and a complement of over 200. Later twentysix of the Vancouver Company of Volunteers reported on board. She came out of drydock on the 27th of July, and on Thursday, 30th, the fifty ratings of the Victoria Company of Volunteers reported for duty in the cruiser and worked at stowing six inch shells. She weighed anchor at 8.45 P.M. on Thursday and a small group of Officers and Ratings and the writer, stood at the base of the brick signal tower and witnessed the old cruiser, well loaded down in the water, steam out of the harbour to ultimately face the probability of an unequal battle with the protected German cruiser Leipzig off the harbour of San Francisco. That evening she proceeded as far as Royal Roads, where she anchored, being delayed by the non‑arrival of a wireless telegraph rating from Devonport.

The old training ship was still at anchor in Royal Roads on Saturday, 1st of August, where she remained until further orders, though she should have sailed on Friday for the Bering Sea patrol for six weeks. However, this patrol was abandoned owing to the threat of war, and the two Naval sloops were recalled and were expected to reach Esquimalt Base in ten days steaming, and the Leipzig was reported at Mazatlan.

 p74  On Sunday, 2nd August, all Naval Volunteers were called out for duty and were ordered to report at the R. C. N. Dockyard, Esquimalt, to the Officer in Command, Lieut. H. B. Pilcher, who was assisted by Mr. Tom Cox, Gunner, R. N. Also all ex‑naval Signal and Stoker Ratings were ordered to report at the same place, by Commander Hose as the Commander-in‑Charge. The red brick signal tower on the east side of the entrance of the harbour, was put into commission temporarily by men of the Militia Signal Corps under Lieut. H. R. Selfe, this small unit being detailed at the suggestion of the writer. On the same day, 2nd inst., an emergency parade of the Fifth Regiment of Artillery was ordered for 2 P.M., by Lieut.‑Colonel W. N. Winsby, in order to select N. C. O.'s and gunners for special duty in the forts.

On 2nd August, Commander F. H. Walter, R. N., returned from the Shearwater in Mexican waters, having turned that ship over to Commander C. W. Trousdale at San Pedro, as his period of two years' command was finished. He reported quiet on the Mexican coast, but early in the year another revolution had broken out in Ecuador, and the Shearwater had been at Esmeralda for three weeks. The Shearwater had then called at Panama, when he had looked over the ocean terminals of the new canal, she then proceeded to Salina Cruz and on to San Pedro. Commander Walter reported that the Algerine, Captain Robert Gwynne Corbett, was at Mazatlan.

On Monday, 3rd August, Esquimalt harbour was closed to shipping and the examination service was put into action. The offer of assistance by the Government of Canada to the Imperial Government was signed by the Duke of Connaught at Ottawa. The Rainbow also proceeded to sea from Royal Roads at 1 A.M. under Commander Hose, southbound and ready to engage the Leipzig.5 At 6 A.M. on Tuesday, 4th, while at sea the Rainbow received a W. T. (wireless telegraph) message advising the Captain that war had been declared. On Wednesday, 5th, at 6 A.M. Rainbow received W. T. instructions to protect the sloops Algerine and Shearwater which were steering north from San Diego. On the same day, the two ex‑Chilian submarines built at Seattle and renamed "C. S. 1" and "C. S. 2" arrived at Esquimalt at 8.30 A.M. from beyond Race Rocks, where they had been inspected by Mr. H. R. Woods, R. N., and Lieut. B. E. Jones, R. N., and had been paid for with a cheque handed over  p75 by Mr. Richard Ryan, Chief Janitor of the Parliament Buildings at Victoria and a trusted civil servant of Sir R. McBride, on behalf of Sir Richard. A White Ensign had been hoisted on each submarine by C. P. O., W. H. Watson, of the Volunteers, and the guns of Black Rock battery nearly opened fire on them in mistake for German submarines, though they were accompanied by the Examination steamer. Sir Richard McBride and the District Officer Commanding, Colonel A. Roy, went out to inspect them alongside the D. G. S. Quadra, accompanied by the writer.

The Rainbow anchored in the harbour of San Francisco on Friday 7th at 9.30 A.M. On Saturday 8th, Number Three Company of the Naval Volunteers arrived in mufti from Vancouver at 4 P.M. under Lieut. Kenneth Harper, and were detailed to the Esquimalt Naval Cricket ground in charge of Chief Petty Officers, Stanley Geary and Russell Ponder (now commander), R. C. N. V. R., who arrived on the 8th August from Hazelton.

The Grand Trunk Pacific ship Prince George, with its three cruiser-like funnels, was chartered by the Government for a hospital ship, and carpenters and other workmen were put to work on fitting her out for this duty in Esquimalt harbour on Sunday, 9th. On Tuesday, 11th, all the Militia units of B. C., were ordered to mobilize each at its own headquarters, including Victoria and Esquimalt.

The Rainbow on Thursday, 13th, at 3.30 A.M., met the Shearwater near Cape Flattery, and escorted her to Esquimalt which was reached at 6.30 A.M. She left the Naval Base again at 5.30 P.M. Rounding Cape Flattery she sighted the Algerine at three o'clock the next afternoon to the southward and accompanied her to Esquimalt arriving there on Saturday, 15th, at 5.15 P.M. Both the sloops had been painted grey over the smart white and most of the movable woodwork had been put over the side. All the Officers and Ratings left the same evening for Halifax via the C. P. R.

On Tuesday, 18th, at 2.30 A.M., the Rainbow left Esquimalt and proceeded to sea and returned to port the next day at 11.20 A.M. On Thursday, 20th, she sailed at 2.30 A.M., on patrol, and returned on 1st of September. On Thursday, 13th August, a great historical event took place. The passage round Cape Horn was made unnecessary,  p76 by the opening of the Panama Canal to commercial ships, the first one to pass both ways being the steamship Cristobal of the Panama Railroad Company, the first of any size to do so.

The coming of the Great War in 1914 prevented the peace training so necessary for the building up of an effective Canadian Naval Service. The continuance of this important and difficult work had to be postponed until after the end of hostilities.

In November, 1919, an epoch-making Naval Mission arrived in Esquimalt harbour in the battle cruiser New Zealand (built 1911), flying the flag of Admiral of the Fleet, Viscount Jellicoe of Scapa. At Ottawa on the 31st of December of that year the gallant Admiral of the Fleet reported to the Duke of Devonshire, the Governor General: "Sir, I have the honour to inform Your Excellency that in accordance with instructions received from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, issued as the result of a request from the Government of Canada, I arrived at Esquimalt in H. M. S. New Zealand on the 8th November, 1919. The object of my visit is defined in my terms of reference as follows: 'To advise the Dominion Authorities whether, in the light of the experience of war, the scheme of naval organization which has been adopted, or may be in contemplation, requires reconsideration; either from the point of view of the efficiency of that organization for meeting local needs, or from that of ensuring the greatest possible homogeneity and co‑operation between all the naval forces of the Empire; and, should the Dominion Authorities desire to consider how far it is possible for the Dominion to take a more effective share in the naval defence of the Empire, to give assistance from the naval point of view in drawing up a scheme for consideration'." This Report takes 52 pages to print the findings and suggestions of Lord Jellicoe. It shows four establishments of fleets, from great to small; one chapter deals with Administration, one with Personnel and a long one with Discipline.e

After the discharge of the workmen from the Royal Canadian Naval Dockyard in May, 1920, when the Senior Naval Officer, Edward H. Martin, acted under orders from Ottawa, unemployment began to show its head in the Dominion. This great change put Naval recruiting in a much more favourable light and found a ready  p77 response among young Canadians who were urged by their parents to join the new senior service.

By the year 1922, the number of the Naval Dockyard employees had been reduced to the skeleton establishment, and on the 3rd of September, the Shore Establishment of H. M. C. S. Naden6a was begun under the command of Lieut.‑Commander C. T. Beard. Already complete designs and estimates had been drawn up by a committee of Commander C. T. Beard, George Phillips, Esq., and J. G. Brown, Esq., which had spent some time in going over the naval bungalow hospital, which was to form the basis of Canada's large training barracks on the Pacific Coast. The medical officer's house became the residence of the Captain of the Naden. At the same time Lieut.‑Commander Beard had to organize a staff and then start training Officers and Ratings for sea service. He was appointed acting Commander on the 1st of November following, while holding this appointment at Esquimalt.

The old red brick bungalow hospital buildings eventually became converted into suitable naval barracks, and in each of the years following one or more additions were made to the buildings. Thus it became also a school for Naval Volunteer Reserves from the whole of Western Canada, and the establishment soon had all the equipment, armament, gear and instruments necessary to give the training which would be obtainable in a "light cruiser". Permanent quarters were established on shore for the training of Boy ratings, with a minesweeper attached to give training in seamanship, and destroyers were commissioned under the flag of Canada to give advanced training during ocean passages to and from the Panama Canal, and the advantage of meeting the Atlantic Division at Jamaica for combined training with the British "American Squadron" based at Bermuda was gained.

From September, 1922 until September, 1939 a great work has been carried on at Esquimalt for the Canadian Navy; a solid though small foundation has been built and fine traditions have been established during this period of seventeen years. This has consisted in the building of a Canadian practice of training (in close touch with the Royal Navy), and the erection of new buildings, as well as the arrival and departure of battle cruisers, light cruisers, destroyers and minesweepers.

 p78  The Naval College being at Esquimalt during the years 1918‑21, the big red brick house in the Dockyard was used as the Sick Bay for the Cadets.7 On the 17th August, 1920 the office of a Civilian Manager of the Dockyard was reintroduced and Engineer Lieut.‑Commander G. P. Clark, R. C. N., was appointed. In 1922 his successor Mr. George Phillips8 returned from Halifax on 29th September, but chose to reside in the Engineer's House instead of the Big House. In September, 1933 Engineer Commander Tom C. Phillips, R. C. N., took over the management from Mr. G. Phillips. In 1936, Commander C. T. Beard took command of the Naden for the second time, but lived at the Big House in the Dockyard for the first time. The command of the Dockyard, therefore, came under the orders of an officer of the executive branch, Commander Beard, who took over from Engineer Commander Tom Caleb Phillips. In October, 1938, Commander Beard was succeeded by Captain V. G. Brodeur, who thus held two commands concurrently at Esquimalt.

We now come to the name of the present Naval Barracks, H. M. C. S. Naden. In 1918, the schooner Naden, of the Hydrographic Service,6b being laid up at New Westminster, was temporarily transferred to the Naval College at Esquimalt as a tender. The Royal Navy List does not show her as being in commission until 1920, as it was only on the 1st of July of that year that Commander Hugh E. Holme was appointed "Commander-in‑Charge, Dockyard, Esquimalt" with his name borne on the books of Naden. Thus the title Naden had at last succeeded that of the old training ship Rainbow. There were variations in the titles for the Senior Naval Officer who commanded the naval forces both in the Shore Establishment at Esquimalt and on the Ships while in the harbour. For some years, once the destroyers were outside the waters of the harbour they ceased to be under the orders of the Commander-in‑Charge. At the same time his authority extended over the units of the Naval Reserve and of the Naval Volunteer Reserve to the west of Port Arthur. Again, owing to the political desire to save money, the two separate commands of "Dockyard" and of Naden were held for a time by the same officer. The changes and variations in the powers conferred on the holder of the above two commands and that of "Commander D" made the work of administration very difficult at times.

 p79  Here is a chronological list of Senior and other executive officers on the West Coast and at Esquimalt. In 1914 on 12th of October, a Senior Naval Officer West Coast was appointed in the person of Rear-Admiral William Oswald Story (R. N. Ret.) who lived outside the Dockyard during his term of office (in the John Doran house). About the same time Commander John Thomas Shenton (R. N. Ret.) borne in H. M. C. S. Shearwater II, was appointed in charge of Shore Establishments at Esquimalt. In 1918, on 27th of February, a Captain Superintendent was appointed in the person of Captain Edward Harrington Martin, C. M. G. (R. N. Ret.) with his name borne on the books of the Rainbow. Two years later, in 1920, on the 1st of July, a Commander-in‑Charge, was appointed in the person of Commander Hugh Edward Holme (R. N. Ret.) who lived in a house on Admiral's Road, with his name borne in Naden. Next came Commander Edward Atcherley Eckersall Nixon, R. C. N.,9 who though he was commanding the Naval College, added to that the command of the Dockyard and his name was borne in Naden for command from 1st July, 1921, but he did not live in the large house. Commander Nixon died of pneumonia on 10th of November in 1924 at his home in Victoria.

In 1922, Lieut.‑Commander C. T. Beard, R. C. N., as already mentioned, succeeded Commander Nixon in command of the Dockyard and was the first to occupy the present Naden barracks. In 1925, Commander Francis Henry Brabant (R. N.) was appointed to Naden, on the 1st of February, as Senior Naval Officer, Esquimalt, and of the Naval Barracks. Next came, in 1925, as Senior Naval Officer, Esquimalt and the Barracks, Commander Percy Walker Nelles, R. C. N., to Naden, on 1st of December. Four years later, on 23rd of January, 1929, Commander Leonard Warren Murray, R. C. N., was appointed to Naden for S. N. O. and the Barracks. Then came Commander Ronald Ian Agnew, R. C. N., on the 24th of June, 1931, as S. N. O. and to Naden for the Barracks. In 1932, the command was changed to that of "Commander-in‑Charge, Esquimalt" and on the 27th of May, the officer appointed to it was Commander V. G. Brodeur with his name in Naden.

All these successive senior officers lived in the small red brick house which had been built for the Naval Surgeon in charge of the Hospital. Commander W. J.  p80 R. Beech was appointed (temp.) on the 1st of February, 1934. Following him came Commander G. C. Jones to the Naden on 15th May, 1934, and lastly Commander C. T. Beard to the Naden on the 13th of May, 1936, as the Commander-in‑Charge, Esquimalt, and he moved to the Dockyard and took up his residence for the first time in the Big House. The old wooden office building near the Big House was enlarged about 1916, to provide for the Accountant's staff. The earliest portion, which was built in the spring of 1855 by Governor Douglas to provide hospital accommodation for the expected wounded from Kamchatka, was burnt. It is much to be regretted this pioneer building was demolished about June, 1938, to make way for a wider driveway to the Big House. It might have been preserved and fitted as the Dockyard Museum.

On the 1st of September, 1936, a separate Captain of the Naden (Barracks) was appointed in the person of Commander John Eric Wodehouse Oland, D. S. C., who was succeeded by Commander R. I. Agnew, O. B. E., on 31st October, 1938.

In 1938, a new and larger Command was created namely, "Captain-in‑Charge H. M. C. Naval Establishment, Esquimalt, and Commanding Officer Coast of British Columbia", and the first holder was Captain Victor Gabriel Brodeur, who was appointed in October of that year.

From 1932, there was a succession of four Senior Officers of Destroyers on the West Coast with the title "Commander D" and their names were, in the Skeena: Commander G. C. Jones, appointed 25th May, 1932; and Commander J. E. W. Oland, on 15th May, 1934; the command next became that of a Captain, and on 25th March, 1937, Captain V. G. Brodeur was appointed to the Skeena. In 1938, Captain G. C. Jones was appointed on 1st August to the Ottawa.

The year 1928, was of great importance to the Officers and Ratings of the Royal Canadian Navy, for in this year the Militia Pensions Act was amended to make it applicable to the personnel of the Naval Service, as up to this time there had been no provisions made for pensions in any form.

The writer has been privileged to know some of the causes of the ups and downs, during peace time, in the  p81 building up of Canada's naval power on the Pacific Coast and to have known Rear-Admirals Hose and Nelles, the drivers and helmsmen at Ottawa, and Commander Beard who has done so much at Esquimalt and on the whole West Coast. Some day the real History of these seventeen years will be written fully, showing the progress and the good preparations made in spite of much obstruction and the discouragement by politicians as well as the uninformed and thoughtless talk of Canadians who during those years derided the building up of their small Naval Service. It was a brilliant plan to establish Companies of Naval Volunteers in the chief cities across Canada, recruited first in 1923, up to 1,000 Officers and Ratings, and Commodore Hose (as he then was) builded better than he thought. Some of the keenest and most efficient Volunteers have come from the Great Northwest or Inland Empire, between the Red River and the Rocky Mountains.

It was easier to keep the training of the Canadian Navy at a high standard than that of the Militia (Permanent Force), because there were only the two naval bases or establishments of Halifax and Esquimalt, while the Militia had thirteen Military Districts.


The Author's Notes:

1 Commander J. F. Parry, R. N. See Appendix "F."

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2 H. M. S. Algerine. See Appendix "E."

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3 Brig.‑General P. N. H. Lake. See Appendix "C."

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4 Commander W. Hose, R. C. N. See Appendix "D."

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5 Letter from the Chief of Naval Staff, Commodore, First Class, Percy Walker Nelles, dated April, 1938, giving excerpts from the Log of H. M. C. S. Rainbow during August, 1914.

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6a 6b Dominion Government Ship Naden, built in the City of Vancouver in 1913, of wood, with auxiliary screw engine, 88 tons. First used as a tender to the Dominion Government Survey Ship Lillooet, and fitted with a deck cabin or house. About 1918, being then laid up at New Westminster, she was loaned to the Naval Department. The deck cabin was removed and she was commissioned as a tender to the Naval College at Esquimalt for training in sail. She eventually succeeded the Rainbow as Depot Ship upon whose books the names of Officers and Ratings were borne when serving ashore. In 1925 the ship was sold to Mr. J. W. Hobbs of Vancouver City for the sum of $1,091. However, her name persists to the present time in the form of the Naval Barracks and Training Establishment. Authority for much of the above is "Annual Report Naval Service, 1920," page 28, Hydrographic Survey.

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 p82  7 The big square brick house in the Dockyard was built in 1885, from a design by the late Mr. John Teague, for the residence of the Naval Store Officer, who was also Officer in charge of the Dockyard. The first Naval Store Officer (civil) was J. H. Innes, Esq., who was appointed on 20th January, 1873; the worked was W. H. Lobb, Esq., appointed on 16th July, 1894; the third was H. S. Simmins, Esq., appointed on the 16th July, 1900, and the fourth was C. H. S. Harris, Esq., who was appointed on 25th July, 1901. The Civil Admiralty Official with the longest service in the Establishment was George Phillips, Esq., who served there from 1894 until 1917, thus having been also under the Dominion Government. He arrived in 1894 from the Admiralty as Second Officer in the Department of Architectural and Engineering Works. When Mr. Harris left in 1905 Mr. Phillips was the only Official left, so he moved into the big square house with the new appointment of Admiralty Agent, until the Dockyard was taken over by the Dominion Government in 1910. During these five years Mr. Phillips had to care for the three small vessels, the Shearwater, Algerine and Egeria, looking after their repairs, supplies and the transportation to and from England of the old and new crews, all this without even a clerk to assist him. In 1910 he transferred to the Dominion Service and stayed on as Civil Manager of the Dockyard, and he remained in the big house with his family until 1917, when he went to Halifax temporarily, but the move was soon made permanent. When the Naval College came in 1917, the house became the Sick Bay for the Cadets. After the closing of the College in 1922 the home remained empty until 1936 when Commander Beard took up residence there, and in October, 1938, he was succeeded by Capt. Brodeur.

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8 George Phillips, see note (7).

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9

[The note is not marked in the text; its placement is mine.]

Nixon, Commander Edward Atcherley Eckersall, R. C. N. Entered the Royal Navy as a Naval Cadet on 15th January, 1892, and served in H. M. Cruiser Narcissus in the Channel Squadron. Promoted to Midshipman on 15th March, 1894, he served in H. M. Battleship Centurion, flagship of the China Station. Promoted Sub‑Lieutenant on 15th September, 1897, he served in H. M. Screw Vessel Columbine, (tender to Battleship Renown) engaged on the Newfoundland Fisheries Patrol. He qualified as a Navigator and was promoted Lieutenant on 1st April, 1900. In 1904 he was in H. M. Cruiser Juno, in the Home Fleet, and in 1908 in H. M. Battleship Swiftsure in the Mediterranean. In 1910 we find Lieut. Nixon had retired from the Navy, 6th December, 1910, at Halifax, and borne in H. M. Canadian Training Ship Niobe, on the staff of the Naval College. He was badly cut during the explosion at Halifax in 1917, when he nearly bled to death. He was promoted Commander on 1st January, 1918, when holding the position of Commander-in‑Charge of the Naval College, then temporarily at Kingston. The Director of Studies at that time was Instructor Commander (R. N.) Basil S. Hartley, B. A. Commander Nixon transferred to Esquimalt with the College in July, 1918, where he remained until it closed in June, 1922. Since the start of the College 150 students had passed through and 43 were on the roll at the close. He died at his home near Victoria on 10th November, 1924.

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10

[The note is not marked in the text; its placement is mine.]

Excerpts from a Journal kept by Mr. Stanley Geary during 1913‑14, a copy of which is in the hands of the writer.


Thayer's Notes:

a July 19, 1907 was a Friday.

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b July 24, 1907 was a Wednesday.

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c May 4, 1910 was a Wednesday. Since I've confirmed that the bill did receive royal assent on May 4, I've corrected the day of the week.

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d August 5, 1909 was a Thursday.

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e Report of Admiral of the Fleet Viscount Jellicoe of Scapa on Naval Mission to the Dominion of Canada, November-December, 1919 (The Admiralty, London, 1920, 52pp + 17 folding "chartlets"); the contents cover "Training, Intelligence and Wireless Telegraphy, Canadian Naval Air Requirements, Naval Bases, Docks and Docking Facilities, Supply and Distribution of Stores and Munitions, Defence of Canadian Harbours, Local Defence, Minesweeping". As of writing (Jun 2017) it does not appear to be online.


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