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Chapter 4

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Esquimalt Naval Base

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 6

 p83  Chapter V

Esquimalt and the Panama Canal

The opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 introduced a great change in the strategy orº distribution of Naval Forces along the Western Coast of America from Cape Horn to Cape Prince of Wales (Alaska), which is a distance of 8,680 miles. Work on the Canal by the U. S. Government began on May 4th, 1904, and ten years later, namely on August 15th, 1914, the completed waterway was opened to ocean going vessels. The first ship to pass both ways was the steamship Cristobal of the Panama Railroad Company. The first ship under the White Ensign to pass through the canal from the Pacific was H. M. C. S. Shearwater, under Lieut.‑Commander Bertram Jones, R. N., escorting the two Canadian submarines from Esquimalt to Halifax, this took place in July, 1917. Two years later the new United States Pacific Fleet passed through the Canal to the Pacific Ocean for the first time in August, 1919. About one year later, H. M. S. Chatham, Captain A. G. Hotham, R. N., arrived at Colon from Bermuda on November 22nd, 1920, on her way to Auckland as the new flagship of the senior officer of the New Zealand Squadron, and she was the first ship under the white ensign to pass in that direction.

The North America and West Indies Station had the Fourth Cruiser Squadron stationed at Bermuda up till the Great War in 1914. After the armistice in 1918, the word "North" was left out and the station became known as the American and West Indies Station. It appears from the Navy List that the last Depot ship at Jamaica was H. M. S. Urgent, which was commissioned at Portsmouth in 1875 for this duty, and served at Port Royal until about 1903, after which the names of the shore staff officers were borne on the books of H. M. Cruiser Ariadne, the flagship, which also had the names of the officers of the Halifax Yard.

In the period of transition after the armistice, H. M. Light Cruiser Raleigh, Flag Captain A. Bromley, was the first ship on the Station to carry aloft the flag of the Commander-in‑Chief, which is first shown in the Navy List for October, 1921. Just before Christmas in 1922, this ship arrived at Esquimalt with Vice-Admiral Sir W. C. Pakenham, K. C. M. G., who was appointed to the command  p84 in October, 1920, but at first flew his flag on shore at Bermuda.

From this time onward the four light cruisers based on Bermuda visited individually both the east and the west coasts of North and South America in the interests of British trade and good will. Annually one cruiser visited Esquimalt, Prince Rupert, Comox and Burrard Inlet, during July or August. In August, 1931, a South American Division was created under Commodore R. H. O. Lane-Poole, O. B. E., flying his broad pendant in H. M. Light Cruiser Durban. This Southern Division revived the use of Port Stanley at the Falkland Islands, while Valparaiso, Montevideo and Rio de Janeiro were visited annually to show the flag and carry out certain training and exercises in those waters each season.

In 1918 a royal visitor came to Esquimalt in the person of H. R. H. Prince Arthur of Connaught, who arrived at the end of July in H. I. J. M. battle cruiser Kirishima, on his return from the "Garter" visit to the Emperor of Japan.


In this year, in the spring, demobilization of Officers and Ratings commissioned or taken on during the war, took place at Esquimalt. This was practically completed by June 15th. Only such officers and ratings were retained as were necessary for the maintenance of ships and establishments.

At the Imperial Conference in 1918, the Prime Ministers decided to ask the Admiralty to send a Senior Admiral to advise the Governments of the Dominions on naval affairs. Admiral of the fleet Viscount Jellicoe was sent to India and the Dominions, and he arrived at Esquimalt in H. M. Battle Cruiser New Zealand on November 8th. The Canadian Government submitted to him a list of questions on which they desired his opinion and advice. He remained in B. C. waters until November 19th and inspected Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria Harbour, Port McNeill, and Burrard Inlet. Members of his Staff inspected the harbours of Port Alberni and Prince Rupert, and Barkley Sound. Lord Jellicoe reached Ottawa on November 27th to confer with the Government. From there he and his Staff investigated the situation on the Atlantic Coast and the St. Lawrence

 p85  In his report, dated Ottawa, December 31st, to Sir R. I. Borden, Lord Jellicoe submitted four statements showing different combinations of ships which Canada could maintain for certain definite annual sums, namely, five, ten, seventeen and a half and twenty-five million dollars, respectively. The naval force suggested by him, purely for the protection of Canada's trade and ports, under the conditions assumed comprises: 3 light cruisers, 1 flotilla leader, 12 torpedo craft with one parent ship, and several auxiliary small craft for training purposes; this fleet was the one suggested under the ten million dollar scheme. If either of the two larger plans, seventeen and a half or twenty-five million dollars were adopted, real help would be given to the Empire Naval Defence as a whole.

The Honourable Mr. C. C. Ballantyne in the House of Commons on March 25th, 1920, stated: "The Government has had under consideration for some time the question of naval defence of Canada, and the suggestions of Admiral Viscount Jellicoe in reference thereto. In view of Canada's heavy financial commitments and of the fact that Great Britain has not yet decided on her permanent policy (naval), and of the approaching Imperial Conference, at which the question of naval defence of the Empire will come up for discussion by the Home Government and the Overseas Dominions, it has been decided to defer, in the meantime, action in regard to the adoption of a permanent naval policy for Canada."

"The Government has decided to carry on the Canadian Naval Service along pre‑war lines, and has accepted the offer of Great Britain of one light cruiser and two torpedo boat destroyers, to take the place of the present useless and obsolete training ships, the Niobe and Rainbow."


This year was a period of transition when ships were being demobilized and reduced to a peace establishment and distribution. H. M. C. S. Stadacona was being used for training officer cadets and based on Esquimalt for the College. H. M. C. S. Armentieres and H. M. C. S. Thiepval were loaned to the Fisheries Service and based on Esquimalt. H. M. C. S. Rainbow, after being sold as scrap to Neider and Marcus of Seattle, left Esquimalt on  p86 October 5th. One of her steering wheels is at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club House, while the other is at the Headquarters of the Rainbow Sea Cadets, Victoria.

H. M. Light Cruiser Chatham, Capt. Alan G. Hotham, C. M. G., was the first British naval ship to pass through the Panama Canal via Bermuda. She had been commissioned at Chatham on September 11th, 1920, as the Senior Officer's ship of the New Zealand Squadron and flew the broad pendant of a Commodore, Second Class. After arriving at Colon on November 22nd, then passing through the Canal, she left Salina Cruz, Mexico, on November 30th for San Diego and eventually proceeded to Auckland, the Naval Base of New Zealand, where she arrived on January 25th, 1921. Thus she did not call at Esquimalt, though a former ship of the same name arrived, under sail, at Nootka Sound on August 28th, 1792, under Lieut. William Robert Broughton, R. N.

A beginning was made at Devonport of providing ships for the Naval Service of Canada, by the commissioning of H. M. C. S. Light Cruiser Aurora, Capt. H. G. H. Adams, on November 1st, 1920. About the same time the two destroyers, Patrician, Lieut. G. C. Jones, R. C. N., and Patriot, Lieut. C. T. Beard, R. C. N., were commissioned at Portsmouth.


This year is important as the beginning of a Canadian seagoing training half flotilla of destroyers, being a small result of the Jellicoe Report. The three vessels under Capt. H. G. H. Adams, R. N., H. M. C. Flotilla Leader Aurora, H. M. C. destroyers, Patriot, Lieut. C. T. Beard, R. C. N.; Patrician, Lieut. G. C. Jones, R. C. N., arrived for the first time at Esquimalt on March 9th. They left for Halifax on June 3rd and 7th.

The first Commander-in‑Chief of the American and West Indies Squadron to arrive since the Armistice came in the person of Vice-Admiral Sir William C. Pakenham, K. C. B., K. C. M. G., K. C. V. O., in H. M. S. Raleigh, Flag Capt. A. Bromley, C. M. G. They arrived in Esquimalt Harbour direct from San Francisco on Tuesday, December 13th, and after being much feted departed from Vancouver City on Wednesday, December 28th. On Thursday, January 12th, 1922, H. M. S. Raleigh passed down the Straits from Seattle for the Pacific without a second visit to Esquimalt.

 p87  1922

Two private war‑ships came to Esquimalt harbour this year, one to visit and the other to make it her home base. H. M. C. S. Patrician, Lieut. G. C. Jones, R. C. N., sailed from Halifax, on change of station on October 1st for Esquimalt, via Bermuda, Jamaica, Balboa, La Liberta, where she found H. M. S. Capetown, Captain Edward R. Jones, R. N., which she accompanied to San Pedro. The two ships reached Esquimalt base on October 30th.

The Royal Canadian Naval Barracks were organized in the building formerly used for the Royal Naval Hospital, and for the purpose of training the following new facilities were added: Drill shed, gun battery and parade ground. These were to be used for the training of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Reserve and the Royal Canadian Volunteer Reserve. These new barracks were commissioned as H. M. C. S. Naden, and Lieut.‑Commander C. T. Beard, R. C. N., was the first captain to fly his flag on this site. He was appointed to the command on September 3rd, and given the temporary rank of Commander while holding this appointment on November 1st. His job was both to train a school staff and direct the conversion of the red brick bungalow buildings into naval barracks and a school; a hard job.

The Halifax explosion wrecked the Naval College buildings in 1917, to such an extent that they were no longer habitable.​a The college year was completed at Kingston and in the fall of 1918 the college was established in Esquimalt Dockyard in the gunnery building, where it continued in operation up to its being closed in June, 1922. For several years the Director of the Naval Service was authorized to spend whatever he considered necessary for the efficiency of the college. Suddenly a great cut was forced on the total estimates for 1922, and Commodore Hose had to choose between shutting down the two sea‑going training destroyers or the officers' training college. He had to sacrifice the college, as it would be no use to train officers if there were no ships for them to command. This was told to the writer a few years afterwards by Commodore Hose. This closing of the college was a great set back to the building up of a permanent Canadian Navy, where the total number of ratings has to be over a thousand before a healthy spirit of service can be maintained. This number was not exceeded until  p88 the year 1937, when a net increase of 219 ratings was effected, giving a total of 1,196.


The first Canadian sea‑going training ship for B. C. waters, H. M. C. S. Patrician, Lieut. J. E. W. Oland, D. S. C., spent the winter and spring in short training cruises in B. C. waters. During June the Patrician cruised in company with H. M. light cruiser Curlew, Captain Stanley Holbrook, M. V. O., calling at Prince Rupert and Portland, and arriving in Esquimalt harbour on Sunday July 8th. The usual entertainments were exchanged, and then on Monday, July 23rd, the two ships proceeded to Vancouver. From here, on July 26th, they proceeded to sea and met the U. S. N. transport Henderson with President Harding on board. The usual official functions were held both afloat and ashore in Vancouver city. The Curlew and Patrician were then at San Francisco which they left on September 9th, parting company at sea, and the destroyer arrived back at Esquimalt on September 11th.

For elementary seaman­ship training H. M. minesweeper Armentieres was returned to the Naval Service on May 5th, having been on loan to the Fisheries Department for three years.


Esquimalt played an important part in two world cruises this year. H. M. C. minesweeper Thiepval, Lieut. W. J. R. Beech, R. C. N., made the long cruise to Hakodate, Japan, as a supply vessel in connection with the British Round-the‑World flight by Major Stuart Maclaren. The director of supplies for making depots was Lieut.‑Colonel L. E. Broome, M. V. O. The vessel returned to Esquimalt on August 21st after steaming ten thousand miles in northern waters, and having anchored in the harbour of Petropavlovski, in Avacha Bay on the east coast of Kamchatka, several times in July.

On June 21st, the special Service Fleet under Vice-Admiral Sir Frederick L. Field, K. C. B., C. M. G., arrived off Victoria. It consisted of H. M. battle-cruiser Hood (flagship of the Vice Admiral), H. M. battle-cruiser Repulse, and H. M. Australian cruiser Adelaide, Captain Joseph B. Stevenson, R. A. N., A. D. C. The First Light Cruiser Squadron,  p89 H. M. S. Delhi, flagship of Rear-Admiral the Honourable Sir H. G. Brand, K. C. M. G., K. C. V. O., C. B., H. M. S. Dauntless, H. M. S. Danae and H. M. S. Dragon. The two battle cruisers and the Australian light cruiser were berthed at Ogden Point Docks, without the use of tug boats, which was a unique feat on the World Cruiser, while the ships of the First Light Cruiser Squadron went to Esquimalt harbour, two being berthed at the Naval wharf while two were anchored in Constance Cove. The battle cruisers and H. M. A. S. Adelaide proceeded to Burrard Inlet accompanied by Commodore W. Hose, R. C. N., in H. M. C. S. Patrician on Wednesday, June 25th, and were greeted off the mouth of the Fraser River by a fleet of decorated Japanese motor fishing boats, with school children singing. Entertainments were exchanged at Vancouver, and on Saturday, July 5th, the battle cruisers from Vancouver were joined by the Light Cruiser Squadron outside Trial Islands, off Victoria, at 11.36 A.M. as observed by the writer, and all the ships then proceeded out of the Straits to the Pacific Ocean. There were rounds of entertainment both ashore and afloat while the two squadrons were at Victoria.

The object of the world voyage of the fleet was well summed up by Sir Frederick Field during the civic welcome at Capetown on December 22nd, 1923. He said: "I would like to tell you briefly the objects of this cruise as they were first thought of. First and foremost from the naval point of view, the object is to test the latest types of ships under every condition of climate and war efficiency, consequently we have a very heavy duty before us in that direction. Secondly, it was to give us naval officers and men an opportunity of seeing the great trade routes and meeting the people of the great Dominions so as to better understand not only our future work in protecting them, but also their point of view and their general way of government, the conditions of the country and not in the seaports merely, so that we could take back greater knowledge to our own country. Thirdly it was to give the people of the Dominions an opportunity of seeing some of the latest ships in the British Navy."

In July, a small naval open boat under Lieut. R. C. Watson, R. C. N., and four ratings capsized and they were drowned off Ross Bay. On Sunday, July 13th, H. M. C. S. Patrician, Lieut. J. E. Oland, anchored off Foul Bay, while her boats carried out sweeping operations for the  p90 bodies. She anchored off Foul Bay again on Wednesday, July 16th.

On November 12th, while H. M. C. S. Patrician was at Esquimalt on training duties, she was ordered on patrol duty for two days to intercept a band of robbers who had attacked a Nanaimo bank, and who were trying to reach the United States by a fast motor launch. When her services were no longer required on this duty she returned to Esquimalt, where she remained until the end of March, 1925. During the training cruises special attention was given navigation and pilotage of the B. C. coast.


On the boundaries of the Pacific Ocean two portions of the Empire continued their co‑operation with the Imperial Government as regards preparation for the defence of their trade routes. Australia and New Zealand sent naval representatives to Singapore. During the first week in March, the Singapore Naval Conference was held, the host being Major General Sir Theodore Fraser, K. C. B., C. S. I., C. M. G., the General Officer Commanding; and the guests being, Vice-Admiral Sir Allan F. Everett, K. C. M. G., K. C. V. O., C. B., of the China Station; Rear-Admiral H. W. Richmond, C. B., of the East Indies Station; Commodore T. E. Wardle, D. S. O., from Australia and Commodore A. F. Beal, C. M. G., from New Zealand. The officers called on Sir L. Guillemand, the Governor. Canada did not send a naval representative to this meeting.

For the sea‑going training ship Patrician the Spring cruise started on June 2nd, beginning with a visit to Seattle for June 2nd to 6th, when calls were exchanged. The Thiepval assisted in gunnery training by towing targets and co‑operating in tactical exercises.

The annual visiting ship from Bermuda was H. M. S. Capetown, Captain G. H. Knowles, D. S. O., and she arrived at Esquimalt on Friday, August 7th, and entertainments were held ashore and afloat. She sailed for Nanaimo on Tuesday, August 18th, thence on the 22nd to Comox for three days with Patrician for gunnery. On August 25th, the two ships cruised to Burrard Inlet where the Patrician remained until the 29th, when she returned to Esquimalt. While at Vancouver official calls were exchanged and the officers were entertained by the "Naval  p91 Officers' Association". While at Comox, naval parties tended the old naval graves. On September 4th, Patrician joined Capetown off Race Rocks and proceeded in company to San Francisco. During the passage, combined exercises were carried out. The Diamond Jubilee of the State of California was in progress and the ships' companies of the two visiting ships took part in the parades and celebrations. The two men-of‑war sailed from San Francisco on September 16th for San Pedro, when day and night attacks on the Capetown were made by the Patrician and high angle firing was carried out by both vessels. They arrived at San Pedro on September 18th, and sailed on the 23rd. On parting company the Captain of H. M. S. Capetown signalled "Goodby and good luck. It has been a great pleasure and assistance to have you with us and the behaviour of your ship's company has been most satisfactory." The Patrician arrived at San Diego on September 23rd, and calling at Portland, left the river port on October 9th for Esquimalt. Thick fog was encountered throughout the passage to Esquimalt, necessitating low speed. This whole cruise was of great value to the officers and ratings of the destroyer, and they availed themselves of the opportunities afforded to familiarize themselves with the navigation of the coast. The seaman­ship training was of a high order and the experience gained and value received from the joint exercises when in company with the Capetown were of assistance in the training of the young ratings in the crew of the destroyer.

On Sunday, July 12th, Lieut.‑Governor Nichol unveiled the War Memorial Statue in front of the Provincial Legislative Assembly buildings in the presence of a large parade of war veterans under Lieut.‑Colonel Cy. Peck, V. C. Earl Haig arrived by special steamer on Monday, 13th July, and addressed the Canadian Club at noon, and at the Royal Victoria Theatre at night.


H. M. C. S. Patrician, Lieut. W. J. R. Beech, carried out harbour training at Esquimalt up to January 19th, then made visits to B. C. ports, Vancouver, New Westminster, Port Alberni, etc. The annual refit was carried out until 28th May. H. M. S. Curlew, Captain H. D. Bridges, R. N., arrived in Esquimalt harbour on Wednesday, 14th July, from the south, being met off Cape Flattery by the  p92 Patrician who also delivered the mail to the cruiser. On 16th July, Curlew proceeded to Prince Rupert. From 23rd July, till 20th August, visiting Beaver harbour, Topaz harbour and Comox harbour. On 4th August, both ships proceeded to Vancouver city, during which time the U. S. Pacific Fleet visited the Inlet and official calls were exchanged. On 11th August, the cruiser and the destroyer went to Seattle for the international celebrations. The Curlew reached Esquimalt on 25th of August, and stayed for two weeks.

The large new Songhees drydock, under the Dominion Public Works Department, was finished and the first vessel to use it was the oil tanker Reginolite which entered it on Monday, 13th September, 1926. The bronze tablet on the rock near the engine house was unveiled in July, 1927. Work had been begun in 1921, after many years of campaigning for it by Hon. Dr. S. F. Tolmie, so that Esquimalt was now able to take care of the largest ships in the Royal Navy as well as in the C. P. R.

The new 3,600 miles of submarine telegraph cable, capable of simultaneous both‑way traffic, was laid from Banfield to Fanning Island in October. The largest cable ship afloat, S. S. Dominia, Captain Victor Campos, O. B. E., arrived in Esquimalt harbour on Sunday, 17th October, having left London on 10th of September. The Lieut.‑Governor Hon. R. R. Bruce visited the ship on the 22nd, and she left Esquimalt on Sunday, 24th October, and began laying at Banfield cable station on 27th October, and the job to Fanning Island was to take 17 days.


H. M. C. S. Patrician, Lieut. W. J. R. Beech, carried out local training cruises during the new year in B. C. waters. The annual Pelagic sealing patrol to the Queen Charlotte Islands from May 2nd to June 3rd, was carried out by Patrician in company with the Armentieres and Thiepval at the request of the Department of Marine and Fisheries to prevent infringements of the Pelagic Sealing treaty of 1911. Further training cruises in B. C. waters were carried out.

H. M. light cruiser Colombo, Captain A. M. Lecky, D. S. O., and Patrician arrived in Esquimalt harbour on Tuesday, 26th July, being the cruiser's first visit to the  p93 base. On March 15th, Colombo arrived at Vera Cruz from Nicaraguan waters, and Captain Lecky called on President Calles. Colombo and Patrician were at Seattle from August 6th to 14th. The German cruiser Emden arrived at Seattle for ten days. At Vancouver city, the C. P. R. Ocean Pier was opened for traffic on July 4th. On April 5th, Patrician escorted S. S. Princess Alice carrying their Excellencies Lord and Lady Willingdon from Victoria to Vancouver, in command of Lieut.‑General R. I. Agnew.

On Sunday, July 31st, Captain Lecky attended Christ Church Cathedral at Victoria at 11 A.M. and presented a small War Service White Ensign for safe keeping to Bishop C. D. Schofield, it having been flown on H. M. cruiser Bristol during the Great War. Captain Lecky said: "In accordance with Admiralty directions, I desire to present to Christ Church Cathedral a White Ensign flown by H. M. S. Bristol some time during the Great War, and deliver it for safe custody as circumstances may require. This war‑marked Ensign will also be a reminder of the many occasions, from 1871 to 1903, upon which the Commander-in‑Chief of Her Majesty's ships employed on the Pacific Station for the time being, attended service in this Cathedral in the Capital City of the Province of British Columbia." The Bishop of Columbia, after a word of welcome to Captain Lecky, his officers and ratings as representing His Majesty's Navy, and further word of gratitude to him for his personal share in bringing about the incident of the day, accepted the Ensign, saying: "It is with cordial appreciation that I gratefully accept this Ensign, sometime flown by H. M. S. Bristol, for safe custody in our Cathedral Church; praying that it may be a constant reminder to us of the brave, self-sacrificing work of the British navy for the welfare and peace of the world during the Great War and throughout its history. May the splendid traditions of the senior service of the Empire ever be a source of inspiration to us all." The Bishop, attended by his clergy, then carried the Ensign into the Sanctuary and placed it upon the altar, when a prayer was offered on behalf of His Majesty the King and the Royal Navy. Commander P. W. Nelles, R. C. N., was present in the Cathedral for the presentation.

 p94  1928

On removal of H. M. C. S. Patriot and Patrician from sea service, the Admiralty loaned H. M. S. Torbay (renamed Champlain) and Toreador (renamed Vancouver) to the Canadian Government. They were commissioned by Canadian officers at Portsmouth in reserve in February, and fully commissioned on March 1st, and sailed from that port on March 17th. H. M. C. S. Vancouver, Lieut.‑Commander R. I. Agnew, called at Cape Verde Islands, Trinidad and Jamaica, at which place the two destroyers parted company, the Vancouver proceeding via Panama, Manzanillo and San Pedro to Esquimalt, where she arrived on May 24th. H. M. C. S. Champlain, Lieut.‑General J. C. I. Edwards, proceeded via Bermuda to Halifax where she arrived on May 12th.

On July 13th, H. M. C. S. Vancouver, Lieut.‑Commander R. I. Agnew, sailed from Esquimalt with Commodore W. Hose and 30 ratings, R. C. N. V. R., for Burrard Inlet. She then visited New Westminster, Nanaimo, Ladysmith, and at Comox she joined forces with H. M. S. Durban, Captain G. L. Coleridge, which had just crossed from the China Station. On November 26th, after the Durban had reached Bermuda, Captain R. Leatham was appointed to her in succession to Captain Coleridge who had commissioned the cruiser at Devonport in November, 1926. The Durban and Vancouver went to Seattle for fleet week, August 6th to 10th, returning to Esquimalt on August 10th. While Durban was at Vancouver about August 22nd, Lieut. H. R. H. Prince George, K. G., G. C. V. O., joined her having been appointed on July 28th, and she sailed from Esquimalt on August 31st for San Diego.

On August 11th, H. M. S. Despatch, Vice-Admiral Sir C. T. M. Fuller, K. C. B., C. M. G., D. S. O., Flag Captain A. T. B. Curteis, arrived at Esquimalt at 6.30 P.M. The following morning Commander Nelles, Captain Coleridge and Lieut.‑Commander Agnew called on the C.‑in‑C. There was an exchange of entertainments afloat and ashore, and the ship left Esquimalt on September 9th. During August the D. O. C., Brigadier A. G. L. McNaughton, C. M. G., D. S. O., directed combined operations at Macaulay with the sea and land armed forces.

In the summer, Vancouver visited Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, Magdalena Bay and San Pedro.

 p95  The Militia Pensions Act was amended to adapt the said Act to the circumstances of the Royal Canadian Navy, that is to say that the Officers of the R. C. N. would in future, under certain conditions, be entitled to draw a pension, which had not been the case up to now.


On 23rd of January, Commander L. W. Murray, R. C. N., succeeded Commander P. W. Nelles, R. C. N., as Captain of H. M. C. S. Naden, and as Senior Naval Officer, Esquimalt.

This year H. M. C. S. Vancouver, Lieut.‑Commander R. I. Agnew, confined her visiting to B. C. waters and did not proceed to the south. On May 14th, at 9.53 A.M., H. M. S. Colombo, Captain C. C. Dobson, V. C., D. S. O., arrived in Esquimalt harbour, the ship having been last here in 1927. She left on Tuesday, May 25th,​b for Prince Rupert and was to be at Comox for gunnery from July 31st to August 7th. The first combined sea and land training at Maple Bay took place over Dominion Day under the D. O. C., Brigadier J. Sutherland Brown, C. M. G., D. S. O.


Early in January, H. M. C. S. Vancouver, Lieut.‑Commander R. W. Wood, left for Bermuda via the Panama Canal and for the first time trained with the American and West Indies Squadron (Despatch flag, Delhi, Durban, Dragon, and Dauntless) for three months. The Canadian destroyer returned to Esquimalt on April 17th.

On Monday, June 2nd, at 10.45 A.M., H. M. S. Dauntless, Captain H. R. Moore, D. S. O., arrived at Esquimalt from Santa Monica, and the usual calls and entertainments were exchanged. On Monday, June 9th, she left for Comox to carry out gunnery and small arms training. On July 3rd and 4th she took part in the sea and land operations at Maple Bay, on Vancouver Island, bringing over the mainland units of the Active Militia. The training was under the direction of Brigadier J. Sutherland Brown, C. M. G., D. S. O. On July 18th the light cruiser left Esquimalt for the south.

On Thursday, July 31st, at 7 A.M., H. M. S. Despatch, flagship of Vice-Admiral V. H. S. Haggard, C. B., C. M. G.,  p96 Flag Captain A. T. B. Curteis, arrived at Esquimalt from San Pedro but via Prince Rupert. On Monday, August 4th, H. M. S. Despatch and H. M. C. S. Vancouver proceeded to Seattle for the U. S. N. celebrations, returning to Esquimalt on August 10th. From August 19th to 28th, Vancouver, Despatch and Dauntless were off Vancouver city on Burrard Inlet.

Between October 2nd and 15th, H. M. C. S. Vancouver cruised to Prince Rupert and Naden harbour with the Chief of the Naval Staff on board (Commander W. Hose). At Prince Rupert, the Minister of National Defence (Hon. D. M. Sutherland) accompanied by the Quartermaster General and Staff Secretary embarked for passage to Esquimalt via Alert and Maple Bays. On October 18th, Vancouver proceeded to sea from Esquimalt with the Hon. D. M. Sutherland, Commodore W. Hose and Commander L. W. Murray on board and carried out full calibre gunnery exercises and torpedo practice, then to Burrard Inlet where the Minister disembarked at Vancouver. As H. M. C. S. Vancouver was leaving the Inlet she grounded but was able to return to Esquimalt under her own power, and was repaired there.


On January 26th, H. M. C. S. Vancouver, Lieut.‑Commander F. G. Hart, left Esquimalt on her southern winter training cruise, calling at San Francisco, and San Pedro where she found the U. S. Pacific Fleet at Magdalena Bay, and joined H. M. C. S. Champlain and ships of the American and West Indies Squadron for training, then via San Diego back to Esquimalt on April 17th.

On the afternoon of Sunday, June 21st, H. M. Light Cruiser Dragon, Captain E. J. Spooner, D. S. O., arrived at Esquimalt harbour from the South. On July 3rd she left for Comox to carry out musketry and gunnery training, then to Burrard Inlet, which she left on August 3rd, for Prince Rupert.

The first two destroyers to be designed and built for Canada were commissioned at Portsmouth; the Saguenay by Commander P. W. Nelles on May 22nd, and the Skeena by Commander V. G. Brodeur on June 10th. While the Saguenay proceeded to Halifax the Skeena went through the Panama Canal and reached Esquimalt on August 7th.

 p97  For this year, Commander L. W. Murray continued as Captain of H. M. C. S. Naden, and as Senior Naval Officer, Esquimalt.

There were no combined naval and military operations over the Dominion Day holiday this year.


On January 5th, H. M. C. S. Skeena, Commander V. G. Brodeur (Commander "D" Division), and H. M. C. S. Vancouver, Lieut.Commander F. G. Hart, left Esquimalt for Panama en route for Bermuda. When near San Salvador on January 22nd Commander Brodeur received wireless advice from the Commander-in‑chief American and West Indies Squadron that a rising in that Republic had placed the lives of British subjects in danger. Though H. M. S. Dragon, Captain E. J. Spooner, D. S. O., had been ordered to Acajutla she could not arrive there before January 27th. The Chief of the Naval Staff at Ottawa obtained authority for the Canadian destroyers to proceed to Acajutla. The necessary wireless orders from Ottawa were received by Commander Brodeur three hours after the first message from the C.‑in‑C. The Skeena and Vancouver reached Acajutla at noon on January 23rd, and took on board five women refugees. Commander Brodeur kept in touch with the Government of San Salvador and British diplomatic officials. The prompt arrival of the Canadian destroyers at the place of unrest had a salutary effect with regard to the protection of British subjects and their property. By January 30th, the Republican Government had the situation well in hand and the lives and property of British subjects were safe once more, therefore the Canadian destroyers left the port that day. When they reached the Pacific entrance to the Canal, they were recalled and the Vancouver came ahead and arrived some days before the Skeena, which made many calls namely, Magdalena Bay, Manzanillo, San Pedro, San Francisco, and Astoria, where much hospitality was received. Commander Brodeur brought his ship into Esquimalt Harbour on March 19th.

On May 27th Commander V. G. Brodeur was transferred from the Skeena to the Naden, where he succeeded Commander L. W. Murray as Commander-in‑Charge, Esquimalt. Commander G. C. Jones succeeded to the command of the Skeena, where he became Commander (Destroyers) Western Division.

 p98  The American and West Indies Station of the Royal Navy saw a change in its Commander-in‑Chief on May 11th this year, when Vice-Admiral the Hon. R. A. R. Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax, C. B., D. S. O., took over the command at Bermuda from Vice-Admiral Sir Vernon H. S. Haggard, K. C. B., C. M. G. The new flagship was H. M. cruiser Norfolk (9,925 tons) Captain H. E. C. Blagrove, which succeeded H. M. light cruiser Delhi (4,850 tons) Captain F. N. Attwood.


On January 6th, H. M. C. S. Skeena, Commander G. C. Jones and H. M. C. S. Vancouver, Lieut.‑Commander F. G. Hart, left Esquimalt for the southern training cruise. The destroyers called at San Pedro, Magdalena Bay, Guaymas Harbour, Mazatlan port, Manzanillo and Acapulco, and at the latter port the Vancouver turned about and proceeded back to Esquimalt. The Skeena continued to San Jose, Manzanillo and San Pedro, returning to Esquimalt by March 24th. At end of June, the two destroyers proceeded to Burrard Inlet and took the Militia of the Terminal City to Tod Creek, Saanich, for the Dominion Day sea and land operations under Brigadier J. Sutherland Brown, C. M. G., D. S. O., against the Permanent Force and Militia from Victoria.

On Friday, June 30th, H. M. light cruiser Dragon, Captain William Frederic Wake-Walker, O. B. E., arrived at Esquimalt from the south, staying only a few hours and no official calls were made. On her way to Burrard Inlet a torpedo attack was carried out against the light cruiser and at Comox the annual musketry course was carried out by the ships' companies. The Dragon returned to Esquimalt on Saturday, July 8th, and the official calls were made on Monday. The usual hospitalities were exchanged ashore and afloat during her stay, and on Tuesday, 18th, all three vessels left in company for Navy week at Seattle.

The sailing ketch Tai‑Mo‑Shan, a yacht from Hong Kong, arrived on September 12th, at Esquimalt and lay at the naval barracks' landing. One of the five Royal Naval Lieutenants (Submarine Service) Mr. R. E. D. Ryder, on September 25th, read a paper on the voyage before the United Services Institute of Vancouver Island. The yacht sailed on September 27th for Dartmouth, England, via the Panama Canal.

 p99  1934

On January 5th, Skeena, Commander G. C. Jones, and Vancouver, Lieut.‑Commander L. J. M. Gauvreau, left Esquimalt for the winter training cruise, this time being the first year which the Canadian half flotilla trained with the Home Fleet of the Royal Navy. On February 2nd, Commander Jones taking the Western Division through the Panama Canal arrived at Colon where the Eastern Division consisting of Saguenay, Commander L. W. Murray, and Champlain, Lieut.‑Commander V. S. Godfrey, joined him to form a half flotilla under his command as Acting Captain "D" (Destroyers). The following ports were visited prior to exercising with the ships of the Home Fleet; Cartagena (Colombia), Curaçao (Dutch), La Guaira (Venezuela), Trinidad (British). At the foreign ports the people were greatly impressed by the four Canadian destroyers and their ships' companies, which was a great source of satisfaction to Canadians living in these countries. The programme of visits was arranged to allow the Canadian Trade Commissioners at Jamaica, Panama and Trinidad to visit as many ports as possible in their respective areas. At sea and in harbour during this period every effect was made to work up personnel and material in flotilla routine, combined fire control and torpedo concentration in preparation for exercises with the Home Fleet. These exercises were the first opportunity the Canadian vessels have had of training with a fleet as part of a flotilla of nine new destroyers.

On February 24th, at St. Kitts, British West Indies, the Canadian Destroyer Division reported to Admiral Sir W. H. D. Boyle, K. C. B., the C.‑in‑C., of the Home Fleet, flying his flag in H. M. battle­ship Nelson, and he inspected H. M. C. S. Saguenay and H. M. C. S. Skeena on the following day. During the period February 24th to March 1st, the Canadian Division was placed under the orders of Captain E. K. Bodham-Whetham, D. S. O., (D.2), in H. M. flotilla Leader Kempenfeldt and with H. M. destroyers Crescent (afterward Fraser), Crusader, Cygnet (afterward St. Laurent) and Comet, formed a complete destroyer flotilla.

In addition to the above-mentioned destroyers the following H. M. ships took part in these operations, Rodney, Nelson, Malaya, Valiant, Leander, Achilles, and  p100 Furious. The operations included high speed manoeuvres, screening, shadowing, tactical exercises, flotilla day and night torpedo attacks, throw‑off firing and evolutions. Acting Captain L. W. Murray stated in his report that, as might be expected, the results were far from perfect, due to lack of experience in working with ships in larger numbers than two. The Canadian Division was detached from the Home Fleet on March 1st, and proceeded to Trinidad where they remained until March 13th when torpedo attacks were carried out against H. M. light cruiser Dragon. Full calibre firing took place on March 8th. From March 13th to 31st, the Canadian destroyers visited Grenada, St. Vincent, Barbadoes, St. Lucia and Martinique. Also armed landing parties were exercised and evolutions were carried out at Barbadoes, as well as torpedo attacks against H. M. S. Dragon. The Skeena and Vancouver then separated from the Eastern vessels and passing through the Panama Canal returned to Esquimalt on May 4th.

The annual Dominion Day three‑day camp of instruction for the Defence Forces under Major General E. C. Ashton, C. B., C. M. G., V. D., M. D., started on Saturday, June 30th, and was held near Quamichan Lake. The mainland troops were brought over by the Skeena and Vancouver to Maple Bay, where they were joined by those of Vancouver Island.

On July 1st, Commodore, First Class, Walter Hose, C. B. E., R. C. N., Chief of the Naval Staff since 1920, was retired to pension with rank of Rear-Admiral (Retired). He was succeeded by Captain P. W. Nelles (Imperial Defence College), R. C. N., who was promoted to the rank of Commodore on July 1st, 1934. H. M. light cruiser Danae, Captain C. H. Knox-Little, R. N., arrived at Esquimalt on July 9th at 9 A.M., and left on July 18th, when she proceeded to Comox for camping, musketry and gunnery. On Monday, July 30th, Vice-Admiral Hon. R. A. R. Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax, C. B., D. S. O., with his flag in H. M. cruiser Norfolk, Captain H. E. C. Blagrove, R. N., arrived in Esquimalt harbour and berthed at the new drydock wharf on the north shore. A round of entertainments was carried out. On Sunday, August 5th, some Officers and Ratings from Norfolk, Skeena and Vancouver attended an open air divine service at St. Paul's Church in Esquimalt, the Rev. Alan Gardiner, M. A., B. D., officiating. The lessons were read by the  p101 Commander-in‑Chief. The flag ship sailed from Esquimalt on Monday, August 6th, for the south. Under the direction of Mayor David Leeming a most enjoyable Navy Week programme was carried out, when the Officers, Ratings and Citizens each did their part.


On Saturday, January 5th, H. M. C. S. Skeena, Commander J. E. W. Oland, D. S. C. and H. M. C. S. Vancouver, Lieut.‑Commander C. D. Donald, left Esquimalt for Kingston, Jamaica, via the Panama Canal. On arrival at the naval base the usual half flotilla training was carried out with Saguenay, Commander R. I. Agnew, and Champlain, Lieut.‑Commander W. B. Creery. The two West Coast destroyers returned to Esquimalt on May 12th, after four months service.

H. M. light cruiser Danae, Captain C. H. Knox-Little, R. N., arrived at Esquimalt on Friday, July 5th, for the week‑end. She sailed on Monday, July 8th, for Comox to carry out gunnery and musketry. On Friday, August 9th, the cruiser Danae, from Burrard Inlet, arrived at Esquimalt for the second annual Navy Week, organized by the City Council. The United States heavy cruiser Salt Lake City (9,100 tons), Captain A. S. Farquhar, U. S. N., arrived at Victoria on Tuesday, August 13th. On Thursday August 15th, the Royal Marine Band of the Danae played the Tattoo in front of the Empress Hotel. The Danae sailed from Esquimalt on Tuesday, August 20th, at 3.30 P.M., with a long paying off pennant.

Neither H. M. C. S. Skeena nor the Vancouver took part in operations with the Militia on Vancouver Island during the Dominion Day holidays. There was only musketry and machine gun training at Heals Range for some 350 of all ranks of the Canadian Scottish Regiment under Colonel D. R. Sargent, for three days.


H. M. C. S. Skeena, Commander J. E. W. Oland, D. S. C., and H. M. C. S. Vancouver, Lieut.‑Commander C. D. Donald, sailed from Esquimalt on January 20th, for the south calling at San Diego on January 24th, Acapulco on February 1st, the Panama Canal on February 10th, and Kingston on February 20th. The four Canadian destroyers  p102 carried out combined exercises in the West Indies. On the way back to British Columbia, the two ships called at Port Parker, Corinto, Acapulco, Manzanillo, Magdalena Bay, San Pedro and Monterey, reaching Esquimalt on May 1st. The Naden saw a change of Captains this year; Commander G. C. Jones being succeeded by Commander C. T. Beard, A. D. C., on July 1st, and as the Commander-in‑Charge, Esquimalt.

On July 24th, H. M. cruiser Apollo, Captain M. J. de Meric, M. V. O., arrived at Esquimalt from the south on July 24th at 7 A.M., and lay at the wharf of the large drydock. The Apollo sailed for Comox on Sunday, July 26th. H. M. C. S. Skeena and Vancouver embarked the units of the Permanent Force and the Active Militia at Victoria, at the Ogden Point docks for transport to Vancouver City for the Jubilee celebrations there on July 1st.

During the visit of His Excellency, Baron Tweedsmuir​c to the Pacific Coast the Skeena was placed at his disposal for his journey from the Terminal City to the Capital City and return on August 18th. The same destroyer provided a guard of honour for the Lord Mayor of London on his arrival at Vancouver City and the ship's company took part in the parade held on that occasion.

H. M. cruiser Apollo returned to Esquimalt on Thursday, August 20th, at 7 A.M., to take part in the Third Annual Civic Navy Week, and her band played "Retreat" on the lawn in front of the Empress Hotel. The Naval Ball was held on Monday, at the Empress Hotel, and was attended by Lord and Lady Tweedsmuir, together with Lieut.‑Governor and Mrs. Hamber. On Monday, there was a Garden Party at Government House. On Wednesday, 26th, Lord and Lady Tweedsmuir left Esquimalt on H. M. S. Apollo for Burrard Inlet.

H. M. C. S. Vancouver was paid off under the terms of the London Naval Treaty, on December 1st, (1936), and she was then demilitarized and the hull sold to Frankel Brothers Ltd., of Toronto for breaking up.

This year Canada sent her own representative to Vimy in one of her own men-of‑war, but this was a Halifax ship, the Saguenay, Commander W. J. R. Beech, and she escorted the Vimy Pilgrimage to France and mounted a naval guard of honour for His Majesty King Edward  p103 VIII, during the unveiling of the Vimy Memorial. She left Halifax on the July 16th, arrived at Boulogne on July 24th, and then visited Tilbury, Dover, Portsmouth, St. Helier and Brest, returning to Halifax on September 12th.


H. M. C. S. Skeena, Captain V. G. Brodeur, left Esquimalt on January 20th, to attend the Coronation of His Majesty King George VI in London. She proceeded to Halifax where H. M. C. S. Saguenay, Commander W. J. R. Beech, joined her on April 8th, and together they left on April 26th, for Sheerness where they arrived on May 4th. About the same time a crew left H. M. C. S. Naden, under Commander H. E. Reid, and proceeded overland to Halifax and thence to England to commission H. M. S. Crescent (completed 1932), (renamed H. M. C. S. Fraser), at Chatham February 17th, replacing Vancouver. About the same time Lieut.‑Commander R. E. S. Bidwell commissioned H. M. C. S.  St. Laurent (completed 1932), (formerly H. M. S. Cygnet), and these two destroyers newly under the flag of Canada proceeded in company from Chatham to Barbadoes, where they arrived on March 24th. The Fraser continued through the Canal and arrived at Esquimalt for the first time on May 3rd. The Skeena arrived back at Esquimalt from the Coronation on July 16th having sailed from Sheerness with Saguenay on May 22nd, which latter was left at Halifax on June 13th, the former passing through the Canal on July 2nd on her way back to Esquimalt.

H. M. cruiser Exeter, Captain Henry Harwood Harwood, O. B. E. (Commodore, Second Class), commanding the South American Division, arrived at Esquimalt on July 26th. Since arriving on the station in the middle of January, 1937, she had visited Montevideo, Punta del Este, Rio de Janeiro, Ceara, Barbadoes, Bermuda and Nassau (for Coronation ceremonies).

Combined (amphibious) operations were carried out at Sidney, on the Saanich peninsula over Dominion Day under the District Officer Commanding, Brigadier D. J. MacDonald, D. S. O., M. C. The Skeena and Fraser brought units of the Militia from Vancouver city and returned them there at the end of the Camp. For the first time on Vancouver Island planes of the Royal Canadian Air Force co‑operated with the troops in the field training.

 p104  1938

H. M. C. S. Skeena, Captain V. G. Brodeur and Fraser, Commander H. E. Reid, sailed from Esquimalt on January 4th, for a showing of the flag cruise, and the annual southern training tour calling at San Pedro (U. S. A.), Mazatlan (Mexico), Corinto (Nicaragua), and arriving at the Port of Balboa, (located at the Panama end of the Canal) on the 28th January. The two Pacific Coast destroyers left Balboa on the 2nd of February, in company with Saguenay, Commander W. J. R. Beech for the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador). The St. Laurent, Lieut.‑Commander R. E. S. Bidwell, from Halifax did not pass through the Canal until later and arrived at Balboa on 13th of February. From the Galapagos Islands the destroyers proceeded to call at Callao (Peru), and Talara (Peru), and then turning homeward they called at Puntarenas, the chief port of Costa Rica on the Pacific Coast; then at the fine harbour of Port Culebra (still in Costa Rica). The destroyers then proceeded to visit Acapulco, Manzanillo, Magdalena Bay and Guaymas, all in Mexico. The last port of call was as usual the U. S. Naval base of San Diego.

An historical event took place at Esquimalt on Thursday, 14th of April, when the four destroyers arrived at the same time, as a half flotilla, namely the Skeena, St. Laurent, Saguenay and Fraser. They docked from San Diego at 11.10 A.M., and there was a large number of the wives and mothers on the wharf of the Dockyard to welcome the Officers and Ratings. The crews of the St. Laurent and Skeena exchanged ships, so as to stay at their respective home stations, thus the Skeena was transferred to Halifax and the St. Laurent to Esquimalt to have sister ships together and thus amongst other advantages reduce the number of spare parts required to be kept in store. On 25th April at 11.30 A.M. Skeena, Commander H. W. T. Grant and Saguenay, Commander W. J. R. Beech, left Esquimalt for Halifax. Both these events were photographed, with the permission of the Senior Naval Officer.

For many years the different offices of the departments of the Coast Headquarters had been housed in separate old wooden and brick buildings, and even in the naval barracks, which caused delay in carrying out the staff work. But at last this was changed in the early summer of 1938, when the new brick central office building was  p105 opened so that all the offices belonging to the Dockyard and the Command were put under one roof. The construction of this building had begun in the autumn of 1937.

On 25th July, H. M. cruiser York, of 8,250 tons and 80,000 horsepower, with Vice-Admiral S. J. Meyrick, and Flag Captain H. E. Morse, D. S. O., arrived from Prince Rupert, calling at Campbell river settlement on Sunday, in case her aid was required to evacuate settlers from the zone of the huge forest fire in that area. As she entered Esquimalt harbour a Walrus amphibian seaplane was catapulted from her deck. Because of the Court mourning for the late Queen Marie of Rumania, balls on board the ship and at Government House were cancelled. On Sunday, an open air service was held at St. Paul's Church, and a parade was held in the city on the evening of 6th August. On Monday, 1st August, the Navy Week Luncheon held at the Empress Hotel. Tuesday, 2nd August, the Officers gave a dinner on board the ship, and on Friday, 5th, a ball was given at the Empress Hotel. On Wednesday, 3rd, a march through the streets of the city was carried out by the crew of the York. On Monday, 8th, a large party of guests were taken for a trip on the flagship into the Straits while she engaged the Fraser and the St. Laurent for several hours, and the seaplane made some reconnaissance flights from the ship. The guests included the Premier of B. C., the Mayor, the Minister of Finance, Commander C. T. Beard, the Commander-in‑Charge at Esquimalt, Brigadier J. G. Stewart, D. O. C., together with Officers and other ranks of the Staff, Permanent Force and Active Militia. The York went into the Songhees drydock on 5th August, (being the first Royal Naval ship to do so) in order to have one of her propellers repaired. On August 10th, the York arrived at Burrard Inlet and docked at Lapoint Pier, for a stay of eight days.

On November 7th, 1938, H. M. C. S.  Ottawa (late Crusader of Portsmouth), Commander C. H. R. Taylor, and H. M. C. S.  Restigouche (late Comet of Chatham), Lieut.‑Commander W. B. L. Holms, arrived at Esquimalt for the first time. With the Fraser and St. Laurent the total on the Pacific Coast becomes four, and all are sister vessels, this being the first occasion in the history of Esquimalt that such an event has taken place, the total complements being 516 Officers and Ratings. The senior officer, Commander H. E. Reid flew his broad  p106 pendant in Ottawa. The two newly transferred destroyers, after being fitted out at Portland, Dorsetshire, under Captain Brodeur, left that base on 6th of September, crossed the Atlantic and arrived at Gaspé on the 13th of September, and Montreal on the 22nd, where the senior officer turned over his command to Commander Taylor. Under this officer the two destroyers left Montreal on 4th of October, called at Halifax on the 12th, then proceeded to the Panama Canal, and calling at Balboa and San Pedro headed northward to Esquimalt.

The new minesweepers were taken over from their builders (Yarrows) after trials, the Comox on the 25th November, and the Nootka on 3rd December. Zimt to note that the total establishment of the Royal Canadian Navy for 1938, was 117 Officers and 1,222 Ratings, an increase of 240 Ratings over the previous year, but this was only the authorized establishment, not the recruited strength obtained. This increase was required to provide the crews for the four new minesweepers and to relieve the Ratings under training afloat and ashore in the Royal Navy.

At the end of October, Captain V. G. Brodeur was appointed Captain-in‑Charge, H. M. C. Naval Establishments, Esquimalt, and Commanding Officer, Coast of B. C., and at the same time Commander R. I. Agnew was appointed Captain of H. M. C. S. Naden, where he succeeded Commander J. E. W. Oland, D. S. C.


On the 24th of January at 1.15 P.M., there departed from the Naval wharves at Esquimalt four sister destroyers, H. M. C. S.  Ottawa, Captain G. C. Jones (Senior Officer "D"), Fraser, Commander W. B. Creery, St. Laurent, Lieut.‑Commander A. H. Hope, Restigouche, Lieut.‑Commander W. B. L. Holms, for the usual training cruise to the West Indies, being joined at Kingston, Jamaica, by the Skeena, Commander H. T. W. Grant and Saguenay, Commander F. L. Houghton, from Halifax. The six destroyers were trained together, for three weeks, when they proceeded to Bermuda where they trained with the Imperial ships, H. M. S. Berwick (flag of Vice-Admiral Sir S. J. Meyrick, K. C. B.), Flag Captain I. M. Palmer, D. S. C., York, Captain H. E. Morse, D. S. O., Orion, Captain H. R. G. Kinahan, Exeter, Captain H. H. Harwood, O. B. E., (Commodore, Second Class, commanding South  p107 American Division), Ajax, Captain C. H. L. Woodhouse.

The four sister destroyers left Bermuda, and passing through the Panama Canal returned to Esquimalt by the 28th April, having steamed a total of 13,000 miles, they had a total complement of 649 Officers and Ratings, which included some Naval Volunteers from units to the west of Winnipeg. This cruise was the first time that six Canadian destroyers had manoeuvred together at sea.

The two‑night visit of their Majesties King George and Queen Elizabeth to the Capital City of British Columbia marked the end of months of preparation by all the Services. The Naval Service naturally took a large part in this work, which consisted mainly in drilling the units of sailors for the largest ceremonial parade ever to take place on the Pacific Coast of Canada. The large band of the Naden, which had made its first appearance on 14th April, 1938 to welcome the four destroyers, and was practically reconstituted, had to put in long hours at practice. The only rehearsal on the actual parade ground at Beacon Hill of the presentation of the King's Colour was held on Tuesday, 23rd May, by Officers and Ratings of the Royal Canadian Navy from the Naden and the destroyers. This presentation was the first occasion outside the British Isles on which the ruling Sovereign had personally presented His Colour, after consecration, to any of His Naval forces. This Colour is a White Ensign of silk with the Crown and Royal Cypher superimposed in the centre of the larger St. George's Cross.

The King's Colour may be paraded on shore on the following occasions only:


By a Guard of Honour mounted for H. M. The King, H. M. The Queen, H. M. Queen Mary, or for a member of the Royal Family.


By a Guard of Honour for a Foreign Sovereign, or the President of a Republican State.


At parades to celebrate the birthday of His Majesty.


On such important ceremonial occasions as may be ordered by the Admiralty or Naval Commander-in‑Chief.

In no circumstances may the King's Colour be paraded on board ship or on foreign territory. On all occasions of the King's Colour being moved, a guard must be present and due ceremony observed.

 p108  Their Majesties arrived in Vancouver City on Monday, 29th May, by train over the main line of the C. P. R., and made a long drive through the streets, paying certain official calls. At 5 P.M., their Majesties embarked in S. S. Princess Marguerite, and escorted by H. M. C. S.  Ottawa, St. Laurent, Fraser and Restigouche proceeded to Victoria, where they arrived at 9.08 P.M. They were received at the C. P. R. wharf by Provincial and Civic Officials, and a Royal Guard was mounted by the Royal Canadian Navy, while Naval and Military units lined the illuminated streets to Government House.

On Tuesday, 30th May, their Majesties drove from Government House at 10 A.M., calling at the City Hall and the Provincial Buildings, then a long drive round Esquimalt, Saanich, Oak Bay and finishing at the Empress Hotel for an official luncheon. At 2.30 P.M., their Majesties drove from the Empress Hotel to the large parade ground on the west side of Beacon Hill, where 15 Officers and 639 Ratings of the Royal Canadian Navy were drawn up under the command of Captain V. G. Brodeur, A. D. C. On arrival at the grandstand, their Majesties were received by a Royal Salute, and the Royal Standard was broken at the Beacon Hill flagstaff. The following clergy were standing on the south side of the piled drums upon which the uncased Colour rested: The Bishop of Victoria (Bishop J. G. Cody, D. D.), his Chaplain Rev. A. B. Wood, the United Church Minister (Rev. J. Hood), the Bishop of Columbia (Bishop H. E. Sexton, D. D.), his Chaplain the Rev. A. Bischlager. The Rev. Hood asked God's blessing on the Colour. Bishop Sexton then consecrated the Colour and set it apart, that it might be a sign of our duty towards our King and Our Country in the sight of God. The consecration service of the Roman Catholic Church by Chaplain the Rev. A. B. Wood, R. C. N., at full dress parade had previously been held at the Naval Barracks under the command of Captain V. G. Brodeur, R. C. N. After the consecration by Bishop Sexton, Captain Brodeur handed the Colour to His Majesty, who then placed the heel of the staff in the socket of the colour Belt, which was worn by Lieut. James Calcutt Hibbard.

A fine and informative official Souvenir Programme was issued by the R. C. N. Western Command.

On Wednesday, 31st of May, at 10 A.M., their Majesties drove to Ogden Point Docks where they inspected  p109 the Royal Guard mounted by the First Battalion of the Sixteenth Regiment, and embarked on S. S. Prince Robert, and were escorted to Burrard Inlet by the same destroyers which had brought them on the Monday, under the command of Captain G. C. Jones, R. C. N. At Vancouver City they boarded the Royal Train which returned eastward via the Canadian National Railway.

On Thursday, 1st June, in the afternoon, H. M. cruiser Orion, Captain H. R. G. Kinahan, R. N., tied up alongside the drydock wharf having arrived from Bermuda for a stay of ten days. She was a Chatham ship, having been recommissioned in July, 1937. The usual calls and hospitalities were exchanged during her stay, and on Sunday, 11th, a church parade of the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy was held by Bishop Sexton on the green sward behind St. Paul's Church. The ship left for Vancouver City on 12th June, at 8.45 A.M. On the 24th June, the cruiser left Burrard Inlet for Comox, where full use was made of the rifle range for musketry and drill for eleven days; thence to Seattle for an eight‑day stay, and then by easy stages down the long west coast to the Panama Canal.

From this time up to the end of August, when "the balloon went up," invisible preparations were being made for the mobilization of Canada's Naval Force for the second Great War. The writer had taken an active part in the mobilization for the first Great War at Esquimalt, but age unfortunately prevented his active participation in that for the second Great War.

Thayer's Notes:

a Details, including a photo, are given at FortWiki.

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b May 25, 1929 was a Saturday.

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c John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir, was Governor-General of Canada at the time, and had set himself to visiting as much of Canada as possible during his tenure. By the time our book was published, he had died in office.

He was chiefly a writer, and Augustus, his critically acclaimed biography of the Roman emperor, is onsite in full: my introduction to the work includes a biographical sketch of its author.

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Page updated: 26 Aug 17