While working away on the writing over the Easter break, my daughter was asking about the process I go through in writing a history of one of the destroyers in the book–I think she was surprised at how slow a process it can be at times.
The first Canadian destroyer to carry the name HMCS Ottawa was launched as HMS Crusader at Portsmouth Naval Dockyard in 1931. Like her sister HMS Comet (later HMCS Restigouche) she was commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1932 and assigned to the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla of the British Home Fleet.
I’m lucky to have had an artist in the family who could paint the cover for Tin-Can Canucks, but as much as I have tried to limit my need for rights-managed images there were two images I knew I wanted to bookend the manuscript.
Unique amongst the Canadian River-class destroyers, HMCS Gatineau—built as HMS Express by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Wallsend-on-Tyne—had been originally fitted as a minesweeper, and had twin sponsoons aft for the mine rails (never carried in Canadian service). She would be the sole E-Class destroyer to serve in the RCN.
HMCS Buxton began life as USS Edwards. She was built by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation at their Squantum, Massachusetts shipyard and named after Midshipman William W. Edwards. Edwards was an officer of the US Navy during the War of 1812 assigned to USS Argus when he was killed in action against HMS Pelican 14 August 1913. The ship bearing his name was launched 10 October 1918 by Ms. Julia Edwards Noyes, Midshipman Edwards uncle’s great granddaughter. USS Edwards was commissioned on April 24, 1919 under the command of Commander P.L. Wilson.
Only five years old, and facing the prospect of German U-boats in Canadian waters—and without destroyers for protection—the Royal Canadian Navy set about acquiring private yachts for use as patrol and escort vessels. One of these was a 202 foot steam turbine yacht by the name of Winchester. To avoid running up against the American’s neutrality, several Canadian yacht owners privately purchased boats from Americans and then traded them to the RCN. This is the manner in which Grisle came to fly the white ensign in 1915.
The Royal Canadian Navy celebrated it’s centenary in 2010. In 2014 the RCN celebrated 100 years of Canadian Submarines. Coming up in 2020 it will be 100 years since the commissioning of Canada’s first Destroyers HMCS Patriot and HMCS Patrician. It will be the centenary of Tin Cans (destroyers) and Tin Can Canucks (destroyer sailors) in the Canadian Navy.