HMCS ST. CROIX, Town class destroyer was transferred to the RCN from the USN under the Lend/Lease agreement with the Royal Navy on 30 April 1040. Originally constructed in 1919 as USS MCCOOK.
She was assigned to the Mid-Ocean Escort Group C-9 and while escorting a convoy in mid-North Atlantic she was struck by two homing torpedoes near her stern, fired by U-305. Several of her crew where killed. Despite the critical damage, ST. CROIX did not sink. The remainder of her crew took to the boats and rafts. An hour later, U-305 fired a third torpedo into the crippled destroyer and she sank in three minutes.
With the convoy battle continuing around ST. CROIX’s survivors, they were not rescued until after spending almost thirteen hours in the water. HMS ITCHEN picked up eighty-one men from the stricken Canadian destroyer. Also in ITCHEN was the sole survivor of HMS POLYANTHUS, torpedoed by U-192 earlier.
Tragically, HMS ITCHEN was herself was torpedoed a few days later, on 23 September by U-666, there were only three survivors from the three Ship’s Companies, two from ITCHEN and one from ST. CROIX, none from POLYANTHUS.
Of the 149 Canadian sailors in ST. CROIX, Stoker W. Fisher was the sole survivor.
Photo courtesy of the Naval Museum of Manitoba.