HMCS LOUISBURG, Flower class corvette was attacked and sunk by Italian aircraft while deployed to the Mediterranean in support of Operation TORCH on 6 February 1943. Of her crew of eighty-four sailors, forty were killed in the attack.
At the time LOUISBURG was one of seventeen RCN corvettes moved from the North Atlantic convoys to support the invasion of North Africa. She had departed Londonderry on 23 January as one of thirteen escorts for the massive fifty-six ship convoy KMS-8, bound for North Africa. On the evening of 6 February the convoy came under repeated attacks by enemy torpedo and bomber aircraft. LOUISBURG was positioned ahead of the convoy when a torpedo bomber approached and dropped a torpedo directly at the Canadian corvette from 700 yards. With no room to manoeuvre, the torpedo slammed into LOUISBURGS engine and boiler rooms, the resulting explosion killing most of the stokers and engineers. The ship heeled sharply to port and immediately began to sink.
Immediately following the explosion, it is reported that LOUISBURG’s gunners continued to fire on the enemy aircraft, possibly damaging it as it was seen smoking as it flew off. Unfortunately for LOUISBURG the damage was severe and the corvette sank, stern first in three minutes.
LOUISBURG is the only Royal Canadian Navy corvette to be lost by attack for aircraft.
Photo courtesy of the Naval Museum of Manitoba.