HMCS CLAYOQUOT –Bangor class minesweeper was torpedoed and sunk by U806 two miles from the Sambro Light vessel off Halifax on 24 December 1944, killing eight of her crew of eighty-four sailors.
At the time of CLAYOQUOT’s sinking she had been assigned to Halifax as an escort. However, on 23 December she was ordered to perform mine-sweeping duties in the approaches to Halifax with sister ship HMCS TRANSCONA and the frigate HMCS KIRKLAND LAKE. On 24 December, the three ships broke formation to take up screening positions for a convoy leaving Halifax harbour and provide close escort to the merchant ships. As the convoy was sailing out of Halifax, CLAYOQUOT was struck in her stern by a GNAT fired by U806 at 1140. The torpedo detonated several depth charges on CLAYOQUOT’s stern, resulting in a violent explosion that sent thirty-eight feet of the Bangor’s stern into a vertical position.
CLAYOQUOT began to sink immediately, fortunately most of the off watch crew members were forward at the time, drawing the daily rum ration, saving many casualties. The minesweeper rolled over and turned turtle then sank stern first in ten minutes. Rescue operations commenced immediately and all survivors were pulled from the 38 degree water within 40 minutes.
A concentrated search for U806 began and continued until the 25th of December. U806 escaped and was later surrendered to the Allies at the end of the war.
Photo: HMCS CLAYOQUOT courtesy HMCS SACKVILLE.