These two photos of HMCS TRENTONIAN tell an amazing story. They are the first and last photos of this historic Battle of Atlantic corvette.
The first picture of TRENTONIAN was taken just before her commissioning on 1 December 1943, the Flower class corvette was newly built at Kingston, Ontario. She is finishing her acceptance trials on Lake Ontario and you can clearly see some of the shipyard workers on her deck assisting the Royal Canadian Navy sailors of her ship’s company.
The second picture shows a very different TRENTONIAN, well worn and battle weary, from fifteen months of continuous operations. The corvette and her ship’s company had escorted convoys on the North Atlantic and off the coasts of England and France. They played an active role in the Normandy Invasion, where accidentally attacked by an American destroyer and had been fired on by the big German guns off Calais.
TRENTONIAN and her ship’s company had already earned three Battle Honours, ATLANTIC 1944, ENGLISH CHANNEL 1944-45 and NORMANDY 1944.
The significance of the second photo is in the date it was taken. The caption attached to the picture reads, “HMCS TRENTONIAN off Land’s End, 22 February 1945. From TRENTONIAN’s skipper, Lt. Colin Glassco’s Report of Proceedings, his ship was off Land’s End on that date in a heavy fog, as sole escort of a convoy of ten ships bound for the Thames Estuary. The sky slowly cleared and visibility improved after 1030. So this photo was taken sometime after that time. Glassco reported that TRENTONIAN was struck by a torpedo at 1320, sinking his ship in ten minutes, killing six of her crew and wounding fourteen. In total, ninety-six of her ship’s company would be rescued.
This photo was taken in TRENTONIAN’s final hours. Her ship’s company is clearly seen on her decks, manning their stations, weapons, lookouts and bridge. Normal sea stations, just another day at sea. Sadly this precious moment of time captured in this picture also shows the men in the after part of the ship, who very shortly will be killed and wounded when the torpedo from U1004 will strike between the Chief’s and PO’s Mess and the engine room.
When TRENTONIAN slipped below the water of the English Channel at 1330, on 22 February 1945, she became the last corvette to be lost in the Battle of the Atlantic.
Discover TRENTONIAN’s incredible story from builders yard to her loss in White Ensign Flying, the Story of HMCS TRENTONIAN available at Amazon, Chapters and your local bookstore.