On 29 April 1944, HMCShips HAIDA & ATHABASKAN attack with guns, German destroyer’s T24 & T27 in a blazing night action off the French Coast.
Scoring several direct hits, HAIDA drove the heavily damaged T27 onto the rocky French coast. T24 was damaged and separated from T27 escaped, but not before firing torpedoes.
HMCS ATHABASKAN was struck just aft of her superstructure in the gearing room, the explosion of the torpedo sent a wall of fire and water into the night sky. Her ship’s company fought the fires and prepared their ship to be towed by HAIDA, when the aft magazine exploded. ATHABASKAN sank moments later.
HAIDA returned to aid her sister, only to find a multitude of white lights in the water from the survivors life-vests. She commenced rescue operations, but with limited time due to approaching daylight and risk of air attack, HAIDA could only remain motionless off the French coast for just over 15 minutes. In that time she rescued thirty-eight ATHABASKAN’s.
HAIDA’s motor cutter was left behind with her boat crew who rescued six more and two HAIDA shipmates that had been left behind during the rescue.
ATHABASKAN carried a ships company of 261 when she was lost, 128 were killed in the action and another 86 were taken as Prisoner-of-War and interned until the end of the war.
Photo courtesy of the Naval Museum of Alberta.