HMCS FRASER, River class destroyer, was lost in collision with the Royal Navy cruiser, HMS CALCUTTA on 26 June 1940 off the French Coast. Of her ship’s company of 172 sailors, sixty were killed.
On 21 June, Fraser was ordered to France with her sister HMCS RESTIGOUCHE and HMS CALCUTTA to evacuate British and Allied soldiers from the small port of St. Jean de Cruz. The three ships departed the French port with the retreating soldiers, FRASER had taken aboard, forty-four British, French and Polish soldiers.
During the night, the Senior Officer in CALCUTTA ordered a course change and during the maneuvering into their new positions, CALCUTTA’s bow struck FRASER near “B” turret, slicing the destroyer almost in half. The bridge and wheelhouse came to rest on the cruisers bow and the bridge crew stepped off onto CALCUTTA’s deck.
FRASER broke into two sections, her stern remained afloat and RESTIGOUCHE was able to rescue the sailors from the stern. One sailor from RESTIGOUCHE was killed when the ship’s whaler capsized during the rescue. The forward section of FRASER capsized and sank, several of the men had taken to Carley floats.
In total sixty sailors were lost in the collision, there is no accounting of how many of the forty-four allied soldiers aboard Fraser survived or were killed.
Photo courtesy, HMCS SACKVILLE, Canada’s Naval Memorial Trust.