Great detail has been recorded of the Royal Canadian Navy’s ships during the Second World War, including the Battle of the Atlantic, Operations in the Arctic, Mediterranean and many other ocean battlefronts. Sadly very little has been written about what happened to our ships after VE Day?
Recently I have received a large collection of personal photos from Royal Canadian Navy veteran, Lynford Bourne, RCNVR throug Battle of Atlantic Place in Halifax. Lynford had served in the Tribal class destroyer, HMCS IROQUOIS. He saw action with his shipmates on the Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Convoys, D-Day operations, Norway and Russia. His photos reflect this service.
Remarkably, Lynford’s photos included IROQUOIS operations immediately following VE Day, with trips to Norway, Denmark and into Germany. Much of the written historical account of IROQUOIS’s operations, state this simply with few details and no dates. I have had to spend a considerable amount of time and effort to give these remarkable photos context.
I will let Lynford’s photos tell this remarkable story.
In the final days of the war, IROQUOIS was assigned to Arctic operations, including escorting carrier attacks off Norway and convoys to Russia. On 16 April 1945, she left with her sisters HMCS HAIDA and HMCS Huron to escort the twenty-two ship convoy JW66 from Loch Ewe, UK to Kola Inlet in Russia. The convoy arrived safely on 25 April, and the three RCN Tribals proceeded to Polyarnoe, Russia to wait for the return convoy.
On 29 April 1945 IROQUOIS, HAIDA and HURON joined the twenty-seven ship convoy RA66, picking up the convoy at Kola and headed for the Clyde. Later that day U427 fired two torpedoes at IROQUOIS and HAIDA, missing both ships. The two destroyers then hunted the German U Boat dropping a total 678 Depth Charges, U427 escaped. Later that same day one of the other escorts, HMS GOODALL, frigate was torpedoed and sunk by U-286.
The three Tribals left the convoy on 7 May and proceeded to Scapa Flow, arriving there the next day, after the announcement of Germany’s surrender.
Celebrations would be brief, as IROQUOIS sailed for Oslo, Norway on 12 May with HMS DEVONSHIRE and HMS APOLLO, returning Crown Prince Olav of Norway and the exiled Norwegian government.
While in Oslo, there was time for a quick run ashore to see the city.
IROQUOIS was then detailed to travel to Copenhagen, Denmark with DEVONSHIRE and joined HMS DIDO to take charge of the German cruisers PRINZ EUGEN and NURMBERG. These two powerful cruisers were the last operational capital ships of the German Navy. IROQUOIS arrived in Copenhagen on 24 May 1945.
IROQUOIS remained alongside for several days in Copenhagen. The Allied escort group departed with PRINZ EUGEN and NURMBURG on 27 May 1945 and arrived in Wilhelmshaven, Germany the next day.
With her immediate post-war duties complete, IROQUOIS headed to Greenock, Scotland and re-joined her sisters HAIDA and HURON. With their wartime operations completed, the three Canadian Tribals departed on 4 June 1945 and arrived in Halifax on 10 June.
These photos are part of a larger collection from Lynford Bourne. With over 100 photos in his collection, the scanning, cataloging, tagging and captioning is still a work in progress. Some of these pictures have been uploaded to my Flickr page and can be viewed from this link. Lynford Bourne, RCNVR -Photo Collection.
As part of my research I have been gathering personal photos from RCN Veterans past and present. The Roger Litwiller Royal Canadian Navy Photo Collection has grown to over 1700 personal photos and provides a visual history of the RCN from 1938 to present day. You can view the entire collection on Flickr at Roger Litwiller Royal Canadian Navy Photo Collection or on this website under Photo Of The Day. The Photo of the Day is also posted each morning on my social media feeds at Twitter and Facebook.
I use these photos in my research and writing. I have also donated the entire collection to several Canadian Naval Museums, in Ottawa, The Canadian War Museum and the Royal Canadian Navy Directorate of History and Heritage. In Halifax –Maritime Command Museum, Canadian Naval Memorial Trust and Battle of Atlantic Place. Additionally the Naval Museum of Manitoba in Winnipeg and the Naval Museum of Alberta at The Military Museums in Calgary.
From these locations the photo collection is available to any authors, researchers and historians working on RCN History.
All of the photos have been donated to the Roger Litwiller Collection by the individual veteran or their family. After scanning at high resolution, all original photos are returned to the donor. If you have photos of Canada’s proud Naval Heritage and would be interested in contributing your collection, please contact me at litwillerroger@gmail. com.