HMCS Shawinigan

In memory of the brave men who were killed on patrol in HMCS Shawinigan

The Story
( This Article From )

HMCS SHAWINIGAN was commissioned on September 19, 1941 at Quebec City. She spent the first part of much of 1942 escorting three separate convoy runs over the Atlantic to Londonderry and return. Later in 1942 she was assigned to Halifax Force as an escort for Quebec-Labrador convoys. After a refit, completed in March 1943, she continued to work as an escort, mainly in Canadian waters. In early 1944 she underwent a second refit in Liverpool, N.S. Upon completion of the refit she traveled to Bermuda for work-ups (June 1944). Afterwards she was again assigned to escort duties off the east coast of Canada.

On commissioning A/LCDR C.P. Balfry, RCNR, was the Commanding Officer of the SHAWINIGAN. LT. R.S. Williams, RCNVR, relieved him on 5 January 1944, and LT. W.E. Callan, RCNVR, from Winnipeg, was the Commanding Officer from 15 March 1944 to 4 June 1944. Afterwards LT. W.J. Jones RCNR took over as Commanding Officer of the SHAWINIGAN.

SHAWINIGAN and the US Coast Guard cutter Sassafras were ordered to escort the ferry Burgeo from Sydney, Nova Scotia to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. Since the tragic loss of the ferry Caribou, ferries on this route were always escorted. The three ships made an uneventful crossing to Port aux Basques on November 24, at which time SHAWINIGAN detached to continue anti submarine patrols in the area. SHAWINIGAN was scheduled to rendezvous with the Burgeo the following morning for the return to Cape Breton. But the corvette never made it.

Nearby, U-1228, which had been ordered into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, was tarrying, trying to repair a faulty schnorkel. Without the tactical advantage that the device provided, its commander, Frederich-Wilhelm Marienfeld, feared his chances should he pass through the Cabot Strait. On the moonlit night of November 24, he tested his repairs, found them ineffective and decided to return to Germany. As he issued orders that would pilot his U-Boat back into the Atlantic, the SHAWINIGAN was sighted. U-1228, which had not yet recorded an attack on enemy shipping, let loose a Gnat torpedo. Exactly four minutes later, HMCS SHAWINIGAN disappeared in a plume of water and a shower of sparks. All 91 members of her crew were killed.

HMCS SHAWINIGAN was one of three Canadian warships that have been lost with all hands. SHAWINIGAN's final resting place is in the Cabot Strait, between Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island. Her precise location is not known, but by best estimates based on the uboat's reports the Shawinigan should lay at 47 degrees-34 minutes north-Latitude, 59 degrees-11 minutes West-Longitude.

Click on the picture to link to a video of a Facebook Friend Thomas Simpson who was a crew member on sick leave when the Shawinigan was torpedoed.  He is an amazing man and still going strong at 91.


Some of the Crew of HMCS Shawinigan from the Thomas Simpson Collection ©

"Eleven sailors of one tough crew.

An old and rare photograph discovered in the pages of a small old book in the home of Thomas Simpson during the summer of 2012.

The photograph seemed to be waiting to be rediscovered and to be touched again awakening the memories of over 70 years ago.

Most Royal Canadian Navy ships had pets and it was usually a dog. In fact, some RCN ships had more than one. In this photo you can see two sailors holding a dog. The name of the dog cannot be remembered.

The Shawinigan & HMCS Magog (from Herb Montgomerys account)

Shawinigan’s captain and a few of his officers had dropped over and the conversation fairly reeked with details of every part of the torpedoing. Shortly, however, a Shawinigan messenger brought the news that the work on deck was complete and everything secured again for sea. A simple handshake from the little Corvette captain relayed to our captain and all of us the sincerity of his statement, when he said, "Good luck from here in."

(It was with deep alarm and profound regret that we read in the newspapers while on Survivors Leave that HMCS Shawinigan had been torpedoed with all hands lost. She had been patrolling the mouth of the river off Newfoundland in search of "our" sub at the time of their tragic end.)

Our boys let go Shawinigan’s lines and she steamed slowly out toward the entrance of the bay. Most of us felt more alone than ever now, and all the while we could do nothing but remain at anchor until such time as a tug from Quebec City arrived.

Magog Under Tow By HMCS Shawinigan


Thomas Joseph Simpson
Crew Member

HMCS Shawinigan
with Thomas Simpson
This video is linked courtesy of


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