For Posterity's Sake         

A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project


They made the Ultimate Sacrifice


William Joseph (Willy) Quilty


Leading/Stoker, RCNVR / Fireman, Merchant Navy


Died: 03 Dec 1944 at sea


Merchant Navy

Book of Remembrance


QUILTY, William Joseph, Fireman, Merchant Marine, MPK - 03 Dec 1944, SS CORNWALLIS


William Quilty, of North Sydney, NS joined the RCNVR circa 1941. He was a Leading Stoker and saw action in the North Atlantic and Operation Torch. Will went AWOL while HMCS PRECOTT was having her fo'c'sle extended, along with two other RCNVR men from North Sydney who had been serving in other ships.  We don't know the circumstances behind this tragic decision, but it resulted in the deaths of all three of them. The family learned later that they had signed onto a merchantman, SS CORNWALLIS, hauling sugar and molasses on the Saint John-Barbados run. On 03 December 1944, when CORNWALLIS was on her return leg from Barbados, she was torpedoed and sunk in the Gulf of Maine by U-1230 (which had just dropped off two spies in Frenchman Bay, but that is another story!). Only 5 of the 49 crew survived. The bodies of Willy and his friends were never recovered. I tracked down the last living survivor of the CORNWALLIS in 2003, when he was living in Nova Scotia, and interviewed him for two hours. He recalled that Willy was on watch in the boiler room when the torpedo struck. The ship went down in less than ten minutes, with no time to launch the boats. (submitted by Ian Baird, nephew of William Quilty)


Ships served in:







(WQ011) William Quilty (left), North Africa 1943  (WQ02) William Quilty (2nd from left), North Africa, 1943  (WQ03) William J. Quilty (right), and his best friend, George Whalen. Both served in the RCN and were serving as temporary crew on the SS CORNWALLIS when they were torpedoed by U-1230. (Source: CVWM)



Second World War Casualty Index