In memory of those who have Crossed the Bar
LANCASTER, Gerald (Gerry) - Commander Gerald Lancaster, CD, RCN(R), familiarly known as Gerry, was born in South Africa, June 2, 1903. He acquired an early affinity for the sea, making his first voyage when he was only one year old. By the age of five he had crossed the equator three times.
*To Sea at Seventeen*
Gerry began his sea career as a seventeen-year-old trainee Midshipman Apprentice with the Alfred Holt and Company/Blue Funnel Line in 1920. Upon completion of his four-year apprenticeship, Gerry easily passed his Second Mate’s Certificate, was hired back as an officer with the Blue Funnel Line, and worked up to passing his Foreign-Going Master’s Certificate over the next few years.
*West Vancouver Ferries*
In 1930, at age 27, Gerry immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Port of Vancouver in the middle of the depression. Even so, within ten days he got a job as a deckhand on the ferry system that operated between downtown Vancouver and the municipality of West Vancouver, rising to Master in the following years, until volunteering for the Royal Canadian Navy when WW2 was imminent.
Gerry Lancaster served the Canadian Navy in various forms for just over 25 years. Following his command of HMCS CALGARY on Atlantic convoy duty he served during WW2 as a Navigation Instructor at HMCS KINGS, and both during and following the war as a routing office for Naval Control of Shipping (NCOS), on both the east and west coasts of Canada. He also served as Liaison Officer at HMCS DISCOVERY. He participated in NCOS exercises (at least once as Commodore) and conferences (sometimes as speaker) until appointed to the Navy retirement list in 1968.
*Working Life following WW2*
Gerry became Vancouver Harbour Master in 1946. In his first year he re-wrote and updated the Harbour Bylaws. During his tenure he fought Ottawa bureaucracy to get radar installed (the second harbour in the world, after Liverpool), instigated a ship fire-fighting course for city firemen (first in the world), was vice-chair of the committee to prepare a Harbour Disaster Program, and was a convention speaker on harbour safety/handling of dangerous goods.
Following his retirement from the Harbours Board, he became an officer on B.C. Ferries. Later at the request of the B.C. Government, he started college courses for professional mariners for various marine certificates of competency, both creating the curriculum and individual courses, and teaching.
Gerry was a member of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners when its membership was limited to 600 worldwide, and a foundation member of the Master Mariners of Canada. As a board member of the Canadian Merchant Service Guild he was chair of committee to make recommendations for revision to the Canada Shipping Act. He was awarded its first ever honorary membership under their bylaw requirements to resign on becoming Harbour Master. He was a foundation member of the Nautical Institute (London), wrote articles for their journal, and was later elected to a Fellowship.
Gerry was a speaker on the subject of the History of the Port of Vancouver for service clubs and other organizations. He was a member and officer of Toc H (Talbot House), personally instigating the first case of free blood transfusions in Vancouver, and possibly Canada.
He was a president of West Vancouver Credit Union for a term; on two committees of the Community Chest; a member of the Royal Canadian Legion; coached the West Vancouver Rugby team; president of the North Shore Rugby Union for one year; member of the committee of the North Vancouver Sea Cadets.
Gerry was active in the Missions to Seafarers (then known as the Mission to Seamen) as Board Chair for six years, chair of the Men’s Committee for eight years and chair of the Building Committee for three. He would even at times invite merchant marine seamen to his house for a home-cooked dinner.
*Back to the Sea*
Gerry’s ashes were scattered in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, off Victoria, by his son John.
Awards and Decorations: 1939-1945 Star, Atlantic Star, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Clasp, The War Medal 1939-1945, Canadian Forces Decoration (CD).
Ships served in:
RCN BARRACKS ESQUIMALT - Appointed at RCN BARRACKS ESQUIMALT For Disposal or Under Training 01 Apr 1940 as an A/Lt, RCNR (seniority 01 Apr 1940) (Navy List Apr 1940
HMCS NADEN (Depot Ship Esquimalt) - Appointed to NADEN, Staff of Commander Extended Defence Staff, 22 May 1940 as an A/Lt, RCN(R) (Navy List Jun 1940)
HMC DOCKYARD - Appointed to HMC DOCKYARD ESQUIMALT, Examination Services 24 Aug 1940 as an A/Lt, RCNR (Navy List Oct 1940). Appointed Lt, RCNR (Navy List Nov 1940)
HMCS GIVENCHY - Appointed to GIVENCHY for Examination Services 01 Jan 1941 as a Lt, RCNR (Navy List Feb 1941)
HMCS NADEN (Depot Ship Esquimalt) - Appointed to NADEN Add'l For Disposal or Under Training 24 Feb 1941 as a Lt, RCNR (Navy List Mar 1941)
RCN BARRACKS HALIFAX - Appointed to RCN BARRACKS HALIFAX Add'l For Disposal or Under Training 01 Jun 1941 as a Lt, RCNR (Navy List Jun 1941-Oct 1941)
HMCS CALGARY - Appointed to CALGARY 15 Nov 1941 as a Lt, RCNR, CO (Navy List Dec 1941)
HMCS KINGS - Appointed to KINGS as Navigation Instructor 11 Sep 1942 as a Lt, RCNR (Navy List Sep 1942). Coached the Navy Rugby Team while appointed to KINGS (Service/Family records for Gerry Lancaster)
HMCS AVALON - Appointed to AVALON, Naval Control Service as Routing Officer 15 Dec 1943 as a Lt, RCNR (Navy List Feb 1944)
HMCS BURRARD - Appointed to HMCS BURRARD, Naval Control Service as Routing Officer 29 Apr 1944 as a Lt, RCNR (Navy List May 1944). Seniority backdated to 01 Sep 1939 (Navy List Jul 1944-May 1945) (Service/Family records for Gerry Lancaster)
* Retired List as a LCdr, RCN(R) (retired from that rank) (seniority 01 Jan 1946) (Navy List Apr 1946)
HMCS DISCOVERY (Retired List) as a LCdr, RCN(R) (Navy List Jul 1950)
HMCS DISCOVERY - Appointed to DISCOVERY, Merchant Navy Liaison Officer, Vancouver 07 Sep 1949 as a LCdr, RCN(R) (Navy List Jan 1950). Promoted to Cdr, RCN(R) (seniority 01 Jan 1951) (Navy List Jan 1952-Jan 1959). Last noted at HMCS DISCOVERY on the Retired List for the RCN(R) as a Cdr, RCN(R) (Navy List Jan 1960)
HMCS DISCOVERY - Appointed to the Ready Reserve List 11 Dec 1959 (Service/Family records for Gerry Lancaster)
HMCS MALAHAT - Appointed to the Ready Reserve List 31 Oct 1962. Placed on retired list from Ready Reserve 30 Jun 1968 (Service/Family records for Gerry Lancaster)
Note: Gerry Lancaster served during annual training periods on Naval Control of Shipping Exercises both at HMCS DISCOVERY and HMCS MALAHAT - 1946 to 1968.
HMCS KINGS Senior Rugby Champs 1943
L-R: Back Row: Lt. Gerry Lancaster (coach), Momberquette, Graven, Burchell, Cole, McPhee, Roberts, Robertson, Arnott, W.O. Charlie McDonald (sports officer)
Front Row: Rutherford, Gilbride, Nylpeka, McInnis, Vickers, Scallion, Laribee, Feeney, Martin.