In memory of those who have Crossed the Bar


Harold Douglas Richards, D.S.M. with Bar


Chief Stoker, 21925-E, RCN


Born: 09 Mar 1914, Duncan, British Columbia


Died: 1982


Citation for DSM: RICHARDS, Harold Douglas, Stoker Petty Officer, 21925 - Distinguished Service Medal (DSM), RCN, HMCS HAIDA - Awarded as per Canada Gazette of 9 September 1944 and London Gazette of 15 August 1944.  "For courage, resolution and devotion to duty in HMCS HAIDA in action with enemy destroyers in rescuing survivors from HMCS ATHABASKAN."


Citation for Bar to DSM: RICHARDS, Harold Douglas, Chief Stoker, DSM, 21925 - Bar to Distinguished Service Medal (DSM*), RCN, HMCS HAIDA - Awarded as per Canada Gazette of 20 January 1945 and London Gazette of 14 November 1944. "For courage and determination in H.M. Ships ALBRIGHT, ASHANTI, BELLONA, DIADEM, MAURITIUS, NSLOW, TARTAR and URSA and H.M. Canadian Ships ASSINIBOINE, HAIDA, IROQUOIS, QU'APPELLE, RESTIGOUCHE and SKEENA, in a series of successful attacks on enemy escorted convoys off the coast of France."


On the night of 5-6 August 1944, four Tribal Class Destroyers were southbound in the Bay of Biscay when they detected a small convoy, also on a southerly course, presumably headed for Spain. HMS Tartar, HMS Ashanti, HMCS Haida and HMCS Iroquois manoeuvred to a favourable position and attacked, sinking six of the seven ships, including the escort. Returning northward, ships were detected leaving St. Nazaire and the order was given: "All guns loaded". Able Seaman Michael Kerwin was a member of the crew of HMCS Haida's 'Y' Mounting, twin 4.7 inch, on the quarterdeck. Unknown to anyone, the right gun was still hot from the previous action. Before the breech was fully closed, the charge ignited, blew back the breech, which collapsed the tray and there was a cordite fire. As OOQ Torpedo Tubes, I (Lloyd I Jones) thought the ship had been hit. The port side was impassable due to the fire but the starboard side was free. At 'Y' Mounting, two were killed and eight wounded. One of the wounded was AB Kerwin, who also suffered burns and temporary blindness. However, he heard the gun trainer, AB Jack (Guns) Burnett, calling for help from the forward part of the gun shield and he plunged through dense smoke and flames, found his shipmate and hauled him to safety. In due course, he was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal. I must add that Chief Stoker Harold D. Richard, RCN, did a marvelous job with a fire hose, which he brought into operation almost immediately. With the spray nozzle going, he soaked everyone including me and had the cordite fire out in short order. He was awarded the Bar to the Distinguished Service Medal. We then carried the wounded to the Sick Bay, passed the good ammunition to the forward guns and kicked the burnt cordite cartridges overboard." (Lloyd I. Jones in 'Starshell', October 1989.)


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