HMCS ATHABASKAN G07
Tribal Class Destroyer
Commissioned on 03 Feb 1943 at Newcastle-on-Tyne and assigned to the British Home Fleet, ATHABASKAN left on 29 Mar 1943 to patrol the Iceland-Faeroes Passage for blockade runners. Stress of weather caused hull damage that required five weeks' repairs at South Shields, U.K., following which, in Jun 1943, she took part in Operation Gearbox III, the relief of the garrison at Spitsbergen. On 18 Jun 1943 she collided with the boom defence vessel Bargate at Scapa Flow, occasioning a month's repair at Devonport. In Jul and Aug 1943 she was based at Plymouth, carrying out A/S patrols in the Bay of Biscay, and on 27 Aug 1943 was hit by a glider bomb off the Spanish coast. She managed to reach Devonport, where she remained under repair until 10 Nov 1943; returning to Scapa Flow in Dec 1943.
While on patrol in the Bay of Biscay Patrol area at 13:00 hours on August 27, 1943, HMCS ATHABASKAN was attacked by eighteen enemy Dornier-217s. H.M.S. Egret (British Sloop) was sunk. A glide bomb hit HMCS ATHABASKAN at the junction of "B" gun-deck and the wheel-house. It passed under the plot room, through the Chief Petty Officer's Mess, and out the starboard side. It exploded barely a few feet beyond and bomb fragments pierced HMCS ATHABASKAN'S side and bridge in a number of places. The Captain, Commander Miles was knocked down by the blast and several officers, including Lieutenant-Commander Dunn Lanthier and Sub-Lieutenant John A. Brebner had severe leg injuries. Able Seaman Joseph McGrath, a bridge lookout, died the next day. The crew of "B" gun bore the worst of the injuries with Able Seaman William Pickett and Petty Officer Ernest Latimer being killed. Leading Seaman John Gordon took charge despite the fact that he was injured and several others were burned. Several members of "A" gun were also burned and wounded. Leading Cook Frank Prudhomme also died. HMCS ATHABASKAN took on board the 35 survivors from H.M.S. EGRET. HMCS ATHABASKAN continued on at 14 knots, correcting a serious list to starboard. The ship reached Devonport, where she remained under repair until 10 Nov 1943; returning to Scapa Flow in Dec 1943.
In Feb 1944, she rejoined Plymouth Command and was assigned to the newly formed 10th Destroyer Flotilla. On 26 Apr 1944 she assisted in the destruction of German torpedo boat T 29 in the Channel off Ushant, and three days later was sunk by a torpedo from T24 north of the Ile de Bas. Her captain and 128 men were lost, 83 taken prisoner, and 44 rescued by HAIDA.
The wreckage of HMCS ATHABASKAN was located near the island of Batz in the English Channel. She was found by Jacques Ouchakoff, a French marine historian in 2002 in 90 metres of water. Ottawa Branch member Paul Bender is devoted to protecting RCN shipwrecks and their contents. As direct result of his work, and petitioning the government of France with respect to ATHABASKAN, the French government has placed the wreck, which is in French territorial waters, under the protection of the French Heritage Code, which provides legal protection of the wreck and its contents.
Remembering HMCS ATHABASKAN - 75 years later by Royal Roads University
RCN Memories: Remembering Donald Metcalfe - HMCS ATHABASKAN G07
Capt George Ralph Miles, OBE, RCN - 03 Feb 1943 - 05 Nov 1943
LCdr J.H. Stubbs, DSO, RCN - 06 Nov 1943 - 29 Apr 1944
Lest We Forget
In memory of those who have crossed the bar
They shall not be forgotten
(SH) - Survived the sinking of HMCS ATHABASKAN G07. Rescued by HAIDA
(SC) - Survived the sinking of HMCS ATHABASKAN G07. Rescued by HAIDA'S cutter
(SP) - Survived the sinking of HMCS ATHABASKAN G07. Captured, became a POW
Former Crew Members
(SP) = Survived the sinking of ATHABASKAN. Captured by the German forces. Became a POW for duration of war
(SH) - Survived the sinking of ATHABASKAN. Rescued by HMCS Haida
(SC) - Survived the sinking of ATHABASKAN. Rescued by HMCS Haida's cutter
** The last surviving crewmember of the sinking of HMCS ATHABASKAN G07 passed away in Oct 2022. All those listed below as having survived the sinking will be moved to the Crossed the Bar section as time permits.
Photos and Documents
Front page article on the loss of the ATHABASKAN
Toronto Daily Star, Monday 01 May 1944
Click on the above image to view the full front page
(JA11) Crossing the Line certificate (Arctic Circle) for John James Acorn while onboard HMCS ATHABASKAN G07, 17 December 1943
(JA12) Newspaper article of the battle in which HMCS ATHABASKAN G07 was lost // HMCS ATHABASKAN Was Sunk In Battle With German Destroyers. About 130 Of Her 200-Man Crew Are Accounted For. One Of the German Destroyers Was Driven Ashore in Flames
(JA13-JA16) Newspaper articles on HMCS ATHABASKAN'S POWs
From the collection of Leading Stoker John Acorn
Courtesy of Barry Acorn
(FM887) HMCS ATHABASKAN G07 rescues survivors from a German U-boat sunk by a Wellington bomber - dated 31 Dec 1943
(FM888) Article on Gunner (T) G.D. Sigston and AB Eric J. Mengoni
(FM889) HMCS ATHABASKAN G07 back on duty after being struck by a glider bomb
(FM890) Headline - HMCS ATHABASKAN IS SUNK - dated 01 May 1944
(FM891) Article on the loss of HMCS ATHABASKAN G07
(FM892) A Gallant End - newspaper article on the loss of HMCS ATHABASKAN G07 with crew photo
From the collection of François Messier, AB, RCNVR
Courtesy of Denis Messier