HMCS SKEENA H01 / D59 / I59


River Class Destroyer



HMCS Skeena D59


Source: The Crow's Nest virtual museum


Battle honours and awards:  Atlantic  1939-44,   Normandy  1944,   Biscay  1944



Laid down: 14 Oct 1929

Launched: 10 Oct 1930

Commissioned: 10 Jun 1931

Fate: Wrecked on 25 Oct 1944


Commissioned at Portsmouth on 10 Jun 1931, she arrived at Halifax with Saguenay on 03 Jul 1931 and proceeded to Esquimalt the following month. On 24 Jan 1932 HMCS Skeena and HMCS Vancouver provided protection to British assets and civilians in El Salvador at the request of the British Consul in San Salvador following the outbreak of a peasant uprising. A landing party was briefly sent ashore at Acajutla, but the situation there improved and the sailors saw no combat, although the two ships remained in the area until the end of the month. On 05 Jan 1935, HMCS Skeena and HMCS Vancouver  departed Esquimalt for exercises in the Kingston, Jamaica area with HMCS Champlain and HMCS Saguenay. Skeena returned to Halifax in Apr 1937. In the 1938, HMCS Skeena, HMCS Fraser, HMCS Saguenay and HMCS St. Laurent paid a port visit to San Diego as part of the spring training cruise. The East and West ships rendezvoused at the Panama Canal for joint exercises. When war broke out, Skeena was engaged in local escort duties until ordered to the U.K. On her arrival at Plymouth, on 31 May 1940, she was assigned to Western Approaches Command taking part in the evacuation of France and escorting convoys in British waters. On 23 Nov 1940, while escorting convoy SC.11, Skeena rescued 6 survivors from the torpedoed merchant ship SS Bruse. She returned to Halifax on 03 Mar 1941, for refit, then joined Newfoundland Command, Mid-Ocean Escort Force (MOEF). In Apr 1942, she became a member of EG C-3. During this period she saw continuous convoy duty and on 31 Jul 1942, while escorting convoy ON.115, shared with Wetaskiwin in the sinking of U 588. In May 1944, she was assigned to EG 12 for invasion duties, and was present on D-Day. On 08 Jun 1944, HMCS Skeena was attacked by U-953 (Oblt Karl-Heinz Marbach). The Gnats (acoustic torpedoes) exploded in the ship's wake with no damage to the ship. HMCS Skeena participated in operation "Dredger" against German escort vessels at the U-boat meeting points off Brest and southward. During the night of 5/6 Jul the 12th EG, comprising of Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan, Skeena and Restigouche, attacked 3 patrol boats off Brest: V715 was sunk but not before hitting Qu'Appelle and Saskatchewan many times with small calibre gunfire. That Sep 1944 she was transferred to EG 11. On the night of 24/25 Oct 1944, Skeena was wrecked in a storm. She was anchored off Reykjavik, Iceland and dragged her anchor and grounded in 50-foot (15 m) waves off Viđey Island with the loss of 15 crewmembers. Her hulk was written off and sold to Iceland interests in June 1945; she was then raised to broken up. Her propeller was salvaged and used in a memorial near the Viđey Island ferry terminal.


U-Boats Sunk:  U-588 (Kptlt Viktor Vogel) sunk on 31 Jul 1942 by HMCS Wetaskiwin K175 and HMCS Skeena I59 in position 49-59 N, 36-36 W. No survivor from crew of 46.



RCN Memories:     The Loss of HMCS Skeena


Photos and Documents          Ship's company photos          HMCS Skeena - by Lt(N) Chris Baker CD




Commanding Officers


Cdr Victor Gabriel Brodeur, RCN - 10 Jun 1931 - 24 May 1932 (H01)

Cdr George Clarence Jones, RCN - 25 May 1932 - 14 May 1934 (H01)

Cdr John Eric Wodehouse Oland, DSC, RCN - 15 May 1934 - 07 Jan 1936

Cdr Howard Emmerson Reid, RCN - 08 Jan 1936 - 24 Mar 1937

Capt V.G. Brodeur, RCN - 25 Mar 1937 - 22 Apr 1938

Cdr Harold Taylor Wood Grant, RCN - 23 Apr 1938 - 30 Nov 1939

LCdr Ernest Patrick Tisdall, RCN - 01 Dec 1939 - 09 Mar 1940

Lt Herbert Sharples Rayner, RCN - 10 Mar 1940 - 01 Apr 1940

LCdr James Calcutt Hibbard, RCN - 02 Apr 1940 - 10 Dec 1941 (D59)

Cdr Harry Kingsley, RCN - 11 Dec 1941 - 19 May 1942

A/LCdr Kenneth Lloyd Dyer, DSC, RCN - 20 May 1942 - 04 Jan 1943 (I59)

Lt Jean Rosaire Roland Belanger, RCNVR - 05 Jan 1943 - 28 Feb 1943

A/LCdr Eric Eversley Garratt Boak, RCN - 01 Mar 1943 - 20 Nov 1943

LCdr Patrick Francis Xavier Russell, RCN - 21 Nov 1943 - 25 Oct 1944 (I59)



     In memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice    

     Lest We Forget     



Stwd, V44615, RCNVR

killed - 25 Oct 1944

BLAIS, Joseph Frederic Andre

LS, V4777, RCNVR

MPK - 25 Oct 1944

COOK, Desmond Bert William

Cook (S), V51070, RCNVR

killed - 25 Oct 1944


AB, V55130, RCNVR

killed - 25 Oct 1944

ELLIS, Melvin Newton

AB, V50983, RCNVR

killed - 25 Oct 1944

FLEMMING, Leo Joseph

AB, A1141, RCNR

MPK - 04 Feb 1941

GABOUREL, Lloyd Austin

AB, V63956, RCNVR

killed - 25 Oct 1944

HANCOCK, Ralph Gardiner

L/Sig, V13220, RCNVR

killed - 25 Oct 1944

JANOS, Joseph Frank

AB, 4408, RCN

killed - 25 Oct 1944

JOHNSTON, Joseph Neil

AB, V44249, RCNVR

killed - 25 Oct 1944

PRESSNER, Edward Julian

Stwd, V/45330, RCNVR

killed - 25 Oct 1944

SEATH, Ritchie Oulton

Coder, V23611, RCNVR

killed - 25 Oct 1944

SILK, James Ernest

LS, V19493, RCNVR

killed - 25 Oct 1944

STEWART, Kenneth William

AB, V36475, RCNVR

killed - 25 Oct 1944

UNGER, Abraham

AB, V39733, RCNVR

killed - 25 Oct 1944


WATSON, Leonard

AB, V46243, RCNVR

killed - 25 Oct 1944




     In memory of those who have crossed the bar    

They shall not be forgotten


(s) - Survived the grounding / wreck of HMCS Skeena















Erickson, Leonard G.


















Ivancic, Milorad





















Newton, Arthur G.























Former Crew Members


(s) - Survived the grounding / wreck of HMCS Skeena


Adams, Kenneth (Ken) Frederick, Lt, RCN - 25 Mar 1931 (Stand by) / 10 Jun 1931 (H01)


Baker, Archibald Howard, Gnr, RCN - 10 Jun 1931 (H01)


Barlow, Frank Ernest, Gnr (T), RCN - 30 Jun 1941 (I59)


Bault, Henry Stanley Donald, Lt, RCNVR - 01 Mar 1944


Bell, Joseph, Sto (s)


Benson, "Squeek", Sig - c1939


Bichan, William James, Lt, RCNVR - 01 Mar 1944


Boak, Eric Eversley Garratt, Lt, RCN - 02 Apr 1940


Boyd, James, Slt, RCNVR - Jan 1942


Brown, Wilbert, AB (s)


Browne, Arthur Dalzell, Lt, RCNVR - 14 Jun 1944


Cairns, Thomas Gillone, A/Lt, RCNVR - 19 Feb 1940


Chance, Peter Godwin, Slt, RCNVR - 08 Apr 1943    (s)


Clarke, Alfred William, Wt (E), RCN - 21 Apr 1938


Clarke, N. - Dec 1940


Corner, Alfred Rogers 


Davidson, Andy


Earnshaw, Eric Phillip, Lt, RCN - 10 May 1943


Fiddler, John, AB - Dec 1940

Freeman, Arthur George, Gnr (T) - 21 Apr 1938


French, Harold, Stoker (s)


German, Don (I59)



Godard, Earle Trevor, Lt (E), RCNVR - 13 Apr 1944


Groos, Harold (Harry) Victor William, Slt, RCN - 01 Jun 1935 (H01)


Haddon, Phillip Edwin, Lt, RCN - 21 Apr 1938


Haverfield, John Aimery Garnault, Slt, RCNVR - 04 Mar 1943


Horam, John Shaw, Lt (E), RCNR - 01 Jul 1941


Houghton, Frank Llewellyn, LCdr, RCN - 10 Jun 1931 (H01)


Howe, Alex, AB - Dec 1940


Hurley, Ed (I59)


Jackson, William McKie, Cd/Gnr (T), RN - 24 Feb 1935


Knowlton, John Grant, LCdr (E), RCN - 19 Jun 1935


Lewis, John Albert, Surg/Lt, RCNVR - 01 Apr 1944


Mahoney, Lewis Daniel, Lt, RCNVR - 17 Apr 1942


Maidman, Ted (I59)


McKenzie, Robert Bradshaw, Surg/Lt, RCNVR - 06 Apr 1942


McRae, Wilbert, L/SA (s)


Mitchell, John Arthur, Slt, RCNR - 04 Apr 1941

Murdoch, Robert (Bob) Waugh, Lt, RCN - 26 Mar 1940


Oake, Chesley Maxwell, Surg/Lt, RCNVR - 07 May 1940


Padget, Robert Loren, Lt (E), RCNVR - 22 Mar 1944


Parsons, Ed (I59)


Plant, Frank Oatley, Slt, RCNVR - 25 May 1942


Rigg, David Edward, A/Gnr (T), RCN - 27 Jun 1942 (I59)


Rodwell, Frank Ernest, Wt/Mech, RCN - 08 Apr 1941


Roberts, John Douglas, Lt, RCNVR - 04 Feb 1943


Roy, Joseph Wilson Rouer, LCdr, RCN - 03 Jul 1944 (H01)


Rutherford, Clark Anderson (Larry), Lt, RCN - 10 Mar 1940


Seabrook, Archibald William, Gnr (T), RN - 28 May 1934 (H01)


Smith, Warren Van-Hoose, Slt (E), RCNVR - 13 May 1943


Stephens, George Leslie, Cdr (E), RCN - 10 Jun 1931 (H01)


Sunderland, Ean Victor Pearce, Slt, RCN - 21 Jul 1944


Turnbull, Alexander Reginald, Gnr (T), RCN - 15 May 1931 (Stand by) / 10 Jun 1931 (H01)


Webber, Reginald Amand, Lt, RCN - 21 Apr 1938


Willcox, Frank, Lt, RCNVR - 10 Mar 1941


Willson, William Herbert, Slt, RCN - 14 May 1940 / Lt, RCN - 01 Mar 1943



Photos and Documents


HMCS Skeena's Row Team circa 1933-1934

Amedee Gagnon, standing, 2nd from right

From the collection of Amedee Gagnon

Courtesy of Ian McDonald

HMCS Skeena entering Willemstad Harbour, Netherlands Antilles, 1934

In the winder of 1934, HMCS Skeena, HMCS Saguenay, HMCS Champlain and HMCS Vancouver took part in Winter exercises off South America.

From the collection of James A. Senior

Courtesy of Bob Senior

HMCS Skeena D59's original band, Manzanillo, Mexico

Courtesy of the CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum

HMCS Skeena I59

"Spent 3 weeks on Skeena on loan from Donnacona"

(Photo from a postcard)

From the collection of Kenneth Medford

Courtesy of Gary Medford 

Admiral's barge departs HMCS Skeena circa 1937

From the collection of John James Ashworth Clarke

Courtesy of Eric Clarke

HMCS Saguenay and HMCS Skeena sail for the Coronation Review for King George the VI - 1937

From the collection of James A. Senior, RCN

Courtesy of Bob Senior

Crossing the Equator Certificate - 1938

From the collection of Hugh C. Dunbar

Courtesy of Jeanie Dubberley

Crossing the Line certificate from HMCS Skeena 04 Feb 1938

Courtesy of Peter Manninen

HMCS Skeena transits the Panama Canal

From the collection of John James Ashworth Clarke

Courtesy of Eric Clarke

HMCS Skeena D59 in the Barbados

From the collection of John James Ashworth Clarke

Courtesy of Eric Clarke

HMCS Skeena bites into a wave off the Azores

From the collection of John James Ashworth Clarke

Courtesy of Eric Clarke

HMCS Skeena I59

From the collection of Ivan Chamberlain

Courtesy of Dave Chamberlain

Signals department on HMCS Skeena - circa 1939

"Squeek" Benson - front right

From the collection of Thomas Carson

Courtesy of June Copley

HMCS Skeena and HMCS St Laurent visit New York

The Halifax Mail, Fri., 30 Jun 1939

Researched by / Courtesy of George Newbury

HMCS Skeena visits New York, NY

The Halifax Mail, Mon., 03 Jul 1939

Researched by / Courtesy of George Newbury

Peter Meek and John Pinkney on HMCS Skeena during WW2

Courtesy of the Battle of the Atlantic Society Canada's Naval Memorial Trust Collection

 Lt Peter Chance with his bride on HMCS Skeena on their wedding day, Sep 1941





(WL01) "Out for air" - Communications branch on HMCS Skeena circa Oct 1941-Apr 1942  (WL02) Readying Depth Charge  (WL03) "Look out below" - depth charge explodes astern of HMCS Skeena


From the collection of William Kenneth Littlefair, PO Tel, RCNVR

Courtesy of Bill Littlefair


A convoy see from HMCS Skeena - 1943

DND photo 166889-A4

Arthur (Daisy) Bell holding HMCS Skeena's badge

From the collection of Arthur Bell

Courtesy of Donna Bell-Croft

HMCS Skeena I59

Courtesy of Roger Litwiller


The photos below are from the collection of LS Bernard (Bunny) Brewster who served in HMCS SKEENA from Feb 1943 till her grounding off Iceland. Photos are not necessarily in date sequence but were scanned in the order they were in the photo album. If you are able to identify any on the photos, please send me an EMAIL.






(BB267) Late 1943 when Skeena was part of C-3 Escort Group - also known as the Barber Pole Brigade






(BB269-BB272) Christmas Dec 1943 on HMCS SKEENA


(BB269) the LCdr in the photo is the youngest man on ship and therefore the CO for the day. Standing, first on the right, is LCdr Patrick Francis Xavier Russell, RCN, the commanding officer, who is wearing the uniform of a Chief Petty Officer.


Note:  From Cdr Peter Chance, RCN, ret'd, who was the Navigating Officer on HMCS SKEENA in 1943-1944, these photos are of the ship's Christmas celebration in Dec 1943 and he believes the ship was in Londonderry at the time.  "We were a happy ship as you can see."









(BB274-BB277) Royal Navy Battleship HMS RODNEY  (BB278) Unidentified sailors on HMCS SKEENA  (BB279) Bunny Brewster (left) and shipmate on HMCS SKEENA [July 1944 From HMC Ship Examined by D8.N559]  (BB280) Unknown destroyer





(BB281) Unidentified sailors on HMCS SKEENA  (BB282) Unidentified sailors in Mess Deck on HMCS SKEENA  (BB283) Bunny Brewster on duty as Quartermaster on HMCS SKEENA.  Background indicates the ship is at St. John's, Newfoundland


From the collection of LS Bernard (Bunny) Brewster


Courtesy of Gord Brewster



Newspaper articles on operation "Dredger" against German escort vessels at the U-boat meeting points off Brest and southward. During the night of 5/6 Jul the 12th EG, comprising of QU'APPELLE, SASKATCHEWAN, SKEENA and RESTIGOUCHE, attacked 3 patrol boats off Brest.






(IN01) Night Insane As RCN Mangled German Ships - Toronto Star 18 Jul 1944  (IN02) Canadian Sink 3 Ships As Star Shells Light Sky - Toronto Star 11 Aug 1944  (IN03) 6 Supply Ships Sunk By Allies Off France - undated newspaper article  (IN04) Naval Forces Fight in Channel - undated newspaper article


From the collection of Innes Neil van Nostrand


Courtesy of Hugh van Nostrand




From undated newspaper - Account of the action that took place during Operation Dredger


From the collection of AB Dave Christison, RCNVR


Courtesy of Thomas Christison


World Wide Gum, Marine Series, 1944


#98 HMCS Skeena

HMCS Skeena I59 - date unknown

From the collection of Ron Critchley

Courtesy of Diane Brown

HMCS Skeena hard aground on Vidoy Island

Photo taken by a RN sailor May 1945.

Announcement of the loss of HMCS Skeena D59 From a Prince Edward Island newspaper

From the collection of John Acorn

Courtesy of Barry Acorn

Casualty list for HMCS Skeena from the Globe and Mail, 18 Nov 1944

Note:  LS Blais, Joseph Frederic Andree is missing from this list

Newspaper article on the loss of HMCS Skeena from the Globe and Mail May 17, 1945

Newspaper article on the loss of HMCS Skeena from the Hamilton Spectator, May 16, 1945

Article on five survivors from HMCS Skeena - Sto Harold French, AB Wilbert Brown, L/LA Stewart McRae, Sto Joseph Bell and LS W. Belling

Courtesy of Kevin Lee



(The following is an excerpt from HMCS Skeena - by Lt(N) Chris Baker CD)


The funeral for the Skeena dead was carried out on October 28th, 1944, 3 days after loss of the ship. The men were buried with full naval honours in the war section of the Fossvogur Cemetery in Reykjavik.


The US Army provided wooden coffins to the Canadians, however the British Naval Authorities refused their use. Wood was a scarce commodity in Iceland and was not going to be wasted. The bodies were wrapped in the naval white ensign and carried to the graveside by members of the Skeena crew. The oldest among the dead was 30, the youngest 19. Most of the men were in their twenties.


Over 500 personnel, made up of men from the St Laurent, Qu'Appelle and other Canadian ships in Reykjavik, attended the service. Services were read and a firing party discharged their salute. Last post and reveille were sounded. It has been written that this was the most impressive funeral ever seen in Iceland.


The cross that marks the graves of HMCS Skenna's dead in Fossaberg Cemetery - Fossaberg, Iceland - December 1945


Crow's Nest newspaper - Aug 1945

HMCS Skeena aground on Vidoy Island. Deemed unsalvageable she was eventually sold to an Icelandic company in June 1945 and later broken up.

Cemetery where HMCS Skeena's casualties were buried. Date - 1990s (approx)


Memorial to HMCS Skeena D59, Vidoy Island, Iceland

William Belling at the rededication of the bell from HMCS Skeena in Burlington Ontario circa 1983.

Photographer: Kevin Lee

Courtesy of Kevin Lee

Requiem for a gallant fighter 


From the Toronto Star by George Gamster
15 Feb 2004

John (Jack) Ewing, RCNVR, RCN


RCNVR - 1936-1945

RCN Executive Branch

HMCS Skeena, HMCS Columbia


Dad, John ("Jack") F. Ewing joined the RCNVR Gunnery Branch at HMCS York (Toronto) in 1936. He served aboard Skeena during the Canal Cruise in 1937. In 1939, he was on the initial draft out of Toronto and went aboard the old Yankee four-stacker, I-49, HMCS Columbia. He took a bad fall on an icy deck in 1942 and his back prevented any further sea duty. He ended up as the Gunnery Chief at Cornwallis. Just before the end of the war, they tried to promote him to office rank, but he refused, saying it was better to be the big fish in a small pond than a small fish in the ocean. A short time later, they promoted him anyway to Sub. Lt. and that's how he ended in 1945. He was out for a short time, then rejoined the RCN (Executive Branch) and was Staff Officer at various Reserve units (York, then Griffon in Port Arthur), before becoming the Seamanship Officer at Stad. Then it was back to York for a second tour there and finally retirement as Lieut. He did one final cruise aboard Swansea as UNTD Cadet Officer.

Courtesy of Bill Ewing