Clemson class Destroyer (USN)


Town Class Destroyer (RCN)



Persta Atque Obdura

Be Steadfast and Endure


Click on the above photo to view a larger image


Laid down: 04 Nov 1918

Launched: 21 Mar 1919

Commissioned: 30 Jun 1919

Transferred to RCN: 24 Sep 1940

Commissioned: 24 Sep 1940

Paid off: 11 Jun 1945

Fate: Sunk off Rhode Island on 14 Jul 1945


Commissioned on 30 Jun 1919 as USS BANCROFT, her career almost exactly paralleled that of her sister, USS MCCOOK, and she was turned over to the RCN at Halifax on the same day (24 Sep 1940), becoming HMCS ST FRANCIS. HMCS ST FRANCIS and it was refitted for escort duty. During the refit one boiler was removed to increase fuel capacity, the four inch deck guns were replaced with anti-aircraft weapons and the torpedo tubes were replaced with depth charge projectors. She spent the remainder of the year based at Halifax, and on 05 Nov 1940, searched for the Admiral Scheer following the latter's attack on convoy HX.84.  Ordered to Scotland, she left Halifax on 15 Jan 1941 for the Clyde where she joined the 4th Escort Group, January 26, 1941. May 20th she rescued survivors from the steamer Starcross, which had been torpedoed. In July 1941 ST FRANCIS joined the Newfoundland Escort Force. Between 1941 and 1943 ST FRANCIS escorted numerous Atlantic convoys and made several attacks on submarines. On completion of her refit in Apr 1943, she returned to MOEF, but by Nov 1943 was again urgently in need of repairs, which were carried out at Shelburne, N.S. In Feb 1944, she was allocated to HMCS CORNWALLIS as a training ship. On 01 Apr 1945 she was declared surplus and paid off on 11 Jun 1945. On July 14, 1945, she was under tow of the tug Peter Norman, and bound for Baltimore to be broken up for scrap. After passing through the Cape Cod Canal, the vessels encountered a thick fog, which enshrouded Buzzards Bay. Near the entrance to the bay the collier Windward Gulf collided with the old destroyer opening a hole in its hull. The Peter Norman tried to ground the destroyer, but it was taking on water too quickly and soon sank on an even keel in 60 feet of water approximately 2 miles off Acoaxet with no loss of life.


Ship's badge description:  Within a shield frame proper, a board containing three red maple leaves on a pale brown field in chief. Below, a light blue Greek cross running from border to border on a pale yellow field. (Source: Designs of Distinction by David Freeman)



Photos and Documents          Ship's company photos          The Ship's Bell



Commanding Officers


A/LCdr Hugh Francis Pullen, RCN - 24 Sep 1940 - 25 Aug 1941

Lt C.A. Rutherford, RCN - 26 Aug 1941 - 03 Jul 1942

LCdr Frank Creighton Smith, RCNR - 04 Jul 1942 - 17 Feb 1943

A/LCdr Harold Victor William Groos, RCN - 18 Feb 1943 - 15 Nov 1943

Lt Gordon Leslie MacKay, RCNR - 16 Nov 1943 - 27 Dec 1943

A/LCdr James Fraser Watson, RCNR - 17 Jan 1944 - 11 Oct 1944

Skpr/Lt C.C. Clattenburg, RCNR - 12 Oct 1944 - 12 Nov 1944

A/LCdr James Fraser Watson, RCNR - 13 Nov 1944 - 11 Jun 1945



     In memory of those who have crossed the bar    

They shall not be forgotten




Former Crew Members


Anderson, Andrew Holburn, Lt, RCNVR - 19 Feb 1945


Anderson, William Royce, SLt (E), RCNVR - 23 Feb 1944


Baker, Allan Aylesworth, Lt (E), RCNVR - Jan 1944


Duffy, Joseph A., Skpr, RCNR - 28 Mar 1945


Durant, Frederick William Skpr/Lt, RCNR - Jan 1944


Fournier, Rod, SLt, RCNVR - 22 Feb 1944


Johnston, William David Falconer, Lt, RCNR - 26 May 1941


Lapointe, Joseph Louis Maurice, SLt, RCNVR - 12 Feb 1944 / 21 Feb 1944


MacKay, Gordn Leslie, Lt, RCNR - 03 Jun 1943

Madley, Sidney Gerald, CPO ERA - 1942-1945


McCaffrey, George Frederick William, SLt (E), RCNVR - 29 Mar 1944


McLeish, John Alexander Fowler, Mate, RCNR - 23 Feb 1942


McMeans, Frederick Andrew, Lt (E), RCNVR - 12 Jul 1943


Nieustad, Pieter Cornelius, Lt (E), RCNR - Jan 1941


Roche, George Vanstone, Lt (E), RCNVR - 07 Apr 1943

Savard, Clement, Lt, RCN - 04 Jul 1942


Smith, Eric Claude, SLt, RCNVR - 15 Jul 1941


Smith, John Rankin, Surg/Lt, RCNVR - 20 May 1941


Thomas, Ivor Rosser, Lt, RCNVR - Jan 1944


Wall, Thomas (Tommy) Wilson, SLt, RCN - 02 Mar 1943


Wheelock, Gordon Howard, Surg/Lt, RCNVR - 06 Feb 1942


Williams, Robert Lyman, Lt, RCNVR - 02 Mar 1943


Wooley, John Thomas, SLt, RCNVR - 26 Jan 1942




Photos and Documents


Boat badge for HMCS ST FRANCIS

Source: Designs of Distinction by David Freeman



Source:  Government of NS Virtual Archives - H.F. Pullen NSARM accession no. 1984-573 Box 1 F/16

HMCS ST FRANCIS, which is escorting a convoy, prepares to take on fuel from a tanker at sea, 7 November 1942.


 Source: Lt Gerald M. Moses / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-116335

"Drip" - one of HMCS ST FRANCIS' mascots, Glasgow, Scotlant


Drip was stolen/mascot-napped


From the collection of Robert V. Richmond

Courtesy of Bob Richmond

"Sooner" - one of HMCS ST FRANCIS' mascots, with his owner


From the collection of Robert V. Richmond

Courtesy of Bob Richmond

The young lad in this photo was an errand boy who visited the ship every day with his friend while ST FRANCIS was in refit at Pictou, NS


From the collection of Robert V. Richmond

Courtesy of Bob Richmond



The following photos are from the collection of LCdr Douglas John Ford, RCNVR, Ret'd. They were taken while he served in HMCS ST FRANCIS. All photos unless otherwise mentioned were taken on or from HMCS ST FRANCIS. Doug was a member of the crew that went down to the USA to pick up USS Bancroft, one of the destroyers that was given to Britain as part of the lend lease act, and bring her to Halifax where she was commissioned in the RCN as HMCS ST FRANCIS. The photos are displayed in groups of 8 photos; numbered left to right in each group for labeling where info is known. They have been published here courtesy of his son Jay Ford.

Group 1



(1) Looking aft on HMCS ST FRANCIS (2) Gunnery Officer  (3) Convoy as seen from ST FRANCIS (4-7) Convoy forming up - place unknown (7) Heavy seas about to wash over the quarterdeck of HMCS ST FRANCIS  

Group 2



(1) Officer on the bridge of HMCS ST FRANCIS  (2) Look from the bridge of ST FRANCIS at the bow of another warship  (3) Ships alongside jetty in Halifax - (right to left) HMCS Prince David, HMCS Prince Henry, then a River class destroyer and a Town class destroyer. (4) Depth charge racks on HMCS ST FRANCIS  (5) Unknown officers and men on HMCS ST FRANCIS (6) Lt Doug Ford by the forward gun of HMCS ST FRANCIS.  (7) Lt Ford on the fo'c's'le of HMCS ST FRANCIS. Note the ships badge on the bridge in the upper left corner of the photo  (8) Quarter deck and depth charge racks of HMCS ST FRANCIS

Group 3



(3) unknown officer on bridge of HCMS ST FRANCIS  (4)  Depth charge racks on quarterdeck of HMCS ST FRANCIS  (5) Three shipmates ashore  (8) unknown corvette

Group 4


(1) Torpedo Director position on HMCS ST FRANCIS  (2) Torpedo Director position on HMCS ST FRANCIS  (4) Fo'c's'le of HMCS ST FRANCIS  (6&7) Machine gun on the bridge of HMCS ST FRANCIS

Group 5



These three photos were give their own group to emphasize the conditions faced in the North Atlantic. These photos show the quarter deck of HMCS ST FRANCIS where the depth charge racks are.  In the middle photo you can see the depth charge racks.  In photos 1 and 3 the quarter deck and depth charge racks are completely submerged.

Group 6



(1) Mascot of HMCS ST FRANCIS - name unknown  (2) photo of desolate shoreline and a sheep  (3) Looking astern of HMCS ST FRANCIS, at calmer seas, but they are still washing over the quarterdeck  (4) Officers on the bridge of HMCS ST FRANCIS  (5) Officers on the bridge of HMCS ST FRANCIS  (6) Looking astern from the crow's nest on HMCS ST FRANCIS  (7) HMCS ST FRANCIS taking a roll to starboard. The equipment / gear by the 2nd funnel looks to be twisted and smashed up  (8) A depth charge exploding astern of HMCS ST FRANCIS

Group 7



Officers on / from HMCS ST FRANCIS