– Illustration by Malcolm Jones –
The Royal Canadian Navy racked up an admirable record in the Second World War, but one of its triumphs is little known. While the navy was battling U-boats in the Atlantic Ocean and aiding in the D-Day landings, it also managed to win the Grey Cup. Yes, that Grey Cup.
In 1944, for reasons that are vague, navy brass decided to organize a football team from two Montreal establishments, the naval reserve division HMCS Donnacona and the communications training school HMCS St. Hyacinthe.
John Crncich, who played for the team—known as the St. Hyacinthe-Donnacona Navy or the Navy Combines—said it was a Cinderella outfit.
“They formed a team of football, got into a league that might and, eventually, did vie for the Grey Cup and as it turned out, to ...