The sinking of SS Athenia

Britain declared war on Germany at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 3, 1939. At just after 7 o’clock that evening, Captain James Cook of the passenger liner SS Athenia joined his first-class guests for dinner. While the ship had actually gotten underway two days earlier—en route from Glasgow to Montreal via Belfast and Liverpool—Cook had felt...
  • Hidden Victory In The St. Lawrence: Navy, Part 53

    September 22, 2012 by Marc Milner
    By any measure, admitting defeat in the St. Lawrence in September 1942 was a blow to the Royal Canadian Navy and to the government. Both took intense heat in Parliament and in the media for their inability to keep the nation’s main artery open in...
  • The Luck Of The U-boats: Navy, Part 52

    July 22, 2012 by Marc Milner
    By the time Paul Hartwig and Eberhard Hoffmann in U-517 and U-165 began their rampage in the lower St. Lawrence River, the navy and the government had decided to close—as soon as possible—the river and gulf to oceanic shipping.By the time Paul Hartwig and Eberhard...
  • Torpedoed In The St. Lawrence: Navy, Part 51

    May 29, 2012 by Marc Milner
    It was fortunate for the Royal Canadian Navy and for the Canadian government that attacks by U-165 and U-517 in August and early September 1942 took place in the remote reaches of the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Indeed, since the attacks took place off...
  • Predators In The St. Lawrence: Navy, Part 50

    March 29, 2012 by Marc Milner
    The attacks on Nicoya and Leto on May 12, 1942, signalled the commencement of what became known as the Battle of the St. Lawrence, the most important enemy intrusion into Canadian territory—and the Canadian psyche—of the war. Although the threat was continuous throughout the shipping...
  • In the early morning darkness of May 12, 1942, U-553, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Karl Thurmann, sank the steamers Nicoya and Leto, 16 kilometres off the Gaspé coast. Thurmann had pursued the 5,364-ton British freighter Nicoya for roughly an hour before the first torpedo struck. In...
  • U-boats And The Spy Who Came Ashore: Navy, Part 48

    December 12, 2011 by Marc Milner
    While residents of British Columbia waited for the war to reach their shores in the early months of 1942, submarines attacked along the east coast for the first time since 1918. For most historians the assault on Canada’s shipping began with the sinking of the...
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