HMCS Wetaskiwin (K175)

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HMCS Wetaskawin, circa 1943-1944
HMCS Wetaskawin, circa 1943-1944.
Career (Canada)
Name: Wetaskiwin
Namesake: Wetaskiwin, Alberta
Operator: Royal Canadian Navy
Ordered: 14 February 1940
Builder: Burrard Dry Dock Co. Ltd., North Vancouver
Laid down: 11 April 1940
Launched: 18 July 1940
Commissioned: 17 December 1940
Identification: Pennant number: K175
Honours and
awards:
Atlantic 1941-45;[1] Gulf of St. Lawrence 1944[2]
Fate: sold to Venezuelan Navy as ARV Victoria
Career (Venezuela)
Name: Victoria
Operator: Venezuelan Navy
Acquired: purchased from Royal Canadian Navy
Commissioned: 1946
Out of service: 1962
General characteristics
Class & type: Flower-class corvette (original)[3]
Displacement: 925 long tons (940 t; 1,036 short tons)
Length: 205 ft (62.48 m)o/a
Beam: 33 ft (10.06 m)
Draught: 11.5 ft (3.51 m)
Propulsion:

single shaft
2 × fire tube Scotch boilers
1 × 4-cycle triple-expansion reciprocating steam engine

2,750 ihp (2,050 kW)
Speed: 16 knots (29.6 km/h)
Range: 3,500 nautical miles (6,482 km) at 12 knots (22.2 km/h)
Complement: 85
Sensors and
processing systems:

1 × SW1C or 2C radar

1 × Type 123A or Type 127DV sonar
Armament:

1 × BL 4-inch (101.6 mm) Mk.IX single gun
2 × .50 cal machine gun (twin)
2 × Lewis .303 cal machine gun (twin)
2 × Mk.II depth charge throwers
2 × depth charge rails with 40 depth charges

originally fitted with minesweeping gear, later removed

HMCS Wetaskiwin was a Flower-class corvette of the Royal Canadian Navy that served during the Second World War. She served primarily as a convoy escort in the Battle of the Atlantic. She was named after the city of Wetaskiwin, Alberta. Wetaskiwin was the first Pacific coast built corvette to enter service with the Royal Canadian Navy.[4]

Background[edit]

Main article: Flower class corvette

Flower-class corvettes like Wetaskiwin serving with the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War were different from earlier and more traditional sail-driven corvettes.[5][6][7] The "corvette" designation was created by the French for classes of small warships; the Royal Navy borrowed the term for a period but discontinued its use in 1877.[8] During the hurried preparations for war in the late 1930s, Winston Churchill reactivated the corvette class, needing a name for smaller ships used in an escort capacity, in this case based on a whaling ship design.[9] The generic name "flower" was used to designate the class of these ships, which – in the Royal Navy – were named after flowering plants.[10]

Corvettes commissioned by the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War were named after communities for the most part, to better represent the people who took part in building them. This idea was put forth by Admiral Percy W. Nelles. Sponsors were commonly associated with the community for which the ship was named. Royal Navy corvettes were designed as open sea escorts, while Canadian corvettes were developed for coastal auxiliary roles which was exemplified by their minesweeping gear. Eventually the Canadian corvettes would be modified to allow them to perform better on the open seas.[11]

Construction[edit]

Originally named Banff for Banff, Alberta, she was ordered 14 February 1940 as part of the 1939-1940 Flower-class building program.[11] She was laid down by Burrard Dry Dock Co. Ltd. in North Vancouver on 11 April 1940 and launched on 18 July 1940.[12][2] Before commissioning her name was changed due to a name conflict with a Royal Navy vessel and she was commissioned as Wetaskiwin on 17 December 1940 at Esquimalt, British Columbia.[4][11]

During her career, Wetaskiwin had three significant refits. The first began in February 1942 at Liverpool, Nova Scotia. The second began in mid-January 1943 and was completed in March at Liverpool. Further repairs were needed at Halifax after the refit was completed. In December 1943, Wetaskiwin was sent to Galveston, Texas to refit. This refit took until 6 March 1944 during which her fo'c'sle was extended. It was to be her final major refit of the war.[4][12]

War Duty[edit]

After working up in the Pacific, Wetaskiwin was transferred to the Atlantic Ocean in March 1941. She arrived at Halifax 13 April 1941. In May she was assigned to the Newfoundland Escort Force as a convoy escort on the route between St. John's and Iceland. She remained with this unit until January 1942, when she departed for refit. During this assignment, Wetaskiwin participated in the battles for convoy SC 42 in September 1941 and convoy SC 48 in October 1941.[4]

After returning to service, Wetaskiwin joined the Mid-Ocean Escort Force (MOEF) escort group C-3. While escorting Convoy ON 115, on 31 July 1942 she shared the destruction of U-588 with HMCS Skeena.[4] She also participated in the battle for Convoy SC 109.

After yard overhaul, Wetaskiwin was assigned to MOEF escort group A-3 for the battle of Convoy HX 233. When group A3 disbanded, Wetaskiwin was assigned to MOEF group C-5 in May 1943 and participated in the battle for Convoy HX 305.[10] Wetaskiwin escorted North American coastal convoys with the Western Local Escort Force (WLEF) from October 1944 until May 1945.[13] As a member of WLEF she was assigned to escort group W-7 for the majority of her time with the force.[4]

Trans-Atlantic Convoys Escorted[edit]

Convoy Escort Group Dates Notes
HX 147 29 August-8 September 1941[14] 64 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Iceland
SC 42 10–16 September 1941[15] Newfoundland to Iceland; 15 ships torpedoed & sunk
ON 16 20–26 September 1941[16] 42 ships escorted without loss from Iceland to Newfoundland
SC 48 9–17 October 1941[15] Newfoundland to Iceland; 9 ships torpedoed & sunk
ON 27 23 October-2 November 1941[16] 61 ships escorted without loss from Iceland to Newfoundland
SC 54 12–22 November 1941[15] 70 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Iceland
ON 40 30 November-4 December 1941[16] 28 ships escorted without loss from Iceland to Newfoundland
SC 60 19–28 December 1941[15] 22 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Iceland
ON 52 5–11 January 1942[16] 42 ships escorted without loss from Iceland to Newfoundland
HX 191 MOEF group C3 28 May-5 June 1942[14] 24 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 104 MOEF group C3 17–27 June 1942[16] 36 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
SC 90 MOEF group C3 6–16 July 1942[15] 32 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 115 MOEF group C3 25 July-2 August 1942[16] Northern Ireland to Newfoundland; 3 ships torpedoed (2 sank)
HX 202 MOEF group C3 12–17 August 1942[14] 43 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Iceland
ON 121 MOEF group C3 17–20 August 1942[16] 34 ships escorted without loss from Iceland to Newfoundland
SC 98 MOEF group C3 2–12 September 1942[15] 69 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 131 MOEF group C3 19–28 September 1942[16] 54 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 210 MOEF group C3 7–14 October 1942[14] 36 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 141 MOEF group C3 26 October-3 November 1942[16] 59 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
SC 109 MOEF group C3 16–28 November 1942[15] Newfoundland to Northern Ireland; 2 ships torpedoed (1 sank)
ON 152 MOEF group C3 10–28 December 1942[16] 15 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 221 MOEF group C3 31 December 1942-5 January 1943[14] 36 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
HX 233 MOEF group A3 12–20 April 1943[14] Newfoundland to Northern Ireland; 1 ship torpedoed & sunk
ON 182 MOEF group C5 7–16 May 1943[16] 56 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 240 MOEF group C5 25 May-3 June 1943[14] 56 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 188 MOEF group C5 11–20 June 1943[16] 56 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 245 MOEF group C5 29 June-5 July 1943[14] 84 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 193 MOEF group C5 17–25 July 1943[16] 80 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 250 MOEF group C5 5–11 August 1943[14] 75 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 199 MOEF group C5 27 August-4 September 1943[16] 59 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 256 MOEF group C5 15–21 September 1943[14] 59 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 205 MOEF group C5 6–16 October 1943[16] 66 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 262 MOEF group C5 24 October-2 November 1943[14] 59 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 211 MOEF group C5 14–24 November 1943[16] 49 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 295 MOEF group C5 15–23 June 1944[14] 80 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 243 MOEF group C5 4–12 July 1944[16] 89 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 300 MOEF group C5 24 July-3 August 1944[14] 166 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland in the largest convoy of the war
ON 248S MOEF group C5 11–21 August 1944[16] 102 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 305 MOEF group C5 30 August-9 September 1944[14] Newfoundland to Northern Ireland; 2 ships torpedoed & sunk
ON 255 MOEF group C5 23 September-4 October 1944[16] 84 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland

Post-war service[edit]

Following the end of hostilities, Wetaskiwin was paid off at Sorel, Quebec 19 June 1945.[3] In 1946 she was sold to the Venezuelan Navy and renamed Victoria. She was discarded and sold for scrapping in 1962.[4]

Ship's badge[edit]

Wetaskawin's unofficial badge.

Between 1910 and 1948, there were no official badges or insignia for the Royal Canadian Navy's ships. During the Second World War, many ships in the rapidly expanding RCN had an unofficial badge, often using humorous imagery or cartoon characters and other references to popular culture. In the case of corvettes, they were usually mounted on the shield for the ship's 4-inch gun or on the outside of the bridge.[17] Wetaskawin's badge featured a queen of hearts sitting in a puddle of water, which was a reference to the ship's nickname: "Wet Ass Queen".

The original "wet ass queen" painting from the Wetaskawin's wardroom bulkhead hangs on the wall at the Crow's Nest Officer's Club in St. John's Newfoundland. [1]. The reproduction was painted by Burnie Forbes, a rating (ordinary seaman), at the request of the Wetaskawin's CO, in 1942. Because Forbes was not an officer, he was not permitted in the club to see the original and had to paint the gun shield based on descriptions of the original from the ship's officers.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Battle Honours". Britain's Navy. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "HMCS Wetaskiwin by the numbers". Wetaskiwin Times. 28 April 2010. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Lenton, H.T.; Colledge, J.J (1968). British and Dominion Warships of World War II. Doubleday & Company. pp. 201, 211. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Macpherson, Ken; Burgess, John (1981). The ships of Canada's naval forces 1910–1981 : a complete pictorial history of Canadian warships. Toronto: Collins. pp. 88–89, 231–232. ISBN 0-00216-856-1. 
  5. ^ Ossian, Robert. "Complete List of Sailing Vessels". The Pirate King. Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  6. ^ Fitzsimons, Bernard, ed. (1978). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons & Warfare 11. London: Phoebus. pp. 1137–1142. 
  7. ^ Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II. New Jersey: Random House. 1996. p. 68. ISBN 0-517-67963-9. 
  8. ^ Blake, Nicholas; Lawrence, Richard (2005). The Illustrated Companion to Nelson's Navy. Stackpole Books. pp. 39–63. ISBN 0-8117-3275-4. 
  9. ^ Chesneau, Roger; Gardiner, Robert (June 1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships (1922–1946). Naval Institute Press. p. 62. ISBN 0-87021-913-8. 
  10. ^ a b Milner, Marc (1985). North Atlantic Run. Naval Institute Press. pp. 117–119, 142–145, 158, 175–176, 226, 235, 285–291. ISBN 0-87021-450-0. 
  11. ^ a b c Macpherson, Ken; Milner, Marc (1993). Corvettes of the Royal Canadian Navy 1939–1945. St. Catharines: Vanwell Publishing. ISBN 1-55125-052-7. 
  12. ^ a b "HMCS Wetaskiwin (K 175)". Uboat.net. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  13. ^ "Convoy Web". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "HX convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g "SC convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "ON convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  17. ^ CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum, The Badge Project, www.navalandmilitarymuseum.org, Retrieved 26 September 2011.

External links[edit]