Quarterdeck of R.C.N. frigate in rough seas off Halifax, N.S., January 1944
Photo : National Defence
The Canadian Armed Forces: The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN)
By war's end, the Royal Canadian Navy had grown
into one of the world's great
navies -- 100,000 men and women and 365 warships. Just six years
earlier, it had been tiny, with only 3500 permanent and part-time
('reserve') members and six modern destroyers and four minesweepers.
The growth was rapid and enormous, and with it came huge problems
in training people and readying ships for sea, some of which led
to tragic losses of men and ships.
The Canadian navy's main work, using small, versatile Canadian-built antisubmarine
warships known as corvettes, was as an escort force for the merchant
ships whose Atlantic Ocean cargoes were vital to Britain's survival.
This force played a decisive part in defeating the German submarines
deep in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Arctic Circle
and the Mediterranean Sea. The contributed
mightily to other major operations, such as the landing of Allied armies on
the coast of German-occupied France on 6 June 1944. ( See D-Day and the Normandy
Campaign) One major Canadian warship
also saw action in the bitterly-fought battles against Japan in
the Pacific. The
lost 24 ships, mostly in the Atlantic, during the war.
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