Newsletter - RUSI Vancouver

Highlights of the November 13 Newsletter

World War II:  November 14 - 20, 1943
John Thompson Strategic Analyst - Quotes from his book “Spirit Over Steel”
BC Government WW1 Proclamation
RUSI Vancouver 2018 Speaker Series Continues on November 14
Remembering a Victoria Soldier, and the Family He Left Behind
Dave Obee, Times Colonist - Nov 10, 2018
Soldiers and Unlimited Liability
Nikki Coleman, Encyclopedia of Military Ethics
World War One Film Restored
Vancouver Artillery Association Yearbook Updates
Who Is It?
Newsletter Posters

RUSI Vancouver Speaker Series: Cam Cathcart, RUSI-Vancouver President - Nov. 14

78th Fraser Highlanders, Feast of St. Andrew Mess Dinner - Nov. 24

St. Barbara's Day Special Guest Night - Dec. 1

Commanding Officer's Annual Christmas Tea - 15th Field Artillery Officers' Mess, Dec. 9

Garrison Burns Supper - Jan. 26, 2019

See the complete November 13 RUSI Vancouver Newsletter HERE for articles and details (.pdf file)

Robert W. Mackay's Newsletter "Forces with History"

October 30

I’m very much looking forward to next weekend in Victoria. The occasion, as readers of prior editions of this newsletter will know, is the celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of the arrival of Her Majesty’s Submarines RAINBOW and OKANAGAN in the fleet.

Submariners old and bold will no doubt be present and spinning some salty dips that will seem much more heroic and clear-cut with most or all of the negatives peeled away by fading memories. One of the events hopefully included in the weekend will be a tour of one of our modern diesel-electrics, when we can meet a new generation of submariners.

I never served in HMCS RAINBOW but I know many who did. Speaking as an original member of OKANAGAN’S crew I can say that it’ll be very exciting to see as many as possible of those barnacled boys of earlier days.

One glaring omission from the combined Watch Bill for the two boats will be OKANAGAN’S first commanding officer, LCdr Nigel Frawley, RCN (ret’d), who is not making the trip west. But if he finds his ears ringing it will be because of fond toasts raised to him and his boat.

Before I stood by OKANAGAN I was trained in the RN and served in HMS ALDERNEY, an A-boat that was based for some years in Halifax. I borrowed her as a stand-in for HMCS ALERT, the fictional submarine in my book Terror on the ALERT. I’ll have copies of same for sale in Victoria but I can assure attendees I won’t be sitting behind a table waiting to pounce on passersby, a heap of books in front of me. If the any of the assembled crews would like a signed copy, however, I’ll be happy to oblige!

October 9

A Submarine Gathering approaches. Not the actual boats, but as many as a hundred submariners who served in HMCS RAINBOW and OKANAGAN will be in Victoria November 2-4 this year.

Fifty years ago the RCN welcomed the two boats to the fleet. For a short article about the "OK", see Forces With History #111, here. OKANAGAN was as swept up as any U-boat anywhere when she commissioned.

RAINBOW, though, was another story. In a previous life she was USS Argonaut, a Tench-class boat built at the Portsmouth Navy Yard in 1944. She carried out one war patrol against the Japanese, sinking a junk. Modified later, she served the USN in the Mediterranean Sea, then was tied up and more or less ignored until she was sold to Canada in 1968. Her Canadian crew worked miracles, delivering her safe and sound after an event-filled passage to Esquimalt where she was an integral unit in the RCN until 1974. Returned to the US, she was scrapped in 1974.

RAINBOW's spirit lives on, though. Her ship's company was a close-knit, highly efficient crew, and they'll be celebrating in Victoria.

October 2

It’s been 50 years since HMCS OKANAGAN, the third of Canada’s O-boats, sailed from Gosport for workups. And in November this year, the Submarine Association of Canada (West) will celebrate the anniversary of her commissioning in the Chatham Dockyard.

The occasion, November 2-4, will also mark HMCS RAINBOW’S 50th. More about her in a later post.

OKANAGAN went on to an illustrious career in the RCN, most of her operations taking place in the Atlantic out of Halifax. Along with her sister boats, OJIBWA and ONONDAGA, her life was extended by a major update of periscopes, sonar, torpedo tubes, etc in the late 1980s that kept her operating until the late ’90s.

One of OKANAGAN’S last tasks was the search for and locating of the flight recorders of Swissair 111 which sadly crashed off Peggy’s Cove in 1998.

Many of her crew, now known as “The Crunch Bunch,” will no doubt reminisce about an unhappy day in 1973 when the OKANAGAN had a run-in with the propellers of Royal Fleet Auxiliary Grey Rover.

HMCS OKANAGAN was paid off in 1998, and sold for scrap. Both her sister O-boats, though, are museum pieces in Ontario and Quebec. They can be toured by the public, and will give an idea of life in what some have called “the last and best” of the O-boats.

For a photo taken that memorable day when HMCS OKANAGAN slipped and proceeded from HMS DOLPHIN for her first workup, check out my blog here.

August 8

On August 8th, 1918, the Allies launched the Battle of Amiens, designed to knock the Germans back from their threatening position close to the vital Amiens-Paris rail line. At Zero-hour, 4:20 am, 4,600 heavy guns opened up, providing a creeping barrage to cover the infantry advance across the fog-shrouded fields of northern France.

At the heart of the attack were the Canadian and Australian Corps, with the Aussies on the left of the Canucks. To the left of them was the British Third Corp, and to the right of the Canadians the French First Army.

At 5:40 am the Canadian Cavalry Brigade joined the advance, operating under the Canadian Corps banner for the first time in the war. They swept forward through the infantry positions, a small part of the tens of thousands of mounted troopers in the fight on the Allied side.

Famously part of the undertaking were some 600-plus tanks, 324 of which were heavy British models.

Lighter, faster (a man’s walking pace!) Whippet tanks were assigned to each cavalry brigade, a sign of the changing times. The Whippets couldn’t keep up with the horsemen, but on the other hand they were mighty handy at times when the cavalrymen were up against heavy fire.

HMCS OKANAGAN was paid off in 1998, and sold for scrap. Both her sister O-boats, though, are museum pieces in Ontario and Quebec. They can be toured by the public, and will give an idea of life in what some have called “the last and best” of the O-boats.

For a photo taken that memorable day when HMCS OKANAGAN slipped and proceeded from HMS DOLPHIN for her first workup, check out my blog here.



* P. S.You're entitled to a free ebook when you buy a paperback copy

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RUSI Vancouver members gather for lunch on Wednesdays at 12:00 Noon at the Officers' Mess of the 15th Field Regiment (RCA) located in the Bessborough Armouries, 2013 West 11th Avenue, Vancouver, BC.




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