Able Seaman, H.M.C.S. Athabaskan, Royal Canadian
Navy Vol. Reserve,
who died on
Saturday, 29th April 1944.
Son of William James McCrindle and Cora Evelyn Reed McCrindle,
of Nipawin, Saskatchewan.
Halifax Memorial, Nova Scotia, Canada Grave Reference/ Panel
Number: Panel 11.
This Memorial in Nova Scotia's capital, erected in Point Pleasant
Park, is one of the few tangible reminders of the men who died
at sea. Twenty-four ships were lost by the Royal Canadian Navy
in the Second World War and nearly 2,000 members of the RCN lost
their lives. The Memorial was erected by the Commonwealth War
Graves Commission to commemorate men and women of the Forces
of the Commonwealth who fell in the 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 Wars
and have no known grave. It commemorates particularly those Canadian
men and women who lost their lives at sea. It was unveiled in
November 1967, with naval ceremony, by H.P. MacKeen, Lieutenant-Governor
of Nova Scotia, in the presence of R, Teillet, Minister of Veterans
Affairs. The monument is a great granite Cross of Sacrifice over
12 metres high, clearly visible to all ships approaching Halifax.
The cross is mounted on a large podium bearing bronze panels
upon which are inscribed the names of over 3,000 Canadian men
and women who were buried at sea. The dedicatory inscription,
in French and English, reads as follows: 1914 - 1918 1939 - 1945
IN HONOUR OF THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE NAVY, ARMY AND MERCHANT
NAVY OF CANADA WHOSE NAMES ARE INSCRIBED HERE. THEIR GRAVES ARE
UNKNOWN BUT THEIR MEMORY SHALL ENDURE.
According to a note, probably written by Harriet Bethia (Nunn)
Christopher, he joined the R.C.N.U.R. in 1942. He trained in
Saskatoon, SK, Esquimalt BC, and Naiobi, Scotland . He served
from several overseas ports and went down with his ship, the
H.M.C.S. Athabaskan near the Isle de Batz off the coast of France,
April 29, 1944.
On April 29, 1944, the Haida and Athabaskan were escorting minelayers
near the Isle de Batz off the coast of France when they were
alerted by HQ Plymouth that two ships had been detected steaming
towards them. The two German Elbings T24 and T27 were sighted
at 0412 when Haida fired a starshell, followed quickly by both
Haida's and Athabaskan's opening rounds. The Germans fired torpedoes
when the star shells lit them up and departed at top speed. Haida
turned and "combed" the torpedo tracks from the Elbings,
but the Athabaska was hit by a torpedo on the starboard quarter
from one of two E-boats that had slipped in undetected on the
side away from the Elbings.
The Athbaskan had started damage control, but the ship was settling
rapidly. Ten minutes after the first torpedo, a second one hit
just behind the forecastle, blowing up a magazine and one boiler.
A tower of flame went up in the air that was seen 30 miles away.
The ship was soon ablaze from one end to the other. The order
to "Abandon Ship" was given.
Haida steamed back to Athabaskan's location only to find the
ship had sunk, and the crew was in the water spread over half
a mile. It lowered nets, dropped its launch and threw over all
of the small rafts to help the men in the water. However, the
wind was blowing the ship away from the men, and towards a possible
mine-field. With dawn breaking, Haida was forced to get away
from possible Luftwaffe retaliation and left with 42 men it had
picked up. The ship's launch rescued another six men and sailed
back to England. Athabaskan's Captain and 128 men were lost and
83 taken prisoner by German ships that arrived at dawn.
The full story of HMCS Athabaskan is told in a book The Unlucky
Lady by Len Burrow and Emile Beaudoin.
Commemorated on Page 383 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance
that lie in the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower on Parliament