The Atlantic War

When Candada declaired war on Germany on Sept.10,1939 the RCN began building auxiliary vessels-corvettes and minesweepers as fast as they could be produced. In March of 1940 the British Royal Navy agreed to build Tribals (destroyers)for Canada, Canadians hoped that these destroyers would form the main thrust of the wartime expansion. Later 100 more ships were ordered from Canada. This worked realy well for Canadian because there were many jobs that needed to be filled and Canada could always find jobs for auxiliary vessels. When Western Europe collapsed in the 1940's it changed the war and made it so that the war became one of survival and eventually pushed the war at sea westwards. During the summer months every available destroyer was working off the coast of France and when there was a threat of invasion these ships and four former Amaerican destroyers were assigned to duty in United Kingdom waters.


Since the begginging of the war there had been little training for those men who had wanted to serve in the RCN. This continued into 1941 when a large number of escort ships were commisioned and used as training vessels. The only person on the ships that knew how navigate and shiphadle, as well as having to know how to read all the vessel sighnals was the captian and he was usually a merchant master. The whole control of the ship depended on this one man and his abilities. Some concidered that the corvettes " more of a liberity than an asset to an escort group "


During the war it was not only the men that were illprepared it was the ships as well. During the years from 1941-1944 the corvettes carried the burdon of Canada's opperations. This was not concerding that the corvette was designed to opperate near the coasts and defend ports. The first 54 corvettes that were ordered for Canada all carried minesweeping gear, and the first 64 commisioned corvettes by 1942 didn't have the structural changes that they required to be ocean escorts. Around 1944 the old corvettes had had the modernization that they needed to contiune the war, but even though some were changed the RCN had to fight the hardest part of the war with ships that were totally unsuited for the tasks that they had to complet. By 1941 the RCN had a new fleet of about 100 new ships of all different kinds. Around this time the Germans were pushing their submarine attack further into the North Atlantic. This ment that the British had to move the base of their escort to Iceland, when doing this they left a very large and vanerable gap between there and Halifax. The RCN was asked to fill this gap, and now the new auxilary fleet a purpose. in 1941 the Newfoundland Escort Force came in play and was based in St. Johns and became responsible for the " North Atlantic Run"


With the development of the NEF Canada assumed sole responsibility west of Iceland.