1st Canadian Naval casualty of WW2

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Prop wash, Aug 22, 2011.

  1. Prop wash

    Prop wash Member

    Abel Seaman Rodney Trevor WOODWARD, 2938, RCN was the first Canadian Naval casualty of WW2 and came from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Trevor Woodward was born May 1920 and entered the Royal Canadian Navy as a boy (seaman class) in May 1937. He trained at Naden and HMCS Skeena and served in ST Laurent. In November 1939 he was sent overseas for a submarine detector's course. His vessel was bounced by two German messershmitt ME-110's where A/S Woodward was fately injured in a machine-gun engagement with the two enemy aircraft in the North Sea while serving in a Royal Navy anti-submarine motor boat. He was on a three month extension of his overseas draft at the time of his death. Funeral for AB Woodward was held at Great Yarmouth, England, July 22, 1940. Burial Caister Cemetery 3 miles North of Great Yarmouth on the main coast road north (A149). Grave site is almost in the south-east corner of the cemetery, in the rear row - that is viewed from the path leading south from the main entrance.

    Can anyone tell me which flotilla or vesssel he was serving on at the time?

    WW1 - Canada's Last Man To Fall also from Moose Jaw
    #256265 Private George Lawrence PRICE
    read the story here.
    CEF WW1 Soldier George Lawrence Price

    17thDYRCH and brithm like this.
  2. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    From CWGC:

    Initials:R T
    Rank:Able Seaman
    Regiment/Service:Royal Canadian Navy
    Unit Text:H.M.C.S. Niobe.
    Date of Death:19/07/1940
    Service No:2938
    Additional information:Son of William S. Woodward and Ada Woodward, of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada.
    Casualty Type:Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference:Sec. A. (Naval Reservation).
    Grave 102.

    Have a look at http://www.secretscotland.org.uk/index.php/Secrets/HMCSNiobe which shows that HMCS Niobe was a shore establishment in Scotland. But you probably know that already. :D


    I would say the only way to find out his vessel and or flotilla would be to get his records. The last time I thought about getting a copy of someone's records from Canada it was going to cost me over $200 Canadian, so I didn't. (There were quite a few pages though, so it's probably value for money, but can't afford it at the moment.)

    Guy Hudson likes this.
  3. Prop wash

    Prop wash Member

    Hi Mark

    War records for Able Seaman Woodward are available free of charge from the Library and Archives Canada, down side is there's a lengthly waiting period for documents. Shall order them up.

    What is the URL for the newpaper release on his death?

  4. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    Sorry Bill, I usually make sure I post the sources. I found it via Search Details - Veterans Affairs Canada.

    Glad the records are free. I double checked the ones I was looking at 292pages at $Can116.80, so I got the number skewed.

  5. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    H.M.C.S Niobe was also shore establishment in Halifax in WW1. My grandfather served on her.
  6. Billy McGee

    Billy McGee Senior Member

  7. Such a pitty young men must die
  8. Prop wash

    Prop wash Member

  9. Prop wash

    Prop wash Member

    Something of interest - WW1, Canada's Last Man To Fall hailed from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan refer to my initial message.

  10. Prop wash

    Prop wash Member

    New information on the death of Abel Seaman Woodward to follow. Please be patient as I'm experiencing computer issues.

  11. Prop wash

    Prop wash Member

    Except from the Moose Jaw Express, week of November 3, 2014 - Page C11

    Who Was Abel Seaman Rodney Treavor Woodward - by Richard Dowson

    Rodney was born in Moose Jaw on May 2, 1920 and grew up at Clifton Avenue. He attended Ross and King George public schools and then Central Collegiate. Rodney loved playing hockey and in the off season he played rugby. After completing high school he worked for Bennett's Books Store on Main Street in Moose Jaw during the winter of 1936-37. These were difficult times financially. Saskatchewan was in the depths of the Great Depression. There was little work and few prospects for work. Rodney's original career choise was to join the Royal Canadian Air Force but his high school marks were not particularly high and there was a long waiting list. Rodney probably througt time and opportunity were passing him by and chances with the Air Force were slim. He applied to the Royal Canadian Navy and was accepted. He left Moose Jaw in May 1937 for the Royal Canadian Navy base at Esqimalt, British Columbia. The Navy and Rodney seemed to be a perfect fit. On his first extended leave, in the summer of 1939 he returned to his parents home at 1131 Clifton Avenue, Moose Jaw, to meet friends and tell all who would listen how much he enjoyed Navy life. He had found where he belonged. War was declaed in September 1939 and Abel Seman Rodney T. Woodward shipped out for Britain. he was unable to visit his parents and Moose Jaw before he left Esquimalt. His voyage to britain was hasty arranged and all leave was cancelled. Rodney loved Moose Jaw and his mother, Ada Woodward sent him many bundlesof the local newspaper so he could keep up with the news back home. In fact his mother had sent him a batch of newspapers on the afternoon of July 19, 1940, not knowing he was killed ia action, at sea that very day. His ship HMS Watchful brought his body back to Dover and arrangements were made for a funeral at Yarmouth, England that took place on July 22, 1940 with full military honours. Rodney's 84 year old grandmother - the mother of Ada Woodward was living at Yarmouth at the time and was informed with the hope that she would be able to attend the funeral. Not including Rodney, there were four boys and one girl in the Woodward family. They were Victor, Lionel, William and Graham and the sister's name was Norah. Brother Graham Woodward age sixteen applied for the Royal canadian Navy and was accepted and he survived the war.

    To be continued.
  12. Prop wash

    Prop wash Member

    How Was Abel Seaman Rodney Trevor Woodward Killed?

    As with many Canadian sailors, Rodney was on loan to the Royal Navy. He was killed while serving aboard the Royal Navy ship HMS Watchful, a small, anti-submarine, high speed motor torpedo boat which was on patrol in the English Channel when he was killed. Rodney Woodward died at his machine-gun station aboard HMS Watchful while at sea in the English Channel. The little high speed motor launch was attacked and machine-gunned by two German Messerschmitt 110 fighters. The ship was seriously damaged but by using its high speed the small boat made it back to port at Dover. Prior to his death Abel seaman Woodward, R.C.N. and the crew of HMS Watchful had participated in the May 29/30/31, 1940 evacuation of military personnel from Dunkirk, France, transporting fighting men back to England. By July 19, 1940 when Rodney was killed Britain was on high alert certain the Germans would invade at any minute. HMS Watchful patrolled the English Channel searching for German submarines and looking for any indication of a German invasion of England. It was a tense time. Europe had fallen to the Nazi hordes. great Britain was all alone in its fight against Hitler and the Nazis.

    To be continued.
  13. Prop wash

    Prop wash Member


    It came to light a few years ago that Royal Navy Abel Seaman Jack Burgess was at the wheel of HMS Watchful when she was shot up. He was responsible for being certain Able Seaman Woodward's remains were recoverd after the aerial attack and brought back for burial. According to the Burgess family records, HMS Watchful was brought to Admiralty Pier in Dover's West Docks. It began sinking and was then beached near prince of Wales Pier for repair. The surviving crew coped with the tragety like sailors in the past.They went to the Pub on Snargate street, where they probably stayed for many hours. Moose Jaw and the Canadian Navy traditions are not confined to R.C.N. and Royal Navy. A Moose Jaw man a sailor with the United States Navy was killed in action during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941.
  14. Prop wash

    Prop wash Member

    Anyone know of a good photo for HMS Watchful ?

  15. Prop wash

    Prop wash Member

    After a desperate google search for a full military dress photo of HMS WATCHFUL one might assume said historic photo of the vessel was of little signifiance likely due to war-time restrictions.

    How sad...!!

  16. Prop wash

    Prop wash Member

    Shall try again;

    Anyone aware of a photo of HMS WatchFUL in Navy gray...???

  17. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    I removed the link to the photo as I think it will just cause confusion. I came across the following 1965 edition of the Crowsnest with a short piece on Able Seaman Rodney Trevor Woodward.


    It contains this statement:

    "Initially he was attached to HMS Victory but in May 1940 HMS Osprey became his parent establishment while he was serving in Motor Anti-Submarine Boat 8. In June the boat shifted to the jurisdiction of HMS Watchful. In July, the fatal action took place."

    Some info and specs on Motor Anti-Submarine Boat 8:


    Hopefully I'm on the right track there.
    Guy Hudson likes this.
  18. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    The event in post 13 involving Abel Seaman Jack Burgess occurred at the evacuation Dunkirk (Operation Dynamo). Yes Burgess was on a vessel called the HMS Watchful but was it same one on which young Rodney Woodward lost his life later in July of 1940? I believe the HMS Watchful that Burgess took the wheel of is still sailing today out of Scarborough under the name MV Coronia.


    Does that make sense? I think there has been some confusion between shore establishment and ship names here.

    Regards ...
  19. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Yes I think you are on the right track - HMS WATCHFUL was an admin shore base in Great Yarmouth (former RN hospital Great Yarmouth).

  20. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    MASB 8 - MGB 8

    Let's assume for the moment that MASB 8 is the correct boat. The uboat.net site says it was a 70 footer and later "Reclassified MGB 8 in January 1941". There is a photo of MGB 8 provided by Alan Benn on the BPB site page 4, said to be a 60 footer. The drawing comes from "British Motor Gun Boat 1939-45" by Angus Konstam.

    MGB 08.jpg British Motor Gun Boat - Angus Konstam.jpg

    According to Naval-History.Net in June of 1940 MASB 8 was with the 2nd Motor Anti-Submarine Boat Flotilla:

    "Trawler KALAN (Ty Lt J L Barton RNVR), att OSPREY for instructional purposes, fitting out at Irvine,
    Motor anti-submarine boats:
    MA/SB.6 (SO, Lt W G Everett, Lt H R Kidston from 14 Jun) at Harwich
    MA/SB.7 (Pbty Ty S/Lt W H L Richmond RNVR) arr Dover 5 Jun
    MA/SB.8 (Ty S/Lt R S Anker-Simmonds RNVR) at Harwich
    MA/SB.9 (Pbty Ty S/Lt J Cutting RNVR) at Harwich
    MA/SB.10 (Ty S/Lt P A Williams RNVR) arr Southampton 6 Jun

    In July 1941 MGB 8 was part of the 2nd Motor Gun Boat Flotilla based at Dover Command (Base depot ship, Dover - LYNX): "MGB.8 (Ty Lt W B G Leith RNVR) at Milford Haven undergoing repair"

    On the CFV.Org site in a thread on the 2nd MGB Flotilla one of the members claims that MGB 8 was later converted to a houseboat and provides a link to a photo on Flickr.


    Of course all that is based on whether the info provided by the Crowsnest article is correct.

    Later ...

    Added: June 1940 info and drawing

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