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

    Thanks Cee I believe you have it spot on. Confusion on my part due to an admin shore esttablishment HMS Watchful and the vessel HMS Watchful / MV Coronia. Simply didn't realise a shore base and vessel could share the same identity. This old airforce type learned something here today.

    Gleaning through your 'Crows Nest' reference I've yet to find the page number for Abel Seaman Woodward.

    Would you kindly assist with that ?

    The image of MA/SB8 (MA/SB8) is most welcome.

    Thanks to the list for their keen interest and support with this topic.

  2. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Bill this may be his number from Navel History. net:

    "Friday, 19 July 1940
    Niobe (RCN), Canadian shore organisation in UK
    WOODWARD, Rodney T, Able Seaman, 2938 (RCN), died"

    I also added a drawing of MGB 8 to the above post, along with some info from June 1940.

    Regards ...
  3. Prop wash

    Prop wash Member

    Hi Cee

    You missed my question as to which page 'The Crows Nest' listed said reference for Abel Seaman Woodward ?

    Apparenty I missed that likely due to ageing. LOL

  4. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Oh sorry Bill,

    According to my PDF viewer it's page 151 (or page 13 of the June 1965 edition). Just stick "Woodward" in your PDF search function and it should take you there fast.

    Regards ...
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2018
  5. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    I'll attach the Crowsnest article in case others are having difficulty finding it. I'd much prefer an official report on Able Seaman Rodney Woodward's death to confirm more thoroughly that his boat was indeed MA/SB 8.

    Able Seaman Rodney Woodward.jpg

    Regards ...
  6. Prop wash

    Prop wash Member

    Much appreciated Cee definately puts Able Seaman Woodward's death into perspective.

    Thanks for posting the Canadian film on running Motor Torpedo Boats and the Crowsnest article.

  7. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    A photo of MGB 8 at Dover alongside 10 also part of the 2nd Gun Boat Flotilla. Both were reclassified gun boats in January of 1941. From appearances it would seem that MGB 10 is still to undergo the transition or did they just arm it differently?

    DOVER NAVAL BASE. 1941.. © IWM (A 9929)IWM Non Commercial Licence

    Sub/Lt. H. S. Anker-Simmonds (or Simmons) could very well have been the skipper at the time of AB Woodward's death. Other than Gazette entries I can't find much on him. MA/SB 8 was not on the only list I could find of ships allocated to the evacuation of Dunkirk that included motor anti-submarine boats.

    Anker-Simmons bottom right.jpg WORLD WAR II SEA WAR FRANCE FALLS Vol 2.JPG

    Database at Coastal Forces Veterans site:


    Regards ...
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  8. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

  9. Prop wash

    Prop wash Member

    Hi Cee

    Fantastic photo images thank you for this.

    Do I detect depth charges port and starboard side of bridge ?

    Wondering why MS/SB 8 was reclassified to MGB 8 ? Any suggestions ?

    Crews must have had one wild ride on the channel in these boats. Wow!!

  10. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    Yes, those are depth charges and as MASBs there would have been more along the sides. I've yet to come across a good photo of one of these MASBs (BPB 6-21, 70 ft.) before their conversion. They weren't that effective as submarine hunters and were later re-purposed as gun boats to be used in night patrols against German e-boats and for sea rescue. This particular batch was only capable of a top speed of 25 knots. They may have been refitted later with more powerful engines but I have yet to find evidence for that.

    Some information stolen from Cate Blanchett, WW2Forum:

    "The British Power Boat Company had also begun to build MA/SBs (motor anti-submarine boats) in 1938-39. These boats were twin screw versions of Scott-Paine's 60ft design, and sacrificed speed and torpedoes in favour of anti-submarine weapons and Asdic. Powered by two Napier engines of 1,000bhp (top speed 25 knots), their only armament were .303 MGs, one twin on some craft, and four twins on others. 6 of these craft were in service when the war broke out, with another sixteen 70 footers under construction. It soon became apparent that air-patrols were sufficient to keep most submarines away from coastal waters. In any case, their sub-hunting capabilities were not up to scratch. 22 of these craft were converted to MGBs, with the rest under construction converted as well."

    A pic of No. 17 at speed after conversion to gun boat - a pretty sight.

    70ft MGB 17.jpg

    The Canadian Coastal Forces Trust:


    Regards ...
  11. Pete Anderson

    Pete Anderson New Member

    I have just come across this Thread and have the following to Add. I have just read an Article about The young Canadian
    that was killed on Watchful which also States that my Grandfather (John Francis ) was also killed on that Day but died a little later in the Day of his wounds. His Headstone has his Vessel as HMMASB 8 but His service records state Watchful (Note not HMS) The MV Coronia was taken up by the NAVY in 1939 and called HM Tender Watchful .I have spent several years trying to work out Which vessel the Incident occurred on. I am hoping to visit Scarborough soon where they have a Maritime History Museum so may be able to find out more.
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  12. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Hi and welcome
    I think your question has probably been answered already on this thread.
    If he was on HM Motor Anti Submarine Boat 8, then he was wounded fatally during the strafing by Me110's which killed Woodward.
    Naval History net has him as a separate entry:
    19 July 1940: Watchful, Great Yarmouth, shore establishment
    FRANCIS, John, Able Seaman, D/JX 137299, DOW
    by which I take it to mean that he was still alive when they reached port but then died in the hospital on shore.

    The entry for Woodward doesn't give any clue to it being the same incident, but we can now link them
    Niobe (RCN), Canadian shore organisation in UK
    WOODWARD, Rodney T, Able Seaman, 2938 (RCN), died
    by which I take it that he was dead before they reached port.
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  13. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Hi Pete,
    There is absolutely no doubt that your grandfather was on HMMASB 8. HMS Watchful as shown on his Service Record is the shore establishment which was holding his records and accounts and not the name of a seagoing ship.
    From CWGC:

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  14. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

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  15. Pete Anderson

    Pete Anderson New Member

  16. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Don't forget that in wartime, not everything was crystal clear.
    Both Niobe and Watchful were shore locations and acted as depots for small ships for stores and admin, pay etc.
    There wasn't a ship HMS Wathful (sic as per CWGC) but HMMASB 8 as per the various photographs was the ship attacked and run aground to be repaired and put back into action.

    As for the first Canadian casualty, the CWGC has this on the first day of WW2
    BAIRD, HANNAH. Stewardess. Died Between 03/09/1939 and 04/09/1939
    S.S. Athenia (Glasgow, Scotland). Canadian Merchant Navy
    or some might say she wasn't on Active Service, so
    WYNN, CHARLES BROWN. Corporal. Service Number F/49698. Died 10/09/1939. Aged 38.
    North Nova Scotia Highlanders, R.C.I.C. Son of Mr. and Mrs. John Wynn, of Hilden.
    Buried at TRURO (ROBIE STREET) CEMETERY Nova Scotia, Canada
    Cemetery/memorial reference: Lot 114. Row 21. Grave 4.
    First Overseas death
    COCKLIN, JAMES CONNATY. Private. Service Number B/75992. Died 30/12/1939
    Toronto Scottish Regiment (M.G.), R.C.I.C.
    Buried at BROOKWOOD MILITARY CEMETERY. reference: 3. N. 16.
    First Navy death
    ROBERTS, WILLIAM FRANCIS. Cook. Service Number A/909. Died 28/01/1940. Aged 55
    H.M.C.S. Alachasse Royal Canadian Naval Reserve
    Husband of Alice Jane Roberts, of Peninsula-Gaspe.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2018
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  17. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  18. Pete Anderson

    Pete Anderson New Member

    Whilst I understand That things were unclear during the WAR The point I am trying to make is that there was another Watchful at this Time. Sometimes it is wrongly named HMS Watchful as its correct Designation was HMT Watchful. She was taken up by the navy and had an extra dummy funnel fitted together with a Gun. She was also based out of Great Yarmouth and This seems to be the one mentioned in the News Article from Moose Jaw. She was involved in the Dunkirk Evacuation and is registered as a Dunkirk "Little Ship" She was then returned to Scarborough and acted as a Passenger boat under the name Coronia.
    As a point of interest I am Ex RN and when I was "loan Drafted" to another ship if was not recorded on my Service records only the Ship that I was loaned from.

    All of this has added confusion, I am hoping to visit the Scarborough Maritime History Museum later this month to see if I can find any records supporting either theory.
  19. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

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  20. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Just to be clear there was no sea-going ship called HMS WATCHFUL. The Dunkirk (little ship) was never HMS - to be HMS the ship would need to have been commissioned. Because the Royal Navy have shore establishments named HMS and the fact that other ships had similar or the same names and, also base ships attached to shore bases with sometimes the same names, causes real confusion to researchers.

    For Pete, I am ex RN too and it is not only loan drafts that were not recorded properly on service records. Sadly, and I have said this many times, the RN system of recording based on accounting bases has done many seamen out of their proper medal entitlement because their proof of service in (sea-going ships) in some instances no longer exists.

    I know this thread has some tangents from the original but lets be clear the first Canadian service casualty of WW2 was
    I don't understand the fact that some may say she was not on active service. I was part of the team who discovered the youngest service casualty of WW2 - a 14 year-old merchant seaman and I still have to explain that to people. Some think you had to be in the armed forces to be classed as a service casualty. The MN lost more people per capita than any of the armed forces and we would have lost the war without them. Lest we forget

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