The loss of HMCS Athabaskan
On April 29, 1944, Tribal-class destroyer HMCS Athabaskan was engaged in furious nighttime combat in the English Channel when it was hit by a German torpedo. Atha B, as she was affectuously nicknamed, was severely damaged. An immense column of fire and smoke formed over the ship, which sank in minutes, throwing hundreds of sailors into the frigid waters. Of these:
42 sailors were savec by Canadian destroyer HMCS Haida
85 more were taken prisoner by the Germans
128 lost their lives, including her Captain.
The Commanding Officer of Atha B was Lieutenant-Commander John Stubbs. His youth notwithstanding, he was one of the most renowned naval officers of the time.
They say that, in his final moments, Stubbs was singing to his men an air to the glory of the Navy volunteers, Wavy Navy. His quiet heroism, his composure and his spirit of self-sacrifice embody all the values that are dear to the Royal Canadian Navy.
Survivors of HMCS Athabaskan. Émile Beaudoin Funds, Naval Museum of Québec Collection
Athabaskan sinking. Émile Beaudoin Funds, Naval Museum of Québec Collection