The Minute Book
Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Tiddley Rig (Second World War, RCN)
Topic: RCN

Once Upon a Navy

By: Master Warrant Officer J.L.Wilson.
Published in the Canadian Armed Forces publication, Sentinel, 1973/5, volume 9, number 5

We swung, although the word wasn't in vogue yet.

For most of us were young and adventure beckoned. Never mind what the veterans of the Iceland escort stops muttered at us with a headshake.

So, in the beginning, and until we learned, it was a skylark.

If you were a deck-ape you bought a Green River knife and fashioned your own sheath for it. But this, whether you were a simple seaman, clinker-knocker or whatever, came after getting a wedge put in your trousers to swell the bell-bottoms.

And after that you saved for a tailor-made tiddley with gold badges to replace the pusser issue uniform with its red badges, tied a Newfoundland nickel or a three penny bit in the bow of your HMCS cap tally, bought a colorfully lined port and starboard cap, a Burberry and a white scarf. WelIington shoes or boots (kept always glossily polished), some hand-sewn Mediterranean-blue collars with lightly stitched tapes. and some dicky fronts to replace the issued flannel vests and the coarse-blue sea jersey. Some even went so far as to line their jumper cuffs green in the starboard sleeve and red in the port, and then folded them back when at rest in a pub.

Cap flat-aback, of course. for we thought ourselves special and were proud.

There were many other things. too. The extra-long tapes to hold the bight in the silk at the bottom of the V in the jumper, and a zipper in the jumper side for easy dressing, sword-matting in the nettles of the hammock, and blue-trimmed summer whites instead of the issued ducks for the real Jack-ashore.

But memory has bIurred most of it, or taken it away completely.

The learning started for many in the ubiquitous corvettes.

Others began it in minesweepers, destroyers and frigates and a host of other craft, or else served as gunners in the plodding and gallant merchantmen, and wherever the war could lead them.

And then in HMCS Royalmount we reached perhaps the limit of affectations. Most of us wore a single gold ear-ring in the right ear. But only because the captain, Lt.-Cmdr. Jim Davis. wore a silver one. and we upped our grade in imitation and out of profound respect for this bearded, hard-bitten and excellent captain who had previously commanded fairmiles and the corvette La Malbaie.

Although by then a lot of us had learned in southern waters and elsewhere, and in going down the beautiful Foyle or out through the narrow gap at St. John's and into the weather and wet and hives and monotony, the ice, fog and sleeplessness and the other handshakes with the filthy North Atlantic.

And we were changed, felt older than we looked. wore our caps squared off, had largely given up the nonsense and had learned how to milk enjoyment out of the few days at either end of the mid-ocean escort run which broke the pattern for a while.

Or until other patterns were broken completely. as they were for friends in ships whose names will sail for so long as memory lasts.

But all of this was a long time ago, although it sometimes seems as near as yesterday.

As near, in fact. as when we were young swung and there was an RCNVR, RCNR, and RCN.

See also:

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 29 May 2013

HMCS Niobe; Welcome Address (21 October 1910)
Topic: RCN

HMCS Niobe arrived at Halifax on October 21, 1910, becoming the first large warship of the Royal Canadian Navy. A cruiser, Niobe was armed with a main battery of 16 six inch guns. She and the light cruiser HMS Rainbow formed part of the new Royal Canadian Navy (RCN).

At the start of the First World War, Niobe sailed on her first wartime operational mission to escort the transport Canada, carrying The Royal Canadian Regiment to garrison duty in Bermuda.

After boiler repairs on returning to Halifax, Niobe joined the Royal Navy's 4th Cruiser Squadron on the North America and West Indies Station, logging 30,000 miles as she engaged in intercepting German ships along the American coast, spending 16 days at a time on station.

In September 1915, Niobe became a depot ship in Halifax for the training of cadets. On 6 December, 1917, the Niobe was only 700 yards from the explosion of the munitions ship Mont Blanc. The damaged sustained in the Halifax Explosion was extensive, she was repaired and contunued service as a depot ship until 1920. Niobe was scrapped in the 1920s.

Address of Welcome to Officers and Ship's Company of


on arrival at Halifax, N.S., on the 21st October, 1910.

By the Hon. L.P. Brodeur, K.C., LL.D., Minister of the Naval Service

Canada's Welcome

Captain, Officers and Men of the "Niobe":

I have much gratification in extending to you a most cordial welcome to our Canadian waters, and in greeting in you the first personnel of our Canadian Navy. We are very happy to see that this ship is under the command of a young and brilliant officer, born in our country, with other officers of Canadian birth and association. We are grateful to you for accepting service in the "Niobe" our first training ship, thereby exhibiting your willingness to help toward the formation and organization of our local naval service.

The arrival in Canada of this, the first Canadian cruiser, is an event of historical importance. To-day the first training ship of our navy ploughs Canadian waters. Occasions such as this are few in the story of any country, and especially of a young nation like Canada. They are like golden milestones set at intervals along the pathways of our progress and development. As we look back upon the way we have traveled since the days of Confederation we can count with pride these landmarks, and point to them as examples and models for the coming generations.

This event tels the story of a dawning epoch of self reliance. It proclaims to the whole British Empire that Canada is willing and proud to provide, as rapidly as circumstances will permit, for her local naval defence, and to safeguard her share in the commerce and trade of the Empire. We have a vast Dominion, and a vast future daily opens out wider and wider before us.

This is a land of unmeasured proportion and resources, boundless liberties; the fringes of the Atlantic wash our Eastern shores, the mirror waters of the Pacific reflect the shadows of our Western hills; from ocean to ocean our Ports and our Provinces are being bound together by three great lines of our railway. All parts of Canada, interior as well as on our seaboards, are interested in the safety of our commerce, in the free circulation of the life blood of our trade through the great arteries of our railways, canals, and mights rivers. Consequently this event appeals to all classes, conditions, political hues and racial origins. The appearance of this splendid vessel in our ports betokens a mighty stride made by our young Dominion along the avenue of our future destiny.

In welcoming our first cruiser and training ship in the name of the Government and people of Canada, I must not omit to point out how important this initial step in our great project of self defence is to the Empire of which we form such an important part, in the glory and security of which we seethe future stability and strength of our own Dominion. To you, captain, officers and men, we look with confidence that your assistance will be given, in the lines and following the traditions of the great service under which you were trained, to insure the success of our venture. For this noble purpose I am giving my son, who will join you tomorrow. Great Britain has given us an absolute freedom of action as far as our internal affairs are concerned and the management of them. Equally has the Mother Country consented to be guided by our desires in all international relations that affect our own country, and she has authorized us to negotiate our own commercial treaties. This is certainly the acme of political liberty, it is the finest example of national autonomy that the world can present today. But this freedom brings with it new powers for us to exercise, and these bring fresh responsibilities.

Without the powers necessary for the exercise of that autonomy it would become a mere fiction; and powers, without responsibilities in accord with them, would be dangerous and, in many cases, useless weapons for a country to hold. We are prepared to shoulder the responsibilities, and the "Niobe" is today the first and most striking evidence that we are so disposed.

Then we must consider that our interests are so interwoven with those of Great Britain that her supremacy on the sea and her perpetual command of the great commerce of the world appeal to us and awaken a responsive echo in our country, an echo that springs from gratitude as well as from self-interest. her rule has been a blessing to civilization and freedom the world over. Her flag has been the protection of the oppressed, has led in the vanguard of civilization, and has shield ed millions from the fate which barbarism and ignorance twine around the less fortunate people. If then we can assist, even in a small way, but in proportion to our strength and resources, in the solidifying of her power, the maintenance of her influence, and the safeguarding of her supremacy, it becomes our duty to do so. And in this establishment of a Canadian navy for the protection of our commence and the defence of our coasts, we are displaying to the world our readiness to do our fair share in the upbuilding of the Empire to which we are proud to belong.

Let us rise to the height that the event demands, and give our hearts and souls to the celebration of the arrival of the first vessel that is to begin the work that we have before us. Like the advent of the discoverer's ship in a new land, the "Niobe" comes to plant the standard of progress and true Canadian national greatness upon the verdant slopes of a glorious future that unrolls its splendid proportions before out vision today. Welcome, then, and a thousand welcomes, in the name of the Canadian Government, in that of every loyal and truly patriotic citizen of Canada, in that of the rising generation and finally in that of the Empire in whose world girdling belt Canada is the bright and precious buckle.



Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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