OTD: Royal Canadian Navy sinks fourth U-boat in five weeks

On today’s date in 1942, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) corvette HMCS Sackville sank a German U-boat in the Atlantic Ocean; it was one of four RCN kills in less than five weeks.

The Sackville, which is currently docked in Halifax, N.S., was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1988 because of the role she played in the Battle of the Atlantic in the Second World War. What’s more, it’s a representative example of a flower-class corvette.

According to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada meeting in June 1988, the Sackville was one of the final flower-class corvettes produced. Designed for mass production in small shipyards, they were based on a British Admiralty design patterned after a whale-catcher.

In December 1941, the Sackville entered service escorting convoys between Newfoundland and Northern Ireland. On Aug. 3, 1942, while escorting an eastbound convoy in thick fog, she engaged three German U-boats. Lieutenant Alan Easton and his crew seriously damaged one submarine, hit another with gunfire, and depth charged a third. This action won the Distinguished Service Cross for Lieutenant Easton and commendations for the crew.

After seeing action again in September 1943, HMCS Sackville was redeployed as an officer training ship in 1944 before being laid up in reserve the following year. Recommissioned in 1952, she spent the next 30 years supporting oceanographic, hydrographic, and fisheries research. The ship retired from the RCN in 1982 and was transferred to the Canadian Naval Corvette Trust in 1983. Now restored to her 1944 configuration, she’s open to the public in downtown Halifax.

In 2010, the famed corvette was featured on a Proof silver dollar struck by the Royal Canadian Mint to mark the 100th anniversary of the RCN. With a mintage of 50,000 pieces, the coin was struck in 92.5 per cent silver and 7.5 per cent copper. It has a weight of 25.18 grams and a 36.07-mm diameter.

Designed by Yves Berube, the coin’s reverse features HMCS Sackville with its pennant number (K-181) clearly visible on its hull and its motto (Ready Aye Ready/Prêt Oui Prêt) in morse code surrounding the design.

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