The Alberni Story
Secret: Not to be released before am Friday Sept. 1, 1954 i.e. History of HMCS Alberni K103
Ottawa-Veteran of the Battle of the Atlantic and the invasion of North Africa, The Royal Canadian Navy Corvette HMCS Alberni has been sunk while on invasion duties with the lives of four officers and 55 ratings, about two thirds of her crew dead or missing. Hon. Angus L. MacDonald Minister of National Defense for Naval Services announced today. Survivors of the sinking included four officers and 25 ratings. 21st August 1944.
Announcement of the loss of the Alberni came within two weeks of the sinking of the HMCS Regina which was also on invasion duties when she went down. The Alberni is the 25th new vessel and light corvette lost by the Royal Canadian Navy.
Lieut. Cdr. Ian H. Bell, RCNVR. Vancouver, B.C. who has commanded the Alberni for the past two years is a survivor. An action filled career of 3 ½ years lay behind the Alberni when she came to her end in invasion waters. During the time she had been officially credited with one "probable" U-boat sinking on the North Atlantic and had been present at other stirring submarine hunts.
One of the first Western Canadian corvettes to go mid-ocean escort duties, H.M.C.S. Alberni was built in Yarrow's shipyards at Esquimalt B.C. in 1940 and was commissioned February 3, 1941. In Company with other Western built corvettes, she steamed from the Pacific to the east coast in early spring of 1941 and shortly afterward was sent to mid-ocean convoy run. She was on duty in that area for nearly a year and a half during the bitterest period of the Battle of the Atlantic, when U-Boat wolf packs were putting terrible pressure on the northern life-line to the Untied Kingdom.
They saw ships go down and men die; they fought back and saw U-boats sunk, but the worst night of all was the early fall of 1942, according to the ship's executive officer, Lieut. Malcolm S. Grant, R.C.N.V.R. of Brockville, Ontario, who is now reported missing. During that night the heavy thud of torpedo explosions was heard a half a dozen times and ships went down.
Alberni searched and before the search ended she had saved 92 men from the sea. The weather was too rough for a lifeboat to be lowered and survivors were helped up from rafts, boats and wreckage by using scramble nets.
Months later, the Alberni again picked up survivors but this time it was on a calm clear night near the entrance to the Mediterranean. Boats were lowered and, with the aid of searchlights, 54 merchant seamen were picked up.
For the Alberni crew, service in the Mediterranean meant nights and days of bombing. The Canadian corvettes there escorted their convoys to areas within easy range of enemy planes and the bombers kept up steady attacks.
Alberni's probable submarine sinking came during the first year of her service, in the late summer of 1941 in mid-Atlantic. Her depth charges brought up oil and debris, but the submarine did not surface and no prisoners were taken.
She was present also, on three other occasions when sister ships made definite kills. Her crew when she was in the Mediterranean, saw HMCS Ville de Quebec bring a German U-Boat to the surface with depth charges, rake it with gunfire, ram it and sink it all in nine furious minutes.
Alberni was standing by a short time later when another corvette HMCS Port Arthur sank an Italian submarine in the Mediterranean; and she was on hand in the Atlantic when the corvettes, HMCS Moose Jaw and HMCS Chambley sent a German submarine to the bottom.
HMCS Alberni Rum Barrel
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
John J, Trafford, P.O. Telegraphist 1940-1945.
Lt. (later Lt. Cdr.) Freeman Burrowes
John G. Gould