Lindsay boy survives the sinking of HMCS Clayoquot
Ottawa, Jan. 31 – The Bangor class minesweeper HMCS Clayoquot has been torpedoed and sunk in the North Atlantic, it was announced today by Naval Service Headquarters.
Eight of her complement of 81 are reported missing. The remainder, including her Commanding Officer, Lieut. Cdr. Craig Campbell, RCNVR of Vancouver and Chester, N.S., were picked up and taken ashore on board the corvette HMCS Fennel.
Clayoquot is the third minesweeper and the twentieth Canadian warship to be lost in this war.
Praise for the courage and cool behavior of every man in the ship after the torpedo struck was given by Lieut. Cdr. Campbell and by the other surviving officers, Lieut. Milton L.A. Cameron, RCNVR, Montreal, the executive officer, and Sub. Lieut. Victor I Graves, RCNVR, Nelson, B.C.
They came up from below decks and abandoned ship as calmly as if it had been a practice drill, Lieut. Cdr. Campbell said.
They even joked about it. I heard Batt (Corder Alex Batt, Dundas Street, Islington, Ont.) on the Carley floats give a news bulletin – ‘Flash! Canadian minesweeper destroys German torpedo’.
Orderliness of the “Abandon ship” was shown by the fact that the seaboat was lowered and enough Carley floats cut loose to handle the entire crew. All were wearing lifejackets, the boat and floats were kept together and not a man was lost after abandoning ship.
When the rescuing corvette reached the scene, the men had been in the water and on floats about half an hour. The survivors’ teeth were chattering, but they were still bravely singing “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful” as the corvette steamed up.
Fennel, under command of Lieut. Cdr. Kenneth L. Johnson, RCNVR, Quebec City, stopped engines in spite of the U-boat and took all survivors about by means of scramble nets in ten or twelve minutes. Fennel’s boat was lowered, in charge of Lieut. J.K.H. Mason, RCN, Toronto, (394 Avenue Road) to assist in picking up survivors, but according to Lieut. Mason, was not needed.
Lt. Cameron was seated in the wardroom when the explosion lifted him from the chair and bounced him against the deckhead above, he said. It knocked him down again as he was clambering to his feet. He was cut near the left eye when he hit the deck-head, and didn’t recall clearly how he’s gotten out of the wardroom.
Things were a shambles, and I remember pulling something out of the way to get to the door, he said.
Luckily the door was open so I was able to get out. Some of the other officers in their cabins below the wardroom were lost.
Narrowest escape was reported to be that of Stoker Peter Bewzak of Kapuskasing, Ont., who was in the aftermost part of the engine room, with 60 feet to travel to the upped deck. Bewzak, 5 foot 10 and 180 pounds, made it up the ladders in jig time, but had to go the last seven feet through a ventilator shaft. His shipmates declared they didn’t think it was possible for anyone to get through the small, cramped shaft, but Bewzak did.
Only one Lindsay man, Ordinary Seaman Joseph D. Mooney, whose mother, Mrs. Mary Mooney, resides at 10 John St., was aboard the vessel and he was among the survivors who were picked up.
Ordinary Seaman Mooney was for a long time a route man for Wileman’s Bakery and it is only within the past year that he joined the Navy.