HMCS Ville de Québec
The Story of HMCS Ville de Québec
Most ships of the Canadian fleet in the Second World War were named after cities or towns, so it was natural that the name of Québec should be chosen, but because it was already in use in the Royal Navy, the Canadian vessel became HMCS Ville de Québec.
She was a "Flower" class corvette, 203 feet long, 33 feet in the beam and drawing 13 feet of water. She was driven by one triple expansion reciprocating engine of 2750 horse-power giving her a top speed of sixteen knots. She was armed with one 4-inch gun, one 2-pounder pom-pom and two 0.5 inch machine guns. The latter were replaced after some time by six 20mm Oerlikon guns. The anti-submarine weapons were depth-charges launched from four throwers or rolled over the stern through two traps.
Ville de Québec was built by the Morton Engineering and Dry Dock Co. in her namesake city. Her keel was laid on June 7, 1941, she was launched on November 12, completed and commissioned of May 24, 1942. She sailed for Halifax on June 6, and after a brief period for final additions to her equipment and some training for her crew, she sailed on her first operational cruise on July 6. Allocated to the Western Local Escort Force, her duties took her south to Boston or New York and north to St. John's, Newfoundland, escorting convoys. The tide of war, however, was on the turn and in the fall Ville de Quebec was ordered overseas to take part in Operation TORCH, the allied invasion of North Africa.
To cross the Atlantic, the corvette joined the escort of Convoy HX-212 and, not being a regular member of the group, she was employed in picking up the survivors. When she arrived in Liverpool September 21, 1942, she landed 172 merchant seamen from some of the six ships that had been torpedoed and sunk. Four days later, with a new radar set, she said with an assault convoy for Algiers. Once in the Mediterranean, she was kept there to escort convoys between Gibraltar and the African ports. It was on this service that she distinguished herself.
On January 13, 1943, while escorting a convoy off Oran, she made contact with an enemy submarine. She made one attack with depth-charges and, as she was turning to make another, saw the U-Boat break surface in the middle of the depth-charge pattern. The conning tower hatch opened and one man was climbing out when the corvette rammed the enemy. The man in the hatch was thrown clear and the submarine rolled on her side and sank. The submarine was U-224 and the sole survivor was her first Lieutenant.
In spite of damage to her stem, Ville de Québec was able to complete her assignment and return to Gibraltar escorting another convoy before undergoing repairs. These, however, took six weeks and on April 23, she was assigned to shuttle convoys in the Gulf of St. Lawrence between Québec and Sydney, Goose Bay or Halifax. The U-Boats did not enter the Gulf of St. Lawrence during 1943. At the end of August Ville de Québec was transferred to the Western Local Escort Force based in Halifax, going back to duties she had done the previous year until, on January 13, 1944, she was taken in hand for refit at Liverpool, Nova Scotia.
Back at sea in May with her forecastle lengthened, Ville de Québec was sent to Bermuda for a period of exercises before taking part in operations again. On June 20, 1944, she was transferred to the Mid Ocean Escort Force. She made only three trans-Atlantic convoy runs, however, before she was handed over to the Admiralty for operations in the English Channel in connection with the invasion of Europe.
For the remainder of the war she escorted convoys between British and French ports in Europe. In the Clyde on May 29, she embarked Canadian servicemen for passage home and landed them in Halifax on June 5, 1945. Corvettes were not to be retained in the post-war fleet so, on July 3, HMCS Ville de Quebec was paid off and towed to Sorel. On the 6th, she was turned over to the War Assets Corporation and eventually sold for scrap.
Gulf of St-Lawrence 1942
English Channel 1944-1945
Mott "I will be worthy"
Lineage: First of name: corvette (brief history above); comissioned 24 May 1942; paid off 3 July 1945