At the start of WWII, the Royal Canadian Navy commandeered all merchant vessels—a total of 38 ships. By the end of the war, Canada had 400 ships, the world’s third-largest fleet. Canada’s merchant navy was vital to the Allied cause during the Second World War. The very outcome of the war depended on the successful transport of troops and cargo by sea, and our ships transported desperately needed equipment, fuel, supplies and personnel to Europe and around the world. Merchant seamen and women faced fierce attacks by German U-boat “Wolf Packs” and hazardous, life-threatening weather conditions in the North Atlantic. In total, 25,242 merchant ship voyages carried over 181,000,000 tons of cargo from North America to the Britain under Canadian Naval Escort.
Jack Thorpe enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve when he turned 18, at the end of 1941. He completed Basic Training on the Nonsuch, a drydocked ship in Edmonton, then went on to Esquimalt (Vancouver Island) for further training, and finally to the Stadacona Base in Halifax for Radar Training. He served aboard HMCS Bayfield, a minesweeper which patrolled the east coast from Boston to Halifax; HMCS Orangeville, a Castle Class Corvette in the North Atlantic; and HMCS Atholl, on convoy duty from St. John’s to Londonderry, Ireland.
Photographs were borrowed from Jack Thorpe for a Remembrance Day display in 2006, when permission was given to copy the photographs for inclusion in the archives.
Scope and Content
The fonds consists of 12 photographs detailing Jack Thorpe’s service with the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II. Photographs include Jack’s official Navy portrait, ships he served on and working on theships.
Jack Thorpe, WWII Navy,  1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6 in. Official portrait of Jack Thorpe in his Navy uniform. Jack Thorpe enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy Veterans Reserve when he turned 18, at the end of 1941. He served aboard the minesweeper HMCS Bayfield, the Corvette HMCS Orangeville, and HMCS Atholl, a corvette on convoy duty from St. John’s to Londonderry, Ireland. Location: 0264.01
HMCS Bayfield,  1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6 in. HMCS Bayfield was a minesweeper which patrolled the east coast from Boston to Halifax, dragging the ocean waters for mines planted by German U-boats. Location: 0264.02
HMCS Orangeville,  1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6 in. HMCS Orangeville was a castle class Corvette which operated in the North Atlantic. The role of the corvette was to keep convoy ships in line and fend off any subs that got inside the accompanying screen of destroyers and frigates. Location: 0264.03
“Na Bother Ata”,  1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6 in. “Nae Bother Ata” was the motto of the HMCS Orangeville. Here, Captain Pike, from Edmonton, sits underneath the motto. Location: 0264.04
Leaving Harbour,  1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6 in. Corvette leaving harbour with navy seamen in formation on deck. Location: 0264.05
Corvette in Convoy,  1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6 in. Castle class Corvette in a convoy on the North Atlantic. The Royal Canadian Navy was called the sheepdog navy because of its shepherding of more than 25,000 merchant ships across the North Atlantic. Ships traveled in convoys of as many as 150 ships, perhaps strung across 14 square miles of ocean. The convoys were made up of merchant ships carrying supplies, destroyers, frigates, corvettes, and sometimes passenger liners. Location: 0264.06
The Blue Ensign,  1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6 in. Jack Thorpe and three seamen under the Blue Ensign, the flag of the Royal Canadian Navy. Location: 0264.07
Looking Out to Sea,  1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6 in. Navy Seaman Jack Thorpe looking out to sea from the captain’s bridge. Location: 0264.08
Entering the Ship,  1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6 in. Navy Seaman at the top of the gangplank, the entrance to the Ship. Location: 0264.09
Friends and Seamen,  1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6 in. Jack Thorpe and three friends on ship deck during World War II. Location: 0264.10
Ships in Harbour,  1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6 in. Bird’s eye view of a corvette in harbour, with the crew unloading and working on deck. Location: 0264.11
Service on Deck,  1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6 in. Navy Seaman in formation on the deck of a ship. Three officers are addressing the crew, perhaps for a church service. Location: 0264.12