The hard-serving Bangor-class and the last Canadian loss of WWII

An unsung class of warship during WWII was the 59-vessel Bangor/Blyth/Ardrossan-class oceangoing minesweepers.

08.04. 1 Bangor Class Minesweeper 2

Despite their designation, these 600-ton/162-foot vessels carried a decent main gun (3-inch in RN service, 4-inch in the RCN) as well as ASW kit to include depth charges and listening gear to bust subs, making them something of a multi-purpose coastal escort that could also sweep mines.

They spent much of their time in harm’s way, with nearly a quarter of the class never seeing the end of the war.

Several were lost in their primary tasking, including HMS Clacton (J151), HMS Cromer (J128), HMS Felixstowe (J126) and HMS Cromarty (J09) all struck mines during clearing efforts in the Med in 1942-43, pointing out just how dangerous the mission was. Off Normandy, class member HMS Peterhead (J59) was similarly lost just two days after D-Day while HMCS Mulgrave (J313), who struck a mine off Le Havre, was so badly damaged she was never repaired.

When it came to fighting subs, HMCS Clayoquot (J174), HMCS Clayoquot (J174) and HMS Hythe (J194) were torpedoed and lost. Meanwhile, three whose names shall not be mentioned were captured by the Japanese when Hong Kong fell.

Post-War, they continued to serve in RN and Commonwealth service, as well as in the Turkish and French fleets well into the 1970s, in all, giving excellent service for such a humble maritime figure.

Which brings us to the subject today.

HMCS Esquimalt (J272) was a Bangor-class minesweeper that was sunk by U-190, a German U-Boat on 16 April 1945, making her the last Canadian warship lost to enemy action during the Second World War (or since, for that matter).

HMCS Esquimalt J272 Via Canada Archives

Note her splinter mats, forward 12 pounder (76mm gun) and HF/DF radio gear

Tragically, she was lost just three weeks before VE-Day, proof that the Battle of the Atlantic remained very hot right until the end of the conflict– and then some.

Every year on the anniversary of her sinking, the 35-member Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy, accompanied by a Guard of Honour from Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt pay tribute to the crew of the lost minesweeper and the 39 souls still at sea with a moment of silence and wreath-laying in Esquimalt Memorial Park, where a cairn to the ship and crew has long been established.

This year’s ceremony will be held at 5:45 pm and is open to the public.

As for what became of U-190, that’s another story.

6 comments

  • Hi Chris, out of curiosity, why wouldn’t you name the three vessels captured by the Japanese?

    Thanks,

    Aron

    I typed this with my thumbs. Please excuse my brevity.

    >

    • Good to hear from you, Aron,

      Actually, I misspoke. There were four, not three.

      For the record, they were:

      HMS Lantan (J208)
      HMS Lyemun (J209)
      HMS Taitam (J210)
      HMS Waglan (J211)

      All were laid down at Whampoa and Taikoo in Hong Kong for service in the Pacific but were captured on the builder’s ways in Dec. 1941 before they were even christened, so they were never actually put into commission. I was told a while back by an RN historian that they don’t ever mention those ships by name as they were basically incomplete hulls the Japanese captured rather than HM’s ships. Hence the “names that shall not be spoken” part.

      The Japanese were able to complete them to one degree or another with Lantan put in service as a freighter, and Lyemun completed as the gunboat Nanyo (and sunk in 1943 by U.S. aircraft) while Taitam and Waglan were completed as minesweepers W101 and W102.

      More on their Japanese service:

      http://www.navypedia.org/ships/japan/jap_aux_nanyo.htm
      http://www.combinedfleet.com/W-101_t.htm
      http://www.combinedfleet.com/W-102_t.htm

      Have a great week

  • “TUESDAY, APRIL 16/2019@010:40: H.M.C.S. ESQUIMALT J272, SUNK BY U-190 ON APRIL 16, 1945, IN THE HALIFAX APPROACHES, SAMBRO LIGHT VESSEL LATITUDE-LONGITUDE, 20 NAUTICAL MILES FROM HALIFAX, NOVA SCORTIA, CANADA, THE LAST ROYAL CANADIAN WARSHIP SUNK IN W.W.II/1939-1945!!!”

    “NOTE: AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING; WE WILL REMEMBER THEM, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM-LEST WE FORGET, LEST WE FORGET!!!”

    “ON ALL THE OCEANS THE WHITE CAPS FLOW!!!”

    Brian Murza/Killick Vison-YAHOO NEWS, YAHOO MILITARY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS, TWITTER, EX/FACEBOOK, MANITOBA NAVAL MUSEUM/DISCUSION BOARD, ETC., W.W.II NAVAL RESEARCHER-PUBLISHED AUTHOR, PRESENT DAY NAVAL/MILITARY ANALYST/1990-2019, HIGH TREASON Q.E.II ANALYST/1997 ERA TO 2019, FONTHILL, ONTARIO, Canada. killickvison@yahoo.ca

  • I know who to send this to!!

  • Reblogged this on battleoftheatlantic19391945 and commented:
    “SAT., JAN., 25, 2020@08:58: OUR LAST ROYAL CANADIAN WARSHIP, H.M.C.S. ESQUIMALT J 272, SUNK BY U-190, @THE SAMBRO LIGHT VESSEL-20 NAUTICAL MILES FROM HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA, IN THE HALIFAX APPROACHES!!!”

    “NOTE: OTHER CANADIAN WARSHIPS…WERE SUNK BY U-BOATS IN THE SAME LATITUDE-LONGITUDE…H.M.C.S. CLAYOQUOT AND ATTACKED ON MARCH 24, 1945@16:00, THOUGH NOT SUNK OR HIT WAS H.M.C.S. CARLPLACE K664, BY U-190!!!”

    battleoftheatlantic19391945/WordPress.com…Brian MURZA, Killick Vison, W.W.II NAVAL RESEARCHER-PUBLISHED AUTHOR, Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada. killickvison@yahoo.ca

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