History Channel: DEEP WRECK MYSTERIES FATAL DECISION

This documentary will be aired in December 2011.

DEEP WRECK MYSTERIES I | FATAL DECISION

Who or what sank the Canadian corvette, HMCS Regina? Was it a German secret weapon or a British mine? And was the captain guilty of gross negligence? Sixty years later a bitter controversy still rages; why did 30 men have to die?

In a remote churchyard in deepest rural Cornwall are the headstones of three Canadian sailors. Buried in the latter stages of the 2nd Word War, they are from HMCS Regina, a Canadian corvette. Her story is one of confusion and of bravery, But now with the discovery of her wreckage on the seabed there is an opportunity to clear up this wartime mystery.

In August 1944, the Regina, is the sole escort for a convoy of ten merchantmen steaming down the north coast of Cornwall bound for a beach head on the Normandy coast. It is a fine evening, unusually clear, and the sea is calm with a slight swell.

Suddenly there is a heavy explosion in the third ship of the starboard column, the American merchantman Ezra Weston. In spite of her best efforts to save herself she is doomed and the Regina orders her to be evacuated. During the transfer of the crew, the captain of the Regina makes a decision which is to have far reaching consequences. Stopping her engines, the warship hoves to some 300 yards away from the sinking freighter.

Without warning, the Regina is blown apart and disappears in a great plume of water and spray. Within thirty seconds there is nothing left to show that she has been there except for men and debris floating on the surface. Thirty of her men die, most going down with the ship. Shortly afterwards the Ezra Weston’s back breaks and she joins the Regina on the seabed.

Have both ships run into rogue mines or are they the victim of an unsuspected submarine? Whatever the cause, at a subsequent board of enquiry the captain of Regina is heavily criticised for placing his ship in unnecessary danger, little consolation to the thirty men who went down with the ship.

Today the two vessels lie hidden deep below the surface, together with unanswered questions …and bitter controversy. For the first time, the latest techniques in diving unlock the full story of what occurred and unmask the heroes and villains of that fateful night.

UPCOMING EPISODES

Fatal Decision airs Friday, December 9 at 6:00 AM EST (CC)

Website about a sailor who served on HMCS Regina

Someone is paying homage to his father on the Internet.

Click here. (broken link)

Next time I will write an article about another sailor who served on that ship.

His son John wrote this comment on my blog Lest We Forget written to pay homage to the sailors of HMCS Athabaskan.

This is what John wrote about his father…

 

Our father (still alive (age 86) and living in Port Hope Ontario served on HMCS Regina K234 and survived her sinking. He lost many friends and shipmates that night.

On a recent visit to the UK (September 2011) we had the honour and priviledge to visit the graves of five of these brave men in Cornwall, UK. We paid our respects and gratitude to AB Saulnier, Rathbone at St Merryn near Padstow and PO. Cramp, AB Dawson and AB Malone at St Winwaloe Churchyard. Poundstock. UK.

I am in the process of trying to find their descendants.

Have many photographs of their graves and the church areas. Willing to send to anyone interested.
Also remember there are 25 men from Regina who are still out there.

Sincerely,

John Hawley, Cole Harbour, NS

John is in the process of trying to find their descendants. He sent me this link to someone’s Website about Bill McLeod another sailor of HMCS Regina.

This Webpage has a lot of information.

This is an excerpt…

I know you will want to read it all…

February 7, 1943 –

Sinking of Italian Submarine Avorio

 About eleven p.m. (Ed. Note: on February 7, 1943) the Radar man thought he saw something on the screen.  He went up and told the Officer on Watch.  He got out the night glasses, but couldn’t see anything. However the radar man was sure he had seen something.  He went down and woke the Captain, which took a lot of nerve.  The captain ordered the ship to turn back.  After a few minutes she was spotted on the surface.  The telegraph rang full ahead and I opened the throttle wide open.  When she saw us coming she dove.  We knew she wasn’t deep so we were dropping the charges at fifty feet.  A corvette is not fast enough to get away from the charges so we must have been sitting nearly on top of them when they blew.  The first thing to go is the lights as the shock blows the switches open.  Then you have to wait for the electrician to get down to put them back in.  (I wish to stress here that there were just the two of us in the Engine Room, the oiler and myself, and we were trying to do half a dozen jobs at once.)  The shock was so severe that it stripped the threads in some of the brass screws holding the deck plates, with the result that some of them went askew.  We had to be careful in the dark or we would slip and go down in the bilge. A large cast iron pipe back of the engine broke off and the sea water was pouring into the Engine Room.

Click here… (broken link)

 

About HMCS Regina

Source: Wikipedia

HMCS Regina (K234) was a Royal Canadian Navy Flower-class corvette which took part in convoy escort duties during World War II.

She was laid down at Marine Industries Ltd., Sorel on 22 March 1941 and launched on 14 October of that year. She was commissioned into the RCN on 22 January 1942. On 3 July 1942 Regina rescued 25 survivors from the crew of the American merchant SS Alexander Macomb which was torpedoed and sunk by U-215 east of Cape Cod at 41-48N, 66-35W. On 8 February 1943, Regina attacked and sank the Italian submarine Avorio off Philippeville, Algeria.

On 8 August 1944, Regina was torpedoed and sunk by U-667 8 nautical miles (15 km) north of Trevose Head on the coast of Cornwall at 50°42′N 5°3′W / 50.7°N 5.05°W / 50.7; -5.05 Coordinates: 50°42′N 5°3′W / 50.7°N 5.05°W / 50.7; -5.05 while rescuing survivors of the American merchant Ezra Weston. The warship sank in 28 seconds. 30 of the ship’s crew were killed. The wreck of Regina and the Ezra Weston rest in 60 metres (200 ft) of water.

The exploration of these wrecks by a crew of researchers was the subject of an episode of the television documentary series “Deep Sea Mysteries”.

Tomorrow more information about HMCS Regina and the reason behind this blog.