HMCS Haida was called the "fightingest ship in the Royal Canadian Navy" for very good reason. She saw action in two wars, and was attributed with the most enemy tonnage sunk of any Canadian vessel in World War II.

Haida was commissioned on August 30, 1943, in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England. She was one of the eight Tribal class destroyers (a British design, of which a total of 27 ships were built) commissioned by the Royal Canadian Navy in 1939. Due to a lack of domestic shipbuilders experienced in building warships, it was necessary to have half of the order built in England. Originally intended to patrol Canadian waters, the outbreak of World War II forced the RCN to leave Haida in European waters for the duration of the war.

After trials off of Scapa Flow, Haida was assigned to convoy duty in the North Sea and Arctic Ocean. While on escort duty, Haida participated in the Battle of North Cape on Boxing Day, 1943. The battle saw the destruction of the German battle cruiser Scharnhorst, but Haida played only a minor role in the action.

In early 1944, she was reassigned to the 10th Destroyer Flotilla based in Plymouth. Haida, along with sister ships HMCS Athabaskan and HMCS Huron, HMS Ashanti and HMS Black Prince, won her first victory on April 26, 1944 when she engaged a German Elbing class destroyer (T29) off of St. Malo. Haida saw action three days later, when she (along with Athabaskan) engaged two German Elbings and two torpedo boats near Ile de Bas. Athabaskan took a hit from a torpedo early in the conflict, but Haida's gunfire drove off the Germans. Haida pursued the destroyers, laying smoke to cover the stricken Athabaskan, heavily damaging one enemy ship (T24) and destroying another (T27). Haida then returned to pick up 42 crewmen from the Athabaskan. A Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) was awarded to the Haida's Gunnery Director Officer as a result of the battle.

After the D-Day invasion of Normandy, the 10th Destroyer Flotilla was assigned to protect the ships ferrying troops and supplies across the English Channel. On June 9, the flotilla -- composed of Haida, Huron, three British destroyers (HMS Javelin, HMS Ashanti and HMS Eskimo) and two Polish Destroyers (the Blyskawica and the Piorun) -- was engaged by four German destroyers. In the initial action, one British vessel was damaged and one German destroyer (ZH1) was sunk. Haida and Huron chased the three enemy ships that had escaped, locating Z32 six miles away. After another running battle (which wound through at least one minefield, Z32 was run aground. Haida's captain, Capt. H.G. DeWolf, along with the captain of the Huron, was awarded the DSC.

On June 24, 1944, Haida and HMS Eskimo responded to a radio message from a Czech B-24 Liberator bomber which had spotted a submarine. After nine depth charge attacks, U-971 was forced to the surface. Haida fired several salvos from her 4" guns, as well as miscellaneous small arms fire, striking the sub's conning tower. The Germans surrendered, but U-971 sank before she could be captured.

Haida's next two actions were directed against German convoys. On July 15, 1944, Haida (along with HMS Tartar and Blyskawica) intercepted a three-ship convoy in the Bay of Biscay. All three ships (two trawlers and a merchant ship) were sunk after they were lured out of the range of German coastal batteries. On August 6, 1944, Haida (along with HMCS Iroquois, HMS Ballona, HMS Tartar and HMS Ashanti) engaged a seven-ship German convoy south of St. Nazaire. Six of the seven ships were sunk, with Haida receiving credit for two: a minesweeper and a merchant vessel. Haida did suffer casualties in this battle, as a round exploded prematurely, destroying the rear turret and killing two gunners.

Haida's last action of the war took place on September 6, 1944. Haida, along with HMS Kelvin, encountered two German patrol boats, forcing their surrender. Haida's prize sunk while in tow.

After the war, Haida returned to Canada. On the voyage home, she rescued the crew of an American B-29 that crashed near Bermuda. Haida's crew was granted the odd status of 'honorary Texans,' unique among Canadian warships. In 1947, she participated in Operation Scuttled, a demonstration of combined-arms anti-submarine warfare for dignitaries and members of the Canadian press in Halifax harbor. U-190, a war-prize, was subjected to rockets, depth charges and gunfire prior to being sunk.

Following a modernization in 1950-52, HMCS Haida was dispatched to Korea to assist United Nations operations against the North Koreans and Chinese. She was credited with the destruction of two enemy supply trains during her two Korean War tours of duty.

HMCS Haida was 'paid off' in September 1963. A group of Toronto business leaders rescued her from the scrapyard for $20,000, and moored her on Torono's waterfront. Now a National Historic Site, HMCS Haida is owned by the Ontario Government. Today, the ship is an internationally recognized Naval Museum and a maritime memorial.

Ship stats:

Class: Tribal Destroyer
Launched: August 25, 1942, Vickers-Armstrong, Newcastle-on-Tyne, England
Commissioned: August 30, 1943
Modernized: 1950-52
Recommissioned: March 15, 1952 as DDE-215

Length: 377 feet
Beam: 37 feet, 6 inches
Draft: 9 feet, 6 inches
Displacement: 1,959 tons (2,519 fully loaded)
Armament: Four 4-inch guns; four 21-inch torpedo tubes; two 3-inch/50 caliber guns; two Squid antisubmarine mortars; four 40mm Bofors guns; two twin 20mm Oerlikon AA guns
Maximum speed: 36 knots
Complement: 245

HMCS Haida's captains:
8/30/43  -  12/18/44:  Commander H.G. DeWolf 
12/19/44 -  9/2/45:    Lieutenant-Commander R.P. Welland 
3/3/47   -  12/11/47:  Lieutenant-Commander F.B. Caldwell 
12/12/47 -  5/15/49:   Lieutenant-Commander A.F. Pickard
5/16/49  -  1/12/50:   Lieutenant- Commander E.T.G. Madgwick 
1/13/50  -  12/31/51:  Commander R.A. Webber 
1/1/52   -  10/28/53:  Commander Dunn Lantier
10/29/53 -  12/15/54:  Captain J.A. Charles
12/16/54 -  7/10/56:   Commander Victor Browne 
7/11/56  -  4/6/58:    Commander H.R. Beck 
4/7/58   -  9/2/60:    Commander John Husher 
9/3/60   -  8/2/61:    Commander G.S. Clark 
8/3/61   -  7/19/62:   Commander D.C. Rutherford 
7/20/62  -  9/22/63:   Commander W.H. Atkinson 
9/23/63  -  10/11/63:  Lieutenant-Commander D.K. Gamblin 

HMCS Haida -
Historic Naval Ships Visitors Guide -
Engage the Enemy (Part 2) -
Historylands HMCS Haida: Sinking Ships and Saving Men -
HMCS Athabaskan -
HMS Cossack Association -
HMS Belfast - -

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.