HMCS St. Croix
July 24, 1942: HMCS St. Croix sinks the German U-boat U-90, the second U-Boat kill for the RCN during the war.
St. Croix was one of the ships acquired via the Anglo-American “destroyers for bases” agreement and was the former USS McCook. Outdated but still fast with good endurance, she and another destroyer were assigned to a position 10 miles in front of the convoy they were escorting, ON 113. A fortuitous move, this allowed them to catch a pair of U-Boats while they were still on the surface; although one escaped, U-90’s novice captain was not so lucky. St. Croix charged ahead, making three depth charge runs over the projected path of the now-submerged submarine. Some debris and oil slicks were spotted, but nothing major, so Lieutenant-Commander Dobson ordered his ship to carry out a fourth attack run.
This was the blow that ended U-90’s short operational career. More debris appeared on the surface, including body parts – the gruesome evidence required by Allied headquarters to prove that the submarine had been permanently sunk.
But although U-90 had been sunk, she was operating as part of a wolfpack – eight other U-Boats were nearby waiting for ON 113. Fortunately, due to the low-visibility conditions of the North Atlantic and the disruption caused by St. Croix, the submarines only managed to sink two of the convoy’s ships: a fairly low casualty rate for an encounter in this period of the war.
To learn more about the Battle of the Atlantic, check out the Government of Canada website.
Main Photo: Model of HMCS St. Croix at The Military Museums, Calgary, AB (Credit: Naval Museum Assoc. of Alberta via The Military Museums).