Canadian Military History Gateway
Subject > Wars, Battles and Conflicts > Canada, the nation, since 1867 > Second World War > Battle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence
A list of Canadian vessels that participated in the Battle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in World War II: Royal Class frigates, corvettes, Bangor minesweepers, wooden minesweepers, armed yachts, auxiliaries, and Fairmile motor launches.
Veterans Affairs Canada
A list of ships lost in the Battle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Listed beside each ship is the number of lives lost (where known), the date the vessel sunk, and the U-boat that was responsible.
The Battle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which saw German U-boats penetrate the Cabot Strait and the Strait of Belle Isle to sink 23 ships between 1942 and 1944, marked the only time since the War of 1812 that enemy warships inflicted death within Canada's inland waters. The battle advanced to within 300 kilometres of Québec City. A war that pervaded people's lives but was still somehow remote, had become immediate, threatening, and very real. This site outlines the story of this battle.
Many of those whose lives were claimed by the Battle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence have no known grave. Their lives, and their sacrifices, are commemorated on Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorials on both sides of the Atlantic. This website gives account of these memorials and awards.
Table of contents with links to various topics concerning the Battle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the Second World War.
In 1944 German U-boats returned to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which had been re-opened to trans-Atlantic vessels, intent on repeating their successes of 1942. By this time the Royal Canadian Navy was more adept at anti-submarine warfare, and its convoy procedures were much improved. Maritime air patrols were more proficient too. The U-boats returned with a potentially deadly advantage, however: the newly invented schnorkel mast.
This report discusses the measures taken by the Army to safeguard the civil population and vital installations in the Lower St. Lawrence region as a result of the incursion of German submarines into the Gulf and River in 1942. After Japanese forces struck at Pearl Harbour, the whole
perspective of the war was changed and the Allied powers had to redistribute their naval resources to cover the new areas in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The German enemy's response to this new situation was to mount more agressive U-boat attacks from the Atlantic and heading westward.
Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader
During the Battle of the St. Lawrence, the last loss of the 1942 season was the largest, and perhaps the most tragic. It was the Sydney to Port aux Basques ferry Caribou, which was sunk by a German U-boat in Cabot Strait during the early morning hours of October 14, 1942. More than any other event, the loss of the Caribou revealed to all Canadians our vulnerability to seaward attack and brought home the fact that the war wasn't just a European show.
In January 1943 the Canadian Mid-Atlantic Escort Force was withdrawn for re-equipping and training following the disastrous German submarine campaign in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The weakness shown by the Canadian Navy forced the closure of the St. Lawrence to Canadian shipping and a re-examination of the Navy’s role.
Faced with a rising toll on lives and shipping, the Canadian government closed the St. Lawrence to all trans-Atlantic shipping on September 9, 1942, and limited coastal convoys to essential levels. This site gives an account of the battle of the St. Lawrence during the month of September 1942.