Background[ edit ] The class to which she belonged had been deed to overcome certain weaknesses which had been revealed in actual operation in the earlier Bangor-class minesweeper. The relatively limited steaming radius of the Bangor class lessened its usefulness as the war progressed. This class of ship, too, lacked the space to conveniently accommodate the new types of equipment which were being added.
It was for these reasons that, inthe Admiralty began to escrots a ship which eventually supplanted the earlier minesweepers in the construction programmes and was known as the Algerine minesweeper first and, later, coastal escort. However, when it became apparent that the submarine posed a greater danger than the mine in the areas for which the Royal Canadian Navy was responsible, a greater emphasis came to be laid on the former. It could therefore carry more men and equipment and had a longer range.
Approval was given at the same time for the building of thirty frigates and ten of the Algerine class. Among the latter was Border Cities. It was desirable that certain guests should be invited escodts the accompanying ceremony, particularly dignitaries from the sponsoring city of Windsor. Unfortunately, this was not done, as the launching of a ship had been required as a part of a Victory Loan ceremony held on 3 May and the shipyard picked Border Cities for the performance.
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Since the name Windsor was already escirts by a British destroyer, the Board of Trade of the City had suggested the use of Border Cities and the name had been submitted by Mayor Reaume. The distillery firm of Hiram Walker and Sons, Ltd, had excellent docking facilities in Walkerville and arrangements could be made with them if the Department were agreeable to use them for the ceremony.
Attached to the docks were lawns which were quite spacious and lovely, with a balcony which would lend itself nicely for the occasion. It was pointed out to these enthusiastic citizens, however, that Westmount had been commissioned in Toronto and had later escoorts a visit to Westmount. It was further pointed out that she could not have been sailed by nangor navy if she had not been commissioned first.
For the same reason, Border Cities would have to be commissioned in Port Arthur.
Presumably, though, the ship could visit Windsor for a similar dedication ceremony while passing through the hangor. Before this date she had carried out full power, escortz, steering, anchor and going astern trials. All these had proved to be satisfactory. Held up by fog, she did not leave this port untilthe 23rd. She then went on to Windsor where she found all preparations made to receive her.
At the Hiram Walker dock in Walkerville, a presentation of gifts was made to her. These gifts had been stored in a warehouse on the dock and among them were such articles as a washing machine, electric irons, radios, phonographs, musical instruments, ash trays, games, toilet articles, kitchen utensils, writing materials and magazines.
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In the evening, officers and men were feted at the Prince Edward Hotel. The following day, the ship was open to the public and she departed in the early evening.
Off the Queen City she carried out gun and depth charge trials. They were satisfactory although one of her depth charges failed to explode. The failure was promptly reported to authorities. From Quebec on 14th, she proceeded down river to the Gulf.
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The Straits of Canso between Cape Breton and the mainland of Nova Scotia were negotiated, the town of Mulgrave being passed on the 16th. The day following this, the ship reached Halifax, her escoets base, where she prepared herself to take her esvorts in the great international struggle to maintain the country's freedom. The day following arrival, she commenced a refit. She left Halifax on the 8th and did not return until 3 August.
Two days before her return, she had ln allocated to the Western Escort Force for duty with the escort group, W Turning around, they picked up a westbound convoy and returned with it to Halifax or New York. On the 19th, she left Halifax on, after some exercising with other ships, proceeded to New York where she, in company with her group, picked up her first convoy, HXF On this occasion, W-2 was relieved by W-3 and then returned to Halifax.
On 8 September, it was attacked by U-boats, which sank, with heavy loss of life, a large British tanker, SS Empire Heritage, and, a half hour later, a rescue ship, HMS Pinto, who had been engaged in picking up survivors.
The mid-ocean escort C-1, sailed out from Iin. John's and emerged on the 12th, to meet ONS The convoy had been shepherded across the ocean by Escort Group, C Soon after nightfall on the 2nd, about 90 miles north-west of Londonderry, what appeared to be a lone U-boat sank the Norwegian steamship Fjordheim. They were later transferred to a rescue ship, SS Fastnet, and so taken to Halifax. Relieved by W-3, the ships entered Halifax on the 25th.
From the 22nd to 26th, the ship was in Shelburne, Nova Scotiahaving defects attended to.
Sailing independently, she reed the others, assuming as before the duties of Senior Officer. They were escorting ONS at the time.
They came away from the port with jn BX The latter was badly scattered on the 28th and 29th, when it was necessary to heave to in heavy weather. One ship, Jamaica Planter, was lost from HX but this was by collision.
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W-2 formed the convoy's Local Northern Escort. It was estimated that the transmissions originated with a U-boat some thirty miles away. A few days later-the 26th and 30th- when with ON, Esvorts Cities reported more recordings of U-boat transmissions, and again on 6 Januarywhen with HX On the 4th, hedgehog and depth charge attacks made by Midland on a contact, brought up oil which took fire.
Border Cities, the Senior Officer's Ship, considered that the contact had been bounced off a wreck, although she admitted that the existence of one in the position was not confirmed by chart. Midland remained with her contact until daylight the next ij. The tanker, British Freedom, was hit on the port side of the engine room.
She began to settle at once and had to be abandoned.
Both tankers eventually sank, while the liberty ship drifted ashore in the vicinity of Ketch Harbour. Nangor Halifax, Border Cities steamed out with instructions to take several ships under her orders.
It continued until the 23rd, but Border Cities was engaged with it only for the day. W-2 proceeded to St. John's, while the convoy sailed out across the ocean. The damaged ships were able, escortd, to reach harbour. This convoy was badly scattered by strong winds, but was able to reform with improving weather.
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The subsequent voyage was a routine one, although Border Cities obtained a bearing on a doubtful submarine on the banvor. The group was met on the 17th by the mid-ocean group C Since the ship had to pass over convoy papers to the frigate, she approached her and attempted to maintain a position sufficiently close to her to fire the papers across to her by gun. The attempt was unsuccessful, due to heavy following seas and violent squalls.
Because of a wind which was dead astern, Border Cities could not steer well. The ships then went out clear of the convoy and both headed into the wind. Here, a canister containing the secret documents was attached to the line. Suddenly a violent snow and wind squall struck.
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Border Cities appeared to be lifted bodily backwards and to starboard on the crest of a great wave. The ships were then about fifty yards apart. Runnymede's helm was put to starboard 30 and speed increased to 13 knots in order to sheer off. The next wave carried Border Cities closer. When it became evident that the ship could not control her steering and was being carried toward the frigate, the latter stopped her engines, as the speed was causing violent pitching and a smother of breaking seas, blotting everything from view.
Before the frigate could drop sufficiently behind, however, Border Cities's transom corner struck the other's port bow at escorte forecastle deck edge, causing damage to plating and leaving a hole at the edge of the deck. Border Cities herself was undamaged.
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A damage control party in Runnymede plugged the hole. But the attempt to transfer the documents had to be abandoned. Runnymede received them finally from the Commodore of the convoy the next day when the weather had moderated. The frigate crossed the ocean with the convoy and, when she reached Londonderry, had temporary repairs carried out on her bow in Harland and Wolf's shipyard in the North Irish city. The British ship, Fort Gaspereau, who had started out from Halifax, was unable to maintain speed with the others due to poor fuel stored in her bunkers, and had to detach on the 17th.
Napanee escorted her back to Halifax. Because of the decelerated pace of the war, culminating on 8 May with orders broadcast from German High Command for all U-boats at sea to surrender, they were of a routine nature. Convoy ON, picked up out of St. John's on 16 May, was Border Cities's last.
After she and her group sailed with it to New York, they remained for a week in the port and then sailed on the 29th without convoy for Halifax. She had several defects which urgently required attention. For several months, in fact, a full scale refit had been proposed for her, first sscorts having named Liverpool, Nova Scotia for the site, and later ones Saint John, New Brunswick. The end of hostilities and probable early disposal of the ship put an end to these plans.
The Royal Canadian Navy's last victim of the submarine, the Bangor class vessel had been torpedoed off Halifax on 16 April with the loss of 39 men. Escorrs searchers were fortunate in that weather and water conditions were favourable on all occasions. Every effort was made to use jn information, such as survivors' reports, which might be helpful toward the end of locating the wreck. The Halifax East Light Vessel No 6, which had been accurately fixed and used escors a datum point for the search, was closed and inquiries made from the Captain where he estimated the sinking had taken place.
Echo sounder traces had been made off boulders on the bottom, and some looked promising; when crossed, however, on a escogts at right angles to the initial run-over, all proved to be false. The search was successful in so far as it was thorough and left no doubt that detection by any future search would be purely a matter of chance.