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HMCS Quebec (C66)
Career (UK) Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.png
Name: HMS Uganda
Ordered: 1939
Laid down: 20 July 1939
Launched: 7 August 1941
Commissioned: 3 January 1943
Out of service: Transferred to Royal Canadian Navy on 21 October 1944
Identification: Pennant number: 66
Career (Canada) Royal Navy Ensign RCN Ensign
Name: HMCS Uganda
Acquired: 21 October 1944
Out of service: 1 August 1947
Renamed: Renamed HMCS Quebec on 14 January 1952
Identification: Pennant no. C66
Motto: As HMCS Quebec
Quebec.jpg
Nos canons parleront
Honours and
awards:
Martinique 1794
Atlantic 1943
Sicily 1943
Salerno 1943
Mediterranean 1943[1]
Fate: decommissioned 15 June 1956
scrapped 1961
General characteristics
Class & type: Crown Colony–class light cruiser
Length: 169.3 m (555.5 ft)
Beam: 18.9 m (62 ft)
Draught: 5.0 m (16.5 ft)
Propulsion:

Four oil fired 3-drum Admiralty-type boilers,

4-shaft geared turbines, 4 screws, 54.1 megawatts (72,500 shp)
Speed: 33 knots
Complement: 907
Armament: Nine 6-inch (150 mm) guns (3 × 3),
eight 4 inch guns (4 × 2),
eight 40 mm Bofors AA (4 × 2) guns,
3 quadruple 2 pounder ("pom-pom") AA mounts, 12 20 mm AA (6 × 2) guns.
Six 21 inch (2 × 3) torpedo tubes
Armour: Main belt: 83 mm,
deck: 51 mm,
turrets: 51 mm,
Director control tower: 102 mm.
Aircraft carried: Originally had 2 Supermarine Walrus aircraft, removed November 1943.

HMCS Quebec (C66) was a Crown Colony–class light cruiser that served the Royal Navy, as HMS Uganda (C66), and the Royal Canadian Navy, as HMCS Uganda, during World War II. She served under under her last name during the Cold War.

Royal Navy service[]

She was laid down on 20 July 1939 as one of the "Ceylon" sub-class (the second group of three ships built in 1939). The cruiser was built at the Vickers-Armstrong Walker yard and launched on 7 August 1941. She was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 3 January 1943 as HMS Uganda (C66).

Her service history included:

  • Home Fleet (1943)

During this time she was based at Scapa Flow and saw service with convoy operations off western Europe and northwestern Africa in March, as well as escort for RMS Queen Mary carrying Winston Churchill and his staff to Washington for the Third Washington Conference (codename: Trident). She returned via Naval Station Argentia to Plymouth for refit.

  • Mediterranean Fleet (1943–1944)

Following refit in June 1943, she served in the Mediterranean with Operation Husky and Operation Avalanche. During the latter duty, she was struck by a radio-controlled glider bomb on 13 September and was towed to Malta for emergency repairs. She made Charleston, South Carolina, on 27 November 1943 to undertake comprehensive repairs.

  • Refit (1944)

Her refit at Charleston in 1944 saw several modifications, most notably removal of two hangars for Supermarine Walrus aircraft intended for reconnaissance work. The hangar space was redesigned for radio and radar rooms as well as other crew amenities. During this refit, the Government of Canada undertook negotiations with the United Kingdom to acquire HMS Uganda.

Royal Canadian Navy service[]

HMS Uganda was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy on Trafalgar Day, 21 October 1944 when was recommissioned as HMCS Uganda (C66).

World War II[]

The Uganda quickly became the pride of the RCN as she was the largest and most powerful ship in the fleet; she also became the first Canadian warship to circumnavigate the globe.

Uganda's first crew in RCN service was notable. The commanding officer was Captain Rollo Mainguy, OBE, who later became chief of the Naval Staff. The first officer (executive officer) was Commander Hugh Pullen, and other officers including Lieutenant Commanders Landymore and Littler were all eventually promoted to flag rank following the war. Lieutenant John Robarts, Aircraft Recognition Officer, went on to become Premier of Ontario. The other members of her crew of 907 comprised a carefully selected group; additional training on cruisers was provided through personnel exchanges with the RN. The first crew for Uganda was drawn from every province in Canada as well as the Dominion of Newfoundland. Eighty-seven percent were reservists (RCNVR and RCNR) while the balance were regular members of the RCN.

Uganda's first RCN assignment came shortly after her recommissioning. She was tasked to join the British Pacific Fleet's operational area south of Sakishima Gunto. Uganda left Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 31 October 1944 and steamed via the United Kingdom, Gibraltar, Alexandria, the Suez Canal, and on via Aden and Colombo, Ceylon, to the fleet base at Fremantle, Australia, where she arrived on 4 March 1945. She joined the 4th Cruiser Squadron and spent the rest of the month working up. The conditions for the crew were arduous since the ship had not been modified for tropical conditions, which would have provided better air circulation throughout the ship and more fresh water capacity.

Bombardment by HMCS Uganda of Sukuma Airfield on Miyako-jima in May 1945

Uganda proved valuable during operations undertaken by the British Pacific Fleet because her radar and aircraft identification capabilities were amongst the best in the fleet, owing to her 1944 refit in Charleston. On 10 April 1945, the strike against Sakishima was cancelled and the task force was ordered to attack Formosa instead. For three days Uganda and her RN counterparts attacked airfields on Formosa before being redirected back to Sakishima Gunto. The islands were attacked between 15–20 April before the fleet was tasked to Leyte Gulf.

There she joined the United States Third Fleet, under command of legendary Admiral Raymond Spruance 300 nautical miles (560 km) east of Japan and became the only RCN warship to fight in the Pacific Theatre against the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Out of the action[]

It was while Uganda was involved in operations with the US Navy's Third Fleet that a directive came through from RCN Headquarters that Captain Mainguy poll the crew on whether they would volunteer for the Pacific War and eventually Operation Downfall, the codename for the invasion of the Home Islands.

The requirement that only volunteers would be sent to the war zones had become a major issue in the recent federal election in Canada, which was facing a desperate shortage of soldiers during the closing days of the European War. As a result, "zombies" (conscripted soldiers who refused combat duty) had been ordered into combat roles. This had caused a political controversy and Prime Minister Mackenzie King, trailing in opinion polls, promised that only volunteers would fight against Japan. King narrowly won re-election, largely because of the military vote. The rate of re-enlistment fell dramatically following the end of the war in Europe. While this was going on the RCN wanted the crew of Uganda to volunteer for the Pacific War, which they were currently participating in.[citation needed]

The crew of Uganda felt that they had volunteered for "hostilities only", (i.e., hostilities against Nazi Germany) but now found themselves fighting a different enemy in a quite different part of the world.

On 7 May 1945, the vote was held onboard Uganda and 605 crew out of 907 refused to volunteer for continuing operations against Japan. The British Admiralty was furious and said it could not replace the ship until 27 July at the earliest. An embarrassed Royal Canadian Navy offered to replace Uganda with HMCS Prince Robert, an anti-aircraft flak ship that was being refitted in Vancouver.

HMCS Uganda was detached from the US Navy's Third Fleet on 27 July when HMS Argonaut (61) arrived. Uganda proceeded to Eniwetok, and then to Pearl Harbor for refuelling before heading for Esquimalt. En route to Pearl Harbor, one boiler suffered a liner collapse which would have resulted in the ship's withdrawal from active combat at any rate. Uganda limped into Pearl Harbor on 4 August but was not welcomed because of the resentment that her crew was "quitting" the war.[citation needed] Uganda departed after refuelling and proceeded for Esquimalt. En route to Canada, the crew heard news about the atomic bombs being dropped on Japan. They arrived in Esquimalt on 10 August, the day that Japan announced its acceptance of the Instrument of Surrender.

Following World War II, HMCS Uganda remained on the Pacific coast at the RCN base in Esquimalt and was paid off into reserve status on 1 August 1947.

Korean War and Cold War[]

Canada's entry into the Korean War and commitment of Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force and RCN units to the British Commonwealth Forces Korea necessitated the reactivation of HMCS Uganda.

The vessel was recommissioned on 14 January 1952 as HMCS Quebec (C66) and moved immediately from Esquimalt to her new station at Halifax to replace units which had departed for Korea. Canada's Pacific coast once again saw a cruiser presence after the war when the RCN's second cruiser HMCS Ontario (C53) was posted to Esquimalt to replace HMCS Quebec.

HMCS Quebec subsequently served two tours in the Korean War theatre. In 1953, HMCS Quebec was the flagship for Rear Admiral Bidwell and led the RCN ships to Spithead for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The RCN vessels consisted of an aircraft carrier, two cruisers, one destroyer, and two frigates.[2] As part of a post-Korean War realignment within the RCN, HMCS Quebec was paid off in June 1956 and scrapped in Japan in 1961.

Her unit name lives on in the form of HMCS Quebec, a cadet summer training centre for the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets.

References[]

  1. Britain's Navy
  2. Souvenir Programme, Coronation Review of the Fleet, Spithead, 15th June 1953, HMSO, Gale and Polden

Publications[]

External links[]


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