WWII Battleship: Remembrance Day Lesson 1:3
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On a dark night in late April, 1944, HMCS Haida and HMCS Athabaskan, battleships of the Royal Canadian Navy, came upon German destroyers off the coast of France in the English Channel. They pursued them, but unfortunately, a torpedo struck the Athabaskan; there was a tremendous explosion and she began to sink. Haida continued the chase, driving one destroyer hard on shore, and chasing off the other. And then she returned to the aid of the Athabaskan sailors.
Danger was everywhere! Dawn was coming when the ship would lose cover of darkness. Haida's Captain Harry DeWolf told his crew ‘You've got 15 minutes - rescue as many as you can."
"Go on, Harry," yelled the Athabascan captain from the water, "Get out of here. Save yourselves before we're all lost!"
Heavy scrambling nets were hung over the sides and Haida seamen began to pull exhausted and oil-soaked Athabaskans aboard. DeWolf ordered all of Haida's boats lowered. They were supposed to be unmanned, but three Haida seamen jumped into the motor-cutter to pick up Athabaskans from the water. Haida stayed too long, and when she moved off, she inadvertantly left the seaman in the cutter behind. Those three seamen would have a hazardous journey with a faulty motor, overhead planes, and a daylight voyage across the Channel. Haida had picked up 47 men and 6 men were rescued by the motor cutter.
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