Unsung Heroes of the Royal Canadian Navy: Incredible Tales of Courage and Daring During World War II


142 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 1-55153-765-6
DDC 940.54'5971




Reviewed by Sidney Allinson

Sidney Allinson is Canadian news correspondent for Britain’s The Army
Quarterly and Defence. He is the author of The Bantams: The Untold Story
of World War I, Jeremy Kane, and Kruger’s Gold: A Novel of the
Anglo-Boer War.


Our country’s navy has always prided itself as being the “Silent
Service,” which may be why its century-long record of valiant
achievement is not as widely known today as it deserves to be. So naval
buffs will appreciate Manitoba author Cynthia Faryon’s new book about
the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). It is another volume in the True Canadian
Amazing Stories series by Altitude Publishing. But don’t let the
gee-whiz title put you off; Faryon tackles the subject seriously, basing
these accounts on first-hand recollections of naval veterans.

As she points out, “At the outbreak of World War II, the Royal
Canadian Navy consisted of just 13 warships and about 3000 permanent and
reserve members. By the war’s end however, it had grown into the third
largest navy in the world, with 365 warships and more than 100,000
personnel.” The massive growth was vital, as our ships and sailors
took on a big job, especially with convoy protection in the North
Atlantic. Other RCN vessels were active elsewhere all over the world,
suffering total losses of 2,024 dead and 319 wounded.

The author writes in a present-tense style that adds immediacy to the
stories. “Suddenly in a storm of bullets, Watson is hit. He lands
hard. Bullets continue to whiz overhead and his blood mixes with the
seawater on deck. Still, he’s determined not to let the enemy win.
Ignoring the burning in his leg and arm and the blood running into his
boot, he picks up his load of ammunition.”

Faryon takes the reader aboard several vessels, letting us see and feel
how it was to endure cold, wet duty while fighting a war at sea. There
are accounts of howling storms, shipwrecks, collisions, and deadly
U-boat torpedo attacks. Famous ship names sail through this
book—triumphant vessels like the destroyer HMCS Haida and tragic ones
like doomed HMCS Athabascan.

Unsung Heroes of the Royal Canadian Navy is a brief but good read about
some of Canada’s volunteer sailors who fought gallantly in the First
World War.


Faryon, Cynthia J., “Unsung Heroes of the Royal Canadian Navy: Incredible Tales of Courage and Daring During World War II,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 13, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/15523.