In advance of the 2010 Canadian Naval Centennial I produced a collection of sketches requested by the Royal Canadian Navy as ideas that could be developed into final paintings. The intention was to illustrate, at least in part, the history of the RCN. Throughout the 100 year history the RCN has performed in many theatres in both war and peace and many fascinating stories spring to mind.
One such story is that of the “Three Musketeers”. 3 naval officers from well known Vancouver families who served with distinction in command of Motor Gun Boats during WWII in the Mediterranean. I had the privilege of meeting all three before their passing, Doug Maitland, Corny Burke and Tom Ladner. All three were awarded the “Distinguished Service Cross” and bars along with numerous “Mentioned in Dispatches”.
Their daring exploits are the stuff that make the heart pound and fill one with gratitude for their devotion to duty.
In April 1943 having completed work ups and being declared fully operational it was decided to send a flotilla of 15 MGBs and MLs to the Mediterranean, to bolster boats already there, and help to foil German forces being supplied in North Africa.
After a very rough passage from the UK when they were under constant German air surveillance and attack, the weather finally cleared as they turned S.E. for Gibraltar.
While still 150 miles from Gibraltar the convoy sighted the Battleship “Duke of York” with three escorting destroyers steaming north looking very majestic and powerful. As they passed a light hearted signal was flashed to them. “Hope you get there.” But in everybody’s mind must have been…what action lies ahead… will we survive… will we be successful… will we help win the war?