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The first coastal convoy sailed on January 16, and over the next four months, ships were escorted between St. John's and various ports. Article by Paul Collins.

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Protecting these convoys along their routes was the St. John's-based Newfoundland Defence Force. On one day alone — January 31, — there were 53 merchant ships taking refuge in St. John's harbour.

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As anti-submarine measures became more successful in the waters around Great Britain, German submarines ranged further newfoundland escorts the Atlantic in pursuit of the vital convoys that were Britain's lifeline. Unlike the RCN's other bases, whose responsibilities diminished in the closing newfoundland escorts and months of the war, the facilities in St. John's continued to improve until the last U-boat in Canadian waters surfaced and surrendered on May 13, Even though St. John's was initially only conceived to be at best a temporary ocean escort base, HMCS Avalon ultimately developed into one of the most important Allied naval bases established in the North Atlantic during the Second World War.

John's Harbour, July John's evolved from being merely a defended harbour to a naval base of considerable importance. During the same period, the of personnel serving at St. John's rose from under 1, to more than 5, — the highest of any of Canada's naval bases other than Halifax. John's, 19 June Photographer: Archer.

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The NEF ships would then proceed to St. John's for rest. Furthermore, as the closest port of refuge, St. John's was also a safe haven for survivors from many torpedoed and storm-wrecked merchant ships.

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Between January and Mayescorts were stationed at St. John's, not including motor launches. Newfoundland required a fairly large mercantile fleet to service the many towns and communities spread out along its considerable shoreline, and steamers sailed regularly to ports in eastern Canada.

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One of the greatest sea disasters in Newfoundland's history occurred on October 14,when a German submarine sank the North Sydney to Port aux Basques ferry SS Caribou with the loss of lives. As the main port on the island, St. John's became the assembly point for both local convoys newfoundland escorts well as those traveling to and from mainland Canada.

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By establishing a forward base at St. John's, as the British had done in Iceland, the RCN could extend coverage more than kilometres further into the Atlantic. John's, NL. German Submarine U, 13 May By the end ofU-boats had sunk almost two million tons of Allied shipping in the Battle newfoundland escorts the Atlantic. Photographer unknown.

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John's base than on any other RCN escort base. John's was also the location of the only dry dock and haul-out facilities in Newfoundland until the Bay Bulls naval repair base was completed in Newfoundland escorts that month alone, warships were serviced and base facilities completed 2, repairs.

Other roles

It was comprised of six RCN destroyers and 17 corvettes, alongside seven RN destroyers and four corvettes. Regardless, St. John's primary, and most important responsibility was the supply and maintenance of the trans-Atlantic escorts that facilitated the vital convoys feeding the Allied war effort in Europe.

On the Canadian newfoundland escorts, the RCN, based out of Halifax, could only provide convoy escort as far as the Grand Banks, leaving approximately 2, kilometres for the convoys to travel unescorted, before being picked up by the RN in the Eastern Atlantic.

Newfoundland escorts was second only to Halifax, which had been an established naval base since before World War I. John's was commissioned — was the only RCN base developed during the war where the commanding officer held the title of Flag Officer, Commanding, and was independent of Halifax except on matters concerning manning until the creation of the Canadian Northwest Atlantic Command in May, By the end ofU-boats had sunk almost 2 million tons of Allied shipping in the Battle of the Atlantic.

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Before the days of regular air travel to Newfoundland, passenger traffic between Newfoundland and Canada also went by sea. HMCS Avalon facilitated newfoundland escorts "safe and timely arrival" of newfoundland escorts Atlantic convoys from the darkest hours of the Battle of the Atlantic right up to the end of the war. Photographer: Richard Graham Arless. Although RCN warships had priority over merchant ship repair at the Newfoundland Dockyard, this did not mean that merchant ship repairs were not carried out in quantity during the war years.

Initially, the Royal Navy RN escorted convoys to 22 degrees West, but as sinkings increased in the mid-Atlantic, Britain pushed this to 35 degrees West and occupied Iceland — both to deny it to the Germans and to use it as a refuelling point.

Survivors, 15 September John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

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Upwards of 6, survivors were cared for in St. John's between and By the end of hostilities, the Tactical Training Centre in St. A report newfoundland escorts in June indicated that on April 6, alone, 51 classes were taught between and These consisted of 35 gunnery, 11 anti-submarine, one radar, two Loran, and two NET classes, which included the use of the depth charge driller.

John's was more than just a base for trans-Atlantic escorts.

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During the course of the Second World War, St. John's evolved from being merely a defended harbour to possibly the most important escort base developed by the Royal Canadian Navy RCN in newfoundland escorts North Atlantic. John's was the natural port of refuge for many weather- and battle-damaged merchant vessels.

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Created in response to the movement of German U-boats into the western Atlantic Ocean, the Newfoundland Escort Force NEF was instituted to cover the convoy escort gap that existed between the local convoy escort in Canada and the United Kingdom.