Royal Canadian Navy : William Dalton Johnston & Donald Ross Johnston


William Dalton Johnston

William Johnston sent me a col­lection of photos taken by his grand­father and by his father. His grand­father, William Dalton Johston, served on HMCS Niobe during WW1, and he was in Halifax at the time of the Halifax Explosion, December 6, 1917, when a munitions ship exploded in Halifax Harbour, destroying most of the down­town area. The explosion killed about 2,000 people and wounded about 9,000.

William's father, Donald Ross Johnston, served on the Flower class corvette, HMCS North Bay, which performed convoy duty in the North Atlantic during 1944-45.

February, 2016 -- Many thanks to National Archives military archivist Alex Comber for identifying and re-clas­sifying most of these photos. The main problem is dis­cover­ing where William Dalton Johnston actually served. Although he was tech­nic­ally a crew member of HMCS Niobe, that ship was a depot ship, and as such, loaned out crew to other ships on an as-required basis. Photo locations which had once been ident­ified as HMCS Niobe, were ident­ified by Alex Comber as being taken on HMT Olympic, one of the two sister ships of RMS Titanic. She was used as a troop carrier during WWI, and spent much of the war carrying troops between Europe and Halifax. Other photos were taken on a ship much too small to have been either Niobe or Olympic, and has been narrowed down to one of four armed trawlers -- HMT Stephen Furness, HMT Denny Duff, HMT Thalia, or HMT Jackdaw. In fact, the only photo which can be positively identified as HMCS Niobe is the group photo of 29 crew members, with Bernard Maurice Cocquyt positively identified, and another who is almost certainly William Dalton Johnston. Section revised January 6, 2020.

thumbnail Crew members of HMCS Niobe, WW1. Photo of 29 crew members of HMCS Niobe, one of which is almost certainly William Dalton Johnston. Also, Bernard Maurice Cocquyt has been positively identified. Revised May 29, 2019. thumbnail Crew Members on Unknown Ships. Eleven photos of crew members at work as well as in formal groups. At least two were taken on HMT Olympic, and others were taken on one of four armed trawlers. The only man identified so far is Robert Forbes. Revised September 6, 2019. thumbnail Aftermath of the Halifax Explosion, 1917. Two photos showing damage caused by the Halifax explosion. thumbnail WW1 Submarines & Ships in Halifax. Ten photos showing capt­ured U-Boats, one of which is UC-97; an Auxil­liary Patrol Trawler, TR-1; as well as RMS Aquitania, RHS Araguaya, HMCS Niobe, RMS Olympic, and coal yards in two unknown harbours. Revised January 6, 2020. thumbnail Miscellaneous Ships, WW 1. Six photos showing ships, many with camouflage paint. All locations and two ship names are unknown. Ships shown: HMS Berwick, HMS Cornwall, HMS Devonshire, CS Lord Kelvin, RMS Olympic. thumbnail William Dalton Johnston, WW1. Two photos, one showing William Dalton Johnston and unidentified friends. thumbnail World War Two Photos. Eight photos, four of which show U-boats during or after surrender. Ships shown are HMCS Annapolis, HMCS Assiniboine & SS Empress of Scotland. Also a 1935 photo of the Duke & Duchess of Kent in Nassau, Bahamas. thumbnail Storm at Sea, WW2. Two photos, probably taken by Donald Ross Johnston, of a storm at sea. They may have been taken on corvette, HMCS North Bay. thumbnail Re-fueling at Sea, WW2. Four photos, showing an unidentified tanker transferring fuel to a ship, probably HMCS North Bay. thumbnail Postcards From Ireland, WW2. Nine postcards from Ireland, purchased by Donald Ross Johnston on one of his many trips overseas during the war. All but one are scenes from Portrush and Londonderry. thumbnail HMCS North Bay Pennant, WW2. Possibly purchased in the ship's canteen by Donald Ross Johnston. Added June 9, 2017. End of the Sheep-Dog Navy, by "Jetty Joe". A newspaper clipping collected by Donald Ross Johnston. This item was originally published in the July 1945 issue of The Crows Nest. A link is provided to a .pdf file of the complete news­paper. Revised February 27, 2019.

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