102 PHOTOS & ONE DIARY IN THIS SECTION BY COLIN MURDO NICOLSON
After Eric Nicolson identified his father, Colin Murdo Nicolson,
in a photo of the crew of HMCS Sioux, (click here to see that photo)
he then told me in another email:
" My family also retains old photographs taken aboard the Sioux during 1944-45 and my father kept a diary for that time. I do not know if these items
have any interest for you but I would be happy to scan and forward them should you determine that they may be of value . . . . "
Colin Murdo Nicolson was from Port Arthur, Ontario (now part of the city of Thunder Bay), and that's where he
joined the RCNVR in late 1943, at the age of 18. He took his basic training in western Canada – almost certainly at HMCS Naden –
and joined the newly-commissioned HMCS Sioux in Portsmouth, England, on Feb. 22, 1944. He served on her until the end of the war.
Eric isn't sure that his father had his own camera, but he describes him as a pack-rat, so he must have
acquired these photographs from others. But most importantly, he kept a daily journal of his time on the Sioux.
Like most sailors he was obsessed with the weather and his lack of sleep – "Sleep? What's that?" –
but what really comes through is the horror of what he witnessed, and how he managed to block most of it from his mind.
The ship was lucky – although there were many engagements with the enemy,
they escaped major damage, and the only two deaths were from
accidents. But this self-described matelot spent nearly every waking moment on the upper deck, standing endless watches in the wet, freezing cold,
or as part of a gun crew as they were attacked by aircraft or submarines, or on one occasion, artillery from a battery on land. He was often
in a haze of exhaustion but still managed to write down his thoughts. He died in 2007. He left us an enduring legacy.
Personal Diary of Colin Nicolson – February 22, 1944 to April 17, 1945.
June 7, 1944: D-Day invasion as seen from HMCS Sioux – June 7 to 23: patrols along coast of France with much
action – June 24: major action involved sinking of HMS Swift – Aug. 24 to 29: attacks on Tirpitz – Sept. 7:
accidental death of Signalman Robert White – Sept. 16 to Oct. 4: convoy to and from Russia – Dec. 30: accidental death of
L/S James Joseph Williams – Jan. 1/45 to Jan. 21: convoy to and from Russia – Feb. 3 to 27: convoy to and from Russia –
Feb. 10: survived prolonged attacks from aircraft – March 13 to 30: convoy to and from Russia – April 16: arrived Azores, en-route back home to Canada.
This graduation group photo was taken about 1943/44 at HMCS Naden.
The training division may have been Hood I or Hood II, or possibly even B-170. Surnames of the men photographed are:
Aud, Babington, Bannister, Bolliantz, Boomer, Cooke, Cooper, Craig, Esveld, Evans, Ferris, Flaig, Flynn, Forrest, Gibbons, Gibson, Grabriel,
Harrop, Heier, Hendrickson, Hillier, Hoffman, Howell, Hughes, Humes, Hymers, Jenkins, Johnson, Kehl, Kerr, Koapchiuk, Kromm,
Landversitch, Lowe, Main, Martman, McMahon, McPherson, Meiers, Meloff, Moe, Nicolson, Paolini, Parker, Parry, Peltier, Rennie, Robertson,
Schmidt, Schultz, Schumaker, Sleeth, Sorrel, Swanson, Thornburrow, Toninato, Trono, Turner, Weichel, Widdell, Wilbon, Willis, Zemp, Zimmer.
There are many signatures with home towns on the back of the photo, including some who were absent from the photo session
– those names are: Ceogg(?), Luthrie (possibly Guthrie), Maddia, Wilton.
All of the recruits who signed the back of the photo were from western Canada, the most easterly being "The Soo".
Ten photos of HMCS Sioux,
the ship which Colin Nicolson served on throughout WW2.
Surnames of people shown: Bilton, Bourke, Nicolson, and a mascot, Hairless Joe, a dog which
seems to have been fished out of the ocean.
Not to mention two photos of King George VI, inspecting the ship's company.
Five photos of the invasion of Juno Beach, Normandy, June, 1944. The photos were
mostly taken from HMCS Sioux by RCN photographer S. Short. Only vessel
identified is LCT950.
Five photos of North Sea patrols and convoys to Russia, 1944.
Good photos of HMCS Sioux, HMS Berwick, & HMS Rodney.
Three photos. HMS Swift
sinks after hitting a mine off the coast of France, June, 24, 1944. HMCS Sioux picked up 14 survivors.
Seven photos – six of HMCS Saguenay, and
one of HMS Nabob, both severely damaged. Saguenay had its stern blown off when a
collision with a freighter detonated its depth charges, and Nabob
was torpedoed by a U-boat on August 22, 1944, but was able to limp 1,600 km back to harbour.
Three photos – two of men in HMCS Sioux's torpedo crews.
Some of the same men may be in both photos. The only one identified is Sykes. There is also one photo of a torpedo being fired from
Five photos of HMCS Algonquin, including
one of Admiral Nelles inspecting the crew at the ship's commissioning, Feb. 17, 1944. C.P.Os identified by surname:
Crotty, Falls, Johnson, Parnell, Short.
12 photos of several RCN ships, including Farmiles and a Harbour Craft, but also a Norwegian frigate,
a Swedish hospital ship, and a surrendered U-boat.
The only man identified is Lt-Cdr. J.C. Stubbs.
Ships shown: HMCS Assiniboine, Huron, Kapuskasing, Stettler, Uganda, HC-317;
as well as SS Drottningholm, HNoMS Stord, and U-190.
17 photos of crew members of HMCS Sioux,
who were friends of Colin Nicolson. Surnames of those shown:
Bourke, Dorman, Gallagher, Hamm(?), Heier, Kitchen, Lamoureaux, MacAskill, Majewski, McMahon, Montgomery, Nicolson, Sykes.
Others are identified by first name only.
Ten photos in another photo collection of crew members of HMCS Sioux,
who were friends of Colin Nicolson. Surnames of those shown:
Bilton, Bourke, Hamm, Heier.
16 photos of mostly unidentified crew members of HMCS Sioux,
plus various others, plus two cats and a dog. Surnames of those shown:
Heier, Moe, Nicolson, plus kittens Comp and Hodge. The photo of Moe shows
a mate of Colin's from basic training at HMCS Naden, and is shown with a "Hood" sign, which was their training division.
Six photos of unidentified ships. The photos all seem to have been taken
on or from HMCS Sioux.