by Stuart Kettles

The account which follows was originally transcribed from a wartime diary written by Stuart Kettles who served in the first ATHABASKAN.

Friday 28th April

1900 hours - Slipped from alongside tanker and proceeded to sea accompanied by sister ship H.M.C.S. HAIDA on a mine-laying operation off the French coast.

Saturday 29th April

0300 hours - Received wireless message from Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth to proceed in a south-westerly direction in support of minelaying operations at fastest possible speed. Revved up to thirty-five knots.

0330 hours - Received second order from Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth. "Intercept and attack single enemy destroyer".

0345 hours - Sighted three enemy Destroyers. Closed in and prepared for action.

0400 hours - Enemy destroyers open fire, but salvoes fall short astern of us. We return fire with six 4.7 " and one 4" guns and manoeuver for position. First salvoe is long; second salvoe is short.

0410 hours - Range for third salvoe "dead on" but before it could be fired, received direct hit aft attributed to shore battery and a twenty-one inch torpedo fired from undetected E-Boats. "X" and "Y" guns were blown overboard; the four barrel Pom-Pom was completely demolished ; "A" gun was blown loose from its mounting . All communications from the Bridge to the guns was severed; Diesel oil fire breaks out at the tubes enveloping entire after canopy and stern. Flames fourty to fifty feet high. Pom-Pom ammunition explodes in all directions. Both propeller shafts were smashed and H.M.C.S. ATHABASKAN stopped dead. In spite of "A" gun having been knocked off its mounting, she continued to engage the enemy while "B" gun lighted up the target with Star-shell. H.M.C.S. HAIDA laid a smoke screen to enable us to try and escape.

0420 hours - Orders from the bridge passed by word of mouth, "Stand by to abandon ship". Magazine supply grows and remainder of personnel not killed by first torpedo and shore battery shell explosion, secure Action Stations and proceed to abandon ship stations. Attempts are made to secure tow-lines to H.M.C.S. HAIDA.

0425 hours - Received second torpedo hit at the break of the fore-castle on the Port side from Destroyer . No. 1 Boiler Room exploded. Fire breaks out anew, this time enveloping entire Starboard side. Ship takes a very bad list to Port and crew takes to the water and whatever Carley Floats and floatanets (1) remain.

0435 hours - The end of a short but thrilling career in the service of His Majesty's Royal CANADIAN Navy, H.M.C.S. ATHABASKAN's bow was the last to slide beneath those cold, oil-covered waters of the English Channel, approximately three and one half miles off BREST, FRANCE.

Transcription Notes:

(1) As transcribed, the word appears to be "floatanets". Perhaps it was intended to mean "scramble nets".

Action listed at 0425 hours is officially noted as 0427 hours.

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