[The February 1960 issue of Crowsnest Magazine featured a story titled "Bonnie's Storm". HMCS Algonquin was part of that escort group and shared in the experience. Here is a personal view from an Algonquin shipmate who was there.]
"I was on the Algonquin during that storm. My memory remembers much higher damage figures than stated in the Crowsnest story. Since I was the Captain's secretary of the Algonquin, all messages came to me. Each day there were about thirteen pages of ship damages being reported. The wind, as I remember, was noted at 114 knots. On retirement, the Admiral who had been CO of the Bonnie at that time, recalled the incident in an Ottawa newspaper interview. It was the biggest memory of his career having sailed through a three day hurricane with wind speeds peaking at 140 mph.
There was also a storm report which indicated that some waves reached 85 feet. A statement was made by scientists who claimed that a wave could not reach higher than 80 feet, but this storm had proved them wrong. I took some home movies from the upper bridge, 60 feet above the water and I was looking up at the top of some waves. Those were the conditions on just the first day of the storm. The deck was going underwater back to the superstructure.
Outside of our office there was a flat that went to a door to the outside just aft of us. Ahead of us, the flat turned in at an angle for a few feet and then went straight forward again. During the storm of 1959, every once in a while we would hear what sounded like a huge gunshot and then bang, bang, bang. It was the twisting of metal that caused large rivets to fail. When they broke, they made a loud sound, became airborne and ricoched from the sides of the bulkheads. That worried me immensely. With all those rivets coming out, the bulkheads would be surely be losing their strength. Luckily, none of the rivets gave way when anyone was in the vicinity.
At one point some of us were in the C&PO's mess at stand easy. We suddenly started to come around to starboard. If we had come 90 degrees I am sure the ship would have been lost. Normal electric power had dropped. Emergency power came on then we headed back into the wind. In a few minutes it too failed and a few shipmates made the sign of the cross. In what seemed like an eternity, a second emergency power source was flashed up. One of the Chief electricians indicated that was the last of the emergency power. We sat there waiting for it to fail, but it held. Before too long we were back to regular power. As Algonquin was fitted with bunks, it was the only time that I ever strapped myself in at night and we had been through a lot of storms by then.
The one injury on the Iroquois was the Supply Officer. He was on the bridge and was thrown into a binnacle. First messages indicated he was in a lot of pain and it was suspected that he had broken ribs. Bandages were put on but they made his suffering worse so they were removed. Finally, when we got to the Azores, he was taken to the hospital and it was found that his spleen had been split and now he was in extreme danger. A doctor was flown from New York (I believe) and aboard was his wife. The officer's operation was successful but he was stuck to a wheel chair for quite a while. A year or two later while in Quebec City, I heard that he was up and around and was getting back to normal.
We only lost one inflatable life raft but the other three destroyers lost most of theirs. For some time afterwards, aircraft flying over that area of the sea kept reporting them thinking there were survivors from some type of accident at sea. Finally, the RCAF aircraft based in Germany flew out and shot them up. It made for good target practice. When we got home, my wife told me that the radio news came on every half hour to report on the ships. They always ended the report with "None of them have sunk, yet". "
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