A.B. Charles Anderson
Charles Anderson, Chuck or Andy, to those whose knew him well, was born in Prince Rupert, B.C. on Dec. 3, 1914 and joined the R.C.N.V.R.(Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve) in 1935. Prior to his service on the H.M.C.S. Prince Robert, he served on the H.M.C.S. Empress of Japan. Following the Prince Robert, he served the remainder of World War II on the H.M.C.S. Chedabucto.
His father, Robert, was also a man of the sea, serving, we believe, on the HMCS Niobe during WW1. While most immigrants of the day traveled to this country by ocean liner Chuck’s Grandfather Lofthus, also a sea-faring man, emigrated to Canada from Aberdeen, Scotland by delivering a brand new fishing trawler to British Columbia by coming “round the horn” about 1912. The rest of the family followed later, arriving in Halifax around 1914. No sooner had the family settled in Prince Rupert than Robert, Chuck’s father, joined the Navy to serve in the First World War. After the war, they lived for a while in Nelson, B.C. before returning to Prince Rupert.
In 1935, Chuck was assigned to H.M.C.S. Naden (Esquimalt). His active service began Sept. 9, 1939. He spent about 3 months on the “H.M.C.S. Santa Maria” until Nov. ’39. From Dec. ’39 till April ’40, he served on the H.M.C.S. Empress of Japan. The dragon figurehead from this famous and very fast 19th century Canadian Pacific Ocean Liner now resides in Stanley Park in Vancouver.
Dad shipped on the HMCS Prince Robert in Sept. 1940 with six other boys from Prince Rupert. Lt. William Elkins (good friend), Jack Armstrong, William Murdoch (close friend), Harry Robb (best friend), George Brown and Robert McNab (also a good friend). After Dad’s two cruises on the Prince Robert, he was transferred to the HMCS Chedabucto for convoy duty in the Atlantic. He served there until shortly before the Chedabucto was lost in a collision at sea. Through 1941 – 45 in addition to Naden, he was periodically assigned to Stadacona, Givenchy, Venturer, Fort Ramsay, Protector, Kokanee, Chatham and Discovery. A P.O. since May ‘43, he was “de-mob’ed” July 30, 1945 but in 1947 rejoined HMCS Chatham in Prince Rupert, B.C. for a further 5 years
Chuck’s Ditty Box Book is in two sections. He seems to have begun his diary with the intention of thoroughness. For whatever reason, he stopped after Sept 21, 1940 then began a very simple “log book” style of entry starting back at Sept. 11.
( ) paraphrasing generally is mine, providing additional information or clarification where known. [.] indicate best guess for illegible words. In the interests of authenticity, I’ve resisted wholesale correction of case, spelling and punctuation, preferring to transcribe as written.
Diary of A.B. Charles Anderson, R.C.N.V.R.Left Esquimalt 3:40 (AM) Wed. (Thurs.). Weather not too bad. A few of the boys were a little sick. Had the forenoon watch. Replaced wiring on A Gun. Harry (Robb) worked with me. Just came off the second dog watch. Position off Grace Harbour. Could see Columbia River light ship
Seaman-Torpedoman – H.M.C.S Prince Robert
September 1940 - March 1941
Sept. 12, 1940
Sept. 13 (Fri.)
Stood morning watch. Weather a little squally. Fitted new lighting circuit in Cypher Room. Just came off the first dog watch. Robb (Harry) was busy finding an earth (ground) in Paymasters Cabin. I made a new shelf for my locker.
Sept. 14 (Sat.)
Stood a very uneventful middle watch last night. Had a little excitement this morning. We stopped a freighter flying an American and a Panamanian flag. We closed up to action stations and sent a boarding party off. The Captain (Pr.Robert) wasn’t satisfied with the [guarantie] engineer so brought him aboard as a prisoner of war as his nationality was Italian. He is kept under guard in one of the spare cabins. Stood the afternoon watch but nothing much happened. I fixed the electric fans in Lt. Elkins cabin, also Warrant Officer Rodwell’s cabins. Closed up to action stations again at 18:30. I go on watch again at 20:00 until midnight. The weather is getting warmer every day. Got in a little sun tan today. The ship we stopped was the “Dona Aurora”. The first watch was uneventful.
Here it is Sunday. Had the forenoon watch. Sighted a ship about 10:30 but did not intercept her. Wonderful day, hardly a ripple on the water, the sun’s sure getting warm. Got out my shorts today and lay on the deck all afternoon sunbathing. They issued credit cards for the Canteen today. I bought $3.00 worth. Should last until the end of the month. We will be changing into whites tomorrow I suppose. I hope so; the blues are very hot and uncomfortable.
Morning watch was very quiet came off the searchlight tower at 0600 after putting the signaling shutters up. Had action stations at 10:30 to 11:00. Weather turned a little cold in the afternoon and the sea is a little choppy. Action stations again at 18:30. Sighted another ship going in the same direction. Must sling my hammock and get a little sleep for the middle watch. Completed the telephone circuit from upper bridge to After T.S. [Telephone Shack?]. Works fine.
Had a very exciting middle watch. It came up to blow around 2300 and it also rained quite heavy. The #2 Cutter slipped under the griping spar and we sure had a tough time securing it. Fixed the motor on the galley stove this forenoon. The mess deck was one swell mess this morning we took water in through the ports[portholes] and it practically flooded us out. Sighted a ship about 1400 this afternoon turned out to be the “Hoperidge”, Newcastle. Put away a sea boat and after a very fine display of seamanship nearly drowning all hands, finally got away. One man went overboard. Took the prisoner over but brought him back. Ho hum – it’s great to be a sailor. I wonder what the 20:00 – 24:00 will bring forth.
I kind of got behind the last couple of days. Been busy as hell with the Training and Slewing Instruments. Weather is choppy and the ship is rolling like a log. I’m about fed up. Few weeks like this and I’ll be ready for a padded cell.
Ship went into second degree of readiness everybody in two watches which means 4(hours) on and 4 off.
Cruising up and down outside Manzanilla. There is supposed to be a German tanker in the harbour. This is our Patrol Area for a week. We should shove off for Galapagos on Monday.
The Training and Slewing are still on the blink. Worked all day with Harry (Robb) and (Seaman) Butt but are still no further ahead. More fed up than ever. It’s getting hot as “hell”. The drinking water is warm as the devil. They started issuing lime juice and ice water a couple of days ago.
Wed. Sept. 11
Left Vancouver at 10:30 AM bound for Esquimalt. Arrived Esquimalt 15:30. Stores and ammunition. Left Esquimalt 18:00 for short trip returned 2000. Oil and more stores.
Thurs. Sept. 12
Left Esquimalt 0400. Destination unknown.
Fri. Sept. 13
At sea down American coast. 3 American planes looked us over about 10:30. Weather cold.
Alarm sounded “Action Stations” at 7:30. Stopped American Lines “Donna Aurora”. Removed chief engineer – Italian. 1st prisoner of war.
Sun. Sept. 15
At sea. Weather warmer. Seas rough.
Tues. Sept. 17
Bad storm for 10 hours. Cleared about 09:30. Stopped British freighter “Hope Ridge” to transfer prisoner but was calling at an American port. “Hope Ridge” threw away all papers – believing us a German raider.
Off coast of Mexico. Changed to tropical rig. Stand by for sun burn. Stopped British freighter “Empire Confidence”. Dispatched mail to Vancouver. Arrived on first Patrol Manzanilla. Lightning and thunder storms and tropical rains.
Thurs. Sept. 19
Notice on board Off first patrol. Sleep with your clothes on. Boarding party and prize crew detailed. Heavy beam sea. 30° roll.
Fri. Sept. 20
Still on patrol. Heavy sea.
Sat. Sept. 21
Still on patrol.
Sun. Sept. 22
Sunday divisions. Captain gave information regarding ship’s movements.
“Patrol another four days then proceed south and oil at sea. Providing everything works to schedule should arrive Esquimalt Nov. 15.” Waiting for German ship known to be in Manzanilla. 30° roll.
Mon. Sept. 23
Still on patrol. Heavy sea. Weather hot.
Rigged target for shoot. Boys did well. Haven’t forgotten the art of Gunnery.
11:30PM Alarm sounded “Action Stations”. Where the hell’s my pants..
11:35 first shell fired H.A. Star Shell.
11:40 M.V. Weser captured by boarding party.
00:05. Prize crew aboard “Weser” and half her crew, 37 prisoners, brought aboard “Robert”.
01:30 North bound for Esquimalt. Transferred more armed men aboard “Weser”. Brought “Weser” Captain aboard Robert. 2 watches four and four. Roll on Esquimalt.
Proceeding with caution. Received message from “B.W.I” – “Well done. Carry on.”. From Ottawa – “Well done Prince Robert. All Canada is proud”.
Proceeding North. Weather colder. Blues.(Uniforms)
Sunday divisions in Blues. Prisoners and Ships Co. played deck hockey and had a few boxing matches.
Mon. Sept. 30
Prisoners heard discussing plans for capturing “Robert”. Guard doubled and machine gun mounted. Sighted U.S. Navy plane. Pay day miles from home.
Still North bound. Weather cold. Sea rough.
Wed. Oct. 2
Off Cape Mendaseno. Heavy rain and squalls. Oregon coast all day.
Thurs. Oct. 3
0400 Cape Blanco. Weser developed engine trouble at 0100. Under way again at 0130.
Fri. Oct. 4
02:00 Cape Flattery abeam.
06:00. Well into the Straits of Juan de Fuca.
Fog 0800. HMCS Saltpetre and HMCS Sans Peur met us to accompany us in.
13:00 Boom defense.
14:00 Home at last. “End house stand by”
End of First Cruise
Oct. 5 Oil and provision ship.
Oct. 6 Splice the main brace. Refused.
Oct. 7 Buzz we’re going to Vancouver. Refit.
Oct. 8 We’re going to Rupert with troops.
Oct. 9 Ship under sailing orders.
Out for gunnery shoot off [Squibbly]. Dropped the [brains] on the “Saltpeter”. Where to this time?
Fri. Oct. 11
South bound. Destination unknown.
Still south. Weather rotten. Sea rough.
Sun. Oct. 13
Still south. Weather warmer.
Zig zag off the coast of Mexico looking for Roumanian tanker under Nazi colours. 50 mile zig zag.
Tues. Oct. 15
Changed to tropicals.
Wed. (Oct.) 16
Sighted ship. Chased her for 8 hours. British “Pacific Star”. Put mail aboard.
Action stations. False alarm.
Fri. (Oct.) 18
Stopped Jug Slav (Jugoslav) ship Prince André. Cleared O.K. under Dutch registry.
Crossed the Gulf of Tehaunapec. Sea rough. Buzz. Shore leave in Panama.
09:00 Arrived Punta Arenas, Costa Rica. No leave. Three ships (in harbour) 1 German 1 Jap 1 Wop.
Left Punta Arenas south Buzz. Oil in 2 days.
Still south close to Panama.
Just of Panama. Stopped Br. Ship “Merchant Prince”. Anchored alongside Tanker “Bishopdale” in Bay of Panama. Proceeded south at 1800.
Thur. (Oct.) 24
Approaching Equator. Neptune’s Court arrived aboard at 17:30. Captain invited them to stay aboard.
Crossed Equator. Ceremony started 1400. Captain initiated first then ship’s company. Jimmy lashed us up to a beer.
Off coast of Peru.
Arrived Callao, Peru at 1600. 6 hours leave.
Left Callao 1600. 4 Nazi ships (in harbour?). Peruvian Navy entered harbour 2 cruisers 2 destroyers 4 submarines.. South for Antofagasta.
Oct. 29 (Tues)
Signal. German leaving port. 1200 miles south. Full ahead.
Full ahead. Should arrive tomorrow even(ing).
Arrived off Telcahauna. Ship (German) still in port.
Nov. 1. (Fri.)
Patrol outside Telcahauna.
Nov. 2 – 9
Patrol. Rig blues. Sea moderate.
Nov. 10 (Sun.)
Contacted oiler “Bishopdale”. Oil tomorrow.
Oroco Bay. Oiled 13:30. Back on patrol.
At Telcahauna. Port of Conception. Chilean Naval Base. 10 hours leave for Star watch (Cognac, Mescal Beer). 2 Nazi ships 4 Dutch fruit ships at anchor. Ratings tore down German Coat of Arms off German Consulate. Town very Pro-Nazi.
Left Telcahauna. (North)
Off Valparaiso. Heavy swell.
Nov. 16 (Sat.)
Entered harbour of Valparaiso at 0915. Had trouble tying up. Cutter upset. 16 men had a dip. Leave was stopped on account of trouble in Conception. Guilty parties owned up and leave was granted. People very ill bred. Moral(s) horrible. Pro British. Language Spanish and Aztec.
09:00 Left Valparaiso. Had trouble with anchor. Headed back for Telcahauna.
Nov. 18 – 19
Patrolling off Telcahauna.
North bound (“Home”)
Nov. 21 – 22
Still North. Antofagasta.
Antofagasta 10.30. Shore leave. Star watch 13.30 – 22.30. Clean town for S.A. (South America). Shore Patrol.
Nov. 24 – 25
North bound. (“home”)
Arrived Callao. Leave from 13.30 – 22-30. First mail. Nazi ships still in port. Had a fine time.
Nov. 28 – 29
North bound Cocas Islands.
Sighted Galapagos. Signal back to Callao German leaving. No Xmas at home. Concert held aboard. Engines full ahead.
South bound full ahead. Sleep with your clothes on.
Arrived on patrol.
My birthday at sea. Patrolling.
Patrolling. Met oiler. Oil tomorrow.
Took doctor aboard oiler. Can’t oil. Too rough.
11:30 Alongside oiler. Oiled while steaming. Left tanker 18.30 to resume patrol. Captain cleared lower decks. We won’t be home for Xmas .and probably not New Years. I wish I had a bottle of rum.
Dec. 8 – 12
Patrolling of Callao.
Dec. 13 (Fri)
Patrolling. We should be in Esquimalt today. Who started this war anyway
08:30 Callao. Had been waiting for the Levathian ship under Russian control and couldn’t touch her. Someone had blundered. Shore patrol.
Dec. 15 - 19
South again. Sea smooth.
On patrol off Telcahauna.
Dec. 21 – 23
Patrol. Turkey for Xmas. Canteen getting short on Tobacco and soap.
Heading for Valparaiso. Some of the boys feeling blue on account of Xmas Eve. Others kind of high on account of tots.
Dec. 25 (Wed.)
Xmas day at Valparaiso Chile. Anchored inside breakwater with stern secured to breakwater. Cleared up decks and decorated mess deck to kind of get the Xmas spirit. Very nice Xmas dinner with all the trimmings. Cognac. Pisca Anis Cerveza Vermouth Vine o Bearde. (Captain’s specialty???) Shore leave till 2400. Had swell time out(at) a Casino. Harry (Robb) and I spent 2000 pesos.
Feeling very tough received wire about Dad’s death. Captain held it back over Xmas. Wish I were home. Left harbour. 10.00 Chilean Flagship Attores played God Save the King as we passed. Very nice I thought.
Dec. 27 – 28
Heading north slow ahead. Buzz. Meet the tanker on the 10th.
South 14 knots for Port Yates. Approx. 400 miles south of Magellan Str. for 3 day rest.
Should arrive tomorrow. Rolling heavy.Jan. 1
New Years day. Anchored in Port Yates. Recreation party ashore 2 watches. Paint ship tomorrow.
24:00. Clear lower decks. Hoist all boats. Up anchor full ahead North 18 knots. German ship leaving Telcahauna. Looks like more patrol. Canteen out of tobacco and choc. bars. Short of soap. Sea rough.
Still north. Arrive on patrol tomorrow.
On patrol. German ship “Portland” loading cargo.
Sunday divisions. Boys smoking Chilean and Peruvian fags.
Still patrolling. Wave came aboard and completely crashed out evening(??) quarters.
Jan. 7 - 8 – 9
09:15 Bearing red 10. Ship hull down.
10:20 Away sea boats crew.
11:00 clear lower decks hoist first cutter. Hands muster for mail. Mail from home. 2000 cigarettes (everybody happy).
20:00 hands to station for going alongside. Ships collided slight damage to both. Cast off. Oil at 0400.
Jan. 11 (Sat.)
04:00 too much swell tried to oil by sea hose parted 2 manila hawsers. Oiling postponed. Oiler in Cornell Bay. Came alongside. 20 tons of provisions and canteen stores 900 tons of oil.
03:00 Left oiler (“San Adolpho”). Back on patrol.
Jan. 13 - 18
Patrol. Inclination and sight tests.
Still on patrol. 20.30 Sleep with your clothes on. Boarding parties stand by. Full ahead. Two Germans reported leaving Telcahauna.
Jan. 19 – 20
Patrol. Nothing of interest.
Return to Esquimalt last week of February. Meet relief on 6th.
Met oil too rough to oil.
Jan. 23 – 29
Patrolling. Weather varying.
24:00 Full ahead. Portland left Telcahauna 22.30. Given sha??e to start Gyro & set repeaters. 0200 all hands called to get dressed. Still no luck. 1900 Hands to supper. Boarding parties armed fire hoses rigged. Hands prepare for action.
00:30 Action stations. False alarm. Chilean freighter. 00.45 secure and disperse all hands cautioned to be on the alert. 0400 stand by for immediate action. 0430 Port Montt. (Skookum chuck) 0500 no dice out on a 9 knot tide. 0930 another false alarm. Chilean tug. Patrol off Port Montt. 1920 Dropped anchor off Port Montt. Everybody tired and disgusted no sleep for 48 hours.
Up anchor proceed north 18 knots looks like we can abandon hope. Portland wins again.
Feb. 2 – 5
09:50 Bearing red 45 ship hull down.
09:55 Our relief H.M.S. Diomede
11:00 Transferred mail and provisions
12:00 Relieved at last. Proceeding to Valparaiso and then home.
12:00 Arrived Valparaiso. Leave from 14.35 – 2400. Shore patrol.
Loading stores in Valparaiso two ratings badly hurt. George Brown put ashore in hospital with fractured skull. P.O. Moist badly bruised and dislocated shoulder but nothing broken.
05:30 left Valparaiso. Clear lower decks. Captain informs us we are going to Fiji Islands ”Suva” again to carry out a commission with New Zealand Navy. Should arrive at the end of the month.
Steaming S.W. for Fiji
Still on course to Fiji.
Still on course to Fiji
Changed to P.S.T. today. Nothing much doing.
Change in routine today. Action Stations at 0400 instead of 16.30. “Moan,Moan,Moan”
Time changed ½ hour. Weather fine.
½ change. Sea flat. Looks like change.
Dirty weather. Drizzle. ½ hour change.
Feb. 18 & 19
Regular routine. ½ hour change.
First land today. Action Stations at dawn.
Weather mild. ½ hour change.
Nothing new. Weather hot.
Hot as blazes cross date line.
Saw land today. Awfully hot.
Regular routine still hot.
Arrived Suva A.M.
Painting ship. Leave at 1:15. Went for car ride and picked up N.Z. Soldier with broken leg and arm and bad head injuries. Took him to hospital and lost our car trip.
Shore leave at 1:15. Went out with the Stinson’s girls to Sambula Camp. Met a couple of soldiers and had a few beers at their canteen.
Pulled out A.M. “Awatea”. Homeward bound again.
Crossed date line two Tuesdays. Weather rough. Tropical showers.
Routine as usual. Weather hot.
Routine as usual. Weather hot.
Crossed Equator A.M. No change in weather.
Hot and rain squalls.
Sunday divisions. Captain told us we’d be home in a week’s time. (Captain) Read two letters – one from the Commanding Officer of Fiji troops and one from Commanding Officer of Sambula Camp commending us on our good work of picking up their injured man.
Soon be out of the tropics. Weather cooler.
Strong head wind. Time change of 1 hr 20 min. Regular routine.
Still heavy winds. Same routine.
Weather cold. Same routine.
Same routine weather cold. Brr. Only two more watches before we get in Sunday morning I hope. Am down for first leave. Should leave for home (Prince Rupert) next week.
From the copyrighted collection of
Nanaimo, BC, Canada
DIARY ~ PHOTO ALBUM
Extracts of time aboard HMCS Prince Robert from September, 1940 - March, 1941,
as recalled by the ship's medical officer,
Surgeon Lieutenant E. A. Sellers
of the M.S. Weser
COMMISSION #1 ~ CDR. C. T. BEARD ~ R.C.N. 31.07.40
H.M.C.S. Prince Robert Tribute
Intro and Contents Page
AS YOU WERE. . .
William G. Hillman
BILL and SUE-ON HILLMAN ECLECTIC STUDIO