Among the things I would have expected to be taught (and remember being taught) in high school is the fact that during World War II German submarines were sinking boats and killing Canadians in the Saint Lawrence River and Gulf. Instead, I learned about it from this tweet:
6 July 1942 – World War II – Battle of the St. Lawrence – German submarine U-132 (shown) sinks three ships from convoy QS-15. Rimouski, Que pic.twitter.com/pJ3jSL0oPw
— canadasmilitaryhist (@CanadasMilHist) July 6, 2017
Rimouski is on the south side of the Saint Lawrence, just a little bit down river from Tadoussac, visible in this photo from space that I wrote about before. The U-132 attack in July of 1942 was part of the larger Battle of the Saint Lawrence, which the Juno Beach Centre sets up this way:
During the night of 11th to 12th May, 1942, the inhabitants of Cloridorme, a fishing community in the Gaspé Peninsula, were awakened by an explosion that shook up their houses as an earthquake may have done. Some lights could be seen out at sea, then vanished; in the morning, lifeboats drifted ashore. After several hours of searching, 111 survivors were rescued, seven men are missing.
The attack made the headlines and public opinion was alarmed. A threat that no one had dared mention until then, had just materialized: German U-boats in the Gulf of St. Lawrence; Nazi Germany threatening Canada from within. Public opinion demands an explanation and protests against censorship.
The prospect of Nazi submarines in Canadian waters is so intriguing that there are also many rumours and claims of Nazi subs even further inland, and of Germans coming ashore for provisions and for drinks at local pubs. Tristin Hopper reported on some of those stories for the National Post in 2013, including arguments that the subs came inland into Labrador, and “within sight of Baie-Comeau just as a young Brian Mulroney was taking his first steps.”
The evidence for those even more eye-popping scenarios, Hopper reports, is not particularly strong, and he quotes some very skeptical historians. I’m impressed enough by the battles we know did happen that I don’t feel a strong need to believe the murkier tales.
2 thoughts on “Nazi submarines in the Saint Lawrence”
There were also submarines in the Baie de Chaleurs. A distant relative of mine was involved in the capture of a German spy who landed off New Carlisle. Forget Mulroney, that was Rene Levesque country. At the time Earl Annett was running the hotel there and became suspicious as a result of seeing a matchbook that was suspicious.
My friend’s dad was an Austrian who was drafted in Nazi Germany and wound up on a submarine. He went up the st. Lawrence once or twice. He said a guy with a machine gun was stationed because the sailors had overpowered the command and opened the hatch and swam ashore before. He hated Hitler more than we did for making him do that duty.