HMCS CHILLIWACK K-131 was one of one hundred twenty-two Flower Class corvettes that were built in Canada during the Second World War. She spent most of her career operating out of St. John’s Newfoundland escorting convoys across the Atlantic to Iceland or the United Kingdom. She took part in several of the major convoy battles of the war and assisted in sinking two U-boats; U-356 in December 1942 and U-744 in March 1944. Ten corvettes were lost during the war and eight members of HMCS STAR were lost in those sinkings. After the war, she and thirty-two of her sisters came to Hamilton to be scrapped at Stelco.
At some point her foremast came to the home of a Dr. McGregor on Main Street North in Waterdown where it stayed for fifty years. When the property was being developed, Ralph Naccarato of Pantano Construction offered the mast to HMCS STAR and it was erected on the quarterdeck of the new building in 1997. Over the next twenty-two years, signage and pictures were removed and the significance of the mast was forgotten. At the instigation of LCdr (Ret’d) Doug Martin, a former Commanding Officer, a re-dedication was arranged. Pictures were unearthed, a brass name plate was polished and a new plaque was created that told a more complete story.
Following the Remembrance Day parade on Sunday, 10 November 2019, the significance of the CHILLIWACK mast was explained to the ship’s company. We were happy to have Dave Howitt, a member of the McGregor family, and his wife Betty there to witness the event.
Werner Max Hirschmann was born in Germany in 1923 and passed away in Toronto on 7 November 2019. At the end of World War II, Werner was serving as Chief Engineering Officer of the Type IXC/40 U-boat, U-190 which surrendered to the RCN at Bay Bulls, Newfoundland on 11 May 1945. After some time as a prisoner of war, Werner settled in Toronto. He occasionally attended Naval Association of Canada events at HMCS STAR. He was the author of “Another Place, Another Time” about his experiences as a U-boat officer. Werner was a gentleman and it is a privilege to have known him.