RIP Bill Milne

Long time Naval Association of Canada member, Bill Milne, crossed the bar on New Year’s Day, 2023, at the age of ninety. Here is his obituary, followed by some remarks on his naval career that he submitted in May 2021.

Bill Milne passed away suddenly on Sunday, January 1, 2023, in his 91st year. He was a loving husband, father, grandpa, brother, and friend to many and will be missed by all who knew him. He is survived by his wife, Jane (nee McDonald) with whom he celebrated their 65th anniversary on December 28th; his two children, Mary (Peter) and John (Karen); his four grandchildren, Andrew, Katherine, Madeline, and Jonathan; and his sister, Ruth Milne. A lifetime resident of Burlington, Bill was the son of Lorna and Manson Milne. After graduating from Appleby College and McMaster University, he accepted an officer’s commission in the Canadian Naval Reserve. He went on to enjoy a successful 30-year career with National Trust before moving to Nesbitt-Burns. A long-time member of the Hamilton Club, Bill was also actively involved in many community organizations including the Lions Club, Burlington Curling Club, and the Probus Club. Bill’s strong faith drew him to be actively involved with his lifelong parish of St. Luke’s Anglican Church as well as the Diocese of Niagara where he served in many capacities including the development of St. Luke’s Close and numerous regional finance committees. Bill was awarded the Order of Niagara (2007) for his ongoing commitment to the work of the church. In addition to his volunteer work, Bill was passionate about the outdoors. He was an all-season camper, hiker and cross-country skier taking many trips with the family that covered all corners of North America. The Bruce Peninsula was a particular favourite of his where camping and family backpacking trips along the Bruce Trail were frequently enjoyed. He also appreciated the many memories from hiking and skiing adventures with the ‘Shnobs’. After retirement, Bill and Jane travelled extensively, covering six continents, and crossing both the Arctic and Antarctic circles as they explored the world together. He was a loving and proud grandpa, taking great interest in his grandchildren’s lives, and when not travelling, regularly attended many sporting and artistic events as well as a range of concerts and competitions. Bill’s genuine desire to help others, his turn of a quick phrase and his warm smile will be missed by all. The family will receive friends at SMITH’S FUNERAL HOME, 485 Brant St. (one block north of city hall), Burlington, (905-632-3333), on Thursday, January 5, 2023, from 3 – 6 p.m. A funeral service will be held at St. Luke’s Anglican Church, 1371 Elgin Street, Burlington, on Friday January 6, 2023, at 1 p.m., with a reception to follow in the Parish Hall. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Bruce Trail Conservancy or Canadian Red Cross would be appreciated.

Naval Experience  

Lt. W. J.  Milne RCN(R)  Ret’d

Upon starting Queens University in Kingston, I joined the UNTD at HMCS Cataraqui as of November 21, 1951

In the spring of 1952 I was posted to HMCS. Stadacona and had sea training on board HMCS La Hulloise in company with HMCS Crescent and HMCS Swansea. The cruise was to the Azores, Gibraltar, Toulon, and Villefranche. In Toulon where the French fleet had been scuttled, we were able to tour the French battleship Richelieu which managed to escape to New York during the war. It was the first battleship I had ever seen and I was very impressed.

I returned to Queen’s and HMCS Cataraqui in the fall of 1952 and was posted to HMCS Stadacona again in the spring of 1953.Learned that I was posted as one of 10 engineering cadets to HMCS Magnificent, part of the Coronation Squadron, to go to the Coronation and Spithead . We did watch keeping and some engineering training. We were at Spithead for about a week as the four columns of ships 7 miles long were all formed in position. During this time there was a lot of socializing between the ships and the cadets on the Magnificent were required to entertain the cadets and midshipman from other ships including the Italian square rigged training vessel Amerigo Vespucci which was just across from us. This was an interesting experience as neither of us could speak each other‘s language but somehow with high school French we managed to communicate.

In the fall of 1953 I transferred to McMaster University and HMCS Star where I was transferred to the Executive branch for winter training.

In the spring of 1954 I was assigned to HMCS Naden and took navigation at Royal Roads and several other courses at Naden.

I returned to HMCS star for winter training in the fall of 1954.

In the spring of 1955 I was transferred to HMCS Stadacona and promoted to Cadet Captain. Sea training was on HMCS Quebec and I was cadet captain of a division of 30 cadets. The cruise went to Eastport Maine, Argentina Newfoundland, Charlottetown Prince Edward Island and Boston. It was the day after we arrived in Boston that I was advised that I had been promoted to Sub Lieutenant and was transferred to the officer’s quarters and wardroom of the ship but still remained as Cadet Captain of my division. It was also that day that the Cadet Captains including myself were invited to a reception at the naval dockyard. The events of that day are documented by Gordon Wells in Robert Williamson‘s book UNTiDy TALES page 260. For the rest of the cruise as well as my cadet duties I stood watch as part of the ships company.

Upon return to Halifax I remained for further Lt qualifying courses residing in the Stadaconaa wardroom. One of the courses was gunnery and we had the opportunity to go to sea for a day on  HMCS Haida for practical training.

I then joined HMCS York from September 1955 till May of 1957 with the exception of a two week Lieutenant qualifying course at C.O.N.D in the summer of 1956. I was promoted to Lieutenant in the fall of 1956

In the summer of 1957 I transferred to HMCS Tecumseh in Calgary and went on the retired list in early 1958

After that I had no connection with the Navy until Cdr Fred Lee asked me to help work on a reunion of U.N.T.D. cadets for an anniversary sometime in the late 70s or early 80s. Other former cadets were involved and we had a telephone team to call from a list Fred obtained from headquarters. We called from Ed Taylor’s Westinghouse office. We worked on arranging a Mess dinner on the Parade square of HMCS star with Max Mintz as the caterer. After that there were a few Mess dinners which I attended at Staff College and HMCS York.

Some comments from my cadet journal about winter training 1954 to 55 at HMCS Star

We have had several special parades this year the main one being when the cadets were asked to form an honour guard for the laying of the corner stone at the new C.O.N.D.  building by Admiral Hose RCN retired, the man who was originally responsible for the RCN reserve.

On Sunday, November 14 the naval officers and men from Star, C.O.N.D. and the sea cadets from Lion held one of the largest naval church parades ever held in Hamilton. We were led by the Stadacona band and marched from Star to Christ’s Church Cathedral then to the cenotaph where Commander Curtis laid a wreath then we returned to Star.

On New Year’s Day the ships company of HMCS Star welcomed in the New Year when the messes were open for the Captains rounds. First mess visited was the Chiefs and Petty officers mess where we were served cocktails and food, then we visited the Seaman’s mess, Wren’s mess, the Gun room and the Wardroom in succession. After the rounds were made some of the officers and cadets were invited to the Captains house where Commander and Mrs. Curtis were host to about 25 officers and cadets including Commodore Adams and Captain Caldwell. After a fine buffet dinner we returned to Star to receive members of the other services who visited us.

Another big event for the cadets in the second term so far was the Tri Service Ball. We started decorating on Thursday, February 10 most of the work and all the decorations were supplied by Mr. Bowles at Eaton’s. We had a great deal of cooperation from the staff officer of Star who was a great help and has supplied men for us when we needed them as well as making sure that the establishment was clean for the dance.

At present the cadets are practicing hard to form a guard of honour for the annual inspection of the establishment on March 22 this takes up most of our time on drill nights.

On January 29 four cadets attended the Mess Dinner at Star. We found it very interesting and I believe that the cadets all carried out the correct customs and manners of a mess dinner. Cadet  Perrault was asked to give the toast of the day and managed to give it correctly. Where Admiral K S Bond USN retired spoke to us on what he thought of our bilingual nation.

HMS VICTORY Artefacts

A gunmetal nail removed from the deck of HMS VICTORY in 1977 during ongoing maintenance.
A piece of the timber from HMS VICTORY with the plaque made from copper sheathing from the ship’s bottom.

Received, with many thanks, from Gerald “Jerry” McNair, who joined the RCNVR at STAR in 1943 and served as a stoker in the Escort Carrier HMS PUNCHER (Royal Navy but Canadian manned) for almost two years during the Second World War. Jerry worked at Westinghouse as a machinist after the war and among other endeavours, was a volunteer with Friends of HMCS HAIDA.