15 November 1942 Ordinary Seaman David Oribine, V-8627, RCNVR of HMCS STAR was posted to HMS QUEBEC, the Combined Training Centre for amphibious operations, at Inveraray, Scotland. Following his participation in Operation TORCH, the invasion of North Africa, on 8 November 1942, he and various other Canadian landing craft crew were returning to Glasgow in the Troop Transport ETTRICK, when it was torpedoed and sunk off Gibraltar by U-155. The majority of the over three hundred crew and passengers were rescued but OS Oribine and twenty-three others were not.
ETTRICK was built as a troop transport with a capacity of 1,344 troops. Managed by P & O, she was intended to rotate battalions of the British Indian Army to and from India.
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.