Kitchener Tender

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The Basis for a Ship’s Badge?

HMCS STAR operated a satellite unit or tender in Kitchener for just over ten years from 1 June 1954 till 30 November 1964.  During its short existence it moved frequently from Knollwood Park (the former CWAC Training Base close to the site of the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium) to a shared space with the Royal Highland Fusiliers to a fabric factory at 130 Weber Street West.

The unit had a strength of 95 in 1956 and was up to 114 by 1957.  The name CONESTOGA (the former WRCNS training facility in Galt from 1943 to 1946) was considered if the unit were to become an actual Naval Reserve Division.

While little is known about the Kitchener tender, some information is available about those officers assigned to command it:

  • The first officer in command from 1954 till 1961 was LCdr Joseph Ralph Hilborn Kirkpatrck.  He had served during WWII as the Senior Officer of the 65th Canadian MTB Flotilla and the CO of MTB-748 during 1944 and 1945.  He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross “For undaunted courage, resolution and skill during a series of actions against enemy forces while serving in Light Coastal Craft”.  He was promoted to Commander in 1955 and to Captain in 1959.  In civilian life, he was a Provincial Court Judge from 1950 till 1991.
  • Next was Commander Ross Langford Shaver.  He was commissioned a Temporary Lieutenant in 1945. In civilian life served as principal of both Grand River Collegiate Institute and Kitchener Collegiate Institute.
  • The last was Cdr Walter James Piercey,  He was probably ex Merchant Marine for he entered the Navy in 1940 as a Temporary Mate.  He served as CO of the Bangor Class minesweeper NIPIGON  J-154 from October 1942 till March 1944 and then as CO of the newly commissioned Algerine class minesweeper MIDDLESEX J-328 and as Senior Officer of Escort Group W3 on the Western Escort Force. 

Reductions in defence expenditure resulted in the closing not just of the Kitchener tender to HMCS STAR but five Naval Reserve Divisions:  NONSUCH in Edmonton, QUEEN in Regina, PREVOST in London, QUEEN CHARLOTTE in Charlottetown and CHATHAM in Prince Rupert.  All but CHATHAM subsequently reopened. 

If we consider Naval Reserve Divisions as having catchment areas extending no more than a sixty-minute commute, then HMCS STAR, comprising Hamilton/Burlington, Brantford & St. Catharines/Niagara has a target population of about 1.287 million in 2018.

The area of Kitchener/Waterloo, Cambridge & Guelph has a population of 0.675 million.  This is comparable to, though slightly larger, than HMCS PREVOST (London, Woodstock & Sarnia) at 0.631 million, while four other Ontario Naval Reserve Divisions have significantly smaller populations:

  • HMCS HUNTER             Windsor& Chatham/Kent      0.431 million
  • HMCS CATARAQUI      Kingston                                 0.161 million
  • HMCS GRIFFON            Thunder Bay                           0.121million

With such a population base as well as the University of Waterloo, Wilfred Laurier University and Conestoga College, the Waterloo area would seem a prime candidate for the reopening of a STAR tender.