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Saint John, New Brunswick
Cruise liner ship, Saint John, New Brunswick

Sub's remains spark search for HMCS Saint John

HMCS Saint John
Historian Harold Wright is seeking information about the river frigate HMCS Saint John, above, which took part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy in 1944 and torpedoed a German submarine, U-309, off the coast of Scotland in 1945. The U-boat's wreck was discovered last year.

BY NINA CHIARELLI
Telegraph-Journal
October 15/02

   A local historian whose greatest pleasure is connecting glimpses of Saint John's past is teaming up with a British company to complete a book about the river frigate HMCS Saint John.
   When U-309, a sunken U-boat from the Second World War, was discovered off the coast of eastern Scotland last year, a British publishing company traced its demise to a Canadian naval river frigate named for Canada's loyalist city.
   The publishing, company also tracked down local historian Harold E. Wright, the author of several books of Saint John history, and asked if he would contribute research.
   "I've been collecting anything and everything I can," said Mr. Wright, who declined to name the publishing company.
   Mr. Wright said he initially agreed to contribute to the book, expected out early next spring, because he had already begun a file on the frigate through previous research into Saint John's shipbuilding industry and Atlantic Canada's naval history.
   First located May 17, 2001, the Uboat was a type VIIC submarine operated by the German navy during the Second World War. She was detected and attacked in the North Atlantic Ocean on Feb. 17, 1945. Today, she lies in about 62 metres of water off Scotland, near Wick.
   Mr. Wright has already some valuable research with the help of the son of the frigate's skipper.
   "I'm still looking for anybody with Information about the vessel because 'not a lot is known about it," he said.
   Built in Montreal in 1942, HMCS Saint John was part of the D-Day landings in France in June of 1944. She also sank another U-boat, U-247, on Sept. 1, 1944, with the help of HMCS Swansea.
   "What I'm really hoping for is someone to come along who was on Historian Harold Wright is seeking information about the river frigate HMCS Saint John, above, which took part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy in 1944 and torpedoed a German. submarine, U-309, off the coast of Scotland in 1945. The U-boat's wreck was discovered last year. the ship, or whose father was on the ship," he said.
   Four men who served as crew aboard the frigate when she torpedoed and sank U-309 in February 1945 have already contacted Mr. Wright.
   "So much of our history we know so little about," he said.
   "This book will give credit to the men who served on this ship and to the ship. Their memories deserve to be honoured."
   HMCS Saint John made a final stop here, when she was refitted at the Saint John shipyard between May and October of 1945, on her way to the Pacific Ocean.
   She was scrapped in Sydney, N.S., in 1947.
   "I'm just happy to be able to make sure this part of the ship's history gets told so the community knows about it," he said.
"It's important for everyone to have access to this. "
    As a result of his inclusion in the project, Mr. Wright has received guarantees that copies of the book will be available for sale in Canada.
In the meantime, Mr. Wright is asking that anyone in the community who has ties to the ship contact him.
   "You have no idea of where you are walking tomorrow, unless you know where you have walked yesterday," he said.
   "(A project) like this really brings that alive."
   Harold E. Wright can be reached at 693-2598 or hfoulis@hotmail.com

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