Research – Navies and naval matters

Guide to Sources for Research into the Royal Canadian Navy

Official Histories

In the writing of these volumes the authors had full access to relevant official documents in possession of the Department of National Defence; however, the inferences drawn and the opinions expressed are those of the authors themselves, and the Department is in no way responsible for their reading or presentation of the facts as stated.

 

Seabound coast

The Seabound Coast: The Official History of the Royal Canadian Navy, Volume I, 1867-1939Du littoral à la mer : Histoire officielle de la Marine royale du Canada, 1867–1939, Volume I, 1867 – 1939  : William Johnston, William Rawling, Richard Gimblett & John Macfarlane (Dundurn, 2010)

The Seabound Coast recounts the acrimonious debates that eventually led to the establishment of the Naval Service in 1910, its tenuous existence following the Laurier government’s sudden replacement by that of Robert Borden one year later, and the navy’s struggles during the First World War when it was forced to defend Canadian waters with only a handful of resources. The final section relates the RCN`s experience during the interwar years when anti-war sentiment and an economic depression threatened the service`s very survival.

Du littoral à la mer relate les âpres débats qui ont finalement mené à l‘établissement du service naval en 1910, son existence précaire âpres le remplacement soudain du gouvernement de Laurier par celui de Robert Borden un an plus tard, ainsi que les difficultés de la Marine au cours de la Première Guerre mondiale lorsqu’elle a du défendre les eaux canadiennes avec très peu de ressources. La dernière section traite l’expérience de la MRC pendant l‘entre-deux-guerres, alors que le sentiment antiguerre et une dépression économique menaçaient sa survie même.

The Canadian Government's publication data is available in English et également en français.

 

No Higher Purpose

No Higher Purpose: The Official Operational History of the Royal Canadian Navy in the Second World War, Volume II, Part 1, 1939-1943Rien de plus noble : Histoire officielle de la Marine royale du Canada pendant la Deuxième Guerre, Volume II, Partie 1, 1939-1943 : W.A.B. Douglas, Roger Sarty and Michael Whitby (Vanwell, 2002)

No Higher Purpose describes the mobilization of the naval service the first half of the war, measures its response to the demanding, ever changing strategic situations that confronted the Allies, and analyzes the service of our ships and sailors on the North Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean seas as well as the defence of Canadian waters. With the main focus on the Battle of the Atlantic, the volume demonstrates how Canadian naval forces proved indispensable to victory in that most critical campaign of the Second World War.

Rien de plus nobles décrit la mobilisation du service naval pendant la première moitié de la guerre, évalue ses réponses aux exigences de la situation stratégique toujours changeant des Allies et analyse la performance de nos navires et de nos marins, aussi bien dans les océans Atlantique et Pacifique que dans la Méditerranée et a l’intérieur des eaux territoriales canadiennes.

The Canadian Government's publication data is available in English et également en français.

 

No Higher Purpose

A Blue Water Navy: The Official Operational History of the Royal Canadian Navy in the Second World War, Volume II, Part 2, 1943-1945Parmi les puissances navales : Histoire officielle de la Marine royale du Canada pendant la Deuxième Guerre, Volume II Partie 2, 1943-1945 W.A.B. Douglas, Roger Sarty and Michael Whitby (Vanwell, 2007)

A Blue Water Navy follows the RCN‘s path to victory from 1943 to 1945 as Canadian warships engage the enemy across the globe in the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific Oceans, as well as in the dangerous waters of the European littoral. It recounts the multitude of tasks Canadian naval forces performed in the war‘s final phases, from motor-torpedo boat, minesweeping, and fleet operations to the inshore anti-submarine campaign, and thoroughly explores the transition from a small-ship navy into a balanced force and the worldwide scope of its involvement in the Second World War.

Parmi les puissances navales suit le parcours de la MRC de 1943 a 1945 sur toute la planète, alors qu’elle engage l’ennemi sur les océans Atlantique, Arctique et Pacifique, ainsi qu’aux abords périlleux de l’Europe. On raconte en détail les missions de toute nature accomplies par les forces navales du Canada lors des phases ultimes de la guerre, en haute mer, contre les sous-marins le long des côtes, sans oublier les vedettes lance-torpilles et les dragueurs des mines, et expose le rôle de la MRC sur les mers du monde durant le Deuxième Guerre mondiale, et donc la transition d’une force modeste vers une marine équilibrée.

The Canadian Government's publication data is available in English et également en français.

 

Naval Service Canada

The Naval Service of Canada: Its Official History. Vol 1, Origins and Early Years Gilbert Norman Tucker (King's Printer, 1952)
and
The Naval Service of Canada: Its Official History. Vol 2, Activities on Shore During the Second World War Gilbert Norman Tucker (King's Printer, 1952)

The content and interpretations of Volume 1 have been superseded by The Seabound Coast and should be used with caution. It is included in this listing primarily for historiographical purposes.

With its emphasis on ashore activities and administrative processes, Volume 2 remains an authoritative complement to the 2-part operational histories No Higher Purpose and A Blue Water Navy.

The Canadian Government's publication data is available for Volume 1 and for Volume 2. Note that the dust jackets of both volumes are identical, except for the volume number on the spine.

 

Canadian Naval Operations in Korean Waters

Canadian Naval Operations in Korean Waters, 1950-1955 Les opérations navales du Canada dans les eaux coréennes : 1950-1955 Thor Thorgrimmson and E.C. Russell (Queen’s Printer, Imprimeur de la Reine, 1965)

For three years a division of Canadian destroyers served with the naval forces of the United Nations, engaging in what was undoubtedly one of the most unusual naval campaigns in history – a campaign in which the ships of the UN never even sighted an enemy craft worthy of the name of warship, but during which they undertook a wide range of operations: the then-new screening of aircraft carriers, trainbusting shore bombardment, blockade and coastal island raiding. The book covers also the continued patrols during the first two years of the “uneasy truce”.

The Canadian Government's publication data is available in English et également en français.

 

History of Canadian Naval Aviation

A History of Canadian Naval Aviation, 1918-1962Histoire de l'aéronavale canadienne, 1918-1962 J.D.F. Kealey and E.C. Russell (Queen’s Printer, Imprimeur de la Reine, 1965)

Few Canadians are aware that Canada’s first air force was the Royal Canadian Naval Air Service established in September 1918 but disbanded soon after the Armistice. This book details how the foundation thus laid, along with experience gained with the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during the Second World War, led to the postwar establishment of a proper naval Air Branch, which became a key element of the RCN in the early Cold War.

The Canadian Government's publication data is available in English et également en français.

 

usque ad mare

Usque ad Mare: A History of the Canadian Coast Guard and Marine ServicesUsque ad Mare : Historique de la Garde côtière canadienne et des Services de la Marine Thomas E. Appleton (Queen’s Printer, Imprimeur de la Reine, 1968)

This official history of the Canadian Coast Guard also has much good background to the establishment of the Canadian Naval Service in the pre-First World War period, as well as the close cooperation between the services during the two World Wars.

The Canadian Government's publication data is available here.