Royal Canadian Navy : William Dalton Johnston & Donald Ross Johnston


William Dalton Johnston

William Johnston sent me a col­lection of photos taken by his grand­father and by his father. His grand­father, William Dalton Johston, served on HMCS Niobe during WW1, and he was in Halifax at the time of the Halifax Explosion, December 6, 1917, when a munitions ship exploded in Halifax Harbour, destroying most of the down­town area. The explosion killed about 2,000 people and wounded about 9,000.

William's father, Donald Ross Johnston, served on the Flower class corvette, HMCS North Bay, which performed convoy duty in the North Atlantic during 1944-45.

February, 2016 -- Many thanks to National Archives military archivist Alex Comber for identifying and re-clas­sifying most of these photos. The main problem is dis­cover­ing where William Dalton Johnston actually served. Although he was tech­nic­ally a crew member of HMCS Niobe, that ship was a depot ship, and as such, loaned out crew to other ships on an as-required basis. Photo locations which had once been ident­ified as HMCS Niobe, Alex Comber has ident­ified as being taken on HMT Olympic, one of the two sister ships of RMS Titanic. She was used as a troop carrier during WWI, and spent much of the war carying troops between Europe and Halifax. Other photos were taken on a ship much too small to have been either Niobe or Olympic, but was possibly a patrol ship, sweeper, or drifter, which has yet to be identified. In fact, the only photo which can be positively identified as HMCS Niobe is the group photo of 29 crew members, one of whom is almost certainly William Dalton Johnston. Section revised April 7, 2016.

Crew members of HMCS Niobe, WW1. Photo of 29 crew members of HMCS Niobe, one of which is almost certainly William Dalton Johnston.

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Crew Members on Unknown Ships. Eleven photos of crew members at work as well as in formal groups. At least two were taken on HMT Olympic.

Aftermath of the Halifax Explosion, 1917. Two photos showing damage caused by the Halifax explosion.

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WW1 Submarines & Ships in Halifax. Ten photos showing capt­ured U-Boats, one of which is UC-97; an Auxil­liary Patrol Trawler, TR-1; as well as RMS Aquitania, RHS Araguaya, HMCS Niobe, RMS Olympic, and coal yards in two unknown harbours.

Miscellaneous Ships, WW 1. Six photos showing ships, many with camouflage paint. All locations and two ship names are unknown. Ships shown: HMS Berwick, HMS Cornwall, HMS Devonshire, CS Lord Kelvin, RMS Olympic.

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William Dalton Johnston, WW1. Two photos, one showing William Dalton Johnston and unidentified friends.

World War Two Photos. Eight photos, four of which show U-boats during or after surrender. Ships shown are HMCS Annapolis, HMCS Assiniboine & SS Empress of Scotland. Also a 1935 photo of the Duke & Duchess of Kent in Nassau, Bahamas.

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Storm at Sea, WW2. Two photos, probably taken by Donald Ross Johnston, of a storm at sea. They may have been taken on corvette, HMCS North Bay.

Re-fueling at Sea, WW2. Four photos, showing an unidentified tanker transferring fuel to a ship, probably HMCS North Bay.

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Postcards From Ireland, WW2. Nine postcards from Ireland, purchased by Donald Ross Johnston on one of his many trips overseas during the war. All but one are scenes from Portrush and Londonderry.

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