Royal Canadian Navy : Ken Johnson


Kenneth Anthony Johnson

Kenneth Anthony Johnson

In November, 2013 I received an email from Ken Johnson, which said in part: "My father (Kenneth Anthony Johnson) sailed on the HMCS Ontario. He had a lot of photos taken on their first voyage. Would these be of any interest? I also have a full size photo of the whole crew on the ship." To make a long story short, Ken mailed me the whole collection of photos and I scanned them at very high resolution. Fortunately they are almost all official RCN photographs, so were taken with good quality lenses. Even though the prints are small, the scans produced sharp images.

Except for ten postcards of HMCS Cornwallis which Ken Sr., mailed home in letters while he was there, the collection records the voyage of the newly-built HMCS Ontario from the Clyde on July 2nd, 1945, through various ports in the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal, to Colombo, Ceylon, until her arrival in Hong Kong on Sept. 12, where her crew participated in the Japanese surrender on Sept. 16. She stayed in Hong Kong until November 1st, when she left for home via Manilla and Pearl Harbour, arriving in Esquimalt on November 27, 1945.

From an undated Christmas card owned by Ken Johnson, Jr., it would seem that before Ken Sr. was on HMCS Ontario, he was a crewmember of HMCS Springhill, a River Class frigate.

Special thanks is given to Tony Banham for identifying the many Hong Kong photos. Tony is the author of three books on the war in Hong Kong, with a fourth (and probably several more) being researched. Please see his fascinating website Hong Kong War Diary. Because of his information, I've been able to re-group many of the photos into several Hong Kong sections.

December 17, 2014 : Thanks also to Gehan Pinto, who had the now vanished Old Ceylon history page on Facebook. He kindly sent me modern versions of many of the Ceylon photos and also helped me sort out those taken in Egypt. (This Canadian didn't know date palms don't grow in Sri Lanka).

March, 2015 : Thanks also to Russell Hodgkin. He clued me in to the fact that the negative numbers of the official photos are in order of occurrence, so arranging them in negative number order would show the progression of the voyage from start to finish. This insight also enabled us to identify many previously unknown locations.

November, 2015 : Thanks also to Alfred Lai, a Hong Kong-born Canadian who is an officer serving in the Canadian Army. He corrected previous descriptions of many of the Hong Kong photos and added new information to others.

March, 2016 : Thanks again to Russell Hodgkin. who found a list of the photographs in his father's papers. There is a big gap in the list, but it allowed me to put dates on most of the photos, as well as add names of some people and ships.

February, 2017 : These photos plus others in the series which are missing from this collection can be found in the HMCS Ontario section on the "For Posterity's Sake" website.

April 14, 2022 : Ken Johnson found a very fragile copy of a program for the musical production "Meet The Navy", in his father's files, and the pages are reproduced in the last item in this section.

People identified so far: H. Agnew, Charlie Conway, Major-General F.W. Festing, Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser, Capt. Harold Taylor Wood Grant, Ken Johnson, Lt-Col. Leathes, Ernest Harold Massick.

Ships Shown: HMS Bleasdale, HMCS Haida, HMCS Matane, HMCS Ontario, HMCS Prince Robert, RMS Queen Mary, HMS Truncheon. Also shown is a King George the 5th Class battleship, either HMS Anson or HMS Duke of York. Section revised April 14, 2022.

thumbnail Postcards of Cornwallis, 1944/45. Ten postcards which were probably bought at the canteen in Cornwallis. Messages written on them by Kenneth Johnson indicate they were included in letters home. thumbnail HMCS Ontario Ship's Company. DND photo of the ship's compamy of HMCS Ontario, with the officers and POs arranged on the jetty and the ratings on the ship. Dated November 1945, so the photo was taken in Manilla, Guam or Pearl Harbour. Only Kenneth Johnson is identified. A link is provided to an enlarged version. thumbnail HMCS Ontario, Petty Officers. A group photo of 32 Petty Officers arranged on a jetty with the ship behind them. Possibly taken at the same time as the larger ship's company photo. Identified so far: Charlie Conway & Ernest Harold Massick. A link is provided to an enlarged version. thumbnail HMCS Ontario, Army Officers. Three photos. First shows 11 officers, 10 of whom are Army and one a Navy lieutenant. The second is of Capt. Harold Taylor Wood Grant of HMCS Ontario, and Maj-Gen. F.W. Festing, General Officer Commanding Hong Kong, who appears in all three photos. Also Lt.-Col. Leathes in 3rd photo. thumbnail HMCS Ontario, Various Group Photos. Six group photos of crew, including a gun-crew (shown in the thumbnail at right). All but one are official photos. Ken Johnson is identified in one photo. thumbnail HMCS Ontario, Naval Officers. Three photos. Two of which shows admirals being piped on board HMCS Ontario. thumbnail HMCS Ontario, Delivering Mail. Two photos showing men receiving letters and also the mail sorting area. thumbnail HMCS Ontario, Engine Room & Stokers. Nine photos showing stokers performing various tasks in the engine room. One photo shows two POs heating steel over an open flame. Revised August 10, 2020. thumbnail Refueling at Sea with HMS Bleasdale. Ten photos showing various stages of the transfer of a fuel line from HMCS Ontario to HMS Bleasdale. Three of them show connection of fuel lines to HMCS Ontario. One man, H. Agnew, is identified. thumbnail Weapons & Torpedo Training. 11 photos showing gun crews in action, retrieval of a torpedo from the sea, and deployment of a paravane. thumbnail HMCS Ontario at Sea. 21 photos showing scenes at sea and entering unidentified harbours. Two show Gibraltar, another might show ships sunk in Manilla Harbour, another shows HMS Truncheon & crew, another shows a distant view of HMS Belfast. thumbnail Ken Johnson and Archie Leitch. Photo was taken July 8, 1945, in Valetta, Malta. Added July 26, 2020. thumbnail HMCS Ontario Leaving Valetta, Malta. Five photos showing HMCS Ontario leaving the harbour of Valetta, Malta. thumbnail Ships and Unidentified Locations. Seven photos showing ships including HMCS Ontario, HMCS Haida and RMS Queen Mary. thumbnail Valetta, Malta. Five photos showing locations in Valetta, Malta. thumbnail Egypt, Suez & Aden. 11 photos showing people and places in Alex­andria and Suez. Ident­i­fied are Toussoum on the Suez Canal, the Saad Zaghloul Pasha Monument & Square, Alex­andria, and Aden. thumbnail Ceylon. Eight photos showing street scenes and people and buildings in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Identified so far are the Kathiresan Kovil (Temple) and the Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque, both in Pettah, Colombo. thumbnail Hong Kong Harbour & Area. 11 photos showing Hong Kong harbour and nearby areas. Three photos are of Stanley Civilian Internment Camp. Shown also are either HMS Anson or HMS Duke of York, plus HMCS Prince Robert. thumbnail More Hong Kong. 24 photos showing end of war celebrations, street & market scenes and the people of Hong Kong. One officer shown is Major-General F.W. Festing. thumbnail HMCS Ontario Crew in Hong Kong. 13 photos showing the ship and crew directly involved in activities in Hong Kong – approaching the harbour from sea, a marching band, sight-seeing, a baseball game, possibly a sick parade, and mustering on a jetty. thumbnail Crew Entertained by Hula Dancers. Six photos showing a group of 12 dancers on stage as well as the CO and XO(?) dancing with them. thumbnail HMCS Ontario, Arriving in Esquimalt. 11 photos showing the arrival of HMCS Ontario in its new home port of Esquimalt, BC. Includes photos of the Minister of National Defence addressing the ship's company, and two Admirals, as well as the crowd of relatives greeting the ship. thumbnail An Open Letter to Young Men. A 29-page booklet given to HMCS Ontario crew members, detailing the dangers of promiscuity, sex, venereal disease and immoral thoughts. 1945 Tardust booklet thumbnail TarDust, Nov. 24, 1945: Vol. 1, No. 11. This four-page newsletter was published by crew­members of HMCS Ontario. Scans of the pages and tran­scrip­tions of the text. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the only copy in existence. HMCS Ontario ship's badge thumbnail Original HMCS Ontario Ship's Badge. Four photos of the ship's badge used during her maiden voyage and wartime service. Three colour photos by Russell Hodgkin, of this war-time badge were added. The Trillium badge was later officially adopted after the war. Canadian Cafe Menu thumbnail Canadian Cafe Menu. A menu, once liberated from the Canadian Cafe in Hong Kong, it has now been returned and is in their museum. Revised July 26, 2020. Meet the Navy programme cover thumbnail "Meet The Navy" An RCN production by the Directorate of Special Services. This undated, eight-page program was found in Ken Johnson Sr's files and is reproduced here. The pages contain too many names to list in this small box, but you can see them all when you click/tap here. Added April 14, 2022.

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