New Read

S.S. Nerissa, the Final Crossing

By retired naval officer Bill Dziadyk

The book tells “The Amazing True Story of the Loss of a Canadian Troopship in the North Atlantic“. The embarked troops included nine personnel of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (and about 30 army ambulances).  Eight of the medical personnel perished during the sinking.  The details were highly classified for almost 50 years.  The First Edition was published on Remembrance Day in 2019.  The Second Edition (about 70 more pages), both paperback (https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1777378206 )and Kindle e-book (https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08X3Q84BK ) will be available via Amazon on the 80th anniversary of the sinking (30 April 2021). The Foreword to the second edition was provided by retired submariner Captain (RCN) Sherm Embree. His uncle, Captain William Hazen Embree, RCAMC, was one of the 83 crew and 124 passengers who were lost during the sinking.

This second edition, is the result of feedback from readers … and additional research related to: Nerissa’s many wartime sailings prior to and including her final crossing of the North Atlantic; the resulting public relations dilemma in both Canada and the UK; and the inclusion of additional humanizing details to a tragic story. Also addressed is the significance of the sinking in the context of: Britain’s overall war efforts; and Bletchley Park’s significant advances in decrypting German naval Enigma encoded messages … in the few weeks before and after the sinking.

The troopship S.S. Nerissa departed Halifax (Pier 21) on 21 April 1941 in company with ships of Convoy HX-122. She maintained position in the convoy for about 3 hours before sailing independently for Liverpool, England via St. John’s, Newfoundland. Embarked were: 105 Merchant Navy crew, 16 Royal Canadian Navy, 108 Canadian Army, 5 Royal Navy, 12 Royal Air Force, 7 British Army, 14 Air Transport Auxiliary (American pilots), 4 Royal Norwegian Air Force, 4  National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ) auditors, and 16 civilians. The sinking of the Nerissa, about 12 hours from Liverpool, resulted in the third largest loss of life (207) for a ship sunk by U-boats in the approaches to the British Isles. 

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