The battle of the St Lawrence river begins


I’m mildly amused that the first photo in the article, labelled as being a convoy crossing from Newfoundland to Britain seems to be a formation of infantry landing craft of at least two different types with heavy escort vessels to the outside of the formation. These craft are far too small – and too heavily manned – to be trans-Atlantic merchant ships, and flying barrage balloons would be a silly thing to do for a merchant convoy, as it would extend the range at which they could be seen by U-boats without providing any significant value of defence to the convoy.


Very silly photo. Looks more like a misidentified Overlord photo.

But to add to it, my family members remembered when Fairmile Launches were shipped down the Trent Canal for such work.


Agreed, it’s almost certainly part of Neptune/Overlord. Of all the sites that should be careful about photo captions, it’s more than disappointing that the would-be Canadian counterpart of Encyclopedia Brittanica would be so sloppy.

I didn’t realize there were warship facilities along the Trent/Severn system. Where were your family located to see such shipments going by?


The Fairmile Launches were built in a shipyard in Orillia on Lake Simcoe. Being wooden launches they weren’t much different from commercial pleasure craft of the time.

They were too big for the Marine Railway at Big Chute but could fit in the eastbound locks. They entered Lake Ontario at Trenton and sailed east to Montreal.

My family saw them as they passed the bridge at Trent River, east of Rice Lake and west of Healey Falls.

The first lot were built while the US was still neutral and Canada had to get a clarification of the Rush-Bagot Treaty that these ships would not be armed until they got to Montreal.


Thanks for the informative answer. I thought I was aware of most of the WW2 industrial production for the military in my area of Ontario, but I didn’t know about these launches.