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Second World War
The Navy Ashore  - Building the Royal Canadian Navy

The Royal Canadian Navy expanded dramatically during the Second World War, acquiring ships and recruiting personnel to meet the constantly increasing demands placed upon it. Ships had to be built, repaired, and maintained, and people recruited, trained, and supported.

Diver, First Class

Donald Mackay painted this sketch for a portrait of Chief Petty Officer Bert Drake, a Royal Canadian Navy Diver, First Class.

Drake is shown in his diving suit, holding his helmet on his lap. Behind him, a diving tender or barge (right) floats alongside a ship needing repairs or salvage work (background). Suits like this required constant external support, including a supply of air pumped through a hose attached to the helmet. During the Second World War, divers like Drake performed ship repair and inspection work, as well as assisting with the salvage of ships and equipment.

Diver, First Class
Painted by Donald C. Mackay in 1944
Beaverbrook Collection of War Art
CWM 19710261-4214