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First World War (1914-1918)
War in the Pacific

At the outbreak of war in August 1914, only three obsolete ships and two recently-acquired submarines protected Canada's west coast. Canadians feared that German cruisers might attack merchant ships or bombard cities and towns. After these attacks failed to materialize, many vessels and personnel were transferred to the Atlantic to deal with the growing German submarine threat.

Sailor and 3-Pounder Hotchkiss Gun, HMCS Shearwater
Sailor and 3-Pounder Hotchkiss Gun, HMCS Shearwater

A sailor from HMCS Shearwater poses behind one of the ship's 3-pounder Hotchkiss guns.

This relatively small gun formed part of Shearwater's limited armament. A sloop designed and used before the war for patrol work, Shearwater was lightly armed with four 4-inch guns and four 3-pounder Hotchkiss guns like the one seen here. The unidentified crew member's cap tally reads "RNCVR," indicating that he is a member of the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve, which had been established in May 1914.

George Metcalf Archival Collection
CWM 19840218-002_20

HMCS Rainbow in Drydock, Esquimalt
Commander Walter Hose, HMCS Rainbow
Sailor Standing by HMCS Rainbow's Wheel
Sailor with Sennet Hat and Camera, HMCS Rainbow
HMS Algerine in Esquimalt, 1914
Canadian Submarine at Esquimalt
British 18-inch Torpedo
Japanese Cruiser Aso off British Columbia
HMCS Galiano Ship's Company, 1918
Chief Petty Officer James Vinicombe
Sailor's Summer Uniform, Lionel Channing, HMCS Shearwater
HMCS Shearwater in the Panama Canal
HMCS Shearwater's Crew
Cargo Ship Seen from Canadian Submarine
Sailor and 3-Pounder Hotchkiss Gun, HMCS Shearwater
Stoker Abner Beckwith Willford and Ship's Crew, HMCS Shearwater
Canadian Sailor with Banana Plant
Canadian Submarine in Harbour