His Story – LEST WE FORGET – Basil Evans Whiting

Just in time for Remembrance Day, the Cortes Island Museum’s Artifact Committee received the poignant donation of several war medals awarded to Basil Whiting. The Whiting family were Cortes Island’s residents during the Second World War (WWII) living on what is now Robertson Road. The following information is taken from the Campbell River Genealogy Society Cenotaph Project.

Basil Evans Whiting was born on March 23, 1923, at Vancouver BC. He was the son of William Henry Evans Whiting, (deceased in 1927) and Muriel Alice Whiting of Whaletown, BC. He did not have any brothers and had one half-sister – Mrs. Jean de Groot, 2165 Howard Ave, Windsor Ontario.

Basil joined the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) at Esquimalt, BC on November 18, 1940, as a “boy seaman” at the age of age 17 years, 8 months, stature, 6 feet 1 inches, chest 38 inches. His residence at time of enlistment was Cortez Island, BC, civilian occupation, logger – faller, employer – James Munroe Logging Co., Whaletown, BC. On November 18, 1941, he signed on for a seven-year engagement in the RCN, official number 4037.

Like Able Seaman Ralph (another man on the cenotaph), Basil Whiting underwent naval training at the shore establishments HMCS NADEN and HMCS STADACONA on the west and east coasts of Canada as an Air Gunner. He was also a qualified Bugler.

On September 3, 1941, he was posted to Destroyer J-160 HMCS OTTAWA in the rank of Ordinary Seaman. He was promoted to the rank of Able Seaman on January 2, 1942. From September 1941 until the day that OTTAWA was sunk on September 14, 1942, Able Seaman Whiting took part in escort duties in support of 14 trans-Atlantic convoys, primarily on the Nova Scotia to Liverpool, England route. At 02.05 hours on September 14th, the German submarine U-91 fired a spread of two torpedoes at a destroyer and observed a hit. Then they saw another destroyer, made a full circle and fired one torpedo at 02.15 hours, which hit amidships and caused the ship to blow up and sink immediately. The U-boat commander Captain Heinz Walkerling thought that they had sunk two destroyers, but in fact HMCS Ottawa under the command of A/Lt.Cdr. Clark Anderson Rutherford, RCN, was hit twice and sank in position 4755’N, 4327’W (German naval grid BC 6191) with the loss of 114 crew. There were 67 survivors. Able Seaman Ralph was missing, believed killed in action.

Basil Whiting’s name is engraved on the Halifax Memorial. Honours and Awards: 1939–45 Star; Atlantic Star; C.V.S.M. Medal & Clasp; War Medal

Sources and other Canadian Military links: http://sites.rootsweb.com/~bccrgc/cenotaph/canadian-military-sources.html

Cenotaph Project Page: http://sites.rootsweb.com/~bccrgc/cenotaphproject.html

Source: http://sites.rootsweb.com/~bccrgc/cenotaph/BWhiting.html (October 29, 2021)


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