The HMCS Alberni Museum and the Comox Air Force Museum have a great relationship as part of a new informal Comox Valley Museum Association. Each member museum is working to highlight Heritage in the Comox Valley. Our relationship with HAMM predates the Association but we are proud of the helping hand we have given to them.The HMCS Alberni Museum is totally separate from CAFM and a completely independent entity. In the coming months we will highlight each member of the new Comox Valley Museum Association.
The HMCS Alberni Museum tells the story of the Royal Canadian Navy corvette built during WW2 to fight in the Battle of the Atlantic. HMCS Alberni was sunk by a U-boat, which was later sunk itself.
Working with Lew as he moved into larger premises I noticed that he had a lovely 1/72 scale model of HMCS Alberni, but he did not have a model of its foe: the U-boat.
The German word for a submarine is “unterseebotte”, hence U-boat. During the Battle of the Atlantic the convoys of merchant ships carrying troops and vital supplies to the
United Kingdom formed a “flock” and the escorts, such as HMCS Alberni, acted as their “sheepdogs” protecting the “flock”. The U-boats that attacked the convoys and foughtwith the escorts were indeed the “grey wolves”.
The Type VII U-boat was the most produced and widely used U-boat so it is truly representational of the Kriegsmarine’s (German Navy) U-boat fleet. The Type VII U-boat was a potent anti-ship weapon, their main armament consisted of 14 torpedoes fired from four bow tubes and a single stern tube and an 88 mm deck gun. They also had small anti-aircraft guns for self-defence.
U-boat service was extremely dangerous for the 52-man all-volunteer crew. Of the 35,000 U-boat sailors sent into combat during WW2 fully 28,744 were killed: this is the highest fatal casualty rate of an armed service in the history of modern war.
I built a 1/72 scale Type VII U-boat which I named “Die Grauen Wölfe”. I did not mark the conning tower with a specific symbol that signified a certain submarine. Rather, to keep it representational, I marked it with a red horse. Of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse it is “War” that rides the red horse.
It took around 100 hours of work and is truly a labour of love! Our carpenter Irv Fraser made the wooden base it sits upon.
Jon Ambler, Program Manager/Volunteer Co-ordinator