Captured U-190 at St. John’s, Newfoundland in June 1945

U-190 and HMCS Arnprior in St. John's Harbour, June 1945

U-190 and HMCS Arnprior in St. John’s Harbour, June 1945.

I’m making my first and long overdue visit to Newfoundland and thought I would share some photos, both my own and those taken by my grandfather George Clifford who served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War.

My grandfather was stationed in St. John’s during the latter part of the war and snapped a handful of photos of U-190, the German submarine that surrendered to the RCN and was taken to Bay Bulls where it was commissioned into the RCN and moved to St. John’s. Docked next to U-190 was H.M.C.S. Arnprior. The U-190 was sunk on October 21, 1947 by the RCN near the spot the U-190 sunk H.M.C.S. Esquimalt in April 1945.

While in St. John’s I spent several hours at the excellent Royal Newfoundland Regiment exhibit which opened at The Rooms on July 1st of this year. I’m writing a piece on my visit for Forces War Records magazine and will be sure to let everyone know once it’s published. In the meantime I’ve included a photo gallery from my visit to some of the many sites related to Newfoundland’s long military history. The views from Signal Hill and Cape Spear were spectacular! I’ve also included a few photographs of the many war memorials we’ve passed on our drive around the Avalon peninsula.

Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve

Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve

Since arriving in Newfoundland we’ve met some of the friendliest people in the world, listened to some great Celtic music and have enjoyed some world class scenery. The 60,000 Northern Gannets clinging to the cliffs at Cape St. Mary’s were today’s highlight and one I won’t soon forget.


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13 replies

  1. I came across this recent commentary on the U190 sub. I lived in St. John’s at Fort Pepperell in May of 1945 when the sub came into and was moored in St. John’s harbor. I still have several photos of the sub and of her German crewmen and her captain. Hard to believe it was 75 years ago.

    Norman Martin
    Lenexa, Kansas

    • Hi Norman … thanks very much, it’s wonderful to hear from someone who remembers seeing U-190 in person! I was in St. John’s again last fall and visited The Crow’s Nest Officer’s Mess which has U-190’s periscope on display. Recently I read “Another Place, Another Time” by Werner Hirschmann & Donald E. Graves (2004, Robin Brass Studio Inc.) and highly recommend it. Hirschmann was the Engineer Officer aboard U-190 and he provides a very interesting account of his career in the Kriegsmarine. It has many fascinating personal photos as well as official photos of U190. Have you ever published your own photographs? Thanks again for getting in touch. All the best, Steve.

      • Hello Steve,

        Attached are remaining copies of the U190 photos that I still have for you to look at. The rest have been lost. I had them copied and enlarged a few years ago as the original photos were becoming very yellow. I apologize that my cellphone camera clarity is not the best that it should be. The U190 sank a Canadain vessel (The Esquimalt) outside Halifax only a month before the war ended with the loss of about 60 Canadian sailors. You will note the faint image of Cabot Tower on Signal Hill in the background of photo #3.

        I recall when I was in school in Montreal at McGill in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s that the local paper ran a story on the U190 periscope that was mounted in the Crow’s Nest Club so as to be able to survey St. John’s harbor. I had heard that the periscope had fallen into disrepair over the years but has since been refurbished and is still working.

        I was living in St. John’s with my aunt while my parents were serving overseas. My mother was in the Canadian Red Cross and my father was a wing commander in the RCAF. My mother returned to Newfoundland in June of 1945 but my father never came back. He was shot down over Magdeburg,Germany in 1944 and is buried along with his crew in the Canadian 1939-1945 War Memorial Cemetery in east Berlin.

        My mother and I left St. John’s in late fall of 1946 and emigated to southwest Iowa after she remarried an American serviceman who was stationed in St. John’s.

        I have often thought of my early years living in St. John’s. Over the past twenty years, I have written down some of my memories of my days living in St. John’s should my grandchildren ever have a desire to read about them. See attached manuscript if you care to read it.

        Norman Martin

        Lenexa, Kansas

  2. Remarkable exchange Steve and Norman. I hadn’t previously seen George’s pics before in St. John’s harbour. They are amazing. That was back when Water Street was the water street. Harbour Drive didn’t exist until after Newfoundland joined confederation. Those finger piers spilled out from the back of the stores and warehouses on Water Street. Looks like George was shooting from the roof of one. At least one of the RCN official photographers took large 4×5 colour transparencies of the harbour – only a few exist. I spent last year working in St. John’s – my previous trip was for the 2016 Beaumont Hamel commemoration – and joined the Crow’s Nest. Unfortunately the periscope has fallen into disrepair again. I’d love to see your photos as well Norman. Let me know where they can be viewed. Glenn Warner

    • Hi Glenn, thanks very much. I had a chat with someone from the Crow’s Nest and we think we identified the building from which the photos were taken. I hope to include a photo of it in my long overdue follow-up article. I’ll also include a photo of the periscope taken last September and a review of a highly recommended book for those interested in the U-190. Thanks again, Steve.

  3. Hi Steve, I’m currently working in St. John’s and I think I have determined the roof from which the photos were taken. Will try to gain access. Of course, where the U-190 was sitting against the pier is now landfill and paved over on Harbour Drive, but the roof should still be there.

    • Hi Glenn … that sounds great. I look forward to hearing if you do gain access. If you reference the building in relation to the Yellow Belly Pub I should know exactly where it is! 🙂

      • yes, highly recommended for any of your readers lucky enough to be here. And such a great building. Unfortunately the Crow’s Nest is still closed pending the finding of a new caterer/bar service. Red Oak catering pulled out due to the pandemic. So I haven’t been able to visit the U-190 periscope yet this trip.

    • Steve,

      I assume that these e-mails are from you?

      Yestreday, I was watching a band online that I had never heard of before called the Irish Descendants. While their tunes were being sung, there were an accompanying photos of natural landscapes and the sea. As I watched, I thought to myself that the photo shots looked a lot like Newfoundland. When the tunes were over, the credits said the photos were taken in the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundand. I guess some of the old memories are still in my head even after being gone for almost 75 years from there.

      Best Regards,

      Grant

      • Hi Grant, yes it’s me replying to Glenn this evening. Newfoundland is an unforgettable place so I’m not surprised the memories remain! I only wish I could be visiting this year but its not to be. That said the ocean is only 10 minutes away so I best not complain. All the best and stay safe, Steve.

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