On 11 November 2019 (Remembrance Day), author and retired naval officer Bill Dziadyk published his historical non-fiction book “S.S. Nerissa, the Final Crossing: The Amazing True Story of the Loss of a Canadian Troopship in the North Atlantic”. The S.S. Nerissa was the only ship transporting Canadian troops that was lost to enemy action during the entire war. The embarked troops included seven reinforcements bound for service with No. 1 Provost Company (RCMP). This organization was the first unit in what would became the Canadian Provost Corps (CProC), which in turn was one of the antecedents of our current Canadian Forces Military Police Branch. One member of this No. 1 Provost Coy. reinforcement group, Corporal Charles J. Johnstone (RCMP Constable), perished during the sinking.*
The details of the sinking of the S.S. Nerissa were highly classified until almost 50 years after the event. The tragic loss of this ship on 30 April 1941 resulted in the third largest loss of life for a ship sunk by U-boats in the approaches to the British Isles. The deaths of 81 Merchant Navy seamen, 100 Canadian, British and Norwegian troops, 9 American Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) pilots and 17 civilian passengers touched not only Canadian families at the time, but also many families in the allied nations and the neutral United States. This book focuses on the events which led up to the sinking by U-552 (Erich Topp) and the resulting public relations dilemma on the Canadian home-front. Also included are eye witness accounts from many of the survivors and some stories of those who perished. Much of the material is based on the analysis of testimony, recollections and official reports taken from survivors, as well as declassified Canadian, British and German documents.
This book is currently trending at about #6 in Amazon’s Canadian Naval Military History “hot new releases”: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/new-releases/books/928740
* Note: Cpl Johnstone was the first fatal CProC casualty of the Second World War.