Remember the Rainbow Redux: An Alternate Royal Canadian Navy

SS Prince Rupert burning out dockside at the GTP wharf would have looked like these pictures of her sister ship Prince George being lost in a fire in Ketchikan in 1945.


Very much so, the more timelines change from our own the more they stay the same! We'll see a lot more photos in the aftermath chapters once everything has fallen into place.
 
Suffering from Success
Even as the distant booming of Leipzig’s guns ceased for a short respite, the former Royal Navy sloop Algerine crept ever forwards to its objectives west of Vancouver. While it was obviously a colossal stroke of good fortune to come upon two enemy vessels in such a compromising position and even more so to capture them both with zero casualties, it is also a mark of substantial skill and cunning in regards to the officer at the helm of such an operation. As such, it is outwardly bewildering that Lieutenant Hartkopf, the purveyor of such a flawless operation, was apparently set into a rather foul mood after the fact. The irony of the Algerine being commandeered by the Germans should have brought much chagrin to her crew as sloops such as this had been used by the Royal Navy to enforce their rule to all corners of the Empire, seeing it be turned against them and used in the bombardment of what amounted to the Empires front door was almost poetic justice in a sense. That seems though to have not been the case as the second in command aboard the sloop spoke later in his life about the Lieutenants irritability and somewhat clouded head, although it was never explicitly mentioned the reason why that was. In all likelihood it was due to fact despite the rather young officers triumphs that day, the likely medals in his future and the destruction he would reap upon his enemy, he was ultimately unhappy about his immediate fortunes as a result. He had oversaw an opportunity another nation had not done in hundreds of years, capturing a vessel of the Royal Navy but what had he to show for it? His first command was scuttled and now he had rewarded by being forced to give up that sleek three funneled greyhound for what amounted to a decrepit old carthorse.

Regardless of that fact, Algerine was sailing roughly a few miles off the Valdes and Galiano islands at roughly this time, lining up to thread the channel which separated the two and make her way towards the substantial coal loading facilities of both Ladysmith and Nanaimo. While the general lack of credible shore defenses meant she was largely safe combat casualties outside of rifle and machine gun fire, the treacherous internal waters of British Columbia were another story entirely. Algerine was outfitted with a relatively new set of Royal Navy issue charts which were utilized alongside a predetermined course with assistance from the pilot aboard Leipzig but even so, they had to tread carefully. Accidents happened to local vessels frequently in those waters, let alone foreign sailors operating an unfamiliar ship. Caution was almost forced upon the sloop, one wrong move putting her ashore or in a collision with a rock would prematurely end their mission, further crippling Leipzig and leaving the sailors at the mercy of an enemy power they had just been prepared to bombard. Even if one wished to imbue some kind of haste into their part of the operation, the vessels relatively pedestrian top speed of the 13 knots squarely set the pace going forward. One can easily understand the stresses put on a crew operating in such conditions with the ever-present threat of an unseen torpedo sending them off into the drink at a moment’s notice.

Leipzig arrived at the eastern most section of Burrard Inlet at approximately 0800 hours, a relatively small area known as Port Moody. This dead end stretch of the inlet was somewhat famous for being the initial location of the western terminus for the Canadian transcontinental railway before it was moved to what would eventually become Vancouver. While a large spattering of sawmills and cottages could be found dotted around the area, the main target for the Germans was the pair of oil refineries nestled into the confines of the port. The BC Refining Company had purchased the original Canada Pacific Rail terminal site in 1908 and had converted it into a small but regularly operating oil storage and refinery site with direct sea access. Crude oil arrived by train or by sea and was pumped through the processing cycle by an onsite powerhouse, eventually being stored in steel storage tanks located on the hillside bordering the rear of the site. The facility only produced roughly 25,000 barrels of refined oil monthly, but such things were viewed as perfectly adequate until 1914 had rolled around and the massive factory to their north had begun construction.

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View of the BC Refining Company from the shore.

The Imperial Oil Limited Company had purchased 85 acres on the northern shore of Port Moody for the basis of an absolutely massive oil refinery which would ideally come into limited operation by the end of 1914. Referred to as Ioco (an abbreviation of the company itself), the property contained a sizable L shaped wharf with an attached rail station which was constructed to facilitate effective movement of refined products and crude oil to and from the arriving tankers, the facility located up the incline to the rear of the property and elsewhere in the province. Hundreds of thousands of feet of piping would feed the oil through the 23 various sized steam stills and associated refining equipment where it would eventually find itself in one of the 270 different storage tanks which would dot the facility grounds. It was planned to house some 200 families in the surrounding town around the facility which would include all of the amenities expected of modern life as well as a ferry service from Vancouver and the surrounding area. The facility itself was projected to process 60,000 barrels of oil per month however when the Germans arrived in August of 1914, the facility grounds were somewhat different compared to the grand plans of Imperial Oil. With the declaration of war earlier in the month, construction had slowed somewhat as workers filtered away to enlist in the military alongside being forced to contend with a lack of certain essential material caused by the threat of German raiders locking down the sea lanes. The workers that did stay coalesced into a rather miserable grouping of shacks on their off time, which soon made up a sizable shanty town around the borders of the plant. Even as the company was informed that the first Peruvian crude oil shipment required to start refining at the end of the year would be unlikely to arrive, the work slowly moved forward as deadlines were pushed further and further into 1915.

As fate would have it, the prospective facility would have its opening pushed back even further by the actions of that Sunday morning. Oil refineries themselves were rightfully viewed by the Germans as potential bottlenecks which if exploited properly, could put pressure on the rapidly modernizing sections of the Royal Navy which relied upon oil firing to propel their vessels and other articles of war. The cruisers initial loop around the port was announced by a boom of guns and the associated pair of geysers reaching skyward just off the pair of facilities. The din of the guns died away but was quickly replaced with the sound of alarms seemingly coming from all directions at once, Leipzig’s extended rampage in Vancouver harbor had seemingly had the facilities themselves already on high alert and her appearance sent employees and families alike quickly fleeing into the hills. Of course, the Hun had not arrived to pillage shanty towns contrary to what British propaganda had stated but to the people on the ground, an attack of any kind was not something they would like to stand around and observe. In any other situation, Leipzig focusing her finite shells on a largely unfinished and sparse property like Ioco would have been a major boon for the Canadians, but the boastful pride of Imperial Oil had come back around to squarely plant its foot in uncomfortable places. Due to the heavy newspaper coverage of the plant and its progress every step of the way, the German Consul in San Francisco and Captain Haun by extension were perfectly aware that attempting to destroy the entire plant would be a costly resource sink. Ever the sharp mind, Haun instructed his gunnery officers to ignore the hollow, easily repaired oil tanks around the property and instead focus on hitting the more valuable pieces of infrastructure on the premises with methodical and well placed shots. The first salvos landed amidst the warehouse and adjacent boiler room at the foot of the wharf, almost immediately sending the overhung forward-facing side of the former building toppling down off its supports and into the harbor below. A locomotive and its associated cars carrying construction materials was caught in the impromptu demolition, catching brick and wood shrapnel before being buried in steel scrap when the train shed came crashing down. The boiler room adjacent held up somewhat better for a few moments, but it quickly disappeared in a cloud of superheated vapor. Targeting some parts of the facility had likely been a difficult task given how residential buildings were sandwiched between the refinery high on the hill and pier far lower down however, it seemed like the Germans were more than up to the task. The towering smokestacks and any other significant buildings on the hill were used as reference points for fire but as Leipzig circled around to target the smaller facility across the bay, the only damage she had inflicted to the upper facility had been the destruction of a few steel pipes and the perforation of a large but empty fuel tank.

The BC Refining Company’s compact shore side property made for a rather quick and plentiful slaughter as the 4” guns of the cruiser effectively destroyed the plant in only one pass. One shell clipped the upper most tip of the main building’s smokestack, sending a makeshift wrecking ball directly downwards through the thin sheet metal roof of the structure. A handful of explosions inside both the main and secondary refining buildings sent shards of glass outwards in all directions as fire begun to take hold within their bowels, various articles of piping and holding vessels throughout the area gushing oil as they warped and broke. The weakly built wood and sheet metal structures around the grounds proved incredibly unsuited to concentrated artillery fire and quickly became little more than rubble surrounded by black tar and rising flames. Storage drums built atop the artificial hill had been punctured by shrapnel and shot but largely only dripped their contents until the rest of the main buildings funnel collapsed off its weakened foundation. A miniature tidal wave of black sludge was let loose from the tanks as the funnel came back down to the earth, smashing five or more storage tanks as it did. The larger tanks alongside the rail lines below faired only somewhat better as they were blow apart by shell fire alongside yet another trainshed near the facilities wharf. The ferocity of the fires melted and warped whatever remained from the shelling as boilers and machinery exploded in the background, such terrible fires would rage uncontrollably through the immediate woodland areas as well and cause undue amounts of carnage.

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Alternate view of the BC Refining Company property from atop the hill bordering it.

Leipzig did not immediately resume her destruction of the remaining facility though as a lone three masted vessel in the bowels of Port Moody was soon the center of attention. Tied alongside one of the many sawmill wharves was the SS Lord Templeton, a 2,150t sailing cargo vessel built in 1886 and registered in Victoria, British Columbia. Due to the fact that the vessel was partially shielded by the wharf itself and the structures built atop it, Leipzig was forced to bombard her from somewhat further away. Such a task was still though within the purview of the East Asia Squadrons elite and within a short period, both Lord Templeton and the immediate port infrastructure had taken quite the beating. The vessels luck held out initially as her heavily laden state hid her hull beneath the clutter of the surrounding dock but as that clutter was ruthlessly blown out into the surrounding waters, the inevitable first shell struck her followed by another and another. Due to some of the shells passed low under the spindly outstretching docks, Lord Templeton had her waterline facing the dock holed which caused her to eventually roll inwards towards the structure in an attempt to capsize. She would snap off her heavy masts as they collided with the dock infrastructure, creating a mess of splintered wood, sail and cabling strewn about. The vessel would prove rather troublesome to salvage in the coming days due to her precariously perched status against the dock being the only thing keeping her above the water alongside the internal cargo which had dangerously shifted in her death roll.

While the Germans would never inflict the same amount of sheer destruction upon the Ioco facility as they did to their previous targets, it was not for a lack of trying. The cruisers second attempt against the facility proved to be much more effective as her shells falling amidst the construction site created a horrendously dangerous sight to behold. Live electrical wires were hauled down alongside their poles and strewn about, the softer incomplete structures and their bordering scaffolding collapsed under the explosive power of incoming shells while a mobile fuel cart far up on the hill ignited in an immense fireball. Soon the groupings of funnels with their lower structures hidden by the altitude of the hill begun to fall one by one as Leipzig refocused her fire back on these hardened structures, the boiler rooms and surrounding machinery was a tough nut to crack however, such large valuable equipment would be difficult to quickly replace or repair. Empty distillery containers toppled over onto their sides as shrapnel or shells lanced through their supporting brick and metal lattice work structures while salvo after salvo pounded the brick structures to pieces. Ioco was lucky in the fact that none of the larger brick smokestacks had been erected as even their shorter and stouter steel counterparts proved to be rather destructive as they toppled over and damaged anything in their path. While many of the boilers and refinery machinery was not outright destroyed in this bombardments, the shrapnel damage they suffered and more so the amount of damage the structures around them sustained caused future repair and construction efforts to be slow and forcefully methodical to avoid building collapses. One high explosive shell which had failed to initially detonate would end up exploding months later when attempts to clear debris from a boiler room went horribly wrong.

As Leipzig was finishing her final sweep of Port Moody and slinked back out into Burrard Inlet at roughly 0923 that morning, the unmistakable thunder of gunfire could be heard far to their west. All was moving on schedule and according to plan as the cruiser made her way north, up Indian Arm in search of more targets. As the thinly spread Canadians would soon come to realize, the Germans had decisively opened up a second avenue of attack on the coast and were poised to ruthlessly exploit such a fact.


(Above is a panoramic view of the Ioco site in 1916, it would be largely similar in August of 1914 although obviously much less built up.)




I apologize for yet another delay. Next chapter will be out by midnight Wednesday, firm.
 
i never realized that the capture of that sloop might be something rare, was it really hundreds of years since the last captured RN ship? back to the age of sail? that is just additional humiliation lumped on top of all this....
 
Huzzah! Another great update.

"The German terror continues, could a plague of SPIES have been responsible for the perfidious Teutons' impeccable aim against Vancouver's newest and most advanced oil refinery, the construction of which was so expertly detailed by the reporting of this very newspaper?!"
 
KABOOM. Wonderful degree of detail.
I was wondering, the attached write-up on the British Columbia Refining Company mentions a tanker being captured by the Germans. Do you know which ship that was, and which German ship captured her?
 
KABOOM. Wonderful degree of detail.
I was wondering, the attached write-up on the British Columbia Refining Company mentions a tanker being captured by the Germans. Do you know which ship that was, and which German ship captured her?

I was also very curious about such a thing however, it's unfortunate that I have not been able to find anymore specific details. I've scoured the kill records of all the main surface raiders in the area around this period and none of them mentions anything about a tanker, which I find rather strange. I could be missing something on my end or there is a problem within my sources but I have nothing at this point. As such, I've just guessed that due to wartime and raiders on the sealanes, the shipment would be delayed. If you or anybody else finds the information, I'd be happy to update the story later.


i never realized that the capture of that sloop might be something rare, was it really hundreds of years since the last captured RN ship? back to the age of sail? that is just additional humiliation lumped on top of all this....
That is an interesting question which I looked into a bit more. As far as I can tell, the last RN warship to be "captured in combat' was the sloop HMS Penguin in 1815 however again I could be wrong. These events such as described in the story would be incredibly humiliating for the RN.


Huzzah! Another great update.

"The German terror continues, could a plague of SPIES have been responsible for the perfidious Teutons' impeccable aim against Vancouver's newest and most advanced oil refinery, the construction of which was so expertly detailed by the reporting of this very newspaper?!"

Thank you very much! Operational security isn't really the strong suit of the newspapers but at the same time, I don't think anybody expected Germans to come by for an impromptu gunnery session at the Canadians expense.
 
One thing is clear, the 'Leipzig affair' is going to leave an indelible mark on Canadian history. It's likely to shatter any notion Canadians have of assumed safety behind the fleets of the Royal Navy and USN.
I haven't read the other Rainbow timeline, but this my favourite 'what if Canada took national defense seriously before the Cold War' timeline.
 
One thing is clear, the 'Leipzig affair' is going to leave an indelible mark on Canadian history. It's likely to shatter any notion Canadians have of assumed safety behind the fleets of the Royal Navy and USN.
I haven't read the other Rainbow timeline, but this my favourite 'what if Canada took national defense seriously before the Cold War' timeline.
Very much so! I won't go so far as to spoil any future plot points however, I'll just say that I'm excited to eventually move on to the hilarity occurring in the east at this time alongside showing the after effects from the events on the west coast. I've had a fair bit of fun behind the scenes setting up what will eventually come for the RCN and I hope everybody else will enjoy it as well once it's here for all to read.
 
I was also very curious about such a thing however, it's unfortunate that I have not been able to find anymore specific details. I've scoured the kill records of all the main surface raiders in the area around this period and none of them mentions anything about a tanker, which I find rather strange. I could be missing something on my end or there is a problem within my sources but I have nothing at this point. As such, I've just guessed that due to wartime and raiders on the sealanes, the shipment would be delayed. If you or anybody else finds the information, I'd be happy to update the story later.
I have found pretty much what you said. No tankers reported captured and made prizes by the Germans:

Gilbert Norman Tucker writes in the Article The Career of HMCS Rainbow p. 20 that the Leipzig stopped an American tanker on August 21: He says: "There were numerous stories which pointed untrustworthy fingers at the whereabouts of the Leipzig, and some of these, as so often happens in time of war, seemed to rest on first-hand evidence, as when a tanker arrived in Seattle on August 21 and reported that she had been stopped by the Leipzig 150 miles north of San Francisco." The article references the Aug 22 Times Colonist as the source. The Aug 22 Times Colonist front page article "Leipzig Stops Tank Steamer" identifies the tanker as the American Catania which Leipzig stopped because she was not showing colours, and released without boarding.

Leipzig sank:
SS Bankenfields
Drummuir
SV Valentine

None were tankers. If not the Leipzig, then who?

The OTL Nürnberg, Scharnhost and Gneisenau seems to have taken no merchant prizes at all, except for the SS Walkure sunk by gunfire at Papeete:

OTL Dresden took 4, all in the Atlantic, and a list appears on her wrecksite page including no tankers.

Prinz Eitel Freidrich was active in the Pacific, but looks to have taken no tankers, according to her Wiki and the wrecksite pages of her prizes.

Likewise the Kronprinz Wilhelm,

Emden is not credited with sinking any tankers. The links Related by Histories at the bottom of the page reference Emden's prizes.

I see no evidence that the Cormoran captured even a single prize.

The Geier captured one British freighter, but didn't sink it, and it survived.

I see no recored of a tanker being captured by OTL
 
I did fib somewhat, there is a single tanker I did find sunk/captured by a German raider however, I forgot to include it as it's obviously not the ship we're talking about. Leipzig actually did capture and later scuttle a British flagged tanker, the SS Elsinore sometime between September 9th and 11th. The Germans stumbled upon the tanker at 2:30am through a rain squall and subsequently captured her. She had picked up 60,000 barrels of oil in the US for Guatemala and Nicaragua, so nowhere related to Canada in the slightest and was only carrying water ballast when sunk.


 
My question is how bad is the ecology going to be hit by that Oil? How badly are the fisheries of British Columbia going to suffer after the war?
 
As I understand it the oil spill will be pretty localized to the plant itself since the Germans did not target the holding tanks but the processing facilities. The post mentions the burning oil starts a forest fire so I assume it's mostly still on land.
That said, the inlet the refinery was built on is likely to have zero fishing in it for a year or so (assuming anyone fished there anyway) before the oil is cleaned up by dredging and bacterial breakdown, although I wouldn't be surprised if that was the extent of it. It was not a large facility in the first place so the total oil involved is not large. The rest of the coast shouldn't be concerned at all as far as I know.
 
My question is how bad is the ecology going to be hit by that Oil? How badly are the fisheries of British Columbia going to suffer after the war?
The oil would be bad locally, and ruin whatever salmon bearing stream estuaries it fouled in Port Moody, but Port Moody was located at the back end of Vancouver harbour. All the industries of the day were so careless with their waste that this oil spill would be just another drop in the proverbial bucket. The fisheries of British Columbia are certainly going to suffer after the war, as in OTL. But the damage will be caused domestically, first by over-fishing to feed the canneries that dot the coast, and later by logging causing destruction of spawning habitat.
 
Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
The elegant form of the White Ensign was a rather uncommon sight up and down the coast of British Columbia throughout the month of August, even more so as Rainbow had met a watery demise and Shearwater sat derelict in Esquimalt harbor. It did not take particularly long for the news of that mornings attack to spread like wildfire across the nearby coastal towns, any remaining doubters were quickly put to in their place by the periodic din of naval guns off in not-so-distant waters. The Militia and Navy had been taken completely off guard by the Germans incursion through the Strait of Juan de Fuca during the night and had been incredibly slow to react initially however, the preparation plans which were already in place had begun to finally be acted upon. Now that at least one German raider had been confirmed to be actively attacking the coast, measures had to be enacted to do as much as humanly possible to obstruct the mission of their enemy. The main concern of the local authorities was under the Hague Convention in relation of the Bombardment of Undefended Ports, it was completely legal for any hostile warship to enter a harbor and demand provisions or supplies necessary in fulfilling their mission. Refusal to comply would result in the legal protections bestowed upon such a town being removed, leaving the enemy vessel to freely bombard the area in question with little legal consequence. This was especially troublesome for British Columbia as the local vicinity to major coal deposits meant that many towns such as Nanaimo, Victoria, Ladysmith, etc could easily be used as resupply points due to their large-scale refueling infrastructure. Such things had been taken into consideration before hand with contingency plans as local stationed militia units were instructed to sabotage coal bunkers, barges, colliers, trains, and any other infrastructure required to successfully refuel a vessel. If a port were simply unable to supply an enemy vessel with fuel, they were not declining but physically unable to render assistance and therefore would still be protected legally.

Actually undertaking such actions in practice though was another matter entirely. Sabotaging vital infrastructure such as the coal loading facilities would seriously hamper both merchant and military efforts alike after the fact for a sizable period but such sacrifices were required in war. Little would the Canadians realize at the time that such self-destructive efforts would be more damaging in the end than the Germans, themselves being fully fueled with an entire collier waiting up the coast in support. The citizens of these coal port towns and militiamen alike had become relatively close as of the past few years, perhaps not in the most amicable of ways either. Strikes had broken out across largely all of British Columbia’s coal mining workers through 1912 due to issues with working conditions and largely the demand want to become unionized. In typical fashion befitting the period, companies fervently rejected unions, resorting to many different unsavory tactics in order to ensure proper operation of the mines. The situation had devolved quickly into a melee of violence between the police, strikers, strikebreakers and the companies themselves. This all came to a head in Ladysmith at least in mid August, 1913 when over 400 striking miners vandalized the local Temperance Hotel which had been renting rooms to recently arrived replacement workers. A pair of bombings on the hotel and a strike-breakers house resulted in the towns mayor admitting their 6-man strong police force was not up to the task and therefore called in assistance from the Militia. Victoria’s 5th Regiment would arrive in Ladysmith on August 15 in order to restore law to the town, being partially commanded by the later famous Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Currie.

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Militiamen providing armed escort for strikebreakers and replacement workers as they walk to work amidst the Coal Strikes.

Currie assembled his men in front of the Abbotsford Hotel and made an address to the citizens who had gathered.

“We are very sorry to come here. We are volunteer soldiers who have had to leave our homes and offices, and it is putting us to much inconvenience, as we do not know when we shall be able to go back to our homes. However, we have been sent here to keep order. We hope for the least possible trouble. We shall not trouble you if we can help it. But, we are here to keep order, and we intend to do it.”

Currie would soon after order his men to load their rifles with live ammunition in front of the citizens as a show of force. Such things came off as potentially a bit too forceful as one militiaman accidently discharged their rifle into the air and send the crowd scurrying away. The Militia actively look sides in the conflict which would last into August of 1914, executing numerous arrest warrants throughout the various towns targeted at strikers in order to hopefully break the siege. They also actively escorted workers through picket lines and directly fought the strikers. This violent and turbulent state of affairs was finally ceased officially on August 15, 1914 when an agreement was reached with the strikers for them to return to work. With Canada now at war and the looming threat of the Germans, the Militia could not be further tied up with such trivial matters and the coal had to start rolling once again to feed hungry merchants. Therefore, the strike was ended with no unions formed but strikers supposedly allowed to return to work. Some did however, others would find themselves ostracized, destitute and jobless as many parts of the former bustling coal towns had come to resemble more of slums or warzones.

With that all being said, nervous Militiamen and terrified citizen alike in Ladysmith that faithful morning must have let out a sigh of relief as the familiar White Ensign flying visage of a sloop entered their harbor. Being one of only two ‘real warships’ assigned to the Esquimalt navy base; the friendly silhouette of the HMS Algerine was a reassuring sight as the last real hope to drive off the Germans from their coastline. The feelings of relief seeing a savior essentially descend down from on high masked some of the rather obvious warning signs that something was amiss with the entire situation, Ladysmith had not been informed of Algerine’s arrival in advance and the fact was that Royal Navy ships very rarely refueled outside of Esquimalt as the base was where the Admiralty stored its highest quality steaming coal. Cheering erupted from the various militiamen, entente flagged vessels and concerned citizens all around the town however as the sloop moved forward at its top speed, attempts to communicate with her were seemingly futile. The ship was not equipped with a wireless set but even so, semaphore signals ashore were promptly ignored even though it was quite evident that men were running about her decks with worrying resolve. As 0923 ticked around and to the total horror of all who watched, the White Ensign was hauled down from the mainmast and was swiftly replaced by a huge white German Imperial Ensign which unfurled itself out into the wind. To describe the ensuring events as anything besides pandemonium would not properly be doing them justice as Algerine fired a three-gun salvo from her port side, the splashes jumping skywards around the major points of importance in the harbor. She quickly went about signaling by semaphore to all of the nearby vessels to abandon ship while also in classic German fashion at this point, hauling down on their collision siren with all their strength.

As the screaming banshee circled around the harbor in order to give the civilians at least sometime to escape, Militiamen ashore somewhat apprehensively went about their work. Ladysmith itself possessed two major wharves on its waterfront, the humongous Wellington Colliery loading wharf and the much smaller railcar transfer wharf nearby which was used to move railcars by sea between Esquimalt, Nanaimo, and Ladysmith. The transport wharf itself was not required to be sabotaged so the majority of the effort was put towards the huge coal loading wharf and its accompanying coal bunkers. Measuring in at over 1000ft overall length and being able to simultaneously refuel four vessels at once using three top mounted railway tracks, this immense structure was fed by equally huge coal bunkers which themselves were 400ft long and able to hold 8,000t of coal each which was discharged using chutes into railcars for transfer into ships. It had been initially planned to remove the large safety buffers at the end of the dock and simply push all of the coal inside its carts off into the harbor however, this idea had previously been rejected by the company who owned the wharf was it would make day to day operation dangerous alongside The militia would be forced to dump each coal cart one by one off the side of the wharf however given the crowded nature of the wharf that day with all four berths filled, such things proved time consuming and rather difficult. Three coal scows were in various states of loading around the dock alongside the 6,000t British cargo ship SS Crown of Toledo, this forced the Canadians to dump approximately 12 waiting railcars of differing capacity down and over two of the scows on the left side of the loading wharf, eventually causing them to become overloaded and sink to the bottom of the harbor. The massive coal bunkers themselves back from the wharves were torched as quick as humanly possible and soon, billowing plumes of black smoke began drifting upwards and out across the wind over Ladysmith.

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Ladysmith coal loading wharf in winter.

While this was ongoing, Algerine had decided on some prey in the meantime. Ladysmith possessed a shingle mill and copper smelter but neither would prove to be particularly valid targets. As was previously explained to the Lieutenant commanding the vessel, shingle mills by themselves were not particularly valuable wartime targets and the Tyee Copper Smelter had been left derelict since 1911 when the copper vein nearby had dried up. Much of the machinery had apparently been left to rot or was scavenged, even in a wartime craze for increased production, it was very unlikely such a plant would be brought back into service. With those things in mind, Algerine would first turn her attention to the only other oceangoing ship in the harbor besides the British merchant, the four masted 2,000t Russian cargo sailing vessel SS Lucipara which had anchored itself in the bay. The Russian vessel was awaiting its turn at the coaling dock to pick up a shipment of coal but as Algerine saw her crew evacuate by lifeboat towards the shore, the proverbial ‘open season’ was quickly declared. Algerine had utilized her maneuverability and small stature to effectively wheel around within the limitations of the otherwise somewhat limited harbor area and brought her 4” gun battery against the vessel at less than 300 yards. The crew picked for Algerine had largely been some of the more inexperienced gunners or men who lacked any gunnery experience but even with these unfamiliar weapons, the engagement was rather one sided in the end. One shell knocked the ships bowsprit down into the waters below as her humanoid figurehead was left disfigured beyond identification, deck cargo being blown about by the explosions aboard. The remainder of the shells were all aimed towards her waterline and would soon inflict mortal damage on the nearly 30-year-old vessel as within 5 minutes, she would heel to port in a death roll which she would never recover from.

As Algerine would turn about again and plunge deeper into the harbor, this time she closed with the shoreline and started taking individual train cars alongside their various infrastructure under fire with both her 4” main battery and her secondary 3 pdr Hotchkiss guns. With these cars and associated structures being so close to the town of Ladysmith itself, Lieutenant Hartkopf had either grown tired of the town which had largely begun self destructing when he arrived or truly believed in the competency of his gunners. Regardless as they systematically went about stripping the city of its surrounding rail system, Militiamen onshore had begun to bear down on the vessel as she passed, opening fire from various positions ashore with their rifles. Many of the soldiers ashore seemed to be following Algerine up and down the shorelines as she passed and repeatedly wheeled around, although their fire was generally ineffective and bursts from the sloop’s maxim guns barked out frequently in defiance of the brave but futile attempts at retribution. Targets eventually dwindled as many sections of rail were bent and warped with the cars on them being largely riddled with shrapnel or destroyed. Even as the Canadians continued to sabotage their own loading facilities, it would seem that Algerine wished to rejoin the action and show the Canadians how to do a proper job. 4” high explosive shells began to strike the waters around the one of the coal scows and the British merchant at the dock, the Germans rather quickly showing what short-range gunnery could do to stationary targets once again. The scow was rendered sinking in only a handful of hits to her rather paltry excuse for a hull however, the SS Crown of Toledo proved to be a much more dangerous beast. Several shell hits to her superstructure eventually caused a small fire to erupt which quickly accelerated across the vessel itself in a hellish torrent of flames as the coal dust and residue from the incomplete loading procedure mixed with her deck and forward hold cargo of various timber products. The fire would burn through the vessels mooring lines and cause it to be pushed inwards against the coal loading wharf itself by the tides, exposing the creosote treated structure to a heavy set of direct flames.

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Coal scow being loaded by train cars and chutes.

Algerine put her rudder had over once again and placed her stern towards the remains of the towns burning infrastructure. The Canadians dumping the railcars were eventually forced to abandon their endeavors as the flames begun to spread upwards and across the wharf itself, further adding to the dark clouds radiating out from the small town. With her objective complete alongside minimal ammunition expend and zero casualties, Algerine nosed out of Ladysmith harbor and started her march north towards Nanaimo. Seemingly as a parting gift on her way out the door, the sloop made one single pass on the E&R railcar transfer dock. The structure did not have any barges, tugs or other transport vessels moored alongside however, a shipment of various boxcars and locomotives awaited future pickup out on the dock itself. Algerine pounded the wharf into a pile of unrecognizable warped metal and wooden shrapnel as she went, one eyewitness claiming that a boxcar was flung completely off the rails almost landed as far back as the shoreline itself.

I'm hoping to get the next post out by Monday but I'll get back to everybody regarding that!




 
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Well done! I had never heard the government and militia's dilemma expressed that way before, in relation to the Haugue Treaty: If you destroy your coal, you will be unable to comply with the belligerent's demand for coal, through no fault of your own, since you already destroyed it, so the belligerent has no grounds to bombard you for refusing to provide coal.

Have you seen that the Victoria Daily Colonist published the Hague Convention on the Bombardment of Undefended Ports on August 3, the day before the DOW, beside a picture of Leipzig, in order to prevent stoke a general panic.
 
Great post! I hadn't expected the militia to latch onto the idea of self-sabotage to avoid attack! I wonder how much of the damage inflicted by BC's own will become wrapped up in the post-war narrative as being caused by the Germans, inflating the perceived success of the attack.

While I'm inclined to leave this as-is for the novelty, I'm pretty sure you meant 'paltry'.
 
Well done! I had never heard the government and militia's dilemma expressed that way before, in relation to the Haugue Treaty: If you destroy your coal, you will be unable to comply with the belligerent's demand for coal, through no fault of your own, since you already destroyed it, so the belligerent has no grounds to bombard you for refusing to provide coal.

Have you seen that the Victoria Daily Colonist published the Hague Convention on the Bombardment of Undefended Ports on August 3, the day before the DOW, beside a picture of Leipzig, in order to prevent stoke a general panic.
Yes I did see that, a very informative piece but also perhaps unintentionally fear mongering even more so.

Great post! I hadn't expected the militia to latch onto the idea of self-sabotage to avoid attack! I wonder how much of the damage inflicted by BC's own will become wrapped up in the post-war narrative as being caused by the Germans, inflating the perceived success of the attack.


While I'm inclined to leave this as-is for the novelty, I'm pretty sure you meant 'paltry'.
Sadly the scow hull made of chicken will have to go although I’ll make sure it makes a cameo later if I remember lol. The media turning against the government for destroying infrastructure unnecessary would be interesting although time will tell.
 
I can't wait to find out what's been going on in Ottawa while all this is going down. I wonder if we'll get a "Leipzig Debate" that does Borden and his government in.

Also, BC elected 7 Conservative MP's in 1911, I imagine their reelection prospects are pretty grim at this point.
 
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