Honouring our Great Sailors

Busts by the RCN’s Sculptor-in-Residence, Christian Corbet

All busts on Display at the at the Maritime Command Museum in Halifax

Admiral Sir Charles Edmund Kingsmill, CMG, RN. (2010)

Born in Guelph, Canada West, in 1855, Kingsmill entered the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1869.  He retired some 39 years later, being promoted    Rear-Admiral to return to Canada at the invitation of Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier to establish a Canadian Naval Service.  As the “Father of the Royal Canadian Navy,” he shepherded its tumultuous creation and oversaw its activities through the First World War, progressing to the rank of full Admiral before fully retiring in 1921.   He died in 1935, and in 2010 his gravesite in Portland, Ontario, was designated as an historic site by the Ontario Heritage Trust.

Chief Petty Officer Max Leopold Bernays, CGM, CD, RCN. (2011)

A native of Vancouver, BC, Bernays joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1929.  Mobilized at the onset of the Second World War, he was Coxswain of the destroyer HMCS Assiniboine when on 06 August 1942 the ship engaged in an intense close-range surface gun action against the German submarine U-210.  With the bridge and wheelhouse surrounded by smoke and flames, Bernays stayed at the helm to obey manoeuvring    orders for the ship to ram and sink the submarine, for which he was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal.  He stayed on in the postwar RCN, retiring in [1960?], and died in 1974.

Captain Adelaide H.G. Sinclair, OC, OBE, WRCNS. (2012)

Born in Toronto in 1900, Sinclair studied in London and Berlin before  becoming a lecturer in political science at the University of  Toronto. 

With the establishment of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service, she was appointed its first Canadian Director in September 1943.  She held the position until the WRCNS was disbanded in July 1946, and for her efforts was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.  She went on to prominent positions in the public service, and from 1957 until retirement in 1967 was Deputy Director of UNICEF.  Made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1967, she died in 1982.

Rear-Admiral Leonard Warren Murray, CB, CBE, RCN. (2013)

Born in Pictou, NS, in 1896, Murray entered the first class of the Royal Naval College of Canada in 1911, and saw service at sea in Canadian and British ships during the Great War.  As part of Canada’s senior naval leadership in the Second World War, in April 1943 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief Canadian Northwest Atlantic, and remains the only Canadian to have commanded a theatre of war.  He was retired prematurely in 1945 as a result of his handling of the VE-Day riots in Halifax, and moved to England in 1947.  He died there in 1971 but is interred in St Paul’s Anglican Church, Halifax. 

Midshipman William A. Palmer, RCN. (2014)

In January 1911 Palmer joined the first class of the Royal Naval College of Canada, graduating two years later as the top of nineteen students. 

Upon the outbreak of war in August 1914, Palmer and three classmates – Midshipmen Arthur Silver, Malcolm Cann and John Hatheway –   embarked in the cruiser HMS Good Hope, flagship of Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Craddock’s squadron en route to the Pacific to engage the German East Asiatic Squadron.  When that ship was lost with all hands at the resulting Battle of Coronel off the coast of Chile on 01 November 1914, they became the first Canadian military casualties of the Great War.

Vice-Admiral Ralph Lucien Hennessy, DSC, CD, RCN (2015)

Having entered the RCN as a cadet in 1936, Hennessy joined HMCS Assiniboine at the outset of the Second World War and was the destroyer’s First Lieutenant [Executive Officer] in August 1942 for the action against U-210, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.           

Subsequently rising through the ranks, he held a number of prominent sea and ashore appointments.  The mid-1960s unification “crisis” saw him promoted directly to the rank of Vice-Admiral.  As Principal Naval Adviser between 1966 and 1968, he deftly navigated the RCN through two of the most challenging years in its institutional history.   He retired in 1970 and died in Ottawa in 2014.

Able Seaman Leander Green, DSC, RNR (Nfld Div) (2016)

A seal fisher by trade, Green joined the Newfoundland Division of the  Royal Naval Reserve in 1912.  Upon mobilization in August 1914, he was despatched to the armed merchant cruiser HMS Hilary on blockade duty in the North Sea.  During the night of 02 January 1915, when a dismasted barque that Hilary had taken under tow began to sink, Green jumped into the water to bring a lifeline to it, enabling the rescue of the crew.  For his actions, he became the first Newfoundlander to be decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal.  Returning to the Labrador fishery after the war, he settled in Sunnyside, Trinity Bay, where he died in 1966.