Thomas Joseph Simpson enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy at HMCS HUNTER in Windsor, Ontario as a radar operator during the Second World War in 1942. He was rushed through his radar training just as fast as the corvettes were built and put to sea initially in Esquimalt, British Columbia and later Halifax, Nova Scotia before serving on HMCS SHAWINIGAN (K136), HMCS TORONTO (K538) and HMCS LA HULLOISE (K668) in the deepest seas and in the most hostile storms of the North Atlantic battling the most deadly and threatening enemy the world had ever seen.
During the Battle of the St. Lawrence, he took part in escort operations and coastal defense operations from Halifax to Newfoundland to New York. During the longest battle of the Second World War; the Battle of the Atlantic, he participated in the escort groups that took ONS, ON and HX North Atlantic convoys mostly originating from Halifax, Nova Scotia and Sydney, Nova Scotia across the Atlantic to Londonderry and Liverpool. In the Arctic Campaign, he participated in convoys sometimes called the ‘Great Northern Patrol’ where convoys passed both through the Denmark Straits or south of Iceland to as far as the Arctic Circle where convoys were handled over to the Russian Navy. Protection of these convoys during the Battle of the Atlantic was vital to winning the war. During the Italian Campaign, he took part in KMF Mediterranean–United Kingdom convoys and MKS Gibraltar-United Kingdom convoys that transported British and Canadian troop convoys for military operations in Italy and Sicily from England and Gibraltar. During the British Isles Inshore Campaign of 1944-1945 he participated in missions and operations in which he performed his duties with outstanding skill and seamanship that would set a new standard at the time with his wholehearted devotion to duty, worthy of the high traditions of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Navy and which are maintained as a measure of excellence in the Royal Canadian Navy today.
As a 20 year old, Thomas Simpson was one of the first and youngest Canadians to be trained in radar technology. Simpson was one of the very first sailors to complete a radar course in Royal Canadian Navy history. By the time he was drafted to HMCS LA HULLOISE (K668) Simpson had developed enough experience at sea to command a high level of pride in his duties, confidence in his skills and expertise with the radar set that would command great trust from his Commanding Officer.
As a radar operator his role in hunting German U-Boats was extremely vital in keeping the shipping lanes open and the waters around the United Kingdom and Canada safe. His proficiency as a radar operator saw him called before the Admiralty to explain in detail his skill that resulted in the saving of hundreds of Allied lives with the sinking of German U-Boat 1302. His gallantry, resolution and skill was not only acknowledged by his Commanding Officer but the Commander-in-Chief of the Western Approaches, Admiral Sir Max Horton who supported the importance of Thomas Simpson’s actions with the Distinguished Service Medal of which only 116 people received in Canadian military history.
Hundreds of sailor’s lives were potentially saved that night 71 years ago and the importance and significance of that action in naval history is remembered to this day.
Thomas Simpson is a holder of the Distinguished Service Medal (D.S.M) which was awarded for gallantry, bravery, resolution and skill during battle at sea whilst serving on HMCS LA HULLOISE in successful anti U-Boat Warfare. He is a holder of the Italy Star, France Star and Germany Star with Atlantic Star bar, the 1939-1945 Star, 1939-1945 War Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with CVSM Clasp, General Service Badge, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Thomas Simpson is 94 years old.
Written by Ronald Simpson