From the Archives: RCNC and D-Day
You may be aware that June 6 was the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the World War 2 Allied invasion of Normandy, France. There were more than 14,000 Canadians who served in this military action, including young naval officers from Royal Roads.
The Dominion Government of Canada purchased Hatley Park in 1940 for the sole purpose of creating a naval training centre. First trained were junior officers ("90 Day Wonders"), who obtained intensive training for immediate service. By the fall of 1942, the training facility at Royal Roads transitioned into the Royal Canadian Naval College, taking on cadet officers as recruits who required both naval training and classroom work. One hundred cadets came to the college that year, with 50 in the junior term and the other 50 with senior matriculation in the senior term. As the seniors of the class graduated in July 1943, it is this group who were trained in time for D-Day.
Although it is probable that most 90 Day Wonders served, and likely many of the Class of 1943 were there as they were assigned to the Canadian ships listed for D-Day action, the RRU Archives has information specifically on two of the first class of seniors naval cadets who were there. Two Sub-Lieutenants from HMCS Royal Roads were naval personnel on landing ships on the beaches of Juno: R.A. Stikeman was on HMCS Prince Henry, and W.C. McPhillips was on HMCS Skeena. You can see their graduating class photo above, and on the full page here.
There is so much to learn about how the cadets who trained at Royal Roads served in Canadian wars; as Archivist, I continue to research primary and secondary sources. For example, McPhillips was mentioned in Dispatches of the day for his service on D-Day, and this information would enrich our RRU Archives. If you have suggestions for archival documentation in the RRMC section about active military service of the ex-cadets, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call extension 4122.