Fonds 2004/27 - Harry G. DeWolf collection

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Harry G. DeWolf collection

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CA ON00093 2004/27

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  • 1940-2000 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

2.5 cm of textual records
8 photographs: b&w; 25.5 x 20.5 cm or smaller

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Biographical history

Vice-Admiral Harry George DeWolf, CBE, DSO, DSC, CD, served with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) during the Second World War and was Chief of the Naval Staff from 1956-1960. He was born in Bedford, N.S. on June 26, 1903. He entered the Royal Canadian Navy in 1918 and received his early training at the Royal Naval College of Canada and in ships of the Royal Navy. He specialized in navigation, serving in Canadian destroyers as navigating officer and executive officer. During 1935 and 1936, he served at naval headquarters going from there to the Royal Naval Staff College at Greenwich in 1937. He was next appointed to the staff of the flag officer commanding the First Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean.
Early in the Second World War he commanded the destroyer HMCS St. Laurent. Under his command, the St. Laurent took part in the evacuation from France and, while on anti-submarine duty in the North Atlantic, rescued all 859 survivors of the SS Arandora Star, a liner carrying German and Italian prisoners, which had been torpedoed by a U-boat. During this period he was twice mentioned in despatches. He served as chief staff officer to the commanding officer Atlantic coast, at Halifax, from August 1940 to May 1942, and later became director of plans at naval headquarters. He was also secretary of the chiefs of staff committee in Ottawa. Admiral DeWolf took command of HMCS Haida, a tribal class destroyer, when she was commissioned in August, 1943. During a six-month period in 1944 the Haida took part in a series of successful night actions against enemy destroyers in the English Channel and Bay of Biscay and in addition, shared in the destruction of an enemy U-boat. "For gallantry and leadership as senior officer in two successful destroyer actions" on April 26 and 29, 1944 Admiral DeWolf was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. Shortly afterwards he received the DSC for services in action with a destroyer force on June 8 and 9. The submarine sinking earned him a mention in dispatches and a month later he was mentioned in despatches, for the fourth time, for "good services in attacks on enemy sea communications".
Admiral DeWolf was appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in January, 1946 for his wartime services in responsible appointments ashore and as a commanding officer of destroyers at sea. In May of that year he received the United States Legion of Merit, Degree of Officer; in September 1947 the French Government conferred on him the Cross of the Legion of Honour, rank of Officer, and in December 1948 he was awarded the Norwegian King Hakon VII Cross of Liberation. Leaving the Haida late in 1944, he went to naval headquarters as assistant chief of the naval staff. From January 1947 to September 1948 he commanded successively, the aircraft carriers Warrior and Magnificent, with the additional appointment of senior Canadian naval officer afloat. In September 1948 he was promoted from commodore to rear-admiral and appointed flag office Pacific coast with headquarters in Ottawa as vice-chief of the naval staff and a member of the naval board. On December 15, 1952 Admiral DeWolf was appointed to Washington, as principal military adviser to the Canadian Ambassador chairman of the Canadian Joint Staff, representative of the chiefs of staff, Canadian representative of the Military Representatives Committee of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Canadian liaison representative tot eh supreme allied commander Atlantic. He became chief of the naval staff in Ottawa on the retirement of Vice-Admiral E.R. Mainguy January 16, 1956 and he was promoted to vice-admiral. After 42 years of service in the Royal Canadian Navy, Admiral DeWolf retired in July 1960. Vice-Admiral DeWolf passed away 18 December 2000.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Collection consists of material pertaining to the professional career of Vice-Admiral Harry G. DeWolf. Material consists of: interview with Hal Lawarence, Dr. W.A.B. Douglas, Dr. Roger Sarty and Major Catherine Eyre (Allan); biography; itinerary for various official events; naval messages; newspaper and magazine articles; correspondence and photographs.

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The immediate source of acquisition is unknown.


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  • English

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Associated materials

The following associated material can be found at the National Archives of Canada:
Retirement leave - General Foulkes and Vice-Admiral DeWolf in RG2 , Privy Council Office, Series A-5-a , Volume 2746.

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Further accruals are not expected.

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