"S.S. Nerissa, the Final Crossing – Second Edition"

"S.S. Nerissa, the Final Crossing – Second Edition"

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S.S. Nerissa, the Final Crossing – Second Edition

by William Dziadyk


About the Book

“S.S. Nerissa, the Final Crossing” by William Dziadyk, a retired naval officer, tells “The Amazing True Story of the Loss of a Canadian Troopship in the North Atlantic”. The details were highly classified for almost 50 years. The First Edition paperback was published on 11 November 2019 (Remembrance Day).

The Second Edition, paperback and Kindle E-book, with about 70 more pages was published on the 80th anniversary of the sinking (30 April 2021). The thoughtful Foreword to the second edition was provided by Captain Sherm Embree, RCN, retired.

This second edition, is the result of feedback from readers and additional research primarily related to: Nerissa’s many wartime sailings prior to and including her final crossing of the North Atlantic; analysis of UK personnel and other official records; the wartime public relations dilemma in both Canada and in the United Kingdom; and inclusion of additional humanizing details to a tragic story. One major addition, is a chapter which provides context of the sinking of the S.S. Nerissa with respect to: Britain’s overall war efforts; and Bletchley Park’s significant advances in decrypting German naval Enigma encoded messages … in the few weeks before and after the sinking.

Nerissa usually sailed independently, not in escorted convoys. This book focuses on the events which led up to the 30 April 1941 sinking by the German submarine U-552 and the deadly 10 hours awaiting rescue in the open ocean. Included are eye-witness accounts from many of the 84 survivors and some stories of those who perished. Of the ship’s eight lifeboats, only one was successfully launched, one was upright but flooded, four were capsized and two sank with the ship. Much of the material is based on the analysis of testimony, recollections and official reports taken from survivors, as well as declassified Canadian, British and German documents.

The S.S. Nerissa was the only troopship carrying Canadian Army troops to be lost during the Second World War and resulted in the third largest loss of life (207) for a ship sunk by U-boats in the approaches to the British Isles. The deaths of 81 Merchant Navy seamen; 83 Canadian, 12 British, and three Norwegian military personnel; 11 Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) American ferry pilots; and 17 civilian passengers touched not only Canadian families at the time, but also many families in the allied nations and the neutral United States. Many of the casualties were from Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Army units located in British Columbia. These tragic human losses are largely unknown to our current generation.

The Author - William Dziadyk, CD, PEng, MSc, BSc is a native of Victoria, British Columbia. He received his BSc (Physics) from the University of Victoria and his MSc (Computer Science) from the Royal Military College. He is a retired Lieutenant Commander (Combat Systems Engineer - CSE), RCN. He has authored numerous naval technical articles and for two years he was the CSE technical editor for the Maritime Cover art by Barry Tate, Victoria, BC Engineering Journal. As a retired officer, he has volunteered his time as the Heritage Director for the Naval Officers’ Mess, HMCS Bytown in Ottawa. In this role, he actively promoted the preservation of Canadian naval heritage artifacts … and wrote and published numerus heritage articles. In recognition, he was awarded both the Commander Royal Canadian Navy Commendation and the Naval Association of Canada – Silver Medal.