Launch of H.M.S. “Beachy Head”
In a custom rooted in myth and entwined with religion, a woman was always asked to christen a new ship by smashing a bottle of champagne across the bow. Usually, hundreds of dignitaries and employees attended such occasions. During the earlier years of the war, there had been little time for ceremonies such as the one shown here, with a special VIP platform and the Wallace Pipe Band. By 1945 the pressure to launch and deliver cargo ships had lessened. Here the sense of occasion is heightened because the ship was being delivered to the British Royal Navy. This accounts for both the Canadian flag (the Red Ensign) and the Union Jack being prominently featured on the bow. Shipyard worker Alice Kruzic recalled a 1944 launch: “When I saw that ship slide down the ways, I was so proud. I wanted so much to help win the war against the fascists.”
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This is the Burrard Dry Dock launch of HMS Beachy Head, one of 10 maintenance escort vessels built for the British Royal Navy for wartime activities in the Pacific.
The HMS Beachy Head was destined for southeast Asia and the Far East in order to provide machine repairs and equipment in remote areas not supported by Allied naval bases.
The HMS Beachy Head was launched on October 21, 1944. The ship took 335 days to complete — three times as long as ships built during the war’s most critical years.
The Royal Navy’s Pacific fleet was repaired and maintained by four maintenance escort ships built at Burrard Dry Dock: HMS Beachy Head, HMS Flamborough Head, HMS Berry Head and HMS Duncansby Head.
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