HMCS Armentières

There has been only one vessel named Armentières in the Royal Canadian Navy.

HMCS Armentières (J15 / Z52) / Battle-class Trawler

The Battle-class trawlers were built during the closing days of First World War. Based on the British Castle-class trawlers, these ships were of slightly larger tonnage than the British ships, and it was the first class with a distinct Canadian designation. All 12 vessels of the class received names for land battles of the First World War in which components of the Canadian Army took part. Many of these vessels also served in the Second World War but five of them exchanged their name for numbers in 1942.

HMCS Armentières is named for the Battle of Armentières (13 October – 2 November 1914, also known as the Battle of Lilles). This battle was a component of the Race to the Sea, a series of battles in the fall of 1914 where the German and Franco-British armies sought to surround each other on the northern flank. On 13 October, III Corps of the British Expeditionary Force were ordered to advance on German troops dug in around the Meterenbecque. The terrain conditions prevented support from cavalry or artillery, and III corps suffered 708 casualties, but did force the Germans to retreat. On the same day, the British learned that the Germans had managed to occupy the town of Lilles, with disastrous implications for overall British strategy. III corps was ordered to capture Armentières the bridge that would allow them to advance on Lille. Lille was retaken on 17 October, and the remainder of the battle saw the British defending the town until the Germans retired after the Battle of Gheluvelt. From soon after their arrival in Flanders, the Canadian Corps often served in reserve in the area.

Commissioned only briefly during the closing days of the First World War, Armentières re-entered naval service in 1923 only to be sunk in Pipestem Inlet, BC, on 2 September 1925. Refloated on 26 October she was paid off and transferred to the dockyard. Recommissioned the following year, she continued in service, primarily as a training ship, but with occasional intervals on fisheries patrol. In the spring, Armentières would escort the fur seals en route to their breeding grounds in the Pribilof Islands to protect them from illegal hunting procedures. From 1934 until the outbreak of the Second World War she was the only one of her class still in naval service. She served as an examination vessel at Prince Rupert throughout most of the Second World War, and after being paid off was sold to become SS A.G. Garrish. Two changes of name later, she still existed in 1962 as Laforce. She was sold to an American buyer in 1972.

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