HMCS Givenchy

There have been two units named Givenchy in the Royal Canadian Navy.

HMCS Givenchy (P01 / Z01) (1st of Name)/ Battle-class Trawler

HMCS Givenchy

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 Givenchy was named for the Battle of Givenchy (15-16 June 1915).  The remaining Canadian forces that had been a part of the battle at Festubert in May 1915 were tasked with capturing the Bassée Canal and the village of Givenchy, joining the seven battalions (one Canadian battalion, 1st (Western Ontario) Battalion). Learning some of the lessons of Festubert, heavy artillery was used to neutralize German machine gun nests. Despite a mine to be placed under the German lines blowing up short with heavy casualties, the Canadians managed to take the German strongpoint they were tasked with. However, the other troops on their flanks failed, and the Canadians were forced back. The Canadians were ordered to attack again the next day, but without supporting fire they were slaughtered. Over two days of fighting, the Canadians suffered at least 400 casualties.

Built at Montreal, HMCS Givenchy was only commissioned in time to see the last few months of the First World War in service at Esquimalt. She then entered the service of the Department of Marine and Fisheries as a fisheries protection vessel, but was returned to the RCN on 15 April 1939. Though her main function was that of accommodation ship (notably to the Fishermen’s Reserve) she was actually in commission for quite some time. Sold on 19 September 1946, Givenchy is thought to have been broken up in the US in 1953.


HMCS Givenchy (2nd of name)  / Shore establishment

HMCS Givenchy

All RCN shore-based facilities followed the naming tradition of the Royal Navy, and are given the HMCS prefix. The entire bases at the deep water ports of Victoria, BC, and Halifax are now referred to as a Canadian Forces Base or CFB but some components of the base are still referred to by their historic RCN name. HMCS Givenchy is now incorporated into CFB Esquimalt

The Battle-class trawler HMCS Givenchy (see above) became the depot ship for the dockyard at Esquimalt, BC, on 15 April 1939, and served as the accommodation ship for the Fisherman’s Reserve. The Fisherman’s Reserve, or the ‘Gumboot Navy,’ was a separate group within the navy made up of privately owned vessels, with its own training organization and rank structure. The Fisherman’s Reserve was set up specifically to patrol the long coastlines of BC, with their many small islands and inlets where enemy ships could hide. Regular navy ships would have been wholly inadequate for this task, but the smaller ships of the Fisherman’s Reserve, crewed by sailors who already had intimate knowledge of the West Coast, were well suited to the job. The Fisherman’s Reserve was set up in 1938, and its work was concluded by 1944. Officers who served in the Fisherman’s Reserve were eligible to transfer to the RCNVR. Givenchy would become the Final Discharge Depot for Vancouver Island in July 1944, helping return veterans to civilian life.

In 1954, as part of the Venture plan, the RCN located its new Junior Officer Training Establishment, HMCS Venture, at the site of HMCS Givenchy. Venture would be phased out in 1968 with the integration of the armed forces. In September 1977, the Naval Officer Training Centre was relocated to that site and allowed to use the name HMCS Venture. That facility would continue to operate until Venture was moved in 1994.

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