The Cornerbrook (Newfoundland) Patrol Force

by John M. MacFarlane 2013

Spencer Lewin

Lieutenant–Commander H.M. Spencer Lewin CBE (Commanding Officer of the Bay of Islands Patrol) (Photo from The Newfoundland Quarterly)

In 1942 some managers in Bowater’s Newfoundland Pulp & Paper Mills Ltd. based in the Bay of Islands region in Newfoundland were looking for a way to serve in the war effort, and to provide some form of protection for the region. The Vice–President and General Manager of the Company organized the force and lobbied the Canadian Government for official recognition. He formed the Bay of Islands Patrol, a uniformed naval force. They were recognized and appointed as unpaid honorary members of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR). It should be remembered that Newfoundland was not at that time a part of Canada – but there was a strong Canadian naval presence on the island and a significant base in St. John’s – HMCS Avalon. This force was demobilized near the end of the Second World War. The Commanding Officer, Spencer Lewin, was awarded the CBE for his efforts.

The name of the unit is variously reported as being called the Cornerbrook Patrol and the Bay of Islands Patrol Force. The officers on it’s staff were –

Mr. L.L. Reid went on to become a senior manager in Bowater’s postwar Newfoundland Pulp & Paper Mills Ltd. Herman Batten went on to become a Liberal Member of Parliament from Newfoundland from 1957–1968. Batten was, at one point, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons and was the Chair of a Parliamentary Committee on a new Canadian Flag.

Group photo

Members of the Cornerbrook Home Guard Unit 1944. (Front l to r: George Duncan, Neil Patrick, Burt Butler, Walter Balfour, Charlie Ballam, Ches Randell, Sub–Lieutenant Arthur Stansfield RCNVR. Back l to r: Sam Blair, Bert Noseworthy, Bill Herdman, Gerald Penny, Harry Oxford, Cec Bradbury.) (Photo courtesy of Corner Brook Museum and Archives.)

Depicted in the image above, Cec Bradbury was employed in the Arctic as Post Manager in several locations by the Hudson’s Bay Company. He also served in the crew of the HBC schooner Fort James on the run between Gjoa Harbour and St. John’s in 1928–1930. He organized the Home Guard in Deer Lake, Newfoundland. He retired from the Bowater Company in 1966 as Assistant Secretary. Charlie Ballam was a long serving Member of the Newfoundland House of Assembly and and served as a cabinet minister in Joey Smallwood’s government.

Corner Brook Patrol

The unofficial insignia badge of the Corner Brook Patrol (aka Bay of Islands Patrol Force) (Image from The Crowsnest)

The unit had the use of an ex–yacht, the Hornet, employed as a patrol vessel based in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland. It is also reported that a patrol yacht (the Gertrude – owned by Bowaters) was allocated to them (1942–1943) and referred to as H.M.C.S. Gertrude. It is not clear that this vessel was actually commissioned into the navy, and on 15/01/1942 this vessel was renamed as H.C.143.

Captain Victor Lindsey Arbuthnot Campbell OBE, DSO & Bar, MID may have been, as the ranking officer, the Commanding Officer of the unit. A senior and highly decorated veteran of Captain Scott’s Antarctic expedition, the U–boat war in the Dover Patrol, the land battles at Gallipoli and The Dardanelles and the Intervention in the Russian Revolution this interesting officer spent the balance of his life in Corner Brook NL.

Silver and son

Lieutenant Francis P. Silver RCNVR and his son – in naval uniform. (Photo courtesy of Corner Brook Museum and Archives.)

Identity Card

Naval identity card of Lieutenant F.P. Silver RCNVR (Photo courtesy of Corner Brook Museum and Archives.)

After Newfoundland joined Confederation naval reserve divisions were established in St. John’s and in Cornerbrook. Bowater’s Newfoundland Pulp & Paper Mills Ltd. donated a warehouse to house the new Division, HMCS Caribou, established in 1953. The division closed in 1958 due to low recruitment.

Some naval officers associated with H.M.C.S. Caribou were:


  • Crowsnest Volume 4:11 September 1952
  • The Newfoundland Quarterly


The author wishes to acknowledge and thank George R. French, Archivist at the Corner Brook Museum and Archives for his efforts in tracking down information on the personnel in the unit and the images related to it. I am indebted to Robert B. Andrews Q.C. of St. John’s NL and George Duddy of Whiterock BC for additional information on the members of the Home Guard and naval unit in the images. Bill Clearihue referenced a number of the officers of HMCS Caribou in the Canada Navy List for this article.

Author’s Note: Further information on the establishment of the Home Guard at Corner Brook is found in History of the Participation by Newfoundland in World War II by Allan M. Fraser who states:

In January 1943, authority was granted for the formation of a Home Guard unit at Corner Brook. Its official title is the Bay of Islands Home Guard, and its strength at the end of 1942 was about 200. In April 1942 Major W.M. Balfour, DSO, was gazetted as commanding officer, and in May the following officers were appointed: Captains B. Butler, DSO, MC and Bar, and W.W.D. Warren; Lieutenants Albert Noseworthy, William Herdman, MM, G.G. Duncan, W.L. Smith, MM, Gerard Penney, and C.H. Ballam. In September 1942, a Home Guard platoon was organized at Deer Lake and Cecil Bradbury was appointed in command.

To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (2013) The Bay of Islands/Cornerbrook (Newfoundland) Patrol Force. 2013.

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