The  longest campaign of the Second World War took place from 1939 to 1945 across the length and breadth of  the North Atlantic ocean.  Convoys  of merchant ships loaded with vital supplies and war materiel sailed every few days from east coast North American ports to Britain.  They became the critical factor to sustain the fight against Nazi Germany.  The convoy battles were fought primarily between German submarines, U-boats, and Allied naval and air force convoy escorts.  Eric Riordon, before the war a successful landscape artist from Montreal, joined the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve and served in convoy escorts.  His experiences led him to paint a series of 34 paintings illustrating the ships and events of a typical convoy travelling from St. John's Newfoundland to Great Britain. He died young in 1948 and in 1950 his widow Mollie and others staged an exhibition in Montreal of these paintings called North Atlantic Convoy.  The exhibition subsequently travelled across Canada until October of 1952 and was then broken up, being sold piecemeal and otherwise dispersed.

This website was created to tell the story of that exhibition and Eric Riordon's artistic and naval careers.  The locations of twenty of the thirty-four paintings are known and images of an additional seven have been found.  It is hoped that visitors to this website with knowledge of the whereabouts and/or images of missing pictures will contact us and add them to this collection.  The ultimate goal  is to recreate, if only virtually, the 1950 exhibition.  Shown below are all the located paintings as well as known images and/or descriptions of those that are missing.   The frames and versos can be seen under the "Addtional Artworks" tab.

Also unknown are the locations of nine of the ten convoy themed paintings created for the book Canada's War At Sea.  Their images can be seen under the eponymous tab.

This photograph was taken May 26, 1950 at the opening of the first exhibition in Montreal.  It is the only known visual record of the exhibition and how it was staged.  The venue is the downtown James A. Ogilvy department store where Eric Riordon's widow Mollie was assistant manager in the picture gallery.  She is seen here with Commander Paul Earl, Eric's commanding officer at Montreal Division in 1941.  

A large naval crown is flanked by a Canadian blue ensign and a British white ensign,  the flags flown on Canadian navy ships. 

The horseshoe layout of the exhibition can just be seen at the left. The pictures are displayed matted but unframed on 20" x 16" panels with titles beneath (barely discernible in this photo).  Painting # 12 can be seen between Paul and Mollie, # 15 over Mollie's left shoulder, # 17 under the crown and  #s  18 and 19 under the white ensign.  The sequencing follows Eric's original narrative which can be seen under the Additional Documents tab. 

Montreal Gazette, May 27, 1950

(Clicking on an image will enlarge it).

Canadas War at Sea, Canadian Publication, War History, Eric Riordon, WWII, Royal Canadian Navy, North Atlantic Convoy, RCN, Naval Artist, Canadian Art, War Art, Steven Leacock, Leslie Roberts, McGill University,  Laurentians Landscape
Eastward From Canada, Troop Convoy, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape,

#1 Eastward From Canada, Troop Convoy


Eric Riordon (ER) writes in his narrative description of the exhibition: "Mighty battleship of the Royal Navy escorts Canadian troops to Britain in the early months of the war. These were the troops who had the high privilege of standing guard with the valiant people of the "Island Fortress" during and after the grim and dangerous days of the Battle of Britain"

Riordon noted on the verso:  "Eastward from Canada, Revenge escorts troop convoy early in the war"

These fast troopship convoys, made up of large peace time passenger liners, were initially escorted by capital ships such as Revenge. They were able to take on German cruisers and pocket battleships which, early in the war, were considered to be the main threat to the convoys. In this period Canada was sending large numbers of 2nd and 3rd Canadian division troops and RCAF personnel to  England.         
Revenge was a WW I era super dreadnought, the first of her class.  She was commissioned in 1916 and fought her first action at the famous battle of Jutland.
In WW II she escorted at least 6 of these troopship convoys from Halifax to Liverpool, in addition to regular merchant convoys, from December 1939 to December of 1940. She was then stationed at Halifax from January through March of 1941. Riordon was in training at HMCS Stadacona in Halifax at this time (January through April) and would have certainly seen the battleship in Halifax harbour and the departures and arrivals of the convoys.
Revenge also carried art treasures and the lion's share of Britain's gold reserve to Canada where they were stored at Ottawa. Most of that gold soon went to pay the Americans for weapons and supplies.

Image courtesy of the Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum,  Artifact # 19950104-021

ER: "The Corvette is the back-bone of the escort navy. So desperately few when they first appeared in '41, they were numbered in the hundreds by '45. They are stout vessels, sound sea-boats, with an impressive record as U-boat killers."

The WWII corvette took the name of the fast French sloops of the 19th century. With their tubby trawler lines and relatively slow speed they did not resemble their namesakes.  They were, however, nimble and highly maneuverable, crucial traits in an anti-submarine role.  The first and most numerous design was the Flower Class corvette. Their merchant standard pattern allowed them to be built cheaply and in large numbers to fulfill a desperate need for escorts. They kept the smaller British and Canadian shipyards, which could not build to the more stringent naval requirements, busy and productive. Over 300 were constructed of which 138 came from a dozen different Canadian shipyards. The ship pictured is one of the first models with a short foc's'le (the gun deck level) and the mast placed in front of the bridge. They were very uncomfortable, and very wet for the crew.  The only survivor of its type in the world is HMCS Sackville which took an active part in the convoy war and is now a museum ship in Halifax harbour.

Image courtesy of the Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum, Artifact # 19950104-020
Corvette, Veteran Escort, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#2 Corvette, Veteran Escort

Bangor Class Minesweeper or Escort (chiefly escort), Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#3 Bangor Class Minesweeper or Escort (chiefly escort)  

Location unknown

ER: "These trim ships, while built primarily as minesweepers, were obliged to serve chiefly as escorts. As anti-submarine vessels they are highly maneuverable and pack a healthy punch."

Riordon served aboard one of these ships, HMCS Kenora, from her commissioning on August 06 of 1942 to March 03 of 1943. She did no minesweeping while Riordon was with her, acting solely as a convoy and individual ship escort with the Western Local Escort Force on the east coast of Canada and the U.S.
Kenora was one of six of this class built at the yard of the Port Arthur Shipbuilding Company Ltd, Port Arthur, Ontario.  Fifty-four Bangors served in the RCN, all Canadian built.
The Bangors were notoriously "wet", which is what her crew got in any kind of even moderate sea. They were not suitable for duty on ocean crossings, lacking the necessary size and range. They served primarily as local escorts on the coasts of North America, Europe and the Mediterranean. Kenora, long after Riordon left her, did extensive minesweeping service off the Normandy beaches before and after D-Day, and after the end of the war in the English Channel.

Image courtesy of Alan Klinkhoff, Alan Klinkhoff Galleries.


ER: "Larger than Corvettes, Frigates might be classed as light destroyers. They appeared in the battle later than the Corvette, provided with the most advanced anti-submarine weapons and radar equipment."

Seventy of these River Class ships served in the RCN, of which 60 were constructed in Canada. They were too long to go through the St Lawrence River and Lachine Canal locks and as a consequence were built on the west coast at Esquimalt and on the lower St Lawrence at Sorel and Quebec City. They had much greater range, heavier armament and much improved detection and range-finding equipment than the corvettes. They were also far more comfortable, and dry, for the crews than the corvettes and minesweepers.

Image courtesy of the Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum,  Artifact # 19950104-023

Frigate, By Clear Moonlight, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#4 Frigate, By Clear Moonlight

Castle Class Corvette, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#5 Castle Class Corvette

ER: "Shortly after the appearance of the Frigate in the escort patterns came the Castle Class corvette, easily distinguishable by her frame-work mainmast. These ships are larger than the original corvettes and of a marked difference in line."

In mid-1944 the RCN received 12 of these British built ships from the Royal Navy. They were longer, heavier and better equipped than the ubiquitous Flower Class. They were also modified to improve their sea going capability in mid-ocean. All were named after towns in Ontario.

Image courtesy of the Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum,  Artifact # 19950104-022

ER: "Pipe-Organs" someone called them, due to their row of four funnels (not apparent in this picture): but they did a tremendous job when our need for fighting escorts was desperate, and withstood a terrific battering from the North Atlantic Winters."

In 1940 the U.S. secured 99 year leases on air bases throughout British possessions in the Caribbean and Newfoundland by transferring fifty of these obsolete WWI destroyers to Britain. Eight served directly in the RCN and were named after rivers that shared a  border between the U.S. and Canada.  Despite Riordon’s positive comments above they were not much loved by those who served in them. They were fast and well enough equipped to fight submarines but were worn out and under repair due to mechanical problems more than they were at sea. Most were retired to a training ship role as soon as replacements could be commissioned.

Black and white image from a feature article and review in "The Montrealer" monthly magazine, August of 1950

Courtesy of the artist files at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Art Gallery of Ontario


Four Stacker Ex-US Destroyer, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#6 Four Stacker Ex-US Destroyer

Location Unknown

Tribal Class Destroyer, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#7 Tribal Class Destroyer

ER: "These ships, previous to the addition to Canada`s Navy of two cruisers, were the finest and most powerful in our fleet. In handsome appearance they are second to none, are capable of considerable speed and carry formidable fire-power."

Riordon notes on the verso: "The largest ship of war ever built in Canada"

The Tribal Class destroyers were built in Great Britain beginning before the war. Two flotillas, totalling 16 ships, were constructed for the Royal Navy and twelve had been lost by September of 1942, most in the Mediterranean. They were regularly sent into the toughest of situations. 
The first half-flotilla of Canadian Tribals: Iroquois, Athabaskan, Huron and Haida, joined the RCN in the spring of 1943.  They  quickly gained well deserved reputations as hard fighting ships through many successful actions in the English Channel and on the convoy runs to Murmansk and Archangel in Russia.
Athabaskan was torpedoed in the English Channel and sunk in April of 1944.  The other three survived the war and sailed home together to Halifax in June of 1945. A photo can be seen under the "Additional Artworks" tab.  The depiction is a little fanciful on Riordon's part as the Tribals were not assigned to escort North Atlantic convoys, that duty was confined to the Arctic convoys to Russia and ,rarely, to the Mediterranean.  He must have admired them greatly as they were frequent subjects of his brush.
Four more CanadianTribals were built in Halifax but were not commissioned and in active service until after WWII. The last remaining Tribal in the world is HMCS Haida, now an impressive museum ship in the harbour at Hamilton, Ontario.
There may be a 2nd version of this subject, possibly also painted for the exhibition.

Image courtesy of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax, Nova Scotia,  Accession # 1952-28

ER: "These big sturdy fighting escorts have a record that is second to none in U-boat kills, and it was a joyous and thankful day for us when these ships of our good neighbours joined the battle."

Riordon notes on the verso: "Fine Ships with a Noble Record - A High Score in Kills."

There were seven of these large ships built for the U.S. Coast Guard in 1936-37. They are nearly twice the length of the Bangor minesweeper that Eric Riordon served in and proved highly effective escorts and U-Boat fighters in the convoy battles.  One ship, USCGC Alexander Hamilton, was torpedoed and sunk in January  of 1942 but the others served right through the Cold War and in Vietnam, finally being retired in the 1980s.  Two are now preserved as museum ships, Taney at the Baltimore Maritime Museum and Ingham at Key West in Florida.

Image courtesy of the Vancouver Maritime Museum, Artifact # 000.089.067
.S. Coast Guard Cutter, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#8 U.S. Coast Guard Cutter

St Johns, Newfoundland, Winter Morning, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#9 St John's Newfoundland, Winter Morning

ER: "A rare bit of winter sunshine slants across the heights and chases the morning mists from the harbour."

"Slip and proceed at 1000" the signal may read. Escorts fuel and prepare for sea. During the time in harbour, often only a matter of hours, there is much that must be done. Complete urgent repairs, clean ship, take on stores, ammunition, top up with fuel, and generally prepare for sea. And shortly the quartermaster is piping "Hands to stations for leaving harbour."

St. John's harbour, the distinctive Cabot Tower stands atop Signal Hill at the right.  Riordon was stationed at HMCS Avalon, Canadian naval headquarters in Newfoundland, from November of 1944 until the end of the war in May, 1945. He also made a number of stopovers for repairs, fuel, ammunition and supplies while on escort duties as first lieutenant on HMCS Kenora in the winter of 1942-1943.  This would be the view from Kenora's berth, looking northeastward from the southside jetties. This painting depicts a brace of corvettes berthed at the right and a Town class destroyer (distinguished by the row of four funnels) taking on supplies from a depot ship.

Image courtesy of the Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum  Artifact # 19850327-026

ER: "Day after day, month after month, the minesweeping flotillas must keep a safe channel open for the passage of all inbound and outbound traffic in the neighbourhood of harbours.  Mines might - and did - turn up anywhere, delivered and laid by submarine as far afield as the Western Atlantic coasts."


#10 Minesweepers

 No Image   Location Unknown

M-Ls off Newfoundland Carry Out Patrol, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#11 M-L's off Newfoundland Carry Out Patrol

ER: "A constant anti-submarine patrol must be maintained outside harbours."

"M-L" is the acronym for "Motor Launch", a small, 112 feet long, wooden hulled patrol vessel primarily employed in and around the approaches to harbours. Most were the British designed Fairmile, of which eighty were built for the RCN at a dozen different Canadian shipyards. They could be swiftly converted to fit many roles: minesweeper, anti-submarine, patrol boat and rescue launch among others. They were extensively employed around St. John’s harbour and in the Straits of Belle Isle where the U-boats were known to take passage.  The boats depicted are from the 77th Motor Launch Flotilla out of St. John's.  They were affectionately known as "The Little Ships" by those who sailed in them. 

Image courtesy of the Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum,  Artifact # 19850327-027

ER: "In seeming confusion merchant ships head in various directions to take up their allotted stations according to the convoy diagram, while bombers sweep from one horizon to the other. Keen eyes from above scan the ocean and nothing on its surface can pass unseen."

This image shows a convoy forming up for the journey across the Atlantic to Britain. The location depicted could be outside Halifax or New York harbours.  It could also be "WESTOMP", the Western Ocean Meeting Point, roughly 300 kilometres east-southeast of St John's, Newfoundland. The Western Ocean local escorts, Eric Riordon's ship, HMCS Kenora, was one of these, handed over the Halifax and/or New York origin convoys to the eastbound ocean-going escort groups. Consolidated Liberator bomber aircraft, most often flown by RCAF crews out of Torbay airfield just north of St. John's, kept a careful watch for U-boats. Kenora, sailing out of St. John's, would also meet the westbound convoys at the same point and escort them to Halifax and often on to New York.

Purchased at auction 2020, from a private Nova Scotia collection
Private Toronto collection
Convoy Forms Up Under Air Cover, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#12 Convoy Forms Up Under Air Cover

Airview, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#13 Airview

ER: "To the airman the convoy represents a magnificent never to be forgotten spectacle, the countless ship stretch from horizon to horizon their forward movement imperceptible in the vast expanse of seemingly flat ocean."

This must be a depiction of an east-bound convoy to Britain. The ships appear to be heavily laden, most west-bound convoy ships would be in ballast.

Image courtesy of the Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum,  Artifact # 19950104-024

ER: "In the long hard desperate battle against the preying U-boat, the tide was turned by the escort carrier.  No longer could the U-boat creep up on his prey from astern, surfaced and at high speed, unseen.  Far and wide he was hunted down and hit hard by the carrier's many planes."

#14 Escort Carrier (CVE)


No Image   Location Unknown

Heavy Going ! Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#15 Heavy Going !

ER: "This is the North Atlantic !  All too frequently the sea under a roaring gale runs a forty and fifty foot swell, dwarfing the corvette, mast-head high, mighty waves that come hurtling out of the sky, and meeting the staunch little ship head-on they split angrily and fling seething tons of water upon her."

This dramatic painting was one of the most commented on in the many reviews of the exhibition. This depiction was a lived experience for Riordon. His ship, HMCS Kenora, was sometimes in just such heavy seas. On one long day in January of 1943 the ship’s log entry recorded near hurricane strength winds, up to force 11 on the Beaufort scale, with forty to fifty foot seas.

Image courtesy of the Vancouver Maritime Museum, Artifact # 000.089.071

ER: "The beauty of this moment gives way to the sinister for ahead to the eastward lies the dangerous night when the trailing U-boat will surface and overtake his slow-moving prey. Soon the grey ships will be but silhouettes, only a shade darker than the black of the night."

A Tribal class destroyer leads a convoy into the night.  Further back, to the left, a corvette is maintaining station.  It was at this time of the day that the naval commander would order the escorts to move to their night stations. 

Image courtesy of the Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum,  Artifact # 19950104-014
Sunset - Ahead To The Eastward Lies The Dangerous Night, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#16 Sunset - Ahead To The East'rd Lies The Dangerous Night

Inter Escort Signals, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#17 Inter Escort Signals   

 Location unknown

ER: "At dusk the senior officer of the escort group passes his orders to the other escorts - indicating a particular convoy screening diagram consistent with the latest submarine reports by which he judges the likeliest quarter from which attack may be expected."

Just about any outside duty in a convoy escort was a wet and cold business, signaling was certainly one of those.  In the daytime signals were also frequently passed on with flags.  Radio  transmissions could be detected by the Germans and used to locate the convoys.

Image from a feature article and review in "The Montrealer" monthly magazine, August of 1950

Courtesy of the artist files at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Art Gallery of Ontario

ER: "The enchanting beauty of a moonlit night at sea is totally lost on the sailor in convoy for this is the ideal condition for the U-boat who gets down-moon with his prey - the ships in convoy - a perfect silhouette. A guttural voice at the bottom end of a periscope will rap out a series of orders culminating in, "Torpedo los" - and death will be on its way at forty knots."

This work is one of two titled Moonlight and numbered 18 by Riordon. This version appeared in the first Montreal exhibition in May of 1950.  The second version can be seen in the "Extra" Exhibition Paintings tab further down.

Image courtesy of the Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum,  Artifact # 19950104-016
Moonlight, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#18 Moonlight

Inferno, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#19 Inferno                          Location unknown

ER:"A torpedoed tanker burns to death!

The seething fury of Hell`s fires let loose in the Atlantic night is a fearsome thing to behold. Any man who has been there will never forget the particular smell of burning oil filling the night, the flaming waters surrounding the stricken ship, and the few burnt, oil soaked, shaken survivors."

The tankers carried vital fuel and lubricating oils, diesel and aviation gas and were rich targets for the U-boats.  The tankers were typically placed in the centre of the convoy to shelter them as much as was possible. The U-boats would take exceptional risks to sink these most valuable cargos.  

Image from an archived e-bay website, December, 2016. Presumably purchased from that website.


ER: "Every effort must be made to salvage desperately needed ships.  The tanker, solid-built, burns for a day or two.  Where she was hit her back is broken, and finally she splits in two.  The stern section, containing her engines, being salvageable, a boarding party investigates and makes secure a towing hawser."

#20 Salvage Operations


No Image   Location unknown

#21 Rescue !


No Image  Location unknown

ER: "Long desperate days in an open boat - bitter damp cold, exhaustion, wounds, thirst, hunger, the heart-breaking vast emptiness of the surging ocean.  

They pray these men, they've got down to fundamentals.  In this extremity false values are lost, men talk to God.

And then a blur in the mist and cries go up from parched throats.  The blur becomes a ship - a corvette - rescue!"

ER: "His trick must be short for his vigil cannot be relaxed for an instant. On the exposed wing of the bridge he will be lashed by the cold night wind laden with icy spray, but not for a second can he take his eyes off the scan and the ship in convoy. There is not only the U-boat with which to reckon, but the ever-present danger of collision.

The lookout braces himself against the rails, alert and tense he watches - watches - watches........."

Lookouts typically worked a two hour watch, often shortened in difficult conditions.  This was considered to be the length of time that a sailor could maintain sufficient alertness.  

Image courtesy of Vancouver Maritime Museum, Artifact # 000.089.069

Night Lookout, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#22 Night Lookout

#23 Night Action!


No image   Location unknown

ER: "Hour after hour the convoy plows steadily though the night - through several days and nights without event.  Then suddenly with terrible violence THE PACK STRIKES !  The night is ripped open with shattering thunder and flame of a torpedo hit on an ammunition ship.  A disabled ship carries her "not-under-command" lights warning others that she is unable to manoeuvre.  Far over on the convoy's starboard quarter a ship has sighted another U-boat and fired her rockets to give the alarm."

ER:"Thank God the night`s over!

This life-line for England thinned a bit, but undaunted, carries on into the dawn."

The U-boats claimed most of their  victims during the night as they were much more effective firing torpedoes while surfaced.  The night also kept them safer from the naval escorts and, particularly, from the air force bombers. 

Black and white image from a feature article and review in "The Montrealer" monthly magazine, August of 1950

Courtesy of the artist files at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Art Gallery of Ontario




Dawn, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#24 Dawn                                         Location unknown

Depth Charge Attack, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#25 Depth Charge Attack 

ER: "Echo bearing one-one-five ! Submarine !" cries the Asdic operator.

The officer of the watch leans on the alarm gong button. Through-out the ship above the comparative silence of the beat of her engines the alarm bells set up a jangling clamour.
"Action stations !" bawls the coxswain. In every quarter and corner of the ship men leap to their feet, tumble out of hammocks, shake the sleep out of their heads, and hit the deck at top speed.
Someone on the bridge rings the engine room, shouts down its voice-pipe, "Stand by for depth-charge attack !"
In split second timing a pattern is laid - a pattern of destruction for the U-boat."

A similar work with the same title is reproduced in Canada's War At Sea. A larger and quite similar version was also part of the initial exhibition.

Image courtesy of the Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum,  Artifact # 19950104-018

ER: "The gun crew at it`s best is the ultimate in team-work and precision training. Months, perhaps years, of drill pay dividends.

This is IT ! NOW`s the time !

WHAM ! - The ship`s gun thunders - the whole ship shudders.

This second shot is on target !"

The gun is a 12 pounder, 3 inch, QF (quick firing) naval gun.  It was the main armament on the Bangor-class minesweepers such as HMCS Kenora and a secondary armament on River-class destroyers.

Black and white image from the September 16, 1950 edition of the Toronto Telegram

Image courtesy of the artist files at the Art Gallery of Ontario


Good Gunnery, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#26 Good Gunnery !                   Location unknown

Coming In For The Kill, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#27 Coming In For The Kill !

ER: "The disabled U-boat is now helpless. Its shaken crew tries to man the gun. The corvette like a hound at the kill, bears down, hunter becomes prey, its crew clench their jaws and hang on. The engine room has been warned - "Stand by for ramming!".

With a rending jarring crash the corvette rams !"

As described in the next painting, Boarding Party, this may be a depiction of the sinking of U744 on March 06, 1944. If so the ship attempting to ram would likely be the Flower Class corvette, HMCS Chilliwack.

A very similar work titled "Night Attack…Action At Dusk" is reproduced in the book "Canada's War At Sea".

Image courtesy of the Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum,  Artifact # 19950104-013

ER: "Here the U-boat having been smashed by depth-charge attack, its crew are about to abandon ship. The destroyer sends away a boarding party."

It is possible Riordon found the inspiration for this painting from a widely circulated news story and photographs of the March 06, 1944 sinking of U744 by the Canadian escort group C2.  If so the ship pictured is the River Class Destroyer, HMCS Gatineau.  

The photo mentioned above can be seen under the Additional documents tab.

Image courtesy of the  Vancouver Maritime Museum, Artifact # 000-089-072

Boarding Party, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#28 Boarding Party 

The Battle of Ice, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#29 The Battle of Ice                  Location unknown

ER: "The screaming winter gale runs into two or three days. Ice forms rapidly at zero temperatures,and soon it is a massive weight of many tons. The top-weight grows dangerous. Off-watch officers and men must get out and fight the ice"

Riordon had direct personal experience of this terrifying ordeal. His ship, the minesweeper/escort HMCS Kenora, became coated in ice "...severe and dangerous icing" according to the ship's log, off the southwest coast of Nova Scotia on January 20-21-22, 1943. A Force 11 wind was raging, producing 40-50 foot seas which forced them to heave to for almost 48 hours. A "...heavy green sea..." submerged the ship and personnel, officers and men alike, who were attempting to chop ice off the fo'c'sle. Three crewmen were injured. They somehow managed to navigate the narrow channel into nearby Shelburne and secure the ship to the naval dock. Shelburne was a major repair and refitting base for the navy and work parties from the local naval barracks helped to clear the ice, a task which took several hours. Kenora sailed back out to a calmer sea just 14 hours after arrival, under orders to rejoin convoy ON 158 which they had been escorting to New York from Halifax. The night of January 21-22, not 20 miles further southwest, the convoy's rescue ship, St Sunniva, iced up and capsized off Cape Sable Island. All hands were lost and no trace was ever found. Convoy rescue ships were cargo ships modified with a large steam powered derrick that deployed a basket to pluck survivors from the sea. They also had special facilities to care for large numbers of rescues, many of whom would be injured. Several additional medical personnel, often including doctors, served aboard. St. Sunniva had just completed the conversion process in December and was on her first voyage in the rescue ship role. 

Image from a feature article and review in "The Montrealer" monthly magazine, August of 1950. 

Courtesy of the artist files at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Art Gallery of Ontario


ER: "The normal condition is of grey wild rushing seas lashed by the gale that whips off their roaring white tops and tears screaming through the ship's rigging"

A corvette is nearly buried in the waves. The water would find its way throughout, reinforcing their reputation as "wet" ships. A writer commented that they would “roll on wet grass”. The Bangor class minesweepers, such as Riordon's Kenora, were little drier in these conditions.

Image courtesy of the Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum,  Artifact # 19950104-019

Typical Winter Weather, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#30 Typical Winter Weather

#31  Iceland



No Image   Location unknown

ER: "U.S. destroyer and Canadian corvette pass beneath the bleak wind-swept heights.  The two ships are symbolic of the splendid team-work of the Allied Navies in Northern waters."

ER: "Approaching Europe convoys become subject to the added menace of air attack."

"A few short minutes after the first warning the sky is full of "Flack" as merchantmen and warships open up with all they've got. A flaming Nazi plunges vertically to the sea in his final dive of death. Another dives on a ship in convoy. A third has laid his eggs, near misses, straddling a freighter in the foreground."

The Luftwaffe sank dozens of North Atlantic convoy ships, mostly northwest of Ireland , with their only long-range bomber, the Focke-Wulf 200 Condor. They also paid a heavy price in aircraft losses.

Image courtesy of the Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum,  Artifact # 19950104-017

Air Attack - The Additional Menace In European Waters, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#32 Air Attack - The Additional Menace In European Waters

#33 U.S.N.  Patrol Bomber On The Job


No image  Location unknown

ER: "The sailor intently scanning the early morning skies in search of much needed air-cover greets with no small pleasure the first sight of the bombers sweeping around the convoy.  

Pictured here a damaged U-boat remains surfaced and fights back as the plane endeavouring to follow up a successful depth-charge attack sweeps conning tower and decks with machine-gunfire." 

ER: "As escorts proceed into the defended harbour, having completed their shepherding job, the searchlights from shore batteries catch them momentarily in their powerful beams, identifying ships one by one. This picture is symbolic of the end of a job - of a single task. But ships must "turn around" as fast as possible, for another convoy run, another month, another year of the same rugged work. And so it went until victory."

Coming in to port at Lough Foyle, Northern Ireland. Lough Foyle is the lake or bay leading from the North Sea to Londonderry.  It was the dedicated rest, repair, refit and resupply base for the RCN mid-ocean escort groups. It is here, at the end of the war, that a Canadian escort group shepherded several surrendered U-boats into the harbour

Image courtesy of the Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum,  Artifact # 19950104-015

Entering Harbour, Eric Riordon, Canadian Painter, War Artist, Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Artist, North Atlantic Convoy, HMCS Kenora, HMCS Fundy,  His Majestys Canadian Ship, Laurentians Landscape

#34 Entering Harbour

Paintings numbered 10, 14, 20, 21, 23, 31 and 33: No image, whereabouts unknown.

Paintings numbered 3, 6, 17, 19, 24, 26, 29: Image located, whereabouts unknown.


Using Format