Eric Morrison Mackay RD, RNR

Birth details unknown

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17 Jan 1927 S.Lt.
3 Apr 1929 Lt.
3 Apr 1937 Lt.Cdr.

Retired: 28 Jul 1948


24 Jan 1941 RD

Warship Commands listed for Eric Morrison Mackay, RNR

HMS Camellia (K 31)Lt.Cdr.CorvetteMay 194031 Dec 1940
HMS Caldwell (I 20)Lt.Cdr.Destroyer1 Jan 1941mid 1943
HMS Braithwaite (K 468)Lt.Cdr.Frigate13 Nov 194323 Jul 1944

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Events related to this officer

Destroyer HMS Caldwell (I 20)

18 Dec 1942
The Captain of HMS Caldwell, Lt. Cdr Eric Mackay D.S.C., R.D., RNR was not in his cabin when the forward bulkhead was stoved in by the wave that demolished the port wing of the bridge on the night of 16th December 1942. A signal was made to HMS Churchill for HMS Caldwell to return to St. John's. At 1400 on 18th December, the ship was engulfed by tons upon tons of seawater and lost main steering. The starboard wing of the bridge was folded up, the sea carrying away the whaler and davits. The secondary steering gear beyond the 12 pounder gun position was rendered useless. the scuttles in the Number One's cabin and the Wardroom were stoved in. The ship could not take another blow like the first two and was headed back into the Atlantic. On the morning of 19th the Chief Stoker was reported missing, presumed washed overboard. All through 19th & 20th HMS Caldwell steered 220. On 21st, still 400 miles out, fuel was critical. HMS Wanderer stood by until HMCS Skeena and an ocean tug arrived. Conditions deteriorated and fuel could not be passed and at 0800 the fires went out. On the night of 24th, the battered destroyer, frozen and lightless, secured to the dock at the end of a tow of 126 miles. By 27th December, the twin propellers were removed and at 1000 on 18th January the naval tug Foundation Franklin, took HMS Caldwell in tow for the 885 miles to Boston with HMCS Wasaga as escort. By noon the next day the weather changed and eventually the tow parted leaving HMS Caldell with 400 fathoms of 6" wire & 14" manila towline hanging from the bows. Heroic efforts to stream a sea anchor from the stern resulted in casualties. the seas became worse and by 1500 on 19th January, HMS Caldwell was alone. The 20th & 21st were nightmares. The tug St. Anne and HMS Salisbury had to turn back on the 20th due to heavy icing. On 21st, the tug William Moran and HMCS Columbia also could not help. Then 0900 on 22nd January HMCS Columbia found HMS Caldwell and tried to take the destroyer in tow using the 400 fathoms of existing towline. This not being possible, another towline was passed but it was fed out too fast and fouled HMCS Columbia's props. Then HMCS Wasaga returned on station and succeeded in passing a towline and with HMCS Columbia, props cleared, as escort. The new tow parted at 1500 and HMCS Wasaga was in trouble with the wire threatening to foul the props. HMSC Columbia passed another wire and Captain Mackay shackled the cable eye to the wire hanging over the bow. By this method 90 fathoms of 6" wire were brought into service with the remaining 330 fathoms acting as a spring. At 1300 on 24th January they all made Halifax. At 1300 on 27th January, the tug Black Chief took HMS Caldwell in tow. Again the weather turned bad and the pair of ships spent an awful night hove to off Shelburne on the SE coast of Nova Scotia. Reaching harbour the next day 24 hours rest passed and they set out again at snail's pace. The weather was so bad and cold the U-boats remained submerged. On the night of 31st Boston was reached and on 3rd February HMS Caldwell was secured by two tugs at the Atlantic shipyards of Bethlehem Steel. Lt Cdr Mackay was give a shore appointment in Boston and seven months later became Captain of HMS Braithwaite. (1)


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