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The Organizer of the North Atlantic Convoy System is Born!

For the week of Monday June 19, 2006

On June 22, 1896, Leonard Warren Murray was born in Grafton, Nova Scotia. He rose through the ranks from officer cadet to become a Rear Admiral in the Royal Canadian Navy, and as the organizer of the Canadian portion of the North Atlantic Convoy System would contribute greatly to the Battle of the Atlantic, a major part of the Second World War.

Rear Admiral L.W. Murray addressing officers and ratings of HMCS St. Croix, which sank the German submarine U-90 on July 24, 1942 while escorting convoy ON113.
Rear Admiral L.W. Murray addressing officers and ratings of HMCS St. Croix, which sank the German submarine U-90 on July 24, 1942 while escorting convoy ON113.
© Canada Department of National Defence / Library and Archvies Canada / PA-189727
Murray was accepted into the first class of the Royal Naval College in Halifax, N.S. at age 14. Upon graduation, he trained with Britain’s Royal Navy (RN), adopting their practices and standards. In 1918, he was called to duty as an officer in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) where he served for the remainder of the First World War.

During the interwar years, Murray maintained affiliation with the RN by taking and teaching courses at their Navigation School in England. He relocated to Ottawa and, as the Director of Naval Operations and Training, began preparing for war in 1938.

He was promoted to Deputy Chief of Naval Staff in September 1939, and assumed responsibility for two tasks: organization of the Canadian portion of the Atlantic Convoy System, and expansion of the Navy. By the end of 1939, two convoys were departing weekly from Halifax, and anti-submarine patrols were guarding the harbour. In 1940, he became the Commodore Commanding Canadian Ships and Establishments in the United Kingdom and was posted to London.

Crest of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps, Admiral Murray; RCSCC Admiral Murray, located in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia in Pictou county where Murray was raised, is named in his honour.
Crest of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps, Admiral Murray.  The Corps, located in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia in Pictou county where Murray was raised, is named in his honour.
© The Navy League of Canada
The Newfoundland Escort Force was established in 1941 as a response to the westward expansion of submarine warfare. Under Murray’s command the convoy system consisted of three legs, Halifax to St. John’s, St. John’s to a mid-ocean meeting point, and mid-point to Britain. Each leg of the trip was completed by a different escort, the last leg completed by RN ships.

In April 1943, the RCN was put in charge of operations in the North West Atlantic and Rear Admiral Murray was appointed as Commander in Chief of the new theatre. From his office in Halifax, he commanded all Canadian and Allied air and naval forces involved in convoy protection in that area and was the only Canadian officer to be in charge of an allied theatre of operations during the Second World War. He would maintain this post until the end of the war.

For his influential involvement in the Second World War, Rear Admiral Leonard Warren Murray was designated a National Historic Person in 1977 and a commemorative plaque was erected in Pictou, Nova Scotia three years later.

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