The author at the Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial, November 11, 2003. – No. 11-1102-E-4A. Marc Fowler, Metropolis Studio, Ottawa. Used with permission.
Frederick Henry Sherwood (1914–2013) came into the world in Winnipeg in late June, 1914, just a few weeks before the birth of Canada’s submarine service. He was raised in Ottawa where he joined the RCNVR in early 1933, in the depths of the Great Depression. In 1940 Lieutenant Sherwood was loaned to the Royal Navy and volunteered for the submarine service, where he spent the next five years on active service in the North Sea, the Bay of Biscay, the Mediterranean, and the Far East.

In June 1944 Sherwood met Wren third officer Mary Clarke on a blind date at the Silver Faun nightclub in Colombo, Ceylon. Over the next many months a relationship developed, and Fred and Mary were married in August 1946, just after Fred was demobilised. Eventually the couple settled in Ottawa where Fred went to work for his father, a successful real estate broker. Over the next several years Fred and Mary raised their children, Marion, Philip, and Tim. In 1970 Fred served a term as president of the Ottawa Real Estate Board.

Later years saw Fred sailing in the Gatineau and the Caribbean, enjoying his grandchildren, taking all-inclusive holidays in Cuba, and recounting his wartime experiences, most notably as part of the Naval Association of Canada’s Salty Dips oral history project. In late 2012 his memoirs were privately published for family and friends, and six months later he passed away.

Tim Sherwood summed up his father’s life aptly. “My father was many things to many people during his life, but he was always a submariner in his heart.”

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Philip Sherwood owns, a full service company that that specialises in helping individuals, families, communities, and organizations tell their stories and preserve them in print. He helped his father prepare It’s Not the Ships . . . For more information, visit


An oil painting of HMS/M Spiteful (P 227) by John S. Taylor. This canvas hung over the author’s desk for almost 60 years.