The History of Long and Brier Islands

Tug Glenfield 1957, Five Lost, Never Found

by | Jun 11, 2022 | Central Grove, Freeport, Lost at Sea, people, shipwrecks | 2 comments

Tug Glenfield 1957, Five Lost, Never Found

          All of the history that I have posted on here is from a hundred or more years ago. I would like to write about some history that is happened in our lifetime (us senior’s time). In the early 50’s our industries, fishing, and boatbuilding were starting to indicate we were having some problems.

          At that time our fishermen were trawling and handlining to catch fish in the summer months, and they also had to go lobstering in the winter months in order to survive. Lobsters were very scarce and not very not a very good price.  Fisherman found it very difficult to make ends meet so some decided they would have to go elsewhere to find work. Being very knowledgeable about the sea they had no problem in finding jobs on the boats from other places.

         Some went on the gypsum boats, hauling gypsum from Nova Scotia to the lower parts of the USA. Some went to Saint John to work on the Irving tugboats. Here are some of those that worked on the Irving tugboats; Cecil Prime, Harry Crocker, Watson Crocker, Walter Patterson, Clyde Stark (my father) and Ray Tibert son of Ralph Tibert, who I am writing this story about. I worked on these tug boats from 1961 till 1966. At first I was a Second Engineer till May 1963 and I wrote for my Chief Engineer’s Certificate that summer and worked as Chief Engineer till I left in 1966.

Tug “South Bay” Harry Crocker far left, Cecil Prime far right 1955

Some stayed a short time and some stayed a longer time. Ray Tibert had  been working on one of the tugboats as a chief engineer and had decided to come home and try fishing again.

         My father (Clyde) had been over to Saint John working as a chief engineer on the tug Glenfield for a couple of years at this time.

         The Glenfield was constructed of steel and had some leaks and needed some repairs, so it was decided to take the tug to Liverpool, Nova Scotia, for a refit and replating. My father had become very ill about this time and decided to come home after the tug had reached Liverpool.

Some Information about the “Tug Glenfield”

         Between 1943 and 1945, the Royal Canadian Navy ordered twenty diesel tugs all with names starting with “Glen”.  They were 80’ long with a beam of 20’ and a draft of 9’8” and displaced 170 long tons.  They were powered by a single diesel engine of between 320 and 400 bhp.  Four were built of wood, three on the west coast and one on the east; while the rest were of steel with eleven built at Russel Brothers in Owen Sound and five at Canadian Dredge and Dock in Kingston.

         With the war over, many were sold to commercial interests while others continued with the navy. Glenfield (Kingston built) left the navy service in 1946 and was bought by J. D. Irving Ltd Saint John N.B.

The Glenfield was previously a Royal Canadian Navy ship, Kingston built, from 1944-1946. After the Irvings bought the tug it was used in the summer to tow logs and pulp wood down the Saint John River to the Irving pulp mill in Lancaster, New Brunswick.

The Crew that were lost on the “Tug Glenfield:

Captain;  Roy Milton Mosher

First Mate; John V. Joyce

Chief Engineer; Ray Johnson Tibert

Second Engineer; Clayton Morehouse

Cook; Douglas Chown

         Above is the men who lost their lives on the “Tug Glenfield” April 7th 1957. Two of these men were not the regular crew for the boat. The original captain was not there, reason unknown and his name unknown at this time. The other person from the original crew was my father (Clyde R. Stark). He was home sick but had sent Ray J. Tibert as replacement for his place.

         MOSHER, Roy M. – The recent loss of the Kent Lines tug, Glenfield, has brought to a close the career of an outstanding Nova Scotian skipper. He was Captain Roy M. Mosher, well known in the Port of Halifax, and marine superintendent for the Irving owned line since 1947. Captain Mosher was not the Glenfield’s regular skipper. He had gone to Liverpool to take the ship back to Saint John after a refitting, in the temporary absence of her captain.     Captain Mosher was born at Bridgewater in 1901, a son of the late, Mr. and Mrs. Millage Mosher. He went to sea at age 20, with his uncle, Captain E. E. Manning, who at 95 is one of Nova Scotia’s oldest sea captains. He took his master’s papers in 1930 and served with Canadian National Steamships and the United Fruit Company, out of New York. In 1940 he joined the RCNR as Lieutenant in command of the corvette Barrie, one of the first Canadian corvettes to serve on convoy duty.. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Commander and given command of the frigate HMCS Saint John. He was cited for bravery in the King’s Birthday Honors in June, 1943. He had kept a record of his travels at sea and up to March 1945, had sailed 1,077,304 miles on the seven seas. He was a member of Acacia Lodge AF and AM, Bridgewater. Captain Mosher’s wife is the former Phyllis Gormley of Alexandria, Ontario. There are four sons, Peter Barrie, Thomas Roy, Kenneth and Geoffrey; two brothers, Cecil, Yarmouth and John, Halifax; three sisters, Mrs. G. P. Backman, Mrs. R. M. MacLennan, both of Halifax and Mrs. Percy Staniforth, Arundel, Quebec. Mr. Hastings Curll, Bridgewater, is an uncle of the late Captain Mosher.

         Mentioned in Despatches Citation:   MOSHER, Roy Milton, Lieutenant, RCNR / HMCS Barrie – Awarded as per Canada Gazette of 5 June 1943 and London Gazette of 2 June 1943. “This Officer, while serving in command of one of His Majesty’s Canadian Corvettes in the North Atlantic during the past two years, has displayed outstanding zeal, efficiency and devotion to duty.”

Ships served in:

HMCS STADACONA – Appointed to Stadacona as Lt, RCNR 12 Dec 1940 – for Disposal or Training (Navy List Feb 1941)

HMCS BARRIE – 1st Commanding Officer (12 May 1941-09 Jan 1942). Appointed CO 12 May 1941 as Lt, RCNR (Navy List Aug 1941)  //  3rd Commanding Officer (29 Mar 1942 – 08 Oct 1943).  Appointed CO 29 Mar 1942 as Lt, RCNR (Navy List Apr 1942)  // Appointed A/LCdr 01 Jul 1943 while CO (Navy List Aug 1943)

HMCS STADACONA – Appointed to Stadacona, as Staff for Capt. D. Halifax as LCdr, RCNR 11 Oct 1943 (Navy List Oct 1943)

HMCS SAINT JOHN – 1st Commanding Officer (13 Dec 1943 – 20 Feb 1944) (Macpherson-Burgess – The ships of Canada’s Naval Forces 1910-1981)

HMCS STADACONA, RCN BARRACKS HALIFAX – Appointed to Stadacona 21 Feb 1944 as LCdr, RCNR, for Disposal or Training (Navy List Feb 1944)

HMCS DUNDURN – 2nd Commanding Officer (03 Apr 1944 – 10 Jun 1945).  Appointed CO 03 Apr 1944 as LCdr, RCNR (Navy List May 1944)

         Captain Roy M. Mosher, Tug GLENFIELD – Assigned as Skipper of the tug Glenfield in Apr 1957 to bring her back to Saint John, NB from refit in Liverpool. During the transit she sank with all hands. ( I do not have the name of the previous Captain)

Chief Engineer Ray J. Tibert

May 29th 1923- April 7th 1957

         Ray J. Tibert was the son of Ralph and Mary Tibert of Central Grove, Long Island. Ray was married to Freda Blanche Crocker Tibert on Aug. 29th 1942. Ray and Freda had one daughter, her name was Helena Rae Tibert Templeton,

Helena Rae Tibert at Central Grove, year ?

Helena Rae Tibert was 13 years old when she lost her father.

Ray J. Tibert (Chief Engineer) Tug Glenfield at the time of leaving Liverpool N.S.

         Ray was not the Chief Engineer for the “Tug Glenfield” previous to it being in Liverpool. My father (Clyde Robbins Stark) was the Chief Engineer when the tug arrived at Liverpool, but due to sickness my father had come home, so he had asked Ray to take his place as Chief Engineer. Ray had been a Chief Engineer on other tug boats for Irving previously. Ray had been home trying out fishing again when my father had asked him to replace him for this trip.

When The Last Hand Comes Aboard

No more a watch to stand, Old Sailor.

For you are drifting on an ebbing tide.

Eight Bells has rung. Last dogwatch done.

Now a new berth awaits you on the other side.

Your ship is anchored in God’s Harbour.

And your ship mates, now of equal rank.

Are mustered on the deck to greet.

And Pipe as you ascend the Plank.

Her Boilers with full head of steam.

Cargo stowed and alley stored.

Just waiting to get underway.

When the last Hand comes aboard.

Look sharp! That Hand is you, Old Sailor.

And you’ll be sailing out on Heavenly Seas.

May the wind be ever at your back.

Fair weather, and God Speed!

         Tug Glenfield left Liverpool on Sunday, Apr 7, 1957 at 8:30am, bound for Saint John. The voyage was expected to take 40 hours. Alarm was raised when she was overdue and a search was begun. A search on sea and by air turned up nothing but some flotsam (Flotsam is defined as debris in the water that was not deliberately thrown overboard, often as a result from a shipwreck or accident), namely a door and a damaged lifeboat. They were found 50 miles SE of Shelburne, NS.

Source: The Glengarry News Ont.

April 11th1957

Source: Digby Courier

April 18th1957

         When word of this tragedy began to surface here on the Islands, my father began pacing the floors blaming himself, for Raye’s disappearance. As time went on when people began to realize Raye would not be coming home, it was a sad time here on the Islands. Islanders are all connected in a round- about way, and so when there is a loss in a family, everyone feels it. Dad didn’t go back to Saint John and the tug boats,

         Ray’s wife Freda was devastated, as were his parents Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Tibert. Ray’s mother passed on in the following year and Ralph passed in 1962. Loretta Crocker and Tom Frook live at the home today (2022).

         Dad was never the same person after this, he stayed home the rest of 1957. Later in the spring of 1958, Islanders found out that the government was going to rebuild and pave our main road from Tiverton Ferry Slip to Freeport Ferry Slip.

         It took almost a year to rebuild the road, and then after they wanted the road to settle for another year, so dad and our family all moved to Blandford near Halifax. We stayed a year while they were redoing their road and paving. We came back late in 1959. In 1960 the road was paved here on Long Island. My father worked on this project.

         In the spring of 1961 my father decided to go back to the tug boats. I had left school about this time and was working at Digby Home Furnishings at Freeport, in apprenticeship at wiring houses. My father asked if I wanted to go and so I started work at J. D. Irving’s Marine Div. as a Second Engineer on the tug “Irving Willow”.

         In May 24th of 1963 we were up at Chipman, N.B. to tow a boom of logs back to Saint John when my father had a heart attack and passed away. Before he passed he asked me to look after the family. I had to take on a big responsibility at a very young age.

         I wish I didn’t have to go on for so long trying to express what I am trying to say. I miss my father not being here, for me. I can imagine that Helena (Ray’s daughter) has gone through the same feeling about her father not being there for her. Helena was thirteen when she lost her father, I was sixteen when I lost mine.

         Helena passed on, in August, of 2017. Ray never got to see his daughter married, have her children, or never meet his grandchildren. My father the same.

         All this from the sinking of the “Tug Glenfield”. I can imagine the other four members of the crew, their families have gone through some big heart-aches too.

Hug your Dad and tell him you love him

         I have had this story on my mind for over sixty-five years now so I cannot close this off without putting my thought into what of might happened to the “Tug Glenfield” on April 7th 1957.The tug was at Liverpool to have some plates of steel replaced in the hull and a complete refit. So when the Glenfield left Liverpool it should have been as good a condition as new.

         The weather was good, no winds. We do know that the Glenfield didn’t get all that far on its trip to Saint John, as they found debris near Shelburne, which is not far from Liverpool. No other boats missing at the time to indicate a collision. It is only my opinion, but I believe it was due to the repair to the steel plates on the ship’s hull. I guess we will never know, so we will leave it at that.


  1. Paul

    A brother-in-law I never met, I married Doug Chown’s younger sister in 1963, Doug’s oldest brother Jack, named his first son Doug, after his brother. the Cook. . My father-in-law would get drunk and actually call K.C. Irving and remind him that K.C. killed his son, I heard one side of these calls. It was said the tug was not (seaworthy) and they were moving it for other reasons than towing?

    • Paul

      Doug Chown was the third oldest of a family of seven. He would have been about 18/19 yrs of age when he went missing.


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