PARSONS, HOWARD NORMAN
H.M.C.S. Shawinigan, Royal Canadian Navy
Date of Death: 24/11/1944
Howard Norman Parsons was born on 27 April 1924 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was the son of Eli and Louise Parsons. He had one brother, Samuel and a sister, Evelyn. He received his education at Central School and his occupation was recorded as "student" at the time of his enlistment. He was a member of the Winnipeg Sea Cadets, Telegraphy Class. In 1940, at the age of 16, Howard wrote a letter to the Department of National Defence with the request to "put in my papers for the R.C.N. as a telegrapher".
Howard enlisted on 15 July 1941 in Winnipeg, Manitoba and joined the Royal Canadian Navy. He was 17 years old. He was sent for training in Esquimalt, British Columbia. Howard would serve aboard several ships along the West and East Coasts of Canada.
In May 1944, Howard was assigned to the corvette, H.M.C.S. Shawinigan. That summer, the Shawinigan began protecting passenger ferries that sailed in the Cabot Strait between Sydney, Nova Scotia and Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. On the morning of 24 November 1944, the Shawinigan was protecting the passage of the ferry Burgeo. After an uneventful crossing, Shawinigan returned to its regular patrol. Later that evening, German U-boat U-1228 spotted the Shawinigan and a torpedo was fired. Four minutes later the Shawinigan was sunk, with all 91 hands lost. In a CBC-TV clip that aired in May 1996, a crewmember of the Shawinigan who was on sick leave at the time reflects on that tragic day.
PO Howard Norman Parsons was killed in action aboard the H.M.C.S. Shawinigan on 24 November 1944. The loss of Howard was reported in the Transcona News on 7 December 1944: "In the loss of the corvette H.M.C.S. "Shawinigan" at sea, Transcona lists another of her brave young men in the name of P.O. Harvard [sic] N. Parsons who is listed as missing."
For his service, PO Parsons was awarded the 1939-1945 Star, the Atlantic Star, the War Medal 1939-1945, and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with clasp. His mother Louise was awarded the Memorial Cross.
Burial and Commemorations
PO Parsons is commemorated at the Halifax Memorial, Panel 5 in Nova Scotia, Canada. A monument dedicated in memory of the crew was erected in Shawinigan, Quebec (the namesake of the corvette). In 1972, Parsons Lake in Manitoba (located west of Nueltin Lake) was named after Howard.
At this time, Howard Norman Parsons is not commemorated on the Transcona Cenotaph. Following the rededication of the cenotaph in 2011, his name was noted as missing from the Second World War plaques. His name will be added to the plaques when the cenotaph is rededicated in the future, along with other names that have been identified as missing.
PO Parsons is included in a new series of plaques commemorating the World War fallen from Transcona on display in the Field of Honour at the Transcona Cemetary.
Lest We Forget.
Central School Honour Roll, Transcona Museum.
Transcona Museum Archives.