London & Middlesex Branch: “Neptune’s Escort: The Royal Canadian Navy’s 31st MSF at D-Day”

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Date(s) - November 5, 2022
10:00 am - 11:00 am


The London & Middlesex Branch invites you to join us on Saturday, November 5, 2022, at 10 a.m. for a Zoom presentation with speaker, Stephen C. Young.


Ten Allied minesweeping flotillas cleared ten channels through the German minefields laid off the coast of France to the five Invasion beaches of Normandy on the night of Monday, June 5th, 1944, with the Royal Canadian Navy’s 31st Minesweeping Flotilla responsible for one of the two approaches to Omaha Beach. By request of the Admiralty in early February of that year, sixteen RCN Bangor class minesweepers were pulled from escort duty in home waters and sent to England to assist in the Invasion. But first these fine little ships required minesweeping equipment reinstalled on their quarterdecks – gear removed earlier in the war for the placement of the additional depth charge ordnance necessary for their anti-submarine and convoy escort responsibilities. Additionally, upon arrival at Plymouth the Admiralty was stunned to realize that virtually none of the officers and crews on these minesweepers was versed in the vocation of minesweeping. With the assistance of veteran Royal Navy officers, the next four months were spent in continuous sweeping exercises along the south coasts of England, putting the crews through their paces in tight formation drills and night sweeps until, by the end of May, the Admiralty admitted the Canadians had learned their jobs well, and earned their place in Operation Neptune, the naval component of Operation Overlord.

The weeks and months after Invasion required continuous sweeping, and additional escort duties, off the coasts of France and England in support of the armies pushing into Germany. Based on Stephen’s research in primary documentation at Library and Archives Canada, this presentation tells the story of his father’s service with the 31st MSF at D-Day: the birth of the minesweeper fleet in Canada, the drudging escort duty from which they were called, the intensive and intricate four months of training that would award them the confidence of the Admiralty, and of course, their experience leading the Invasion armada safely across the English Channel where these seamen would witness the bloodiest battle of all at Omaha Beach on the morning of June 6th.

About the speaker, Stephen C. Young:

Stephen C. Young was born and raised in London, Ontario, earned a bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University at Provo, Utah in Family and Local History (1985), and a master’s degree in American History (emphasis in Public History) at Bowling Green State University in Ohio (1990). Employed by FamilySearch in 1988, Stephen enjoyed several assignments during this time, including roles in the Family History Library administration, and a special four-year appointment (1992-1996) in England supervising the British 1881 Census Project. He retired after 33+ years with FamilySearch in March 2022 as a Deputy Chief Genealogical Officer. His genealogical research accreditation in English Canadian research has been active with ICAPGen since 1989. An experienced presenter, he also enjoys sharing the results of his family history research for publication (including seven articles in Families to date). Initial interest and experience with genealogical research began in 1979 with the discovery of a previously unknown memoir written by his mother who was born and raised in England, and who passed away twelve years earlier when Stephen was a young boy.

 The event is free and all are welcome to attend and share this with your friends and family. Registration is required. To register, visit

Once registered, a confirmation email will be sent with the meeting details.