Remember the Rainbow Redux: An Alternate Royal Canadian Navy

i get wanting to be hospitable to guests especially ambassadors of other nations however that seems a bit much on the part of the mayor. most of the infrastructure was all civilian but saint johns was a major port on that coast was it not? i dont know it comes off as potentially handing a future government too much information about your ports.
Please tell me that mayor will be hanged TTL.
It does seem like the mayor got a little too excited with his surprise guests and gave them the keys to the city so to speak, if this translates to him being sympathetic to the German cause or just perhaps bad judgement we shall see. If he has any German leanings, he would be smart to hide them once war breaks out. James H. Frink was mayor of Saint Johns from 1910 to 1916 OTL, so he best keep his head down unless he doesn’t like his job too much. The German scare once wartime starts can be a dangerous thing for both sides involved.
 
A Reserve of Determination
Commander Walter Hose often referred to the period of 1912 to 1914 as the 'heartbreaking starvation time' and with the state of the navy in general, it evident as to why. With HMCS Niobe left in drydock and later allowed to rot pier side, personnel started to hemorrhage rather worryingly. Recruiting had fell to the wayside with essentially zero effort being put into the matter, posters within post offices were scarcely replaced and showed out of date information. Recruits turning in quickly found themselves deserting or transferring to the Royal Navy instead if they even decided to join. Figures for enlisted sailor intakes in 1912 listed 126 new sailors but 149 deserters. What personnel remained within the navy were found to be older pensioners from the Royal Navy, the average rating left assigned to Niobe in this period was well over 30 years old with some of the oldest being almost 50. The situation regarding training opportunities were so poor that the midshipmen from the College were forced to serve temporarily with the Royal Navy to receive their qualifications. Rainbow herself had fared better than Niobe, largely due to Commander Hose and his dogged determination. Her shrunken compliment largely relegated her to training in Esquimalt harbor and on the odd occasion, enough crew could be shaken out of the Fisheries Protection Force to allow the cruiser to stretch her legs up the coast. In fact, through this period, Rainbow was occasionally utilized as a fisheries protection ship herself although her considerable size and slow speed meant she was generally unsuccessful at catching smaller vessels within the 3-mile limit. Her one notable capture was that of the US schooner Edrie on February 21 of 1913 which she seized and brought into port after a quick blank shot from her 6 pdr battery.


The above chart shows the truly dismal state of the RCN leading up to WWI. As of 1913-1914, HMCS Rainbow effectively carried the bulk of the RCN's active personnel.

Even with this sporadic work on his plate, Hose was not a man to stand idle for any period of time. Admiral Kingsmill’s disapproval of his plan regarding a volunteer naval reserve not withstanding, he was not ready to let the idea go. With the rate of attrition, the regular force was going through, there would need to be a pool of even semi-trained personnel to pull from in case of an emergency. It turns out that Hose did not have to scheme for long as the opportunity fell directly into his lap. In July of 1913, a group of men including Royal Navy reservists in Victoria decided that they would attempt to form a volunteer naval force along similar lines to that of the Royal Navy. This raggedy group of naval enthusiasts, Royal Navy pensioners, yachtsmen and businessmen spent the next few weeks gathering financial, material, and political support through Victoria, the news eventually reaching Commander Hose in Esquimalt. While Hose could not go against the wishes of Kingsmill just yet, he met with the group multiple times and pledged to help in any way he could. Hose undertook a risky move and went above Kingsmill’s head, speaking directly to the Minister of the Naval Service, John Douglas Hazen. Hazen was outwardly sympathetic towards the group and with his permission, the unofficial reservists were granted permission to use the Esquimalt facilities with Hose’s supervision. When news of this eventually reached Kingsmill and Ottawa, both were furious at both the direct disobeying of orders and the lack of transparency in both parties’ actions.

Even after a personal rebuke from Kingsmill, Hose started the training of the reservists fervently. This group had no official status, little funding, and no pay whatsoever. All equipment was loaned from Esquimalt’s stockpiles and for a rather long time, these out of place men marched through the yards of Esquimalt, rifles in hand and clad in civilian attire. Instruction came from Commander Hose alongside members of Rainbow’s crew and Esquimalt base staff. All instructors were volunteers and took time out of their personal lives and even careers to ensure some semblance of training was passed to this vital group of trailblazers. During the following month, the new Indefatigable class battlecruiser HMS New Zealand stopped to visit Vancouver on its scheduled world tour. The leaders of the volunteers were surprised when the battlecruisers commanding officer, Captain Lionel Halsey, invited them aboard for a meeting. The officer made it a point to reinforce how crucial the role of the reserves was to the struggling organization and in the end, provided written resources for the unit to assist in their training. By around the same time of next year, the group had grown to over 140 members, although their training was somewhat surface level.


Men of the unofficial Victoria naval reserve pose for a photo, the mismatched civilian clothing and scatterings of naval uniforms can be seen throughout.

It would seem that through their determination, the group of amateur sailors from Victoria attracted the attention of the federal government. Utilizing an order in council through the Naval Service Act, the government strangely passed the ruling which brought the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve (R.N.C.V.R.) into being. It is unknown why a government seemingly hellbent on destroying the current navy would drop it a lifeline however, it is theorized that it was a kind of Liberal appeasement strategy or simply preparing for the Conservatives own navy. Regardless, the Reserve drew immediate criticism from the Liberals as they saw the organization not as a means of strengthening the existing Naval Service, but as an inevitable siphon to push more capable men into Royal Navy service. The organization itself was laid out with officers and enlisted men, open to all capable seafaring men up to 45 years old. The personnel would be volunteers in peacetime but would be engaged with the navy’s regular personnel during wartime. Contracts would be drafted in 3-year intervals with the ability to reenlist until the cut-off age. With a budget of $200,000 and a personnel goal of 1,200 men, the organization was to be split into 3 separate divisions. The Atlantic Division encompassed the entire East Coast until Quebec, the Lakes Division covered Quebec City to Manitoba and the Pacific Division held the rest of the nation. The Reserve would embark on 21 days of training per year in all of the same aspects as the regular force and would receive similar payment to the Canadian Militia.

The men of the Victoria Reservists were absorbed into the Pacific Division and in July of 1914, 50 of it’s members would be mobilized onto HMCS Rainbow. As the 1911 Sealing Convention signed by Russia, Japan, the United States, and Great Britain entailed, various vessels of each nation would patrol the Northern Pacific to prevent unethical harvesting of the population. This duty was usually reserved for the sloops HMS Algerine and HMS Shearwater which were the only remaining Royal Navy units in Esquimalt however during the summer of 1914, both these vessels were engaged in peacekeeping operations off Mexico. Rainbow was therefore readied for a 3-month cruise in their place, the members of the reserve being complimented by regulars from Niobe and abroad. She was undergoing cleaning and store replenishment in drydock when, in early July of 1914, she received an urgent call to assist in an ongoing international incident in Vancouver.


HMCS Rainbow alongside HMS New Zealand during her 1913 visit to British Columbia, the modern arrangement of the battlecruiser heavily contrasting the vintage cruiser.

Hose himself would not complain, any reason to get his ship and crew at sea was acceptable to him. This indifferent demeanor would soon change as Rainbow would quickly become involved in one of the most infamous Canadian racial episodes of the 20th century.
 
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i wonder if commander hose will go down with rainbow or not. according to the introduction there was only six survivors out of 135 which isnt good odds. he comes of as a very capable leader for the navy going forward if he isnt disgraced, crippled or killed. maybe being a martyr would be a fitting fate for somebody so seemingly dedicated.
 
i wonder if commander hose will go down with rainbow or not. according to the introduction there was only six survivors out of 135 which isnt good odds. he comes of as a very capable leader for the navy going forward if he isnt disgraced, crippled or killed. maybe being a martyr would be a fitting fate for somebody so seemingly dedicated.
Obviously I won't be spoiling such a plot point however, I will say that the fate of Hose in our own timeline was directly tied to the survival of the RCN. This timeline may be an entirely different beast as there could be others to take his place however, I will leave that to the imagination of the readers. I have been trying to hunt down an accurate crew number for Rainbow for quite sometime to verify that 135 number as accurate, so that initial posted casualty list might need some touching up as it was made before I found some more insightful resources. Thanks for reminding me to look into that.

On another note, I'll be breaking the schedule tomorrow for a small supplementary post but expect the Monday-Wednesday-Friday posting to continue, it seems to be working out rather well for myself and judging by the lack of complaints, everybody else too.
 
The Blanchet Boys
October 14, 1913. Esquimalt Navy Base, British Columbia.

It had been sometime since the guards at the base gate had relieved each other of their duties but to the dismay of at least one of the two boys watching from a nearby hedge, the lone guard seemed content remaining at his post.

“These blasted guards haven’t moved from the gate in hours. How are we supposed to get inside the base if they keep standing around like statues?”

George Blanchet smirked at his younger brother with amusement, “I believe that is sort of the point, you aren’t supposed to get in. Not like that stopped you trying before.”

Louis shot back a scowl, “Why did you even come along with me if all you were going to do is complain?”

“Because.” George rolled his eyes, “The last time you went here alone, the people from the base had to haul you down from the gate and drag you back home. You make enough trouble for our Uncle as it is without breaking into a navy base. You had better hope he doesn’t bring this up to Mother in his next letter.”

“I just wanted to get aboard the Rainbow.” He whispered, “She never visits Victoria anymore and I can never get close enough to see her.”

“Maybe you should ask Mother to join the Navy again, you would get to see the poop deck of that ship as much as you like.”

Louis adjusted himself, rolling onto his back for a moment to stretch. “I got enough of Mother and her wooden spoon last time, you and I both know she would never let me join the navy. Besides, I would want you to come along with me to scrub that poop deck.”

“Nice try but I don't think the navy is for me. I would much rather enjoy myself with a nice novel, not one of those picture books full of charts and navy ships you seem to always grab from the library.”

That poke struck a nerve, George watched a vein begin to push its way out from under Louis’s brimmed hat. His brother’s determination was only matched by his temper and his hobby was a point of contention within the family.

“Listen here, I don't need another perso…”

The distinctive sound of thunderous boots on the ground cut off the younger Blanchet brother as it echoed from up the dirt road. The pair briefly paused to take in the sight before them, roughly 30 men clad in civilian clothes, brandishing rifles topped by full length bayonets approached the gate before coming to a stop in an unorganized pile. A short fellow wearing a naval uniform strolled towards the gate, a brilliant circular rank insignia on his sleeve catching the boy’s eyes as he quickly returned the guards salute. He seemed to instruct the group of men behind him something indiscernible before stepping through the gate.

“Who are these people?” George said with a turn of his head, “Why aren’t they wearing uniforms?”

Louis poked his head up over the hedge, “Only one way to find out.”

He let out a low whistle and one of the men, not as tired and short of breath as some of his older comrades, cocked his head towards the source of the noise. Louis waved him over as he stepped out from behind the bush, the young man checked his surroundings for any sign of what was likely the impending return of his leader and walked towards the boys.

“What are you guys doing here?” Louis questioned, the man who upon closer inspection, was not too much older than themselves.

George cringed, a little bit on the nose there Louis. He was definitely going to be reported to the base staff again. The young man did not seem phased by this question, stopping a few feet away before leaning his shining wooden rifle stock against the grass as a rest while he spoke.

“We’re the Victoria Naval Volunteers!” He stated, puffing his chest out in a show of exaggerated bravado. “The base Commander was leading us in an afternoon march around the outskirts of the base before we start to conduct drills aboard his ship shortly.”

“Wow, so you are part of the navy?” Louis exclaimed, his eyes gleaming with excitement.

The man seemed to deflate somewhat at this question, “No we aren’t.” His eyes dropping to the grass below, “We are trying to get some uniforms to look the part but we aren’t official part of the navy, at least not yet. Even though we are just volunteers now, just you wa...”

“Hey Arthur!” A voice came from the group, “Get back over here fast, the Commander is on his way back!”

The young man mumbled something under his breath before scrambling back into the group, just as the naval officer returned through the gate. As the men filtered into the base, George could almost feel the excitement radiating off his brother.

Louis turned and broke out into a run in the vague direction of town, “Come on George!" He yelled over his shoulder, "We have to get back to Uncle and tell him. This is my ticket onto Rainbow!”

George shook his head slightly before starting after his brother. Perhaps Mother would approve of playing sailor around the dockyard, since it's not technically being in the navy. Perhaps the dreaded spoon would come out again on her next visit. Regardless of that, somebody needed to help keep the eager 15 year old in check and as much as he tried, their poor Uncle did not seem to be up to the task alone. Usually proud Québécois would have nothing to do with an "Anglo Institution" as his mother had previously put it but with their father being away on business and mother being back home in Quebec, perhaps Louis and his determination would trump their Uncle. Maybe playing navy men wouldn't be that bad George thought, none of the other boys back home had done something like this. That would definitely put him as the center of attention and do you know what? That doesn't sound too bad at all.



Gate of Esquimalt Navy Base around 1915, minus any trespassing attempts from local minors.
 
Just a quick update after some more research. As @Wobbly Whirlwind reminded me earlier, I went looking for Rainbow's war condition crew compliment and finally found it. I had originally based the compliment of 135 off a rough estimate as literature had stated Rainbow had roughly half her rated crew. So taking the RN standard 273 and cutting it in half, I came out to roughly 135. The source I found which was published by the Canadian Minister of Defense, lists Rainbow's crew compliment as only 121 men when she put to sea in August 1914. Ironically, Rainbow's full crew compliment was down rated already in Canadian service from 273 to 229, so technically the half crew estimate was still correct, just closer to the actual Canadian compliment.

So it was even worse than I had originally though and even then, I had reservations of keeping it that low. Anyway, the original chapter will be updated with the new info and a modified casualty number. New chapter will be up tomorrow!
 
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October 14, 1913. Esquimalt Navy Base, British Columbia.

It had been sometime since the guards at the base gate had relieved each other of their duties but to the dismay of at least one of the two boys watching from a nearby hedge, the lone guard seemed content remaining at his post.

“These blasted guards haven’t moved from the gate in hours. How are we supposed to get inside the base if they keep standing around like statues?”

George Blanchet smirked at his younger brother with amusement, “I believe that is sort of the point, you aren’t supposed to get in. Not like that stopped you trying before.”

Louis shot back a scowl, “Why did you even come along with me if all you were going to do is complain?”

“Because.” George rolled his eyes, “The last time you went here alone, the people from the base had to haul you down from the gate and drag you back home. You make enough trouble for our Uncle as it is without breaking into a navy base. You had better hope he doesn’t bring this up to Mother in his next letter.”

“I just wanted to get aboard the Rainbow.” He whispered, “She never visits Victoria anymore and I can never get close enough to see her.”

“Maybe you should ask Mother to join the Navy again, you would get to see the poop deck of that ship as much as you like.”

Louis adjusted himself, rolling onto his back for a moment to stretch. “I got enough of Mother and her wooden spoon last time, you and I both know she would never let me join the navy. Besides, I would want you to come along with me to scrub that poop deck.”

“Nice try but I don't think the navy is for me. I would much rather enjoy myself with a nice novel, not one of those picture books full of charts and navy ships you seem to always grab from the library.”

That poke struck a nerve, George watched a vein begin to push its way out from under Louis’s brimmed hat. His brother’s determination was only matched by his temper and his hobby was a point of contention within the family.

“Listen here, I don't need another perso…”

The distinctive sound of thunderous boots on the ground cut off the younger Blanchet brother as it echoed from up the dirt road. The pair briefly paused to take in the sight before them, roughly 30 men clad in civilian clothes, brandishing rifles topped by full length bayonets approached the gate before coming to a stop in an unorganized pile. A short fellow wearing a naval uniform strolled towards the gate, a brilliant circular rank insignia on his sleeve catching the boy’s eyes as he quickly returned the guards salute. He seemed to instruct the group of men behind him something indiscernible before stepping through the gate.

“Who are these people?” George said with a turn of his head, “Why aren’t they wearing uniforms?”

Louis poked his head up over the hedge, “Only one way to find out.”

He let out a low whistle and one of the men, not as tired and short of breath as some of his older comrades, cocked his head towards the source of the noise. Louis waved him over as he stepped out from behind the bush, the young man checked his surroundings for any sign of what was likely the impending return of his leader and walked towards the boys.

“What are you guys doing here?” Louis questioned, the man who upon closer inspection, was not too much older than themselves.

George cringed, a little bit on the nose there Louis. He was definitely going to be reported to the base staff again. The young man did not seem phased by this question, stopping a few feet away before leaning his shining wooden rifle stock against the grass as a rest while he spoke.

“We’re the Victoria Naval Volunteers!” He stated, puffing his chest out in a show of exaggerated bravado. “The base Commander was leading us in an afternoon march around the outskirts of the base before we start to conduct drills aboard his ship shortly.”

“Wow, so you are part of the navy?” Louis exclaimed, his eyes gleaming with excitement.

The man seemed to deflate somewhat at this question, “No we aren’t.” His eyes dropping to the grass below, “We are trying to get some uniforms to look the part but we aren’t official part of the navy, at least not yet. Even though we are just volunteers now, just you wa...”

“Hey Arthur!” A voice came from the group, “Get back over here fast, the Commander is on his way back!”

The young man mumbled something under his breath before scrambling back into the group, just as the naval officer returned through the gate. As the men filtered into the base, George could almost feel the excitement radiating off his brother.

Louis turned and broke out into a run in the vague direction of town, “Come on George!" He yelled over his shoulder, "We have to get back to Uncle and tell him. This is my ticket onto Rainbow!”

George shook his head slightly before starting after his brother. Perhaps Mother would approve of playing sailor around the dockyard, since it's not technically being in the navy. Perhaps the dreaded spoon would come out again on her next visit. Regardless of that, somebody needed to help keep the eager 15 year old in check and as much as he tried, their poor Uncle did not seem to be up to the task alone. Usually proud Québécois would have nothing to do with an "Anglo Institution" as his mother had previously put it but with their father being away on business and mother being back home in Quebec, perhaps Louis and his determination would trump their Uncle. Maybe playing navy men wouldn't be that bad George thought, none of the other boys back home had done something like this. That would definitely put him as the center of attention and do you know what? That doesn't sound too bad at all.



Gate of Esquimalt Navy Base around 1915, minus any trespassing attempts from local minors.
That gate still exists. It is never used though.
 
The Komagata Maru Incident
As it was in most places in the world, racism along the West Coast of North America was relatively commonplace during the early 20th century. Even with this fact being evident, it was rapidly devolving from racist thoughts into racist violence. British Columbia’s first major instance of this occurred in Coal Harbor when rumor reached Vancouver that Chinese immigrants were invading the coast. While Oriental immigrants were usually forced home right from the dock, these 4 workers were brought into clear land in the outskirts of Vancouver with a police escort. This “invasion” was met by 300 white Canadians who marched out to Coal Harbor where the immigrants were staying and proceeded to throw the men out of their shacks, beat them repeatedly and burn their belongings. A pair was thrown into a nearby creek after being tied together before the mob retreated. 3 men were convicted and arrested however due to the sympathetic administration of Vancouver; the trio was released after a week in jail. The city officials of Victoria were enraged by the clear bias interfering with legal proceedings and as a response, Vancouver’s not even year-old city charter was suspended and 40 Victoria policemen stormed Vancouver City Hall to rearrest the trio.

The rapid increasing of Oriental immigration over the early 1900’s culminated in the various race riots, especially in Vancouver and Bellingham. The rather bluntly named Asiatic Exclusion League organized a march on September 7, 1907 in which they would protest into Vancouver’s Chinatown to show their disdain for the immigrants. Over 10,000 people attended the rally which rapidly devolved into a riot through the cities Chinese, Japanese and other immigrant communities. Windows of businesses and homes were smashed by rocks while people were attacked openly in the streets. Japanese residents fought back but the riots continued into the early morning of the next day. While nobody was killed, property damage for Asian immigrants and business owners in general were high, partially due to indiscriminate targeting of areas. These strained tensions were only somewhat subdued by reparations from the Canadian government for the damages, but the resulting legislation passed both provincially and federally to limited “unwanted immigration” only served to make the issue into a ticking time bomb.


Asian owned business heavily vandalized on Powell Street, Vancouver, BC.

The most relevant regulation was referred to as the continuous journey clause. This regulation was directly targeted at Indian natives who were immigrating into Canada. This regulation stipulated that any people who come from the country of their birth or citizenship must do so directly, meaning the ship must never put into a foreign port on the way. Due to the great distance from India to Canada and the nautical technology of the time, this made a one-way trip almost impossible or economically unpractical. This was brought to the attention of a man named Gurdit Singh Sandhu. A well-off contractor and fishermen in Singapore, Gurdit was an ardent supporter of the Indian independence Ghadar Movement and wished to challenge the Canadian immigration laws by sending through a passenger ship. After several months of searching for a suitable ship, he eventually hired the Komagata Maru, a Japanese owned tramp cargo ship. The Maru would work well for Gurdit’s plans as it was previously used to ferry immigrants all around the European continent. The makeup of the passengers themselves is rarely touched on as racism usually clouds period press documents. Almost all of the passengers were of the Indian countryside elite, being of sound financial background and looking to come into Canada to better themselves economically. Some of the passengers were former soldiers and policemen from various cities such as Singapore. Due to their lacking skills in the English language, many of these migrants wished to work lower stature labor positions in order to support their families and eventually return to India after a few years. Many of these men were married or had large families but choose to undertake the journey alone, mostly due to the increased wages even for menial tasks within Canada and the opportunities of opening businesses or investing in such ventures. Even with the relatively clean initial records of the passengers, a number of fellow Ghadar Movement supporters were working feverishly throughout the journey to bring their ideology to the passengers. Komagata Maru sailed from Hong Kong on April 4, 1914 after Gurdit was initially arrested for selling illegal tickets, the ship would later stop in Shanghai and various Japanese ports before making its way across the Pacific to Vancouver.

The 376 passengers of Komagata Maru arrived in Burrard Inlet on May 23, 1914. As was expected, the ship was not allowed to dock and was ordered to anchor 200 meters out into the harbor, away from the docks. While the Prime Minister and other Federal officials contemplated what to do with the vessel, Conservative MP H. H. Stevens and Chief Immigration Inspector Malcolm R. J. Reid were both in complete agreement that the passengers must be barred from entry by any means necessary. To this end, the pair of ranking officials made life aboard hellish. Komagata Maru lacked a desalination plant meaning that freshwater needed to be delivered aboard the ship, this combined with dwindling rations from the journey gave the men the pressure they required. Cutting off food, water and communications going to the ship intermittently (sometimes for up to 48 hours at a time), the officials attempted to break the will of the migrants. Facing this abuse, large portions of the passengers embraced the talks of the nationalist anti-British Indians or simply became fed up with this treatment and attempted to seize control of the ship. The Captain was deposed and the passengers took over the ship. Tensions were raised as the crew proclaimed they would not be leaving the harbor until they were allowed in the city. The city officials attempted to send police boarding parties to seize the ship and even a tugboat which was ordered to push the ship out to sea but when they both approached, they were repelled by a deluge of coal, bricks and other debris. Humorously, the passengers were driven off when a immigration officer hurled a cabbage from a provisions locker onto their deck, believing it to be a bomb. Premier McBride had enough of the situation and got permission from Ottawa to start deploying elements of the Military in case the situation escalated. Even though the Naval Service Act itself had no provisions in regard to assisting internal civilian incidents, the Premier contacted Commander Hose and requisitioned his help in the manner.

Rainbow was pulled away from her sealing patrol and was to arrive on the scene to intimidate the migrants into departing from the harbor, using reasonable force. Upon her arrival on July 21, she was placed in overall command of the Militia forces in the area alongside the Militia staff she brought herself. The imposing cruisers mere presence immediately began to pacify the situation. Even with this though, the key figures of the incident were gathered in Commander Hose's cabin to plan their contingency plan if all other options had failed. Hose had obviously been busy planning on the way from Esquimalt as he laid out an almost complete plan to all in attendance. Rainbow was to run alongside the Komagata Maru and set out 3 gangplanks, one on the stern, amidships and poop deck respectively. Each gangplank was assigned a pair of firehoses to clear the way if the ships Militia compliment was not allowed to board. The Militia detachment would storm the Maru with bayonets fixed and group by group, the passengers would be transferred to Rainbow to be taken shore. All parties in attendance agreed with this plan however, they wished to continue attempting diplomacy while the verdict from the counts was pending. Rumors still persist to this day that Commander Hose planned to ram the opposing ship or open fire if the Militia landings were opposed however, these are largely baseless claims from period newspapers.

Meanwhile, various groups of Indo-Canadians came together to attempt to resolve the situation. One of the more extreme groups met in Vancouver and agreed that if the passengers were not permitted entrance, they would charter a trip to India themselves in order to participate in a rebellion against the British. A British government agent who infiltrated the meeting wired government officials in London and Ottawa to tell them that supporters of the Ghadar Party were on the ship, further tainting the efforts of the groups. Working together, the parties managed to raise $22,000 as an installment for chartering the ship elsewhere in the event that the ship is wholly rejected. The lawyer J. Edward Bird took on a case against the BC government on the behalf of Munshi Singh, one of the passengers aboard. Bird unsuccessfully fought under the pretense that as Indians, the passengers were British subjects and therefore allowed to enter. In spite of his best efforts and valid points, Bird’s case was eventually dropped with the assigned Board of Inquiry sided with the BC Court of Appeals. It is valuable to note that the Board itself was incredibly unprofessional, being extremely slow with proceedings and documents to the point of dragging the investigation out needlessly.


Extremely well detailed display of HMCS Rainbow alongside Komagata Maru, showing the absolute bevy of smaller civilian craft crowding both ships. Open the image in another tab and zoom to see the detail.

In the end, Komagata Maru would depart Vancouver on July 23 and sailed towards Hong Kong. Commander Walter Hose was dismayed when he was instructed alongside MP Stevens and Inspector Reid to meet with the passengers and inform them of their departure. Another inspector spoke the letter to the leaders of the group which was as follows,

"I am instructed by the authority of the Government of Canada to say that much regret would be felt by this government should any injury be done to you and to urge you to peacefully submit to the laws of this country. Your case has been most exhaustively and ably argued in the Courts and the decision been given against you, and you have been lawfully ordered deported by the authorities; but in view of the particular circumstances of your case, the government have offered, as an act of grace, to supply you with provisions for your return voyage. This offer still holds good and I am instructed to assure you that all necessary provisions will be placed aboard immediately you restore command of the steamship Komagata Maru to her rightful Captain Yamamoto. I am further to say that the government regrets to note that you have been guilty of a very serious and grave offense against the laws of Canada. First in resisting the orders of the Immigration Control authority, secondly in taking away from the Captain control of his ship and by preventing him from getting up steam on his vessel. Thirdly, by violently resisting and obstructing the peace officers in the performance of their duties. The government regrets that unless you now submit, that it will be necessary to forthwith take steps to enforce the law."


From left to right, Inspector Reid, H.H. Stevens and Capt. Walter Hose speak to another government official aboard the HMCS Rainbow.
Rainbow escorted her from the harbor, through the straits of Juan de Fuca and into the Pacific Ocean before returning home to Esquimalt. It is unsure if Walter Hose ever knew that upon their return to India almost 20 of the men aboard would be gunned down by local police but as it turned out, he soon had much larger problems to worry about in the coming days.
 
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Thanks for reminding us of this painful episode in our history (one of many), they need to be remembered lest we fall into the trap of thinking we're above such behaviour.
 
Thanks for reminding us of this painful episode in our history (one of many), they need to be remembered lest we fall into the trap of thinking we're above such behaviour.
Well said, it took me a bit longer than usual to write this chapter however, I found a wealth of photos and primary source documents so I wanted to incorporate them into this chapter. There was a frustratingly large amount of period newspapers, journals and other sources which were so sensationalized past the point of ridiculousness. I guess it just shows that somethings never change with the media. I still had issues finding photos of Commander Hose during the incident, he was quite the photo shy ghost in our timelime.
 
There was a frustratingly large amount of period newspapers, journals and other sources which were so sensationalized past the point of ridiculousness. I guess it just shows that somethings never change with the media.
One always has to remember that the primary business of the media is not news, it's selling advertising. Sensational headlines lead to more people buying the paper leading to higher advertising rates resulting in bigger profits.
 
This was the golden age of 'Yellow Journalism', when Hurst practically took credit for the Spanish-American War over their coverage of the USS Maine incident.

As an aside, I've heard the second half of the 20th Century (between 1945 and 1980, anyway) described as the 'hangover after two centuries of binging on nationalistic racial chauvinism'. They're still snorting lines of straight Racial Purity before the war breaks out, like they're terrified even the smell of food with cumin in it will erode their Christian Values. All joking aside it's a shameful part of our history that needs to be remembered.
 
very interesting chapter, i was not aware of this incident whatsoever. apparently this was not the only time this happened but before on another maru named ship, the immigrants actually got through! the racism of the time is not perticularly surprising and as graham stated above, it's good to discuss these things civilly.


short little video i found on the subject. i cant wait until we get into world war one, seems so close. we have been teased by the intro chapter for so long, lets see what the little rainbow can do.
 
Obviously I won't be spoiling such a plot point however, I will say that the fate of Hose in our own timeline was directly tied to the survival of the RCN. This timeline may be an entirely different beast as there could be others to take his place however, I will leave that to the imagination of the readers. I have been trying to hunt down an accurate crew number for Rainbow for quite sometime to verify that 135 number as accurate, so that initial posted casualty list might need some touching up as it was made before I found some more insightful resources. Thanks for reminding me to look into that.
Aug15, the sloops HMS Shearwater and HMS Algerine had arrived back at Esquimalt, tied up, and their Royal Navy crews were sent to Halifax to crew the HMCS Niobe. It is implied that Hose picked off some at Esquimalt to fill out the crew of the Rainbow and the submarines, to serve alongside reservists, but I can not find numbers or even any quote that this happened at all, expect that Captain Trousdale of the Shearwater took over as Ranking Naval Officer of Esquimalt Dockyard sometime around this date.

The Naval Service of Canada, Volume One, Gilbert Norman Tucker, Kings Printer, 1952, p 279. says "By the end of October 1914 (Rainbow) had 251 officers and men aboard. Of this total, 8 Officers and 45 Ratings belonged to the RN, 5 Officers and 139 Ratings to the RCN, and 2 Officers and 52 Men to the RNCVR." Footnoted as Hose to NSHQ, Oct 31, 1914, NS1-1-19.

This is a full 2 months after Rainbow sailed down to San Francisco, and she had any number of visits to Esquimalt in the intervening time, so when those crew members were added is unclear.
 
The Naval Service of Canada, Volume One, Gilbert Norman Tucker, Kings Printer, 1952, p 279. says "By the end of October 1914 (Rainbow) had 251 officers and men aboard. Of this total, 8 Officers and 45 Ratings belonged to the RN, 5 Officers and 139 Ratings to the RCN, and 2 Officers and 52 Men to the RNCVR." Footnoted as Hose to NSHQ, Oct 31, 1914, NS1-1-19.

This is a full 2 months after Rainbow sailed down to San Francisco, and she had any number of visits to Esquimalt in the intervening time, so when those crew members were added is unclear.
That does make sense given the much more ample supply of officers, men and volunteers as the war ramped up. My findings on Rainbow's initial crew count come from OFFICIAL HISTORY OF THE CANADIAN FORCES IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-1919, GENERAL SERIES VOL. I, CHRONOLOGY, APPENDICES AND MAPS in which it states,

"On the same day the Rainbow reported herself as 'ready for sea.' The term was relative only: for her class in the Royal Navy the authorized complement was 273, though under Canadian naval regulations the reduced figure of 229 had been fixed. But after securing every available man, including the Niobe's detachment, she had only 121. Of these, 44 were members of the newly organized R.N.C.V.R., many of whom had had no sea experience and knew nothing of naval work. Important essentials in the equipment of a fighting ship were also lacking; she had no high explosive ammunition, and her wireless equipment was limited to a night range of two hundred miles. Her sea speed was about 16 knots, considerably below that of any hostile vessel she was likely to meet."

The same piece of literature lists Rainbow's compliment before the addition of Niobe's crew and the Reservists as a mere 47 enlisted men, not including the cadre of officers. I can't imagine she could have effectively operated her full suite of weapons with such a skeleton crew in place, even before her worn machinery and ancient shells. Apparently her steam joints in the machinery were actively leaking, further complicating the condition of her internals. Rainbow was lucky beyond belief in our timeline and yours as well, in my own that will not be the case.

On another note, I am quite happy I got to cover the Komagata Maru incident in such detail with the sources I found. I was only vaguely familiar with the events before I started my timeline, so it's always nice learning about important historical moments like that. It was especially interesting reading Hose's plans for how to deal with the situation. While we will never know what he directly thought, I think you did a fair job with his general attitude. I quite appreciate the additional info!
 
Calm Before the Storm
As with every year under the Borden Government, 1914 was yet another bleak period in the history of the Canadian Naval Service. No better can this be seen than within a memo written by Rear Admiral Kingsmill to the Naval Minister Desbarats.

“Although at the present stage of naval defense, it does not seem to be an important matter, it would be as well to lay down now what would happen should we in the future inaugurate a naval service which would be able to carry out its responsibilities.”

Even though the current service was languishing in disrepair, Kingsmill saw it important to update the war plans of the Naval Service in the event that they would be needed and hopefully, could be acted upon later by a new or more competent force. In regard to said war plans and the current navy, Kingsmill found himself in a rather annoying predicament. If any kind of war were declared, the only 2 capable warships, Niobe and Rainbow, would be almost certainly placed in the hands of the Admiralty under section 23 of the Naval Service Act. This would mean that Canada would be left without any actual warships in its direct command and would have to adjust the war plans accordingly. In order to rectify this, the Navy would take over all Fisheries Protection ships and other suitable government vessels for port examination and other services. CGS Petrel, Constance and Gulnare were earmarked for minesweeping duties while CGS Canada, Curlew and Vigilant were put aside for patrol duties in and around vital ports. Once a state of war would be anticipated, Ottawa would put into action their war plan. This consisted of but was not limited to placing examination services at defended ports like Esquimalt and Halifax, defending key wireless stations, implementing media blackouts, garrisoning various port towns with Militia forces, locating neutral and enemy ships and collecting intelligence. The Fisheries department would be placed in a partial role of assisting the examination service but as one can tell by the depth of this scheme, Canada’s naval plans were not much more than babysitting of its own coast. Halifax in particular as the main port on the East Coast required the setting up of a heavy submarine net, buoys, blocking of various excess passages into the harbor and general patrolling of internal/external traffic. The main role of the examination service was to identify enemy ships (specifically not vessels of war) and deny them access to the harbors. With the state of the ships potentially at their disposal though, it is unlikely the ships themselves could stop any enemy forces.

The examination service’s role was described as “In effecting this object [the examination service is] to avoid unnecessary restrictions on vessels using this port, such as would interfere with its full use, or would tend to deter shipping from using it. The passage through the defenses of vessels which are recognized as friendly should therefore be expedited as far as possible. Incoming merchant vessels will be admitted to the examination anchorage at all times of the day and night, but when the port is closed no merchant vessels, except fleet auxiliaries and army transports, will be permitted to leave the anchorage for the purposes of entering the port. Incoming merchant vessels will, in the absence of the previous instructions from the examining steamer, proceed to the examination anchorage and there anchor.”

Halifax was the most heavily defended port, being one of the primary Royal Navy ports in the Atlantic for many years. It’s naturally narrowing harbor and multi-sided defenses provided it protection against anything up to and perhaps even including older capital ships. The following map and chart showcases the layout of the port defenses.



Note that the Eastern Passage was blocked during wartime conditions, forcing any ships down the well protected main harbor channel. Connaught Battery is listed above however, other sources do not list the weapons stationed there. As this map is clearly labeled 1917-1918, the 'not manned' batteries are because of lowered readiness standards and were manned at the beginning to middle of the war.

Esquimalt on the other hand, was not so lucky in any aspect. Lacking the long coordinator like harbor of its east coast counterpart and a fair fewer examination ships to take over, Esquimalt, Vancouver and Victoria were all rather vulnerable. The following map shows the layout of their defenses.


It should be noted that the 9.2" guns were not initially fitted and were left rusting in a ditch when the Royal Navy departed, overall ammunition stocks were rather limited. The 6" guns are also in disappearing mounts which lowers their overall effectiveness.

In the end, this choice to rather quickly draw up even the limited defensive scheme proved to be extremely fortunate. The various civilian and naval personnel involved worked extremely diligently to finish the preparations quickly as it seemed Europe was falling apart, especially Lieutenant R.M.T. Stephens. The sections of the government war book pertaining to the navy was completed at the end of July 29 and just as they were coming across the desk of Minister Desbarats to be signed, a telephone call warning of an impending vital telegram came through from London. Said telegram read as such,


Secret and Immediate.

From Ottawa, 29 July 1914.

Honorable Minister Desberats, I have the honor to inform you that His Royal Highness the Governor General has received this afternoon the following secret cipher telegram from the Secretary of State for the Colonies. This such telegram states, "See Preface Defense Scheme. Adopt precautionary stage. Names of Powers will be communicated later if necessary." The meaning of this warning telegram is that relations with (the powers whose names are to be communicated later if necessary) have become so strained that, in the opinion of His Majesty's Government it is expedient to adopt such precautions against possible surprise attack and such limited preparations in anticipation of war as are laid down for the precautionary stage of defense schemes.

Signed Joseph Pope.

Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs.

The Deputy Minister, Department of Militia and Defense, Ottawa.


Upon the receiving of this telegram and a flick of a pen, the naval war plan was signed and thereby underway. Prime Minister Borden was initially caught off guard and had to urgently travel back to Ottawa from a summer holiday in Ontario. Upon his return on August 1, an urgent Cabinet meeting was held and the following message was conveyed to London.

“The firm assistance that if any unhappily war should ensue, the Canadian people will be united in a common resolve to put fourth every effort and to make every sacrifice necessary to ensure the integrity and maintain the honor of our Empire. We welcome any suggestions and advice which the imperial naval and military authorities may deem it expedient to offer Canada on the most effective form of the nation’s military contribution.”

It seems that Laurier's old adage of "when Britain is at war, Canada is at war" rung true to all non-Quebec politicians all across Canada. The response from Borden was quick and expected as on August 4, he signed an order in council releasing Niobe and Rainbow into RN service.

"The committee of the privy council have had before them a report, dated 4th August, 1914, from the Minister of the Naval Service, submitting that section 23 of the Naval Service Act, Chapter 43 of the statutes of 1910 provides that:

In case of an emergency, the Governor in council may place at the disposal of his majesty, for general service in the Royal Navy, the Naval Service or any part thereof, any ships or vessels of the Naval Service, and officers and seamen serving in such ships or vessels, or any officers or seamen belonging to the Naval Service.

An emergency having arisen, the Minister recommends that HMCS Niobe and HMCS Rainbow, together with the officers and seamen serving in such vessels, be placed at the disposal of His Majesty for general service in the Royal Navy. The committee concur in the foregoing recommendation and submit the same for approval."


Even as Niobe was placed in the service of the Royal Navy, her previous years of decay and inaction would require significant time to remedy should the ship be put to sea once again. This left the plucky Rainbow as the only warship present in the Royal Canadian Navy which was ready for immediate duty, even though 'ready' was somewhat of an optimistic evaluation. Regardless, Canada always made do and make do once again they would.



One of the highest quality and most well known photos of HMCS Rainbow during her service with the Royal Canadian Navy.
 
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the coastal defense difference between the west and east coast is rather interesting but i think you forgot some small details. if i recall, the 6 inch guns on the west coast are put in disappearing mounts which lowers thier effectiveness overall and the 9.2 inch guns were not mounted and were left to rust in a ditch until the beginning of the war but even then pair lacked a lot of ammunition and proper fire control gear.

the anticipation for rainbows final battle is really getting there, i wonder if she will go down without much of a fight or she might wound leipzig fairly well?
 
the coastal defense difference between the west and east coast is rather interesting but i think you forgot some small details. if i recall, the 6 inch guns on the west coast are put in disappearing mounts which lowers thier effectiveness overall and the 9.2 inch guns were not mounted and were left to rust in a ditch until the beginning of the war but even then pair lacked a lot of ammunition and proper fire control gear.

the anticipation for rainbows final battle is really getting there, i wonder if she will go down without much of a fight or she might wound leipzig fairly well?
Apologies for missing those details, I will add them into the chapter. You'll get a chance to see soon :)
 
Prepare for Active Service
August 3, 1914. Esquimalt Navy Base, British Columbia.

Commander Walter Hose tapped his fingers across the cabins old sea desk, it’s scratched and worn surface hidden by the various piles of paper strewn about. He had tried to get a fair nights rest previously but with everything on his mind, that was an exercise in futility. There was usually enough paperwork to go around but ever since the Komagata Maru incident, there was not a moment of brevity to spare. With the events in Europe rapidly spiraling into full scale war, Hose was sent the war warning telegraph back on July 29 and not even a few days later on August 1, Naval Service Headquarters sent him a message that he never wished to see.

“PREPARE RAINBOW FOR ACTIVE SERVICE TRADE PROTECTION GRAIN SHIPS GOING SOUTH. GERMAN CRUISER NURNBERG OR LEIPZIG IS ON WEST COAST AMERICA. OBTAIN ALL INFORMATION AVAILABLE AS TO MERCHANT SHIPS SAILING FROM CANADIAN OR UNITED STATES PORTS. ORDNANCE STORES TO BE COMPLETE TO FULLEST CAPACITY.”

Only a day later on August 2, Hose received a direct telegram from the British Admiralty. He had expected something along these lines to happen alongside the bureaucratic tug of war both nations would have over his ship but even so, the contents of the message surprised him somewhat.

“GERMAN CRUISER LEIPZIG REPORTED DEPARTING MAZATLAN MEXICO MORNING OF JULY 30. RAINBOW TO PROCEED SOUTH AT ONCE IN ORDER TO GET IN TOUCH WITH LEIPZIG AND GENERALLY GUARD THE TRADE ROUTES NORTH OF THE EQUATOR.”

Hose had heard nothing from NSHQ regarding himself and his ship being placed under Admiralty control at such a point and therefore, spent half an hour contemplating his response. He had decided to forward the message to NSHQ with a request for any instructions. Attached was his own message laying out a realistic scheme he had stormed up in his office.

“With reference to Admiralty telegram submitted Rainbow may remain in the vicinity Cape Flattery until more accurate information is received Leipzig, observing that in the event of Leipzig appearing Cape Flattery with Rainbow 1,200 miles distant and receiving no communications, the Pacific cable, Pachena WT station, and ships entering straits at mercy of Leipzig with opportunity to coal from prizes. Vessels working up the west coast of America could easily be warned to adhere closely to territorial waters as far as possible. Inquiry being made Leipzig through our consul.”

NSHQ were not staffed with incompetent or stupid people, Hose knew this firsthand. It seemed though that judging by their response, they were somewhat timid in opposing Admiralty orders. Their reply was somewhat messy but had allowed Hose the freedom he wanted to utilize his original plan.

“PROCEED TO SEA FORTHWITH TO GUARD TRADE ROUTES NORTH OF EQUATOR. KEEP IN TOUCH WITH THE PACHENA WIRELESS STATION UNTIL WAR HAS BEEN DECLARED.”

Rainbow’s
wireless set had seen better days and even with the utmost diligence of her crew, it’s range of 200 miles in absolute perfect conditions effectively meant that the NSHQ orders limited him to the vicinity of the Juan de Fuca Strait. His original proposal would have to do as a battle plan for the moment but as he looked out into the vast sea of paper, the anxiety within him clawed it’s way upwards. The July 29 warning had required him to report the condition of his ship but to everybody and especially himself, all of her flaws were all too familiar. Besides the aforementioned wireless set, Rainbow’s aging machinery was rather worn. On their way from Vancouver days before, Hose had ordered the ship slowly to increase speed until they were operating at maximum revolutions. The ship had not stayed at this state for long as leaks in her steam joints and increasing temperatures of the machinery caused Hose to avert the test. Rainbow had made a consistent 15 knots for roughly an hour, far below her designed speed of 18.5 to 20 knots. The stocks of ordnance he had been ordered to take aboard were of questionable value, consisting entirely of vintage gunpowder filled shells from the base’s ancient magazines. The navy did have new lyddite shells in it’s inventory but yet again in some sort of sick cosmic twist of fate, they all were ear marked for HMCS Niobe and stored on the East Coast. The guns themselves were out ranged by the more modern weapons of Leipzig and Nurnberg, even if his shells worked in the first place.

The final and most pressing concern was that of manpower. Rainbow’s official compliment in Royal Navy service had been 273. This had been reduced in Canadian service to 229 and currently, his compliment consisted of 122. Half the already reduced compliment. To make matters worse, large portions of this crew consisted of inexperienced volunteer reservists that varied in age all the way down to 16 years old. Hose had personally played a key role in both encouraging and training these men, both young and old. In any other situation, he would have put them ashore almost instantly in exchange for properly trained men but he could not afford such luxuries now. These men looked up to him for leading them even before they were official placed under his command, hauling them off on what amounted to a likely suicide mission did not weigh lightly on his mind. With such low numbers of crew, Hose was not completely sure if he could both operate his ships full battery and completely man the machinery spaces, let alone attempt any remotely effective damage control measures.

As the weary officer began to organize and clear the mess from his desk, his glance eventually wondered onto a letter addressed to him from Inspector Reid.

“Now that matters in connection with the Komagata Maru have come to a satisfactory conclusion, I wish to express to you and your Officers and men, and also all who are in anywise concerned with your coming to Vancouver to render the assistance you did, my appreciation of the great difficulties you overcame in arriving at Vancouver so speedily, as well as the courtesies you extended when in Vancouver, and also prior to that to my assistant Mr. Howard and the Departments Solicitor, Mr W.H.D. Ladner. Knowing as I do the fact that your vessel was in the condition she was, I wish that you would communicate to all who so readily assisted you, the knowledge of the fact that the authorities are fully aware of the tremendous amount of detail work that had to be done and appreciate the spirit in which the need of the Immigration Department was answered.”

Just through his pompous yet disjointed style of writing, Hose could imagine the proud face of the inspector as he saw those men back off to whatever hell hole they came from. The thought deeply bothered Hose that if he himself had not been born at sea to such a family as his own, he might have been one of the men starving away on that rusty tramp steamer in Vancouver. He would never forget the one Indian man standing in the superstructure as he sent the semaphore, “Our only weapons are coal.” The burning sense of shame still twinged through him as he recounted looking into the weathered faces of those men, alongside the Inspector as the verdict was delivered. The event had definitely been a low point in his career, although what he was about to embark on did not seem especially fruitful either. Perhaps that was not the correct frame of mind. The people of British Columbia would soon be vulnerable to any sort of German caused destruction and Rainbow was the only ship immediately available to stop or hinder such events from happening. It was the least he could do for a province which was so kind and welcoming to the navy as a whole. They were shielded far away from the political squabbles of the East Coast, although not from their repercussions. Even with that being said, Hose had a duty to his crew as much as the people ashore. He would not throw their lives away needlessly. As the Commander fixed his cap and made for the door, he glanced back for just a moment to the framed photograph of his wife and three children sitting behind his desk.

Rainbow would depart shortly after sunrise that morning, headed for her patrol area along the coast of Washington.


A number of Rainbow's motley crew posing for a photo sometime in 1914.
 
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