James Edward Stuart Brennan 1914 – 1943

James Brennan was born about 1914 in Aylesford, Nova Scotia, the son of Herman Percy Brennan and Mabel E Cochrane.  His father was a painter.   On 30 October, 1934, James married Florence Kathleen Hodges, daughter of Herman Harold Hodges and Edith May Keddy.  The marriage license lists James’ occupation as engineer.    

During World War II, James served in the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve.  He was an engine room artificer and worked on the ship’s engines and boilers.  He was assigned to the HMCS St. Croix.  This destroyer was originally called the USS McCook, and launched in 1919.  At the beginning of World War 2, she was exchanged to Great Britain in under the Destroyers for Bases Agreement, which just as it sounds, transferred 50 destroyers from the US Navy in exchange for land rights on British possessions.  The ship sailed to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was immediately retransferred from the Royal Navy to the Canadian Navy.  Canadian destroyers were named after Canadian Rivers, but in recognition of the ship’s US origin, this one was named the St. Croix, for the river forming the border between New Brunswick and Maine.   

The St. Croix performed escort and patrol duties in Canadian waters, then between Newfoundland and Iceland, and eventually to Europe, sinking U-boats that were attacking the convoys.  In September, 1943, the St. Croix went to the defense of convoys being attacked by German submarines.  The St. Croix was hit three times in the stern, and sank.  The HMS Itchen picked up 81 survivors from the St. Croix, but the next day, the Itchen was torpedoed, and only three men were rescued, with one being from the St. Croix. 

James Brennan died on September 20, 1943, when the St. Croix was sunk in the Bay of Biscay.   He is listed on the Halifax Memorial in Nova Scotia.

James’ widow did not remarry.  She was active in the Royal Canadian Legion Auxiliary.  She died in 2005.  Her obituary mentions a son James and his wife living in Ontario, and a daughter-in-law in Aylesford, so James had at least one, and maybe two sons.



  1. Janis said,

    May 6, 2015 at 18:44

    Who are you and how do you know my family? I have just recently begun to research my family but I am new at it.

  2. Deborah L. V. Campo said,

    November 10, 2016 at 22:11

    My Grandfather James Edward Stuart Brennan that you mention in this history page did not have two sons. My Father was his only son. The daughter in law you mention is my mother who happened to be my fathers wife.

    • sooze471 said,

      November 11, 2016 at 03:31

      Thanks for the correction. How appropriate that it should come on Veteran’s Day. Newspapers.com has the Ottawa Journal from Friday, Oct 1, 1943, which includes the story of the sinking of the St. Croix. If you are not a subscriber, I’d be happy to send the page to you if you are interested.

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