Commander George Nigel
George Nigel Bruce was born on January 17, 1891 and was one of St. Andrew’s original students. He was a student for only one academic year before moving to Toronto public schools and various trade schools. He held a variety of jobs such as a government surveyor, clerk at the Imperial Bank of Canada and a Bond salesman for the Royal Securities Corporation. When war broke out in 1914 he was a student at the University of Toronto; in October he enlisted in the Queen’s Own Rifles as a Private.
He was appointed a Probationary Flight Sub-Lieutenant in March 1915 and traveled to UK for training. In December he started flying out of RNAS Chingford. He continued to fly until May 1916 when he was grounded due to an illness and he decided to transfer back into the army, becoming a 2/Lt of RFA, serving with the 63rd brigade, 12th division until February 1918.
In early 1918 he was asked to volunteer to transfer to the RNVR because they were in need of those trained in navigation and gunnery. He attended a basic training class at HMS Hermonie before being dispatched to Taranto, Italy where he served aboard a motor launch conducting minesweeping and submarine hunting operations. On one occasion his division of six Motor Launches sank a U-boat after a 20-hour hunt. By the time of his demobilization in 1920 he was in command of his own launch based in Mudros.
After his return to Canada in 1920 he formed his own investment services company, counseling American investors interested in Canadian businesses. At some point he sold his business to HB Housser and Company, but continued to work for them. In his spare time he organized and commanded the Windsor Sea Cadet detachment and resigned in 1937 after 12 years of work.
When the Second World War began, he resigned from his job in the investment business and enlisted in the RCN on July 6, 1940 and was given the rank of Lieutenant. He first attended a 2-month refresher class at HMCS Stadacona before being appointed CO of HMCS Hunter in Windsor that October. He would remain here for two years, tasked with recruiting sailors and conducting diesel engine training.
In October 1942, now a Lieutenant Commander, he was appointed CO of HMCS Avalon II, a depot ship in Newfoundland and served on various officer selection boards. He remained there for almost a year before being transferred to the staff of the chief naval officer in Newfoundland.
His last post during the war was as Training Officer at HMCS Avalon. After the war ended he was again transferred to HMCS Cornwallis and promoted to Commander. He was appointed OIC of the officer discharge depot, supervising the demobilization of officers who served in the North Atlantic and European theaters.
Though he spent most of his 5 years’ active duty ashore, he did log 6 weeks at sea aboard HMCS Columbia (a destroyer) and HMCS Hepatica (a corvette) conducting anti-submarine warfare.
He was demobilized in October 1945 and found employment as the Chief Administrative Officer at Westminster Hospital in London. It was a 1550-bed facility covering over 600 acres. He also returned to command the Windsor detachment of RCSC from 1945-55.Bruce died in London, Ontario on November 7, 1982.