Harry George De WolfCBE DSC DSO was born at Bedford Nova Scotia. He entered the fledgling Canadian Navy during WWI when he was just 15. After studying at naval colleges in both Canada and Britain he began his march up through the ranks.
When WW2 broke out DeWolf was named commanding officer of HMCS St. Laurent. The destroyer was on convoy duty when it was ordered to England to help evacuate British and French troops from France. In August 1943 De Wolf was named commanding officer of the newly commissioned HMCS Haida, a tribal class destroyer with a crew of 275 officers and men.
One of the most gallant but painful chapters in his career came in 1944 when HMCS Athabaskan, Haida’s sister ship, was torpedoed in the English Channel with the loss of 128 sailors. Under De Wolf's command, the Haida simultaneously fought two German destroyers before returning to rescue 42 Athabaskan survivors. The Haida spent more than 20 perilous minutes before De Wolf decided it was time to leave the dangerous waters in order to guarantee the safety of his own crew.
Under his command, Haida known as the"fightingest ship in the Royal Canadian Navy" was responsible for sinking or damaging 14 German ships in the English Channel during 1944.
After the war De Wolf remained in the navy and before he retired in July 1960 he had been appointed Chief of Naval Staff, with the rank of Vice Admiral. Despite beingCanada’s most decorated sailor, De Wolf was a highly respected modest and unassuming man.
His awards include theDistinguished Service Order (DSO) and the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC). He was also named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). France conferred on him the Cross of the Legion of Honour and Norway awarded him the King Haakon VII Cross of Liberation.
In 1931 he married Gwendolen Gilbert of Somerset Bermuda, with whom he had a daughter, Suzette, and a son, James. He passed away in Ottawa in December 2000.