HMCS Goose Bay gunshield art inspired by Second World War ships

Navy News / September 14, 2021

By Joanie Veitch

A Royal Canadian Navy sailor has created a lasting artistic legacy on board Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Goose Bay.

Drawing inspiration from the ship’s name and old war movies he saw as young boy with his father, Sailor 1st Class (S1) Ron Hiscock has created a striking piece of gunshield art, an art form that became popular during the Second World War most notably on the Canadian Flower-class corvettes.

Similar to the “nose art” painted on the fuselage of aircraft during the First and Second World Wars, ships’ crews began painting cartoon-style designs on their ship’s gunshield, often coming up with artwork that played on the ship’s name.

“I have always liked the way the crew of military vehicles would paint a picture on them for luck, or to show how proud they were as a team,” said S1 Hiscock. “Being a person who likes to draw and paint, they always appealed to me.”

Based out of Montreal’s Naval Reserve Division, HMCS Donnacona, S1 Hiscock was posted to Goose Bay in September 2020 while he went through training for his Marine Technician (Mar Tech) trade A-ticket Roundsman qualification.

Hearing the ship often referred to as “The Mighty Goose Bay,” an image of a cartoon version of the Canada goose image on the ship’s badge began to form in his mind. After thinking more about the history of gunshield art on board Navy ships during the war, the idea of painting something in that style began to take shape.

“I had lots of time to kill living in Tribute Tower in a pandemic,” S1 Hiscock laughed.

Drawing and painting has always been a part of S1 Hiscock’s life. After studying Creative Arts at Dawson College in Montreal, he went on to do a Classical Animation program at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont. He worked for many years on well-known children’s television animation series, such as Arthur and The Busy World of Richard Scarry.

Most recently, he worked as a technician in the Media Arts department at Champlain College in Quebec, helping teachers and students with their arts projects, before becoming a full-time reservist five years ago and fulfilling a long-held dream.

“I always had great respect for individuals who chose to serve their country and community in the Canadian Armed Forces. I almost joined up straight out of high school, but I chickened out,” he said.

The desire stayed with him but “life kept getting in the way” until his 45th birthday, when it struck him that if he didn’t at least give it a go, he would regret it.

“I figured if I tried and could not do it, then I’d deal with that…but I had to try. So at age 47 I joined up, and I have enjoyed every minute and challenge ever since.”

Taking on the challenge of the art piece was a fun project, S1 Hiscock said, explaining how he began sketching some ideas for a design for the gunshield piece to take to his shipmates in the engineering department for feedback on what they liked — and didn’t like — about each one.

Once he’d settled on a final idea, he took the drawing to the ship’s Coxswain and the ship’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Daniel Rice, to see if they would approve it.

Getting an enthusiastic green light from Goose Bay’s Command Team, S1 Hiscock got to work on his project. He measured a board to fit the mount on Goose Bay’s foc’sle, painted it ship grey for background and then worked on the main “Mighty Goose Bay” image.

The whole project took place over three days in late May, at the end of S1 Hiscock’s contract.

“Everyone seemed to like it,” he said. “The reaction has been great and I’d like to give the crew of Goose Bay a thank you for everything we did together over the last eight months.”