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Bernays, Max Leopold

Date of birth:
1910 (Vancouver/British Columbia, Canada)
Canadian (1931-present, Constitutional Monarchy)


Service number A-321.

Max Bernays went to sea at an early age with the merchant marine and joined the Royal Canadian Navy's Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR) in 1929. During the 1930's, he served with Canadian National Steamships.
Recalled by the RCN at the outbreak of the Second World War, he had achieved the rank of Acting Chief Petty Officer by March 1942 when he was elevated to coxswain of Assiniboine, a River-class destroyer. In late July 1942, Assiniboine was assigned to protect a convoy from Sydney, Nova Scotia to Liverpool anin thick fog stumbled on U-210 running on the surface off Iceland. The novice crew threw itselves into the ensuing battle. Fo hours the submarine tried to dive and at one point, the two boats were so close, that the Assiniboine only could fire with their .50 calibre guns. Finally the u-boat tried to dive again and the Assiniboine ramed the submarine. During the fighting, Bernays was at the helm.
After the war, Bernays stayed in the RCN and served in the Korean war.
Medals held by the Canadian War Museum and on display at the CFB Esquimault Museum

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Second World War (1939-1945)
Chief Petty Officer
Awarded on:
December 12th, 1942
"For valour and dauntless devotion to duty. Acting Chief Petty Officer Bernays was steering the HMCS Assiniboine during an action at close range with an enemy U­boat. A fire caused by enemy shells broke out on the flag deck, compelling the telegraphmen to leave the wheelhouse leaving A/CPO Bernays alone. With complete disregard for his own safety, with flames and smoke obscuring his only exit, with enemy explosive shell fragments entering the wheelhouse, this comparatively young rating remained at this post for nearly forty minutes. Appreciating the crucial importance of his duties in an action, the success of which depended in a large measure on the precise steering of the ship and execution of telegraph orders, he not only carried out exactly and effectively all the helm orders but also dispatched 133 telegraph orders, necessary to accomplish the destruction of the U­Boat. The final success of the sinking of the U­Boat was largely due to the high courage and determination of A/CPO Max Leopold Bernays who, in circumstances of the gravest personal danger carried out not only his own, but two other ratings' duties in exemplary fashion. His conduct throughout the action added another incident of the utmost bravery to the annals of the Royal Canadian Navy."
This was originally submitted as a Victoria Cross recommendation.
Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM)
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
September 27th, 1943
Naval Long Service and Good Conduct Medal
Second World War (1939-1945)
Atlantic Star