A native of Ottawa, Fred Sherwood joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1933 and was one of 27 Canadians who volunteered for service in British submarines during World War Two.
"The doctor who examined me [for submarine service] looked as if he'd had a very bad night. He had a box with scraps of red and green wool. He told me to pick out the green ones, then congratulated me. I passed."
In 1940, Fred Sherwood and J. D. Woods were the first two Canadian Naval Reservists to take the submarine officer training course. On completion, they were offered a choice of postings - home waters (North Atlantic) or the Mediterranean. They flipped for it, and Freddie ended up staying home while his classmate shipped out to Alexandria, Egypt. As it turns out, J. D. Woods made one particularly unpleasant patrol and decided submarines were not for him.
LCdr Sherwood served as Watchkeeping Officer in HMS SEALION from 1940 to August 1941; as First Lieutenant in HMS L23 from August 1941 to January 1942; and as First Lieutenant in HMS P211 (later renamed SAFARI) from January to November 1942. It was while operating in the Mediterranean around Malta that he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for "courage and skill in successful submarine patrols".
In December, 1942, he completed the legendary 'Perisher' - the Royal Navy Submarine Command Course so named because it had a failure rate of 40-60%. Pass, and you were guaranteed to get a submarine command. Fail, and you were immediately returned to surface ships never to see the inside of a submarine again. On graduation, he became Commanding Officer of HMS P556 (aka 'The Reluctant Dragon', because frequently she didn't want to dive!), from March to June 1943, then CO of HMS SPITEFUL from July 21, 1943 to July 24, 1946.
Under his command, SPITEFUL completed the three longest patrols for a S-boat at the time, sinking multiple Japanese ships. By April, 1945, SPITEFUL had bombarded installations on the Andaman Islands and Christmas Island. "Just to keep them on their toes."
Fred, and his future wife Mary (herself a cipher clerk at Allied Headquarters in Burma), married in Santiago, Chile in 1947 and spent many happy decades together.
In 2010, a dinner was held for Canadian Perisher graduates and submarine CO's. There, LCdr Fred Sherwood sat across from LCdr Alex Kooiman - the oldest and newest Canadian Perisher graduates, sixty-five years apart. In July, 2011, the Victoria Submarine Command Team Trainer, part of the Canadian Forces Naval Operations School in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was named after him. In the words of CANFLTLANT at the time, Commodore Larry Hickey, himself a graduate of Perisher, "We honour a fine submarine officer who was tested in war, and who delivered the goods. The Command Team Traniner named in his honour ensures that Fred Sherwood will not be forgotten by the Navy writ large, and more importantly, by the Canadian submarine community."
On the 14th of May, 2013, Fred Sherwood passed away peacefully in Ottawa, Ontario. In the words of his son, Tim Sherwood - "He was many things to many people during his life, but he was always a submariner in his heart."