Paying respect to those who served during the Battle of the Atlantic
By Virginia Beaton,
“It was a no-fail mission.”
Failure was not an option during the Battle of the Atlantic, according to RAdm Art McDonald, Deputy Commander Royal Canadian Navy.
In his remarks during the annual Battle of the Atlantic Sunday l ceremony on Sunday, May 5 at the Sailors Memorial in Point Pleasant Park, RAdm McDonald reminded his listeners that the Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous battle during the Second World War.
He emphasized what he referred to as the “tenacity, grit and determination of our veterans, shipmates of yesteryear.”
RAdm McDonald added that the ceremony honoured not only members of the Royal Canadian Navy, but also RCAF personnel and the members of Canada’s merchant navy who participated in the dozens of convoys that delivered food and other cargo to embattled Britain and the rest of Europe. RAdm McDonald listed the statistics that show the dangers of the conflict, and the high price that was paid: 24 RCN ships were lost, 62 Canadian merchant ships lost, more than 2,700 Navy and RCAF personnel were killed, as were more than 1,600 merchant navy sailors.
Despite those challenges, by the end of the war, Canada’s Navy had expanded to more than 373 ships and 100,000 sailors by the end of the war, becoming the third largest navy in the world. RAdm McDonald also acknowledged the massive shipbuilding effort in Canadian shipyards that contributed to that growth.
Since that time, Canada’s Navy has continued to respond to the call in times of Need, noted RAdm McDonald, naming the Korean War, the first Gulf War, and the post-911 missions as examples of those responses. Currently, he stated, HMCS Regina and NRU Asterix are deployed on Op ARTEMIS, in which Regina just made her fourth seizure of illicit drugs.
“We are inspired and motivated by our history,” said RAdm McDonald.
As the list of the 24 RCN ships lost during the Battle of the Atlantic, the bell tolled for each ship. LCol (ret’d) Bud Berntson read the list of RCAF squadrons that participated in the Battle of the Atlantic, and Capt (ret’d) Earle Wagner, a wartime member of the merchant navy, read out the list of Canadian merchant navy ships lost during the battle.
Just offshore, HMCS Ville de Quebec held its shipboard ceremony which included several burials at sea.
A Cyclone helicopter did a flypast, dropping a wreath in honour of the fallen.
There were many wreaths laid at the memorial, the first one by His Honour the Honourable Arthur LeBlanc, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs, also laid a wreath, on behalf of the Canadian Government, and the Honourable Lena Diab, Minister of Immigration and Minister of Acadian Affairs and Francophonie, laid a wreath on behalf of the Government of Nova Scotia.
Other entities also laying wreaths included MARLANT, Halifax Regional Municipality, 5th Candian Division, 12 Wing Shearwater, HMCS Scotian, the Navy League of Canada, the Royal Canadian Naval Benevolent Fund, and many more.