A memorial for the Battle of the Atlantic
By Virginia Beaton,
During the Battle of the Atlantic Sunday ceremony held at Point Pleasant Park in Halifax, a Cyclone helicopter and an Aurora long range patrol aircraft flew overhead.
Standing in the harbour just off the park, HMCS Halifax conducted a ceremony including the committal of ashes at sea.
Ashore at the Sailors’ Memorial, a large crowd gathered to commemorate those who served and those who were lost during the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest campaign of the Second World War. Engraved on the Sailors’ Memorial are the names of those who were lost but as became obvious during the ceremony, they have never been forgotten.
RAdm John Newton, former Commander JTFA and MARLANT, was presiding officer at the ceremony and he noted that each year, the Battle of the Atlantic ceremony is an opportunity to remember and to learn. He observed that during a recent cross-Canada car trip, he had seen up close the names of many towns and villages whose names were embodied in Royal Canadian Navy ships from the Second World War.
Many people, civilians as well as military members, had contributed to the war effort through their work, he emphasized. “These men and women, mostly young and with a lifetime of hopes and dreams put on hold for six long years, responded selflessly to their nation in peril.”
As the list of 24 lost RCN ships was read out, the bell tolled after each one. The list of RCAF squadrons that played a role in the Battle of the Atlantic was already read aloud, as well as a representative list of merchant navy ships that were lost.
Wreaths were laid, the first one being from the people of Nova Scotia and placed by the Lieutenant Governor, His Honour the Honourable Arthur LeBlanc.
Other wreaths came from the Government of Canada, the province of Nova Scotia, the Royal Canadian Navy, 5th Canadian Division, 12 Wing Shearwater, Air Component Coordination Element (Atlantic), the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust, the City of Halifax, and many more.
The Honour Guard, led by the Stadacona Band, then marched to the memorial for HMCS Bonaventure, for a brief ceremony at that site.