by Jane Torrance

On Sunday May 31st a small contingent took a moment to reflect on the sacrifices of the 4,234 sailors, airmen and members of the merchant navy who lost their lives while trying to maintain shipping routes linking North America with Europe during the Second World War. The Battle of the Atlantic lasted 2,075 days and was Canada’s longest continuous military engagement of the Second World War. The men and women of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Merchant Navy braved the dangerous freezing waters of the North Atlantic to ensure that supplies reached Allied Forces in Europe.

Every year the Almonte Legion Branch 240 hosts a riverside service on the last Sunday in May to commemorate the Battle of the Atlantic, and remember the 4,234 sailors, airmen and members of the merchant navy who lost their lives. This number includes those lost while serving aboard 278 Canadian and Allied ships. A total of 73 Canadian Merchant Navy ships were sunk. The RCAF lost 348 aircraft and 918 aircrew during the battle.

The service normally includes a bell ringing and a wreath for each of the RCN ships lost at sea is tossed into the river. This year, a single wreath was released, representing all ships lost at sea: HMCS FRASER, HMCS BRAS D’OR, HMCS MARGAREE, HMCS OTTER, HMCS LEVIS, HMCS WINDFLOWER, HMCS SPIKENARD, HMCS RACOON, HMCS CHARLOTTETOWN, HMCS OTTAWA, HMCS LOUISBURG, HMCS WEYBURN, HMCS YRPES, HMCS SAINT CROIX, HMCS CHEDABUCTO HMCS ATHABASKAN, HMCS VALLEYFIELD, HMCS REGINA, HMCS ALBERNI, HMCS SKEENA, HMCS SHAWINIGAN, HMCS CLAYOQUAT, HMCS TRENTONIAN, HMCS GUYSBOROUGH, HMCS ESQUIMALT , HMCS ADVERSUS, 7—MTB

This year a reduced Branch 240 colour guard and two pipers from the Almonte Legion Pipe Band honoured the war dead.  Under the direction of Branch 240 Parade Marshall Neil MacLeod, the Legion was represented by Sgt-at-Arms and RCAF veteran Matt Carson and Treasurer and RCN veteran Mike Dalton, and the Pipe Band was represented by Pipe Major Jenny Putinski and Piper Iain Slingerland.

We will remember them.

“The Battle of the Atlantic was the dominating factor all through the war. Never for one moment can we forget that everything happening elsewhere, on land, at sea, or in the air, depended ultimately on its outcome.” Winston Churchill

Videos:

March on to the Cenotaph to lay the Battle of the Atlantic wreath: https://youtu.be/-S-uvXoTFRE

March on and Battle of the Atlantic riverside service: https://youtu.be/_3spAWpzEwI

March off: https://youtu.be/HIT8RPw2P4M

For more information please contact Jane Torrance, ALPB Public Relations at 613-206-0028