After reading Kelly Kent’s article of the upcoming event [an Inside Ottawa Valley report on next weekend’s Battle of the Atlantic ceremony] , I found it highlighted much of the effort and losses to the RCN and the Royal Navy. May I, while giving credit to the escorting navies, give some facts as to the role of the merchant navy during this part of the war.
During this ongoing five-year battle, there were over a hundred convoy battles, mostly directed at merchant vessels, of which only a few were armed. As a result approximately 1,600 Canadian merchant seaman lost their lives. The total loss of lives for all allied merchant seaman during this five year battle was over 30,000. The total amount of merchant ships lost is listed at about 3,000.
Another little-known fact of a seaman’s lot, was when a ship was sunk, or when a ship was lost and the seaman was taken prisoner, his wages were stopped until he signed articles on a new ship.
The merchant navy has never really got the recognition it so rightly deserved during WW2.
Stan Carter, Almonte.
Veteran, British merchant navy