During the Battle of the Atlantic, the RCN lost thirty-two warships and 1,965 men to enemy action or accident, while the RCAF lost another 752 men. The ships and men lost are commemorated annually on the first Sunday in May. This year’s commemoration will take place on Sunday, 1 May, at 14:00. Traditionally, the ship’s company marches from STAR the short distance along Dock Service Road and Catharine Street North to HMCS HAIDA where the ceremony takes place. The names of the Canadian warships lost during the Second World War are read out, each accompanied by a stroke of the ship’s bell and a flower thrown into the water, along with a recognition of the 59 Canadian merchant ships that were lost. Following the parade, there is a reception in the messes.
Ryan Bell, who joined STAR in 2003, served several years Class B in MCDVs and subsequently transferred to the Regular Force, has been promoted to Lieutenant Commander effective 4 April 2016 and posted from Combat Officer of HMCS HALIFAX to Canadian Forces Naval Operations School as ORO Course Officer. Bravo Zulu!
“We Fight as One”
Seventy-two years ago, on 29 April, 1944, HMCS ATHABASKAN, G07, was torpedoed and sunk in position 48° 43’N 4° 32’ W, about five miles north/north-east of Ile de Vierge. One hundred twenty-eight men were lost, forty-two were rescued by HAIDA and eighty-three were taken prisoners by the Germans. Six other ATHABASKANS were rescued by HAIDA’s motor cutter which made its own way back to England. There were ten STAR’s aboard, five of whom were lost, three rescued and two taken prisoner.
Every year the Friends of HMCS HAIDA hold a memorial service at the ship in Hamilton, Ontario on a convenient date close to the anniversary of the loss of HMCS ATHABASKAN I to commemorate that unhappy event. This year’s ATHABASKAN Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, 24 April at 13:30 on board the former HMCS HAIDA with a reception to follow in the messes of HMCS STAR.
HMCS ATHABASKAN III held a service at the site of the sinking last October while taking part in Exercise Trident Juncture, and Cdr Couillard, the current CO, and members of the ship’s company have been invited to participate in our service.