The Battle of the Atlantic
On the 3rd of September 1939, the British passenger
was sunk off the coast of Ireland.
From that day until the last of the German U-Boats surrendered after VE-Day, in May
1945, the Allied navies and air forces could not for a moment relax their vigilance.
Battle of the Atlantic Sunday commemorates the sacrifices of the Canadian sailors, merchant seamen, Air Force and
Army personnel who gave their lives in the North Atlantic. The elements were often as vicious as the foe, with raging storms, pack ice, bitter cold, fog, and the dense blackness of the North Atlantic nights.
Through the end of the war, thirty-three ships of the RCN would be lost with a further five damaged so badly that they did
not return to sea; 1,990 sailors and Wrens were fatalities, 319 were wounded and 95 had become prisoners of war.
The RCN and the Merchant Navy made nearly 26,000 safe crossings, carrying over 180 million tons of supplies to Great Britain. With victory in the Atlantic secured, victory in Europe was assured. The freedom of all Canadians was then, is now, and shall forever be the legacy of that courageous band of comrades.
Each year on the first Sunday in May, Canada’s naval community commemorates those lost at sea during the Second World War. They uphold the legacy of the Battle of the Atlantic by pledging themselves “Ready, Aye Ready” to face today’s security challenges with pride and professionalism.
Sacrifice at Sea
The Battle of the Atlantic serves as the focal point
for this commemoration, but sacrifice at sea was and is not
the Atlantic Ocean or indeed the Second World War. Sailors of the Royal Canadian Navy have given their lives in service to the nation since the Battle of Coronel on 1 November 1914 when Midshipmen Malcolm Cann, John Hathaway, William Palmer and Arthur Silver went down with HMS Good Hope. Through both world wars and the Cold War and the violent peace that has followed, some 3,200 sailors, soldiers and aircrew died or were killed on naval duty. Most recently, Petty Officer Craig Blake, killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan on the eve of the Navy’s Centennial on 3 May 2010. It being impossible to list all our fallen comrades in the space available, and to recognize also the special relation sailors have with their ships, we focus our commemoration through the vessels lost to the violence of the enemy and the dangers of the sea.
Thus we remember...
HMCS Ypres Lost with no lives on 12 May 1940
HMCS Fraser Lost with 47 lives on 25 June 1940
HMCS Bras d'Or Lost with 30 lives on 19 October 1940
HMCS Margaree Lost with 142 lives on 22 October 1940
HMCS Otter Lost with 19 lives on 26 March 1941
HMCS Levis Lost with 18 lives on 19 September 1941
HMCS Windflower Lost with 23 lives on 7 December 1941
HMCS Adversus Lost with no lives on 20 December 1941
HMCS Spikenard Lost with 57 lives on 10 February 1942
HMCS Raccoon Lost with 37 lives on 7 September 1942
HMCS Charlottetown Lost with 10 lives on 11 September 1942
HMCS Ottawa Lost with 113 lives on 13 September 1942
HMCS Louisburg Lost with 37 lives on 6 February 1943
HMCS Weyburn Lost with 8 lives on 22 February 1943
HMCS St. Croix Lost with 147 lives on 20 September 1943
HMCS Chedabucto Lost with 1 life on 21 October 1943
HMCS Athabaskan Lost with 128 lives on 29 April 1944
HMCS Valleyfield Lost with 123 lives on 6 May 1944
MTB 460 Lost with 11 lives on 2 July 1944
MTB 463 Lost with no lives on 8 July 1944
HMCS Regina Lost with 30 lives on 8 August 1944
HMCS Alberni Lost with 59 lives on 21 August 1944
HMCS Skeena Lost with 15 lives on 25 October 1944
HMCS Shawinigan Lost with 91 lives on 24 November 1944
HMCS Clayoquot Lost with 8 lives on 24 December 1944
MTBs 459, 461, 462, 465 & 466 Lost with 26 lives on 14 February 1945
HMCS Trentonian Lost with 6 lives on 22 February 1945
HMCS Guysborough Lost with 51 lives on 17 March 1945
HMCS Esquimalt Lost with 44 lives on 16 April 1945
Since the Second World War the RCN has been fortunate not to have lost any ships. Still, our service has suffered several incidents with significant loss of life.
And thus we remember…
HMCS Micmac 10 lives lost on 16 July 1947
HMCS Iroquois 3 lives lost on 2 October 1952
HMCS Nipigon 3 lives lost on 18 October 1965
HMCS Kootenay 9 lives lost on 23 October 1969
HMCS Bonaventure 4 lives lost on 3 December 1969
HMCS Chicoutimi 1 life lost on 5 October 2004
Merchant ship losses
SS A.D. HUFF - 1941.02.22 - 2, N. Atlantic
SS ALBERT C. FIELD - 1944.06.18 - 4, English Channel
SV ANGELUS * - 1943.05.19 - 8, W. Atlantic
SS AVONDALE PARK - 1945.05.7 - 2, North Sea
SS BIC ISLAND * - 1942.10.28 - 36, N. Atlantic
MV CALGAROLITE - 1942.05.9 - 0, Caribbean
SS CANADIAN CRUISER - 1941.02.21 - 0, Indian Ocean
MV CANADOLITE - 1941.05.25 - 0, Mid-Atlantic
SS CARIBOU (N) - 1942.10.14 - 31 (+106 passengers), Cabot Strait
SS CAROLUS * - 1942.10.9 - 11, St. Lawrence River
SS CHRISTIAN J. KAMPMANN * - 1942.11.3 - 19, Caribbean
SS COLLINGDOC - 1940.07.13 - 2, Thames River
SS CORNWALLIS - 1944.12.3 - 44, Gulf of Maine
SS DONALD STEWART - 1942.09.3 - 3, Strait of Belle Isle, NFLD
SS EMPRESS OF ASIA - 1942.02.5 - 1 (+15 & 1 as POW), Off Singapore
SS ERIK BOYE * - 1940.06.15 - 0, E. Atlantic
SS ESMOND (N) - 1941.05.9 - 0, Mid-Atlantic
MV EUROPA * - 1941.05.4 - 0, In Liverpool
SS FRANK B. BAIRD - 1942.05.22 - 0, N. Atlantic
SS GERALDINE MARY (N)- 1940.08.4 - 2 (+1), E. Atlantic
SS GEORGE L. TORIAN - 1942.02.22 - 13 (+2), Caribbean
SV HELEN FORSEY (N) - 1942.09.6 - 2, N. Atlantic
SS HUMBER ARM (N) - 1940.07.8 - 0, E. Atlantic
SV JAMES E NEWSOM - 1942.05.1 - 0, N. Atlantic
SS JASPER PARK - 1943.07.6 - 4, Indian Ocean
SS J.B. WHITE - 1941.03.17 - 2, NE Atlantic
SS JOHN A HOLLOWAY - 1942.09.6 - 1, Caribbean
SS KENORDOCK - 1940.09.15 - 7, N. Atlantic
SS KITTY’S BROOK (N) - 1942.05.10 - 9, Off Nova Scotia
SS. LADY DRAKE - 1942.05.5 - 6 (+ 6), N. Atlantic
SS LADY HAWKINS - 1942.01.19 - 92 (+ c.158), N. Atlantic
SS LENNOX - 1942.02.23 - 2 Off NE South America
SS LIVERPOOL PACKET - 1942.05.30 - 2, Off Nova Scotia
S S LIVINGSTON (N) - 1944.09.5 - 14, Cabot Strait
SS LORD STRATHCONA - 1942.09.5 - 0, In Conception Bay, Nfld.
SV LUCILLE M. - 1942.07.25 - 0, Off Nova Scotia
SS MAGOG - 1940.07.5 - 0, N. Atlantic
SS MAPLECOURT - 1941.02.6 - 38, N. Atlantic
SV MILDRED PAULINE - 1942.05.01 - 7, W. Atlantic
SV MONA MARIE - 1942.06.28 - 0, Caribbean
SS MONT LOUIS - 1942.05.8 - 13, Off NE South America
MV MONTROLITE - 1942.02.4 - 28, N . Atlantic
SS NEREUS (61 lost) Foundered in heavy seas - Carribean
SS NIPIWAN PARK - 1945.01.4 - 2, Halifax approaches
SS NORFOLK - 1942.09.18 - 6, Off NE South America
SS OAKTON - 1942.09.7 - 0, St. Lawrence River
SS POINT PLEASANT PARK - 1945.02.23 - 9, S. Atlantic
SS PORTADOC - 1941.04.7 - 2(as POWs), Mid-Atlantic
SS PRESCODOC - 1942.07.29 - 16. Off NE South America
SS PRINCESS MARGUERITE - 1942.08.17 - 0 (+ c.55 soldiers), E. Mediterranean
MV PROTEUS (58 Lost) Foundered in heavy seas - Carribean
SV ROBERT MAX (N) - 1941.08.4 - 0, N. Atlantic
SS ROBERT W. POMEROY - 1942.04.1 - 1, North Sea
SS ROSE CASTLE - 1942.11.2 - 3, In Conception Bay, NFLD.
SS ROTHERMERE (N) - 1941.05.20 - 21 (+1), Mid-Atlantic
SS ST MALO * - 1940.10.12 - 28, N. Atlantic
SS SARNIADOC - 1942.03.14 - 21, Caribbean
SS SHINAI - 1941.12.24 - 2 (1as POW), Borneo
SS TABER PARK - 1945.03.13 - 32, North Sea
SS THOROLD - 1940.08.22 - 9, St. George’s Channel, Wales
SS TORONDOC - 1942.05.21 - 23, Caribbean
SS TREVISA - 1940.10.16 - 7, NE Atlantic
SS TROISDOC - 1942.05.21 - 0, Caribbean
SS VANCOUVER ISLAND * - 1941.10.15 - 65 (+c.40), N. Atlantic
MV VICTOLITE - 1942.02.10 - 47, N. Atlantic
SS VINELAND - 1942.04.20 - 1, Atlantic/Caribbean
SS WATERLOO - 1940.07.10 - 0, North Sea
SS WATERTON (N)- 1942.10.11 - 0, Cabot Strait
SS WATUKA - 1944.03.22 - 1, Off Nova Scotia
They will not be forgotten.
The Naval Prayer
Eternal Lord God, who alone spreadest out the heavens, and rulest the raging of the sea; who has compassed
waters with bounds until day and night come to an end; be pleased to receive into thy almighty and most gracious
protection the persons of us thy servants and the Fleet in which we serve.
Preserve us from the dangers of the sea, and from the
violence of the enemy; that we may be a safeguard unto our most
Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth, and her Dominions, and a security for such as pass on the seas upon their lawful occasions;
that the inhabitants of our Commonwealth may in peace and quietness serve thee our God; and that we may return in safety
to enjoy the blessings of the land, with the fruits of our labours, and with a thankful remembrance of thy mercies to praise and
glorify thy holy Name.
Psalm 107 (Verses 23-31)
Those who go down to the sea in ships, those who ply their trade on great waters,
they have seen your works, O God.
At your command the stormy wind arose, and lifted up the waves.
Carried up to the sky, and down to the depths,
their courage melted in the face of danger; reeling and staggering as if drunken,
their seafaring skill was to no avail.
Then they cried to you, God, in their trouble; you rescued them from their distress.
You made the storm be still; you hushed the roaring of the waves.
They rejoiced with the calm; you brought them to the harbour for which they longed.
Let them thank you, God, for your steadfast love, for the wonders that you do for us.
Let them extol you when the people gather, and praise you when the elders take counsel.