Battle of the Atlantic 2015: honouring our past - charting our future

Article / May 27, 2015

Every year on the first Sunday in May, Canada and the Canadian maritime community commemorates the longest single campaign of the Second World War—the Battle of the Atlantic. 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.

Services commemorating the Battle of the Atlantic were held across Canada including Halifax, Victoria, Québec City, and the 24 Naval Reserve Divisions across the country on Sunday, May 3. In the National Capital Region, the national Battle of the Atlantic commemoration was held at the National War Memorial.

In addition, nearly fifty veterans of the Battle of the Atlantic were honoured during a gala dinner at the Canadian War Museum on April 30. The dinner was attended by Defence Minister Jason Kenney, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, members of the defence and naval communities, and several other dignitaries. Organized by the Naval Association of Canada, the dinner is an opportunity to highlight the contribution of past and present members of the Royal Canadian Navy, as well as recognize the several milestones the Navy has recently made as we modernize and “chart our future.”

History of the Battle of the Atlantic

The Battle of the Atlantic campaign was fought at sea from 1939 to 1945 with the strategic outcome being sea-control of the North Atlantic Ocean. It was the longest, largest, and arguably the most complex campaign of the Second World War. Over the course of 2,075 days, Allied naval and air forces fought more than 100 convoy battles and perhaps 1,000 single ship actions against the submarines and warships of the German and Italian navies. Enemy vessels targeted mainly the convoys of merchant ships transporting material and troops vital to safeguarding the freedom of the peoples of North America and Europe.

On any given day, up to 125 merchant vessels were sailing in convoy across the North Atlantic. It was during these treacherous, stormy crossings that Canada’s navy matured and won the mantle of a professional service. Our navy escorted more than 25,000 merchant vessels across the Atlantic. These ships carried some 182 million tonnes of cargo to Europe—the equivalent of eleven lines of freight cars, each stretching from Vancouver to Halifax. Without these supplies, the war effort would have collapsed.

Thousands of Canadian men and women—members of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), the Merchant Navy (MN), the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service, and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), mostly volunteers from small town Canada—had to face situations so perilous they are difficult for us to imagine. As Canadians, we should be proud of their courage.

Following is a list of the RCN vessels and the bulk of the sailors lost during the Battle of the Atlantic:

 

HMCS Vessel

Date sunk

Lives lost

 HMCS Ypres

 May 12, 1940

 Lost, no lives lost

 HMCS Fraser

 June 25, 1940

 Lost with 47 lives

 HMCS Bras d’Or

 October 19, 1940

 Lost with 30 lives

 HMCS Margaree

 October 22, 1940

Lost with 142 lives

 HMCS Otter

 March 26, 1941

 Lost with 19 lives

 HMCS Levis

 September 19, 1941

 Lost with 18 lives

 HMCS Windflower

 December 7, 1941

 Lost with 23 lives

 HMCS Adversus

 December 20, 1941

 Lost with no lives

 HMCS Spikenard

 February 10,1942

Lost with 57 lives

 HMCS Raccoon

 September 7, 1942

 Lost with 37 lives

 HMCS Charlottetown

September 11, 1942

Lost with 10 lives

 HMCS Ottawa

September 13, 1942

Lost with 113 lives

 HMCS Louisbourg

 February 6, 1943

 Lost with 37 lives

HMCS Weyburn

February 22, 1943

Lost with 8 lives

HMCS St. Croix

September 20, 1943

Lost with 147 lives

HMCS Chedabucto

October 21, 1943

Lost with 1 life

HMCS Athabaskan

April 29, 1944

Lost with 128 lives

HMCS Valleyfield

May 6, 1944

Lost with 123 lives

Motor Torpedo Boat 460

July 2, 1944

Lost with 11 lives

Motor Torpedo Boat 463

July 8, 1944

Lost with no lives

HMCS Regina

August 8, 1944

Lost with 30 lives

HMCS Alberni

August 21, 1944

Lost with 59 lives

HMCS Skeena

October 25, 1944

Lost with 15 lives

HMCS Shawinigan

November 24, 1944

Lost with 91 lives

HMCS Clayoquot

December 24,1944

Lost with 8 lives

Motor Torpedo Boats459, 461, 462, 465, 466

February 14, 1945

Lost with 26 lives

HMCS Trentonian

February 22, 1945

Lost with 6 lives

HMCS Guysborough

March 17, 1945

Lost with 51 lives

HMCS Esquimalt

April 16, 1945

Lost with 44 lives

 

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