HMCS Charlottetown Commemorates Remembrance Day in Toulon, France

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Article / November 14, 2016

By: Lieutenant (Navy) Benoit Plante, Public Affairs Officer, HMCS Charlottetown

The French city of Toulon on the Mediterranean Sea, and the 534 meter Mont Faron which looms over it, were witness to the fighting of World War II.  Mont Faron is topped with a Memorial of the landing in Provence, commemorating the operations which took place on Provence coast during the allied landings of August 1944.

With this historical background, on November 11, 2016, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Charlottetown commemorated Remembrance Day in Toulon, France. The crew members participated in two different ceremonies, with a small contingent representing Charlottetown attending the local cenotaph while the ship’s company conducted a traditional ceremony of remembrance onboard.

Despite the demands of a heavy workload while alongside for a regenerative maintenance period, activities onboard were halted to ensure that all members of HMCS Charlottetown could commemorate the solemn occasion appropriately. Under the guidance of Lieutenant (Navy) Haupi Tombing, HMCS Charlottetown’s Padre, more than 200 officers and crew from the ship’s company took time to reflect on the sacrifice of Canadian Armed Forces members that had served before them.

“Holding this ceremony in Toulon is somewhat special. A significant number of Canadians had contributed to the battles in Southern France in order to liberate Toulon and Marseilles,” mentioned Lieutenant-Commander Samuel Patchell, the Acting Commanding Officer. “Being in a town that has witnessed fighting during World War II offers us a close connection with the history we are commemorating.”

During World War II, Canadians participated in Operation Dragoon as members of 1st Special Service Force, an elite American-Canadian commando unit. This operation was the code name for the Allied invasion of Southern France on 15 August 1944. It helped to secure the vital ports on the French Mediterranean coast, including Toulon.

A small contingent of 13 from HMCS Charlottetown also participated in a formal parade at the Monument aux morts, which serves as the local monument of remembrance, organized by the French navy in Toulon.

“It was an honour for me and the rest of the contingent to be able to commemorate Remembrance Day at the Monument aux morts with our French navy colleagues,” said Lieutenant (Navy) Kevin Gagné, the officer in charge of the contingent at the local Cenotaph.  

Both ceremonies offered the opportunity for HMCS Charlottetown’s crew members to reflect on sacrifices of both Allied and Canadian Armed Forces members during past and present wars and conflicts.

HMCS Charlottetown is currently deployed on Operation REASSURANCE, Canada’s contribution to NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Europe. The ship was in Toulon for the Rest and Maintenance Period.

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