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Battle of the Atlantic Memorial pays tribute to Canadian sailors lost in critical WWII campaign

October 2019

Canada’s military has been involved in many battles and campaigns throughout the history of Canada, but none lasted as long or were arguably more important to the Allied victory in Europe than the Battle of the Atlantic, a campaign that lasted the entire duration of World War II.

Along with British, Commonwealth and later American air and naval forces, Canada played a key role in the Allied efforts to control the North Atlantic and keep open the shipping lanes carrying vital supplies to Allied forces in Europe. Keeping forces in Europe constantly supplied with not only essential supplies but fresh personnel, was essential to the ultimate victory over the German forces, but it came at a heavy price.

More than 70,000 Allied seamen, merchant mariners and airmen lost their lives, including 4,600 Canadians, as the Allies battled with German Luftwaffe (air force), Kreigsmarine (navy) and the deadly U-Boats, for control of the North Atlantic. More than 1,500 members, six of them women, from the Royal Canadian Navy alone were lost at sea

On 2 May 2010, The Battle of the Atlantic Memorial was dedicated at HMCS Prevost, the Naval Reserve Division in London, Ontario. The memorial consists of 25 quarter-tonne stones that are one-metre in height, resembling a tombstone you would find in a cemetery.

Twenty-four of the stones are engraved with a Royal Canadian Navy ship lost in the battle, creating a sort-of convoy of ships, with the 25th stone dedicated to the sailors from the Merchant Navy who were lost.

The stones are placed along a 200-metre hillside behind HMCS Prevost’s building at 19 Becher Street, facing out towards the Thames River, forming a timeline of the battle with each one placed according to the date when the ships were lost at sea, beginning with HMCS Fraser, sunk on 25 June of 1940, and ending with HMCS Esquimalt, sunk on 16 April 1945.

Sailors lost at sea aren’t afforded the tribute of a marked grave, so the Battle of the Atlantic Memorial achieves the next best thing.

The site was upgraded in 2017, with the addition of proper walkways around the site for the ease of those with mobility issues.

Each year on the first Sunday in May, parades are held across Canada to commemorate the Battle of the Atlantic.

Sources: “HMCS Prevost ‘hallowed ground’,” by N/Cdt David Lewis, The Maple Leaf, https://www.facebook.com/BattleOfTheAtlanticMemorial, https://www.thelondoner.ca/2017/04/25/remembering-the-battle-of-the-atlantic/wcm/70d8abd9-00d7-1fe8-fd7b-f3d8aee0c33f

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/battle-of-the-atlantic-memorial-pays-trubute-to-canadian-sailors-lost-in-critical-wwii-campaign/

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