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Monument pay tribute to Merchant Marine sailors from Quebec who died in WWII

January 2020

During World War II, supply lines from North America to the United Kingdom and Europe were vital to the ultimate victory for the Allies. To accomplish this task, Canada formed the Canadian Merchant Navy, as did other Commonwealth countries.

Civilian cargo ships were pressed into service to transport supplies for the war effort, including raw materials, firearms, artillery guns, munitions, vehicles, tanks, fuel, food and personnel. The ships were manned by civilian volunteers and escorted by allied warships.

A training school for the Canadian Merchant Navy was established at St. Margaret’s Bay in Nova Scotia. As the Merchant Navy ships were also armed for defensive purposes, some of the crewmen were train as gunners.

The Merchant Navy was considered a fourth branch of the Canadian military and tragically, suffered a very high casualty rate compared to the other service branches. Most of those who died were killed during the six-year long Battle of the Atlantic.

A total of 12, 000 men and women served in Canada’s Merchant Navy, making more than 25,000 Atlantic crossings during the war.

The Merchant Sailors’ Memorial. along the waterfront at Pointe-à-Carcy in Quebec City, commemorates the 267 merchant marine sailors from Quebec who lost their lives in World War II.

Similar monuments to the Canadian Merchant Navy can be found in Burlington, Ontario, Point Pleasant Park and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, both in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and in Windsor, Ontario.

Despite the vital role played by the merchant navy, which was disbanded after the end of the war, Canadian Merchant Navy veterans were denied veterans benefits and official recognition for decades after the end of the war, a scandalous oversight that was not corrected until the 1990s.

In 2003, the Canadian Government officially recognized the contributions and sacrifice of Canadian Merchant Mariners by designating September 3 as Merchant Navy Remembrance Day.

Sources: https://www.portquebec.ca/pdf/2019_08_23_Guide_Anglais.pdf, https://www.quebec-cite.com/en/quebec-city-and-area/public-art, https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/historical-sheets/merchant

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/monument-pay-tribute-to-merchant-marine-sailors-from-quebec-who-died-in-wwii/

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