Battle of the Atlantic 2014: “A century of sacrifice at sea”

RCN History / April 29, 2014

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

During the 2,075 days that the battle raged, the members of the Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Naval Reserve, Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve, Royal Canadian Air Force, Merchant Navy and Royal Canadian Artillery gunners assigned to the protection of merchant ships took the fight to the enemy whenever and wherever possible.

It took conviction and courage, as well as special dedication and determination. Day after day the ships and crews, supported by supply and training bases, dockyards and port facilities, saw to it that the vital supplies necessary for the invasion of fortress Europe arrived safely in Britain. It was upon this foundation that the cornerstone for victory in Europe was laid.

The price of victory, when paid in full, would cost the navy 33 warships and over 2,000 dead, the air force 350 aircraft and over 900 dead, and the Merchant Navy 73 ships and over 1,700 dead. Let us remember them for their selfless contribution to international peace and security.

However, the first Sunday of May is not only set aside as an opportunity to remember those who served courageously in the Second World War, but also those who served with equal pride and determination in the First World War, the Korean conflict, the Gulf Wars and the numerous peace enforcement and peacekeeping operations since 1945. It also serves to remind us that 69 years later, our ships, sailors, airmen and airwomen are following the leadmark of service to Canada established during the Battle of the Atlantic and are willing and ready to serve faithfully whenever and wherever they are needed.

Services commemorating the Battle of the Atlantic will be held at naval facilities across Canada on Sunday, May 4, and everyone is encouraged to participate. For those in the National Capital Region, the national Battle of the Atlantic commemoration will commence at 10:30 a.m. on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Nearly fifty veterans of the Battle of the Atlantic will be honoured during a gala dinner at the Canadian War Museum on May 1, 2014. The dinner will be attended by Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, and several other dignitaries. The dinner will be an opportunity to highlight the contribution of past and present members of the Royal Canadian Navy.

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