The first Sunday in May each year commemorates the end of the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest, most unforgiving campaign of the Second World War.
It is to those sailors of the navy and merchant marine who sailed on the stern and unremitting waters of the Atlantic, into the dangers of the enemy that we owe so much today.
From Sept. 3, 1939 through May 8, 1945, a continuous flow of war materials was maintained between North America and The United Kingdom by the convoy system. “Fast” convoys could cross the Atlantic in 13 or 14 days, while slower convoys took 16 or 17 days. Between the threat of enemy submarines, and the unpredictable weather of the North Atlantic, each trip could be a nerve-wracking experience.
Many of the escort vessels were Corvettes, small vessels which, were said, would roll on a wet blotter, and were uncomfortable and often wet below decks. In heavy seas, the mess decks where the crew lived could have several inches of water slopping around.
This resulted in constantly wet clothing and bedding, (hammocks). Food was prepared in the galley aft and had to be carried forward along the open upper deck to the mess deck, forever resulting in cold meals.
Sailors of the merchant navy faced many of the same perils as those of the navy, but had their own problems, including sailing on ships full of high-octane gasoline or ammunition. Some of the vessels used were not even designed for ocean crossing.
Although conditions were trying, these young men achieved results of which this nation can be proud. We should not allow the sacrifices of these young men to be forgotten. Without their contribution, the freedom that we take for granted could have been lost.
The Comox Valley Branch of the Royal Canadian Naval Association will participate in a service of remembrance at the Memorial Cairn at Marina Park in Comox this Sunday at 1 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
— Royal Canadian Naval Association