Memorial for sunken Second World War ship finds home in Comox

The Alberni Project-HMCS Alberni Memorial has docked at a new location.

THE ALBERNI PROJECT founder Lewis Bartholomew with the mobile exhibit that now has a home in the Comox Centre Mall.

The Alberni Project-HMCS Alberni Memorial has docked at a new location.

TAP founder and project director Lewis Bartholomew opened the doors to a permanent home in the Comox Centre Mall on Sept. 1.

TAP is a privately funded, community supported program devoted to preserving the history of the events surrounding the Canadian corvette HMCS Alberni and the German submarine U-480.

Bartholomew notes that having the exhibit in the mall provides a location where stories, artifacts and history can be shared. It also acts as an educational tool for future generations of Canadians.

The permanent location has a quiet room where people can watch videos and Bartholomew can conduct interviews. The space also allows TAP to expand its displays and resource centre to the public.

There is now an exhibit about the role of women during the Second World War as well as a display dedicated to Canadian Merchant Navy Veterans with additional display units on loan from Veterans Affairs and Canada Remembers.

Freshly painted and well lit, the space at the Comox Centre Mall is extremely visitor friendly. It will serve as a home base for the mobile exhibit as well as Year of the Veteran events in the Comox Valley next year.

“The most important function of TAP is that it gives the families of the men of HMCS Alberni a place where their loved ones will always be remembered for their dedication and sacrifice for Canada,” Bartholomew said.

He added it has been a long-term goal for members of the project to have a full-time exhibit centre for the HMCS Alberni memorial.

“Smaller versions of TAP have been shown many times in the Comox Valley and many other locations on Vancouver Island in the 10 years since I moved it up from Seattle,” Bartholomew said.

The opportunity to have a permanent home has been provided by partial sponsorship by the Comox Centre Mall and local residents. Bartholomew said Telus has just signed on as a sponsor, and anyone interested in coming on board is welcome to call him at 250-338-2720.

Bartholomew was inspired to start TAP in 2000 when he saw a painting of the HMCS Alberni by Pat Burstall. That painting can be seen at the exhibit in the mall.

TAP is open during regular mall hours and admission is free. For more information, e-mail mbarth@alberniproject.org or tap103@alberniproject.org, or visit www.alberniproject.org.

• • •

The HMCS Alberni sailed from Esquimalt through the Panama Canal and joined the Royal Canadian Navy’s Atlantic Fleet in Halifax in 1941.

She was assigned to the Newfoundland Escort Force and tasked as a mid-ocean convoy escort in the western North Atlantic where she played a vital role in escorting Convoy SC42 and subsequent North Atlantic convoys.

Alberni was assigned briefly to Operation Torch in the Mediterranean during 1943 and to the fleet operating in support of Operation Overlord (invasion of Normandy) in the spring of 1944.

She was torpedoed and sunk by U-480 in the British Channel. She was escorting a convoy approximately 25 nautical miles (46 km) southeast of St.Catherine’s Point, Isle of Wight at 11:45 a.m. on Aug. 21, 1944.

Fifty-nine crew were lost after the torpedo struck her port side immediately aft of the engine room, causing her to sink in less than a minute.

sports@ccomoxvalleyrecord.com

 

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