NEWS file photo Don Taylor, now past-president of the Qualicum Beach Legion Branch 76, salutes along with an unidentified Sea Cadet after laying a wreath to commemorate the fallen in the Battle of the Atlantic during the 2017 ceremony in Qualicum Beach. This year’s commemoration takes place in Parksville on May 6.

Parksville legion hosts Battle of the Atlantic commemoration

Service, wreath-laying set for May 6 at Mt. Arrowsmith Branch 49

Parksville’s Royal Canadian Legion Mt. Arrowsmith Branch 49 will host the annual Oceanside Battle of the Atlantic service and wreath-laying this Sunday, May 6.

The commemoration of the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest-running battle of the Second World War, has historically rotated each year between the local legion branches.

Sunday’s commemoration takes place at the Mount Arrowsmith branch hall, at 146 Hirst Ave. W. in Parksville, beginning at 10:15 a.m. Following a brief service, members will marshal for a march past the flag and a short wreath-laying ceremony at the temporary cenotaph at the legion.

A flyover by a vintage war plane has also been scheduled, organizers said.

Afterward, a reception will be held inside for attendees.

The Battle of the Atlantic commenced on Sept. 3, 1939, when the German Navy received a signal to “Open hostilities with England at once.” Until May 4, 1945, when the German U-boats ceased hostilities and the battle ended, nearly 2,500 ships were sunk, mostly by U-boat wolfpacks.

At the start of the war, Canada had only 37 merchant ships. Another 175 were built and manned by the end of hostilities, and by mid-1942, the Royal Canadian Navy contributed nearly half of all escort ships in the North Atlantic while the German submarines were conducting their most intense offensive campaign.

In July of 1942, the Allies lost 24,000 tons of shipping per day.

The Royal Canadian Air Force would provide a significant contribution to turning the tide in the battle beginning in 1943, with its long-range Liberator bombers providing air cover and sinking submarines.

— NEWS staff and RCL release

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