They served at sea

Qualicum Beach and Parksville Legions mark one of the most crucial fights of the Second World War — the Battle of the Atlantic

TRADITIONAL TOT: Royal Canadian Legion member Al McRae distributes traditional navy tots of rum at Sunday’s Battle of the Atlantic service in Qualicum Beach.

TRADITIONAL TOT: Royal Canadian Legion member Al McRae distributes traditional navy tots of rum at Sunday’s Battle of the Atlantic service in Qualicum Beach.

It was the longest running battle of the entire Second World War and the one that kept British Prime Minister Winston Churchill awake at night. He knew if the Battle of the Atlantic was lost, everything else would collapse, like a house of cards.

The Battle of the Atlantic was waged from Sept. 3, 1939 to May 4, 1945 and saw thousands of sailors go to a watery grave — the vast majority of them from the merchant marine.

Keeping the lifeline open from North America to Britain was crucial to the war effort, as an average of 90,000 tons of war materials was delivered every single day — keeping the island nation in the fight.

The battle saw a remarkable growth in Canada’s shipping industry, with the 37 merchant ships growing to 175 by war’s end and the dozen or so warships growing to 378.

These warships escorted the merchant sailors between North America and Great Britain, but their presence was in no way a guarantee of safety. In 1942 for instance, the Allies lost 24,000 tons of shipping each and every day. While the vast majority of these were merchant ships, 25 major Canadian warships were also sent to the bottom, along with seven minor vessels.

At Sunday’s ceremony the crucial contribution of the Canadian airforce was also highlighted. Canadian air crews escorted the convoys to the mid-Atlantic, keeping a watchful eye for enemy activity from above. Again, the cost of their valor was high. Over the course of the battle, 145 aircraft were shot down and 543 aircrew were killed.

The contributions of both branches of the service were symbolized by the ranks of both Air Cadets and Sea Cadets — along with members of the Navy League — who lined the walls during the service, which was conducted by Padre Brian Kirby. As well, 19 Wing Comox sent its Aurora aircraft roaring overhead in a dramatic flyby.

The evocative ceremony was attended by mayors Chris Burger from Parksville and Teunis Westbroek from Qualicum Beach, along with Regional District of Nanaimo director Bill Veenhof  and RCMP Staff Sergeant Brian Hunter, Cdr. Gerry Powell from CFMETR and Col. Jim Benninger, from 19 Wing, Comox.

Just Posted

Pam Bottomley (executive director), right and Sandy Hurley (president) of the Parksville Downtown Business Association visit the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: Downtown Parksville gears up for post-pandemic bounce back

Podcast: Hurley, Bottomley chat about what’s ahead for the PDBA

(Black Press file photo)
RCMP: Air ambulance called to Whiskey Creek after crash involving 2 motorbikes

Both riders taken to hospital with serious injuries

(File photo)
Crime report: Crooks busy pilfering bikes throughout Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Thefts among 295 complaints Oceanside RCMP deal with in one-week period

The Arrowsmith Search and Rescue logo on the back of a service vehicle. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville and Qualicum Beach provide letters of support for Arrowsmith Search and Rescue

ASAR asks for increase in funding, one-time capital grant and for RDN to buy out current facility

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Dr. Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

CVSAR search the Puntledge River following a report of an abandoned kayak. Photo, CVSAR Facebook page
Comox Valley Search and Rescue spends four hours searching for no one

Overturned kayak a reminder for public to contact officials if they have to abandon a watercraft

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers tested more than 230 commonly used cosmetics and found that 56% of foundations and eye products, 48% of lip products and 47% of mascaras contained high levels of fluorine

White Rock’s Marine Drive has been converted to one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Peace Arch News)
Province promotes permanent pub patios in B.C. post-pandemic plan

More than 2,000 temporary expansions from COVID-19 rules

Most Read