Halifax ceremony remembers Battle of the Atlantic sacrifices
Published Sunday, May 5, 2019 6:43PM ADT
It was a day of remembrance across Canada, as hundreds of people gathered at sites across the country to commemorate the Battle of the Atlantic.
In Halifax’s Point Pleasant Park, hundreds of soldiers stood at attention, taking a moment to commemorate the longest military engagement of the Second World War and remember the more than 4500 Canadian who lost their lives in the line of duty.
As 33 bells tolled, one for each Navy ship lost, Second World War veteran Earle S. Wagner reflected on what it was like being overseas.
“It’s a lot of memories, a lot of sad memories,” recalled Wagner, who served in the Canadian Merchant Navy for 48 years. “When you think of all those people who lost their lives, it’s the futility of war. I talk to the kids in school and I say remember; if you don’t remember anything else I told you, just remember that war is hell.”
Running the entire length of the war from September 1939 to May 1945, the battle saw Canada and its allies fighting Nazi submarines, planes and ships for control of the North Atlantic seaways.
“The longest, most grueling, and most contested of the Second World War’s campaigns, the Battle of Atlantic was a no-fail mission, upon which victory in Europe depended. And so we prevailed,” explained Rear Admiral Arthur McDonald, Deputy Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy.
As civilians watched from the beach, an Air Force helicopter performed a flyby, while a Navy ship was anchored off the coast.
Officials and dignitaries then laid wreaths at the foot of the cenotaph, with representatives from the city, province and country taking time to remember.
Civillian Luce Belanger laid down her drum, in honour of the First Nations who fought for Canada.
“The drum is the heartbeat. So we are honouring the ones that had a heartbeat stop,” explained Belanger.
Ceremonies like Sunday’s are poignant for veterans, current military personnel and all Canadians, giving them a chance to remember the fallen, and for serving members, to honour those who went before them.
Many brought their families, in an effort to teach the youth of tomorrow about the sacrifices made by veterans more than 75 years ago.
“Just to see the pride, and how they stand up straight, and they’re proud of what they’ve done to serve the country,” said Chief Petty Officer Retired Perry Colley, who attended the ceremony with his 13-year-old son Keenan. “That’s what I hope that we as a society can continue to teach our children, because those guys are the ones that made it possible for us to be doing the things that we’re doing, and we need to respect and honour them.”
The memorial ended with a march along the shoreline, with hundreds of footsteps falling in unison, many taking the chance to remember those who are no longer marching.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Emily Baron Cadloff.