Battle of the Atlantic Sunday
Battle of the Atlantic Sunday is the first Sunday in May every year. For at least 30 years the crews of Saskatoon's naval reserve unit HMCS UNICORN, the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps JERVIS BAY, the Navy League Cadet Corps H.M. WEIR and Royal Canadian Air Cadets from 107 and 702 (Lynx) Squadrons have paraded to St. John's Cathedral to remember the ships, officers and men lost during the Battle of the Atlantic. In 1990 and 1991 crew members of the minesweeper HMCS SASKATOON joined the Church Parade.
The parade moves east along 24th Street from HMCS UNICORN, led by a colour party and the band of RCSCC JERVIS BAY. It turns south at Spadina Crescent and falls out at the Cathedral. After the service the parade falls in again, marches south on the crescent to 23rd Street and moves west past the Cenotaph at City Hall. After going around the block the parade does a march past beside UNICORN where the salute is taken. The list of RCN ships lost in the Battle of the Atlantic is then read before the parade disperses. In 2001 the ship's company of HMCS SASKATOON made a presentation to the Meewasin Trails Campaign after the parade.
The service is typically Morning Prayer. Readings and Prayers are led by members of the military, veterans, and cadets. Music and hymns often are nautical-themed.
History of the Battle of the Atlantic - John Duerkop, 2002
The Battle of the Atlantic began the day that Britain declared war, 3 September, 1939. On that day a U-boat torpedoed and sunk the liner ATHENIA north of Ireland. Canada joined in the war a week later and the first eastbound convoy, escorted by HMCS ST. LAURENT and SAGUENAY, left Halifax on 16 September. Over the next six years German submarines attacked allied merchant ships almost worldwide, but especially in the North Atlantic, to cut off the flow of supplies and personnel reaching Britain.
Allied forces faced a low point in the Battle of the Atlantic in June 1942 when they lost an average of one normal-sized 5,000 ton merchant ship every five hours in the North Atlantic. It was not until late 1942 that adequate numbers of trained escorts became available. More escorts, better training, radar, long-range and carrier-based aircraft and better anti-submarine weapons eventually ensured victory. Victory in the Battle of the Atlantic made possible the survival of Britain and the eventual victory in Europe.
The elements were often more violent than the enemy. Raging storms, ice, cold, fog and dense blackness confronted navy and merchant sailors alike. Ships collided, ran aground or had their cargoes explode. A total of 1,797 RCN and 1,578 Canadian merchant marine men and women were lost worldwide and 752 RCAF personnel were lost during maritime operations. The Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force lost another 380 men at sea when the ships carrying them were sunk during the war.
In 1939 the Royal Canadian Navy had just six destroyers and four minesweepers. There were only 2,000 men serving in the regular force. A phenomenal growth increased the navy to 378 ships and 96,000 men and women by VJ Day. RCN escorted merchantships made 26,000 safe crossings of the Atlantic during the war, carrying over 180 million tons of supplies. RCN ships also served on the Russian supply runs, in the Caribbean, the Pacific, the Mediterranean, the English Channel and the North Sea. Thirty-nine RCN warships were lost or constructive total losses during the war. The first was the destroyer FRASER, rammed in the Gironde estuary, France, while evacuating troops 25 June, 1940. Sixty-six sailors died while 150 were saved. The last RCN war loss was the minesweeper ESQUIMALT, torpedoed in the Halifax approaches 16 April, 1945 with 39 dead and 26 survivors.
HMC ships and Canadian manned warships that were lost or constructive total losses due to all causes 1939-45 were:
|BRAS D'OR||MTB 461||ST. CROIX<|
There were only 37 ocean-going vessels in the Canadian merchant marine in 1939. Four hundred two merchant ships were built in Canada during the war, 185 of them for Britain and the United States, and 217 for Canadian registry. Canada also took over some Axis prizes and ships from occupied countries. Canadian registered merchant ships served all over the globe, crewed by about 15,000 men.
A total of 75 Canadian and Newfoundland registered merchant ships were lost or constructive total losses during World War 2. The first Canadian merchant ship lost was the Danish owned but Canadian manned freighter ERIK BOYE that was torpedoed with no survivors in the North Atlantic 15 June, 1940. The last was the tanker SILVER STAR PARK that was run down by another ship while she was at anchor off New Bedford Massachusetts 12 April, 1945. Sixteen of her crew died while about 24 survived.
Merchant ships registered in Canada and Newfoundland that were lost or constructive total losses due to all causes during WW2 were:
|A.D. HUFF||JAMES E. NEWSON||PRESCODOC|
|ALBERT C. FIELD||JOHN A. HOOLOWAY||PORTADOC|
|CALGOROLITE||KITTY'S BROOK||R. J. CULLEN|
|CANADOLITE||LADY DRAKE||ROBERT W. POMEROY|
|CANATCO||LADY HAWKINS||ROSE CASTLE|
|CAROLUS||LILLIAN L. KERR||ST. MALO|
|CHRISTIAN J. KAMPMAN||LISIEUX||SARNIADOC|
|CORNWALLIS||LIVINGSTON||SILVER STAR PARK|
|DONALD STEWART||LORD STRATHCONA||SORELDOC|
|EMPRESS OF ASIA||LUCILLE M.||THORELDOC|
|FRANK B. BAIRD||MONA MARIE||TROISDOC|
|GEORGE L. TORAIN||MONDOC||VANCOUVER ISLAND|
|GERALDINE MARY||MONT LOUIS||VICTOLITE|
|J.B. WHITE||OAKTON||WATKINS F. NISBET|
|JASPER PARK||POINT PLEASANT PARK||WATUKA|