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Battle of the Atlantic
Commemoration Ceremony at the branch on May 7th, 2017

The name "Battle of the Atlantic", coined by Winston Churchill in 1941, covers a campaign that began on the first day of the European war and lasted for six years, involved thousands of ships and stretched over hundreds of miles of the vast ocean and seas in a succession of more than 100 convoy battles and perhaps 1,000 single-ship encounters. Tactical advantage switched back and forth over the six years as new weapons, tactics and counter-measures were developed by both sides. The British and their allies gradually gained the upper hand, driving the German surface raiders from the ocean by the end of 1942 and decisively defeating the U-boats in a series of convoy battles between March and May 1943. New German submarines arrived in 1945, but they were too late to affect the course of the war.

When war broke out, Canadian navy personnel amounted to just 3,684 officers and crew, including RCN Reserve and Volunteer Reserve.

Within a year, more than 10,000 had mustered in and by 1944, Its numerical strength peaked at 95,705 officers and men serving in 378 warships. In total, 110,000 men and women served in the RCN during the War, every one of them a volunteer.

This recruitment represents an amazing fifty-fold in pre-War strength, compared to a twenty-fold increase of the US Navy, a fourteen-fold increase of the Royal Australian Navy and an eight-fold increase of the Royal Navy.

The Merchant Navy lost 1,629 Canadians and Newfoundlanders, or others who served on ships registered in Canada or Newfoundland. It includes the names of eight women. Many other Canadians, whose names are unknown, died serving on ships of Allied merchant navies. Also, 198 Canadian seamen were taken prisoner when their ships were captured or sunk, often in the very early years of the war. Many spent more than four years interned and eight died as prisoners of war or during repatriation.


HMCS Ottawa

Navy The Royal Canadian Navy
Type Destroyer
Class C 
Pennant H 60 
Built by Portsmouth Dockyard (Portsmouth, U.K.): Hawthorn Leslie & Co. (Hebburn-on-Tyne, U.K.) 
Ordered 13 Feb 1930 
Laid down 12 Sep 1930 
Launched 30 Sep 1931 
Commissioned 15 Jun 1938 
Lost 14 Sep 1942 
Loss position 47 55'N, 43 27'W

The RCN lost 1,965 men and 24 ships during the War, most of them in the Atlantic.

One of those ships was the destroyer HMCS Ottawa

At 02.05 hours on 14 September 1942 the German submarine U-91 fired a spread of two torpedoes at a destroyer and observed a hit. Then they saw another destroyer, made a full circle and fired at 02.15 hours one torpedo, which hit amidships and caused the ship to blow up and sink immediately.

Walkerling thought that they had sunk two destroyers, but in fact HMCS Ottawa (A/Lt.Cdr. Clark Anderson Rutherford, RCN), escorting convoy ON-127, was hit twice and sank in position 4755'N, 4327'W (German naval grid BC 6191) with the loss of 113 crew. There were 67 survivors.


 

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

All original content Copyright 2017 RCL 480

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