Ringing bell for those who died at memorial for Battle of the Atlantic HMCS Queen building in Regina May 5 2013. Chelsea Laskowski/CJME
Royal Canadian Navy reservists gathered in Regina on Sunday for a ceremony to commemorate the Battle of the Atlantic.
It was the longest in World War Two, lasting from September 1939 to May 1945. Thousands of service men and women died on the seas from the Royal Canadian Navy, the merchant navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Attending the ceremony as chaplain for the HMCS Queen in Regina, Lieutenant James Balfour with the naval reservists spoke about the significance of that battle.
In a terrible time he says the Canadian navy played a pivotal role in the war effort.
“It was the lifeline – it carried all of the supplies to England so that England could survive,” Balfour commented. “It carried all the supplies for every major offensive that took place in the European theatre of operations, everything went across the North Atlantic.”
Balfour also has a personal connection this piece of history because his grandfather was one of thousands of prairie people serving in the navy at that time. He admits you don’t often think about Saskatchewan as a place where sailors grow up, but during WW2 it was quite common.
“Sailors from the prairies actually found it easier to deal with the horizon, didn’t have as much seasickness problems,” he commented.
It was his grandfather’s legacy that inspired Balfour to join the navy reserve.
“It was the belief that there are things that are more important than just you as an individual, it’s about serving your country and doing something for the good of others,” Balfour commented.
The ceremony to honour those who lost their lives in the Battle of the Atlantic takes is held every year on the first Sunday in May.