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Battle of the Atlantic remembered in Pictou County

Six veterans from the Second World War attended the Battle of Atlantic Service held Sunday at Bethel Presbyterian Church in Pictou Landing. In back from left are: Harold Hemmings, Matt Young and Hector MacKenzie. In front from left: Allister Thompson, Earl Holt and Russell McKinley.
Six veterans from the Second World War attended the Battle of Atlantic Service held Sunday at Bethel Presbyterian Church in Pictou Landing. In back from left are: Harold Hemmings, Matt Young and Hector MacKenzie. In front from left: Allister Thompson, Earl Holt and Russell McKinley.

PICTOU LANDING – Mike Simmons for a few moments took those sitting in the pews at Bethel Presbyterian Church in Pictou Landing back in time 75 years.

He painted a picture of ships risking danger to carry needed supplies to Europe as part of what is known as the Battle of the Atlantic.

“They’re the ones that brought the supplies,” he said. “They’re the ones that ensured that what was made, the guns the ammunition and food was brought to others.”

He told of a ship being torpedoed and sinking and the men desperately trying to stay afloat – all but one dying from the extreme cold. The one who survived at the very centre.

Simmons was a young boy living in St. John’s Newfoundland at the time period and recalls ships pulling into the harbour. Black bags were carried off.

He remembers asking what was inside.

“You don’t want to know, son.” he was told.

Later he would learn, they were the bodies of men who had died.

The bodies of many more he knows were never recovered.

“They’re the ones the families can not visit or stand and place flowers. They’re the ones that will be the ocean forever. Throughout Atlantic Canada and throughout the Atlantic Ocean, part of the ocean is our country.”

Simmons, now a Chaplain, encouraged those present to never forget the sacrifice.

 

About the Battle of Atlantic

The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest campaign of the Second World War. By the last months of the war, the Royal Canadian Navy had grown to a strength of more than 95,000 personnel and about 270 ocean escort warships. Canada had the third largest navy in the world after the fleets of the United States and Britain. The most important measure of its success was the safe passage of more than 25,000 merchant ships under Canadian escort. These cargo vessels delivered nearly 165 million tons of supplies to Britain and to the Allied forces that liberated Europe. In the course of these operations, the Royal Canadian Navy sank, or shared in the destruction of 31 enemy submarines. For its part, the Royal Canadian Navy lost 14 warships to the U-boat attacks and another eight ships to collisions and other accidents in the north Atlantic. Source: www.warmuseum.ca

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