Sidney John MacPhail was born in Pictou, N.S., on Feb 18th, 1924. He was one of six boys and two girls born to Mr. and Mrs. Nathan MacPhail. He attended school in Pictou where he excelled at hockey and at the same time he participated in many events at his school.
Sid was also a regular attendee of St. James Anglican Church in the town. He also became a dedicated Boy Scout at the church winning many awards throughout his scouting career. Following his schooling, he went to work at the old Canadian National Telegraph Office in Pictou.
World War II was well underway when he reached the legal age of 18 in February, 1942. He and some of his mates headed off to Halifax to join the navy. When he completed his basic training, he was posted to HMCS Louisburg in September 1942. Louisburg was a Flower Class Corvette and bore Pennant K-143. Sid now began to take part in a great adventure on the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean.
While escorting other ships, he visited the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and many ports in North Africa. On Feb. 6, 1943, Sidney was one of the crewmates helping to escort convoy KMF 8 from Gibraltar to Bone, Algeria. Louisburg was among those hit by bombs and torpedoes from two formations of enemy aircraft. The first formation was made up of seven German JU 88 bombers and the second formation of seven HE 111 bombers armed with torpedoes operating out of Italy. Thirty-eight men out of a total ship’s company of 85 were lost when she sank near Oran, North Africa. Sidney MacPhail was one of the men who lost his life that day. He was 12 days away from his 19th birthday. Sidney and his shipmates lived up to the motto of the Royal Canadian Navy… Ready, Aye Ready. Please remember them.
As we stand here safe and free, we wonder why ’twas meant to be, that men should die for you and me.
On all the oceans whitecaps flow. We do not have crosses row on row, but we who sleep beneath the sea rest in peace because our country is free.