Canada Marks 65th Anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic

Canadians will attend ceremonies across the country Sunday, May 4 to mark the sacrifices made by the many who fought on their behalf in the epic Second World War Battle of the Atlantic.

The 65th anniversary of a turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic - the longest battle of the Second World War - will be observed across the country Sunday.

The Battle of the Atlantic claimed the lives of more than 30,000 Allied seamen, at least 3,000 of them Canadian, and more than 3,000 Allied ships. It was among the bloodiest naval conflicts ever. This year, ceremonies observing the Allied sacrifices will be held in Ottawa, Halifax and at naval detachments throughout the nation.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay reflected on the battle in a statement released Friday. "During the darkest days of the Second World War, thousands of Canadian men and women in the Royal Canadian Navy, the Merchant Navy, and the Royal Canadian Air Force faced perilous conditions that many of us can't even imagine."

"We will not forget their courageous contributions," said MacKay.

Between 1939 and 1945, the Allied Forces relied on secure shipping lanes in the northern Atlantic Ocean to ensure safe transit for vital munitions, supplies, and troops from North America to the frontlines of Europe and Africa. Constant German U-boats attacks in the early years of the war had taken a severe toll on the Royal Navy and the hundreds of merchant ships crossing the ocean. By 1941, more ships were being sunk by the stealthy German submarines than were being built in East Coast shipyards.

Fortunes reversed for the Allies in May 1943. The combined efforts of American, British, and Canadian military production to build long-range anti-submarine aircraft and warships allowed the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to drive the U-boat patrols away from the merchant convoys. The newfound security allowed the Allies to mass troops and supplies ahead of the D-Day invasion in June 1944, leading to the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany.

The battle also established Canada as an international naval power, as the Royal Canadian Navy swelled from a mere 3,500 personnel and six ocean-going warships in 1939 to more than 90,000 personnel and 270 ships in 1945 - at the time, the third largest navy in the world.

 

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