Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

May 03, 2013 15:17 ET

Commemoration of the Battle of the Atlantic

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 3, 2013) - On May 5, Canadians from across the country will gather to commemorate the sacrifices made by those thousands of Canadians who fought so valiantly during the Battle of the Atlantic, which ran from 1939 to 1945.

"During the Battle of the Atlantic, thousands of Canadian men and women in the Royal Canadian Navy, the Merchant Navy, and the Royal Canadian Air Force faced perilous conditions," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. "Years after the end of the campaign, our ships, sailors, airmen and airwomen continue to follow the benchmark of service to Canada established during this Battle."

"The direction of the battles at sea provided by Rear Admiral Leonard Murray from the Canadian North West Atlantic Area Joint Headquarters in Halifax during the critical period of April and May 1943 is a source of inspiration for us today," said Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison, Commander Royal Canadian Navy. "We also need to remember that the assistance of the Royal Canadian Air Force, providing very long range bombers to help close the mid-Atlantic 'air gap', was a major component of the Allied victory over the U-boats."

Each year on the first Sunday in May, Canada and it's naval community commemorates those lost at sea in the longest single campaign of the Second World War. Today, the legacy of the Battle of the Atlantic is upheld by those currently serving, pledging themselves "Ready, Aye, Ready" to face today's security challenges with pride and professionalism.

The national ceremony will be held at the National War Memorial and will include members of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and Royal Canadian Air Force, alongside members of the Merchant Navy. They will be accompanied by Central Region Sea and Air Cadets, Navy League Cadets, the Royal Canadian Legion Colour Party, local veteran organizations, other government departments, the diplomatic community and the Ottawa Children's Choir. Ceremonies will also be held across Canada including Halifax, Esquimalt, and the 24 Naval Reserve Divisions to remember and commemorate these gallant sailors, and airmen who did so much to keep the lifeline with Britain going during the Second World War.

The Battle of the Atlantic was the fight for supremacy in the North Atlantic and lasted 2,075 days. It pitted Allied naval and air forces against German and Italian submarines, ships and aircraft whose primary targets were the convoys of merchant ships carrying vital life-sustaining cargo from North America to Europe.

Much of the burden of fighting the Battle of the Atlantic fell to the RCN which, at the outbreak of the war, was comprised of only six destroyers and a handful of smaller vessels. By the end of the war, Canada's navy had grown to become the fourth largest navy in the world. During the Battle of the Atlantic, the RCN destroyed or shared in the destruction of 33 U-Boats and 42 enemy surface craft. In turn, it suffered 2,210 fatalities, including six women, and lost 33 vessels.

For the Canadian Armed Forces, the Battle of the Atlantic ended with Victory in Europe Day on May 8, 1945.

Notes to editor / news director:

For more information on the Battle of the Atlantic Ceremony, please contact Lieutenant (Navy) Jennifer Fidler at (613) 945-0902 or by email at

More information on the Battle of the Atlantic is available by visiting this link:

To view the "Commemoration of the Battle of the Atlantic" video, please visit our page on Vimeo at:

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