The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) announced last week the second sponsor of a ship from the upcoming Harry DeWolf-Class Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels. Ms. Margaret Elizabeth Brooke has agreed to sponsor Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Margaret Brooke, named after the sponsor’s aunt.
“With Ms. Margaret E. Brooke serving as sponsor of HMCS Margaret Brooke, Canadians will have a living connection to a true wartime naval hero. We look forward to the future operations that her aunt’s namesake ship—and the rest of the Harry DeWolf-Class Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels—will take on for Canada, at home and abroad,” said Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan.
LCdr. Margaret Martha Brooke, whose name the new naval ship will bear, was a naval hero and was decorated for gallantry during the Second World War. She survived the sinking of the ferry SS Caribou after it was torpedoed by a German U-Boat off the coast of Newfoundland on October 13, 1942. The passenger ferry sailed from Sydney to Port aux Basques. That evening 136 people, including 10 children lost their lives.
LCdr. Brooke then spent hours holding onto the lifeboat with one hand and her friend with the other until daybreak, when, despite her gallant effort, a wave pulled SLt. Wilkie away.
LCdr. Brooke was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire.
When the name of HMCS Margaret Brooke was announced in April 2015, it was the first RCN ship ever to be named after a living Canadian woman. LCdr. Brooke passed away the following year at the age of 100. She and a colleague, Sub-Lieutenant Agnes Wilkie, clung to ropes on an overturned lifeboat until hypothermia caused Wilkie to lose consciousness.
Ms. Margaret E. Brooke, the sponsor, was very close to her paternal aunt and affectionally called her “Aunty Margie.”
“My Aunt Margie was absolutely delighted when the Royal Canadian Navy asked if she would lend her name to a ship. She was a very private lady, kind and thoughtful. She was also a lifelong learner and a self-made career woman. Despite having a long and successful career in paleontology after retiring from the Navy, her 20 years in uniform remained very close to her heart. I am honoured to share her legacy as the ship’s sponsor, and I cannot wait to meet the men and women of HMCS Margaret Brooke,” said Ms. Margaret E. Brooke.
Construction of HMCS Margaret Brooke is underway at Halifax Shipyard. An official Naming/Launching ceremony, that will involve Ms. Margaret E. Brooke, is anticipated for 2019.
Cmdr. Michele Tessier has been appointed as the first Commanding Officer of HMCS Margaret Brooke, which will be a large, ice-capable ship more than 100 metres long.
“As we mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest battle of the Second World War, the Royal Canadian Navy is very proud that Ms. Margaret E. Brooke will become the sponsor of the ship bearing her aunt’s name. LCdr Brooke’s heroic and selfless actions during the terrifying sinking of the SS Caribou by a German U-Boat in 1942 continue to inspire the sailors of today’s RCN,” said VAdm. Ron Lloyd, Commander of the RCN.
Margaret E. Brooke was born in Ottawa and raised in Vancouver. She is the eldest of five children. Her parents, Hewitt and Marian Brooke, also served in the RCN during the Second World War; he as a doctor and she as a nurse.
Ms. Brooke graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1971 and trained as a Registered Nurse.