In 2010, the Naval Association of Canada (NAC) and HMCS Prevost partnered to create a memorial garden on the grassy hillside of HMCS Prevost to honour the fallen of the Battle of Atlantic. Now, six years later, the NAC is looking to embellish the memorial making it more accessible but is need of $75,000 to do so.
The Battle of Atlantic was the longest battle of the Second World War running from 1939 to 1945. It was also one of the most important.
“The thing is if its wasn’t for all of the merchant ships that were protected by the Navy, going constantly across the Atlantic with supplies, to the British in particular, we could very likely have lost the war,” said Dr. Michael Hoare, co-director on the Battle of Atlantic Memorial Committee.
The Battle of Atlantic is so significant in Naval history that it is specially marked on the first Sunday of every May with a parade and service.
To honour this significant battle, HMCS Prevost decided to create a memorial in 2010, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy. The NAC stepped in to help with the fundraising.
The memorial consists of 25 granite stones, each one chronologically ordered to represent a sunken ship of the battle and one to represent all the merchant ships. The stones also serve to honour all those sailors of the war lost at sea and have no grave markers.
The memorial is scattered with weather-proof tablets with information about the ships.
This was only stage one of the project, however. Over the years the Committee has realized they need a plan to enhance the memorial by adding walkways and improve landscaping, not only to make the memorial more attractive, but to make it accessible for all.
This second phase of the project was launched in late 2015 and is expected to be completed for Battle of Atlantic Sunday 2017 and in time for the 150th anniversary of Canada. However, to make their goals become concrete achievements, the NAC needs to raise an additional $75,000 to build a walkway, observation deck, benches and a new fence.
So far, through their Gofundme page, the association has raised $20,000 in just a few weeks short weeks.
“We’ve really just started over the last few weeks, month or so, to really start on the fundraising campaign but the response has been very good certainly the Gofundme is quite good,” stated Hoare.
They’ve even generated interest from honorary Naval Captain Mark McQueen, who has pledged to match the next $20,000 donated.
Hoare hopes this act of generosity will help to generate interest from more prominent community members linked with the RCN.
As a former commanding officer of HMCS Prevost and former president of the NAC London branch, Hoare believes memorials such as these serve to keep history alive for generations.
“I think it is absolutely crucial that all of the citizens of Canada recognize the sacrifice, the profound sacrifice, these people made, and, of course, many others, but in particular, the vital roles these people played in ensuring we have the freedom and the country we have today.
“When you have something tangible and attractive like this it really is important we don’t lose knowledge of it, and this is something, for example, school children can be brought to, and it takes on a different meaning from just looking at a book,” said Hoare.