The Battle of the Atlantic lasted just over five years and is said to be the longest continuous military campaign during the Second World War. The battle started on September 3, 1939, and carried out until May 8, 1945. This year marks the 73rd anniversary since the Battle of the Atlantic ended.
The battle started west of Ireland after a German submarine sank SS Athenia. The passenger ship was on its way to Montreal and carried 1,400 passengers and crew. Four of the 118 passengers were Canadian.
When the Battle of the Atlantic began, the Royal Canadian Navy started out with 13 vessels and a crew of 3,500. The Royal Canadian Navy ended that battle with 373 ships and a crew of over 110,000 including 6,500 women. They were considered to have the third largest allied Navy.
During the battle, Canada played a major role in regaining control of the North Atlantic from the Germans and their allies. With the help of the Royal Canadian Air Force Eastern Air Command, Royal Canadian Air Force crews in Royal Air Force Coastal Command and ships from the Royal Canadian Navy, they managed to sink 50 enemy U-Boats.
Youtube video courtesy of the Royal Canadian Navy
About 2,000 Canadian sailors lost their lives during the Second World War, a majority of them lost during the Battle of the Atlantic, including 752 flight crew members from the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Communities across Canada commemorate the Battle of the Atlantic the first Sunday in May. People across Canada honour and thank the men and women who served and survived by attending church ceremonies and a wreath laying. The Naval Association of Canada continued the commemoration with their annual Battle of the Atlantic Gala where they honour the lives lost and the surviving Navy veterans.
“These are men and women who are now in their 90’s, so they’ve lived a full life, but they started out their lives as young people who went to war. They answered the call and went to war,” said Tim Haddison, co-chair, 2018 BOA (Battle of the Atlantic) Gala.