The crew of HMCS Ottawa were joined by past commanding officers and veterans on Sept. 14 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the original destroyer HMCS Ottawa and crew.
Once the ship’s company had fallen into divisions on the flight deck the ceremony began.
“Let us think reverently of those comrades who laid down their lives for sovereign and country,” said Commanding Officer Cdr Scott VanWill to his crew. “Let us be mindful of the cost of freedom and peace. May our country and its people be worthy of their sacrifice.”
Then, the ship’s flag was lowered to half mast.
Padre Lt(N) Jeannine Friesen led a naval prayer and blessed the water in Ottawa II’s ship bell and MS Ley Ireland and PO1 Keith Fairman committed the water over the side of the ship.
The ship’s bell rang once in memory of Ottawa I and two minutes of silence followed.
Amazing Grace was piped on the bagpipes.
“We commemorate the sinking every year, but this is the first year we have reached out to veterans and past commanding officers,” said Ottawa’s coxswain, CPO1 Sid Tobias. “It gives the sailors a direct reference point to think about and brings them closer to the sacrifice of service. It is our responsibility to mark this each year,” he said.
Veteran Ed Dallin attended the ceremony. His brother was a stoker on the original Ottawa from 1938 to 1941.
“This brings back a lot of memories for me,” said Dallin. “My brother got off the ship before it sank the following year. He was glad he wasn’t on it. It means a lot for me to be here today.”
HMCS Ottawa was built as British HMS Crusader H60 in 1931 and transferred to Canada in 1938 and renamed HMCS Ottawa.
During the Second World War, Ottawa escorted convoys between Great Britain and Canada.
On Sept. 13, 1942, the ship was torpedoed off the coast of St. John’s, Newfoundland. A second hit broke the ship in half and sunk it. Only 65 survivors were rescued from the freezing Atlantic waters, while 114 died.
The current HMCS Ottawa is the fourth generation of Ottawa in the Canadian Navy.
Shelley Lipke, Staff Writer
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