A veteran rests in peace with his comrades

Updated 10 November 2018

This is an article which appeared in a France newspaper in 2009.

One of my readers had sent me an e-mail to notify me. He was reading my blog Souvenirs de guerre.

His name is André Franc and he lives in Brittany.  There was a direct link to the article, but it does not work anymore. I had translated the article for my English readers.

A veteran rests in peace with his comrades

Herman Sulkers’ ashes were dispersed over the Athabaskan, sunk in 1944 in front of l’Île Vierge.

Three whisles from the boatswain. On the rear deck of SNSM de Portsall, Neil Sulkers lets go the funeral urn containing his father’s ashes, Herman Sulkers. On April 29, 1944, the Canadian destroyer Athabaskan was sunk by the Germans off the coast of l’Île Vierge (Finistere). 128 of the 261 sailors died. 85 sailors who survived the sinking, among them a 21 year-old gunner, Herman Sulkers, his face burned, were captured by the Kriegsmarine and led to Aber-Wrac’h. The sea washed the bodies of dead sailors on the shores and people buried them in the cemeteries on the Finistere’s northern coast. This is why such strong bonds were created between Bretons and Canadian veterans, notably on the 50th anniversary of D-Day. In 2002, Jacques Ouchakoff, president of l’Association bretonne de recherches archéologiques en activités maritimes, located the wreck of the Athabaskan. Since the sinking in front of the coast of Finistere, Herman Sulkers came eleven times from British Colombia to Brittany. Before his death, three years ago, he had said to his son that he wanted his ashes to return to the Athabaskan.

Yesterday, the boats SNSM de Portsall, l’Aber Wrac’h, Plouguerneau and Plouescat, along with the Tigre of the French Navy circled three times over the Athabaskan. Their sirens gave a salute in memories of Herman Sulkers, while two Rafale flew over the flottilla.

“I am in peace, confided his son, deeply touched, at the end of the ceremony. Dad is where he wanted to be, with his comrades, and near the people of Brittany without whom this ceremony would never have happened.”

Yannick GUÉRIN.

My French reader sent me an image of the article in question…

The sinking of the Athabaskan

A moving ceremony



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