Final post

This will be my final post about the story of my wife’s uncle being aboard HMCS Athabaskan.

Pierre Bachant

Sherry Pringle who wrote this book is still trying to help me.

All-The-Ships-MenSherry called Ernest Takalo who was a stoker aboard the ship on April 29, 1944.


I called Ernie just now. He said there were 32 stokers onboard. They did not all know one another – only the sailors on their shifts. The name Pierre or Pete Bachant is not familiar to him. He said the French men stuck to themselves and only spoke French to one another, so they never got to fully know one another.

He has no recollection of “Slim”.

Something struck me from one of your emails. Pierre lied about his age, as did many others including my Uncle Moe. However, they did have a competition of sorts – whoever was the youngest on ship got to wear the Captain’s hat and jacket and be captain for Christmas day. John Fairchild won out over Moe and Ernie. But….. they were all born in 1924. At the time the ship sunk  the youngest onboard were 19 years old. Your uncle would only have been 16! I realize there were mistakes in the recording of all this, but it does seem improbable to me that there would have been a three year gap in age from your uncle to those who were considered the youngest on ship.

Sorry I could not tell you differently. Perhaps I told you once before but there was an Athabaskan from our town who claimed to be onboard that night. He even gave details of the sinking to the local paper where his account was reported. In 2001, Herm Sulkers came to visit from Victoria. He called this man on the phone as he knew him. Turns out that the Napanee man was on leave when the sinking occurred and told an untruth. Herm said there were several who reported to be there when they were not.

Having said all that, no one wants to think their loved one was not totally honest. Veterans Affairs might hold the true definitive answer. I think the age thing says it all.

Love your blog. Keep up the good work.



7 thoughts on “Final post

    1. The last desperate thing to do is to check with Veterans Affairs…
      Then you know how desperate veterans feel when they have a problem.

  1. A fascinating puzzle. Remember that not all untruths are lies. I can imagine a member of a ship’s company having been on leave when it went down with all his friends, feeling great guilt, half wishing that he had been with them, and coming to believe, decades later, that he had really been there. As I say, I can imagine this… But we know it happens. Memories carved in sand.

    1. I am sure he was aboard. He could not have made up such a story.
      If he had made it up, he would not have made nightmares about it.

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