We Fight as One

Post 450

Sorry for posting so many articles on this blog this last week.

People have shared so much and are still sharing.

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I really intended to close the book on the story of HMCS Athabaskan.

Hmcs_athabaskan_g07

But can you really close the book on the Athabaskan which sank on April 29, 1944, off the coast of France?

cover page 1

Relatives of sailors of HMCS Athabaskan still fight as one, and this blog honours them.

We fight as oneWe Fight as One

The badge design was created by officers of the first Athabaskan, and has been kept to honour the entire crew after their ship was lost to enemy action. The badge commemorates their sacrifice and expresses the ideal of courage and devotion to duty.

source

Everytime I needed help with this blog, there was always a relative who would help me in my quest for the truth about what my wife’s uncle said in a family reunion in 2009. He wanted to see his nieces and his nephew maybe for the last time in his life.

Together, sailors’ relatives and I fought as one to preserve the memories of the sailors of HMCS Athabaskan, a Tribal-class destroyer I knew nothing about in 2009.

athab 2Prisoners coming back to Canada

I knew nothing about the Athabaskan, so after listening astonished to what my wife’s uncle told us in a family reunion, I had to know if he was telling the truth or not.

I had decided then to write about it and to share what people would shared, first on Souvenirs de guerre and its English version Lest We Forget.

From there Lest We Forget then evolved on its own.

They were several spin-off blogs.

One was on RCAF 403 Squadron which I knew nothing about in 2011 when while visiting Hamilton, I met the grandson of Walter Neil Dove, a Spitfire pilot with that squadron.

Walter Dove

Then another spin-off blog on RCAF 128 (F) Squadron stationed in Dartmouth,  Nova Scotia, and later on in Torbay, Newfoundland when Greg told me his grandfather was stationed there before being posted with 403 Squadron.

blog 128

Another spin-off was on 23 Squadron, a Mosquito Squadron with the RAF where a French-Canadian from Bromptonville, Quebec, flew 33 night missions over Germany from December 1944 until the end of the war.

Eugene Gagnon 194523 Squadron group photo July 1945

Another one was about HMCS Regina when someone wrote me about a relative who survived the sinking.

HMCS_Regina_K234_CT-252

All these blogs (there are also others) first originated with this one about HMCS Athabaskan.

We fight as one… and we still do.

I am writing this because of this excerpt from Sherry’s e-mail I posted yesterday.

This part struck me the most.

He (Ernest Takalo) said the French men stuck to themselves and only spoke French to one another, so they never got to fully know one another.

It’s funny how a French-Canadian started writing a blog about a ship he knew nothing about, first posting what he had learned on a blog written in French, then deciding to share everything with English-speaking people so they could share with him paying homage to those who fought as one.

We fight as oneMaybe there is a lesson to learn from all this…

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9 thoughts on “We Fight as One

  1. Good morning Pierre

    I continue to enjoy your blog . Just to identify my father John J. Acorn as being the fourth from the left in the top back row. In the picture Prisoners returning home to Canada. I will be sending you some material within a few days.

    Thanks so much for your work on this blog I too can understand some of the hardships that these brave men have experienced in sailing the Oceans of the world during my career as a Master Mariner for 35+ years.

    Barry Acorn

  2. Hi my oldest son is in the Navy League, Woodstock Ontario. I came across your blog while helping him to do some research. He is the Divisional Petty Officer for NLCC Unicorn and his division has been named after the Athabascan. I was wondering if we can print some of your pictures. They are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year and all the senior cadets are preparing a static display. As DPO, his task is to tell the story of the HMCS Athabascan.

    Thank you for your time

    Rachelle

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