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I got this comment last week from Norm Gervais, but I did not have time to post something on the blog.
Mon père Jacques Gervais peut-être nommé comme James Gervais était je crois CPO lors de l’attaque. Il a dit très peu de choses lorsque il vivait au sujet de l’événement. Il doit sûrement sa vie au fait qu’il a été très sérieusement blessé et que à cause de ses blessure il a été placé dans un canot de sauvetage. Il paraitrait que plusieurs des marins non blessés ont dû s’accrocher au radeau parce qu’il n’y avait pas de place dans le canot. Certains de ceux-ci auraient été attaqué par des requins alors que d’autres seraient décédés à cause de l’eau froide. Mon père a été un de ceux qui n’a pas été fait prisonnier mais secouru par HMCS HAIDA.
My father Jacques Gervais, maybe going by the name James Gervais was I believe CPO (Chief Petty Officer) during the attack. He said very little about the event when he was living. He surely owed his life by the fact that he was very seriously injured, and because of this was put aboard a lifeboat. It would seem that several uninjured sailors had stayed in the water, and had to hold on to the lifeboat because there was not enough place. Some of them would have been attacked by sharks while others died of hypothermia. My father was one of those not taken prisoner but rescued by HMCS HAIDA.
The name James Gervais or Jacques Gervais is not on the list found in the book Unlucky Lady.
This is the second time someone has written me about the list being incomplete.
The first time was in 2012 and I wrote about it.
Norm wrote me a second time and he told me he thinks his father was working in the engine room… just like my wife’s uncle.
I got thinking…
Could Norm’s father be on these pictures taken early April 1944?
To be continued?
A comment left earlier in April…
My Great Uncle Alfred (George) Berkeley is listed in the names of the lost. George was killed while at his station at the Y gun he was 19. The first torpedo hit. George was new to the ship, so there are no pictures of him on board. I have uploaded a picture of George on the Virtual Canadian War Memorial. The HMCS Athabaskan was sunk while engaging German Ebling class torpedo boats that had attacked and killed over 1000 CDN/US and British service men, while on maneuvers called operation TIGER practicing for D-DAY off the coast of England. I had also met many survivors here in BC in the late 80 and early 90’s. they all had very different memories and trauma. I also have a personal letter from Len Burrow the author of the Unlucky Lady. What a great generation.
LEST WE FORGET
Link to the Canadian Virtual War Memorial
I wrote this earlier in April. I had asked his relative to look for great-uncle George on these two photos shared by Herman Sulkers’ son.
I know it’s not easy to find one of the greatest generation.
“Thin”, that’s the nickname my wife’s uncle had used in 2009 when his daughter showed him the picture of the crew.
With this information I then decided to write this post.
My wife’s cousin wrote me again about her father and the Athabaskan…
I had told her that I did not want to bother her with the story of Athabaskan.
I can be quite obsessive sometimes.
You don’t cause me any problems, it’s a real pleasure to dive into history. On the contrary, I’m deeply grateful because I now know a lot more about my father’s involment in the war..
Yesterday, while talking to dad, I noticed that he was a little bit confused, consciously or unconsciously; this disurbs him. I decided that I was to respect that. On the other hand, I bought with me the picture you gave me of the crew of the Athabaskan taken in April 1944. He recognized someone. He is the sailor in the middle between the two cannons in the third row; he is chubby. He did not recall his name, but he recalls his nickname: “Thin”… something like that. He met him once after the year.
He was happy to see the picture and I promised him to print a copy.
I started looking for pictures of my dad… When I am done, I will contact you again.
Have a nice day.
This is “Thin…”
I wonder if my wife’s uncle had a nickname on the Athabaskan…
When I look at that picture, I think of all those brave men who gave their lives for their country and all those who survided the war but have to live now with their memories of the sinking.
I thought this morning I had finally found who “Thin” was on this Website.
But if my wife’s uncle did meet “Thin” after the war then he can’t possibly be Robert Lawrence Yeadon…
A name on a list in the book Unlucky Lady…
A memorial on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial…
No picture just an image of his medals.
A nephew who sent me this request a few hours ago…
My uncle was on the Athabaskan when it was sunk. His name was LUCIEN JOSEPH RIENDEAU who was the son of IVANHOE RIENDEAU WHO LIVED IN LOWER TOWN IN OTTAWA ONTARIO AND WAS KILLED ON THAT DATE THE UNLUCKY LADY SANK. Would like to find out any informations about my uncle who gave his life during the war and a lake was named in his honour called RIENDEAU LAKE IN NORTHERN ONTARIO. IF ANYONE KNOWS ANY INFORMATIONS ABOUT LUCIEN JOSEPH RIENDEAU PLEASE FEEL FREE IN CONTACTING ME