Updated 12 October 2022
The last Athabaskan, G07 sailor crossed the Bar October 3, 2022. Stoker Ernest Takalo, 98 years old, died in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He was the last of G07’s crew of 26
Wishing him “Fair Winds and Following Seas” as he is reunited with his shipmates
Author of “All the Ship’s Men” 2nd Edition
Sorry for posting so many articles on this blog this last week.
People have shared so much and are still sharing.
I really intended to close the book on the story of HMCS Athabaskan.
But can you really close the book on the Athabaskan which sank on April 29, 1944, off the coast of France?
Relatives of sailors of HMCS Athabaskan still fight as one, and this blog honours them.
We 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.
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.
Prisoners 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.
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.
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.
23 Squadron group photo July 1945
Another one was about HMCS Regina when someone wrote me about a relative who survived the sinking.
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.
Maybe there is a lesson to learn from all this…