Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of National Defence mark Merchant Navy Veterans Day and the 81st anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Atlantic
Ottawa – The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, and the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement to mark Merchant Navy Veterans Day and the 81st anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Atlantic
“Today is Merchant Navy Veterans Day, and the 81st anniversary of the beginning of the longest struggle of the Second World War: the Battle of the Atlantic.
“This campaign,—fought on the rough and frigid waters of the North Atlantic—began in September 1939 and only ended with the declaration of Victory in Europe Day in May 1945. It was the longest continuous battle of the Second World War.
“Canada’s Merchant Navy ships and other Allied convoys transported fuel, military equipment, food and other key supplies to the United Kingdom, helping to power the eventual liberation of western Europe.
“As they navigated the ocean, they were relentlessly hunted by enemy U-boats, surface vessels and warplanes.
“The Allied convoys were guarded, in part, by escorts from the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force. At great cost, they defended the slow-moving merchant vessels and their vital cargoes from attack.
“By the time the Battle of the Atlantic ended, thousands of Canadian Merchant Mariners and sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen of the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force died at sea. Countless others were wounded.
“Today, we remember the sacrifices the Canadian Merchant Mariners made and the price they paid to in service of peace during the costliest war in history.
“Lest we forget.”
Veterans Affairs Canada
Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs
Department of National Defence
Office of the Minister of National Defence
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