New coin to commemorate Terra Nova mission

From left: Lt(N) (Retired) André Robin, CPO2 (Retired) Ken Levert and CPO2 (Retired) Claude Jolivet reminisce about old times back in 1973 when they were aboard HMCS Terra Nova during Canada’s peacekeeping mission in the Vietnam conflict. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout

From left: Lt(N) (Retired) André Robin, CPO2 (Retired) Ken Levert and CPO2 (Retired) Claude Jolivet reminisce about old times back in 1973 when they were aboard HMCS Terra Nova during Canada’s peacekeeping mission in the Vietnam conflict. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

A tight-knit group of veterans who served in former warship HMCS Terra Nova are producing a coin to commemorate the peacekeeping mission during the Vietnam War.

From January to June of 1973, Terra Nova was deployed off the coast of Vietnam as part of Operation Gallant during Westploy ’73. 

The coin, created by Esquimalt’s Sharkzcoins, will be distributed to former crew members later this summer. The intention of the coin is to give each surviving crew member a tangible memento of their part in this mission.

Chief Petty Officer (Retired) Ken Levert, 69, says, while their mission was only six months, most Canadians are unaware of Terra Nova’s peacekeeping role in Vietnam.

“It was one crew and one mission, and we have stayed together for over 46 years,” said Levert, who served aboard Terra Nova as a Radioman. “Those were our brothers in arms back then; we worked together and played together, and the camaraderie was second to none.”

Terra Nova was deployed to Vietnam should a sea evacuation be necessary for the Canadian peacekeeping troops taking part in Operation Gallant on land, Canada’s military contribution to the International Commission of Control and Supervision.

The international coalition was introduced following the signing of the Paris Peace Accord in January 1973, which attempted to put an end to the Cold-war era conflict between communist forces in the north of the country pitted against United States-backed southern Vietnamese forces. But the ceasefire agreement failed and the conflict and casualties continued to mount even after the peace accord was signed.

Levert says Terra Nova’s deployment was highly secretive; they were given few details about its deployment and the vessel departed Esquimalt quietly with no official send-off.   

Canada’s military role in Vietnam ended in July 1973, just days after Terra Nova made its return to Esquimalt on June 28 of that year.

The war dragged on for another two years. Approximately 30,000 Canadians volunteered to fight and enlisted in the U.S. Army, albeit illegally, with the same number of American fleeing to Canada to avoid the draft.

Terra Nova was decommissioned in July 1997 after 38 years of service, but its legacy continues for those who served on board. Last year, Levert and his Westploy shipmates held a 45th anniversary dinner in Victoria that was attended by 54 former crew members and three families of members who have crossed the bar.

New coin to commemorate Terra Nova mission

HMCS Terra Nova was commissioned on June 6, 1959, and named for the Terra Nova River that flows through the centre of Newfoundland. The front of the coin features the ship’s crest in gold and red over a grey background, along with the ship’s mascot, a penguin and includes the inscription “Westploy ’73, 29 Jan – 28 Jun 1973.” The mascot, named Percy, honours the original Terra Nova, a whaler, and its three-year voyage to Antarctica led by British explorer Robert Falcon Scott.

The reverse side features a three-dimensional likeness of Terra Nova (DDE 259) with the ship’s motto “Do Not Falter” inscribed in gold letters on a black background.

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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  1. Yves Levesque says:

    Good morning

    I just saw the article by Peter Mallett on the new Terra Nova coin and was wondering how I could acquire one as the producer, Sharkzcoins, does not seem to do single sales but only bulk orders according to my visit to their website… I am now retired after 43 years with DND, 20 in uniform and 23 as a civilian.

    I served on the Terra Nova for this ICCS Vietnam deployment as a MarEng 311, stoker… but got posted off the ship shortly after our return.

    And interestingly enough, the picture accompanying the story brought back lots of memory…

    I was a co-worker of Claude Jolivet (Joly) along with Denis Desrochers (who passed in car accident in 1978 while I was serving in Germany) and we were called the French Connection…

    As well, although I was a stoker and not a radioman, I was allowed to take Ken Levert duty watch the day before we sailed so he could spend some additional time with his new wife…

    Thanks for the article.

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