Base museum shines spotlight on pivotal sea battle

restored depth charge thrower at Naden museum

A restored depth charge thrower is just one of many artefacts on display at the museum’s Battle of the Atlantic Gallery.

Visitors to the CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum can now learn about the Battle of the Atlantic and life on board a Corvette class warship.

A section of the museum has been re-designed with new exhibits and artefacts from the museum’s own collection that reflect many aspects of nautical life during the Second World War.

“The museum’s new galley provides visual and documentary insight in the long-running sea battle that definitively shaped Canada’s navy,” says Claire Sharpe, exhibit designer.

She researched and wrote the gallery’s text panels, selected the images, and worked with graphic designers and local signage companies to bring her vision to life.

A realistic cutaway of a warship deck is the most visually compelling exhibit, complete with crew mannequins, rust and railings. Plus people can see a restored depth charge thrower used to thwart German submarines, Carley float, life raft, rations and authentic uniforms.

An important component of the gallery is the award-winning film series “Convoy” that tells the epic story of the Battle of the Atlantic within an international context.

“It’s an important part of the Canada’s naval history and we wanted to show it the proper respect,” says Sharpe.

The gallery was a two-year project with many hands bringing it to fruition, including hull technicians from Fleet School, Integrated Personnel Support Services Centre personnel, Construction Engineering, and Sharpe’s husband Greg.

A local engineering company manufactured fake depth charges and a davit for the life-scale corvette display that anchors the gallery.

It’s the details that have made all difference, such as painting the room in the disruption pattern colours – western approaches blue, green and white – used to mislead wartime enemies by HMCS Sackville, the last survivor of Canada’s 123 corvettes.

Sharpe is delighted with the end result.

“It was a matter of trying to build a full experience around what we had that was authentic, and I think it worked out very well,” she says.

The official gallery opening by RAdm Bill Truelove is planned for May 1 at 10 a.m. in Naden 37.

“It’s been such a long process and we’re excited to finally show it off to people.”

-Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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  1. […] – With files form Clare Sharpe, CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum. […]

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