Battle of the Atlantic: Honouring HMCS Calgary’s bygone and current service

Members of Royal Canadian Navy participate in the Battle of the Atlantic Service. Photo by LS Brendan Gibson, MARPAC Imaging Services

Members of Royal Canadian Navy participate in the Battle of the Atlantic Service. Photo by LS Brendan Gibson, MARPAC Imaging Services

SLt Richard Bowker, HMCS Calgary ~

T he first HMCS Calgary (K231) was a Flower-class Corvette, one of many that were built to meet the demand for escorting merchant vessels across the Atlantic during the Second World War.

Corvette crews earned a reputation of possessing a hardy and courageous spirit, which would serve them well against the submarines that stalked allied ships. The Corvettes proved effective in anti-submarine warfare, with Calgary being no exception.

On Nov. 20, 1943, Calgary in consort with HMCS Snowberry and HMS Nene, sank the German submarine U-536. Calgary would continue to serve in an anti-submarine and escort role through the Battle of the Atlantic and in the North Sea, as well as at the Battle of Normandy. Calgary was paid off on June 19, 1945, but her spirit lives on in her successor.

The current HMCS Calgary (FFH335) is the flagship of Canada’s Pacific Fleet and proudly carries the Battle Honours of her predecessor. Her strike to maintain mission focus and courageous spirit has brought the ship and crew success at home and abroad, most recently during Operation Projection in 2018.

From Newfoundland to British Columbia, and all parts in-between, the crew of Calgary hails from all walks of life and proudly represents Canada. Not all her sailors are from the navy; many of the crew come from the air force and army. MWO Louise Martel is one such sailor. Though her element is army, she has sailed with the navy for three years in Calgary as the senior supply technician and racked up over 365 days at sea. No matter their background, the crew of Calgary came together the first Sunday in May to honour the sailors who served in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Over 30 members of the ship’s company were involved in the ceremonies at local cenotaphs around Greater Victoria and across Canada to commemorate the Battle of the Atlantic.

Calgary’s Coxswain, CPO1 Arvid Lee was the Chief Petty Officer supporting Capt(N) Montgomery at the ceremony in Edmonton, AB.

Naval Communicators AB Michalski, LS Cutrell, and LS Dang represented the RCN and Calgary in their home towns of Halifax NS, Edmonton AB, and Vancouver, BC, respectively.

Boatswains OS Lariviere from Trois-Rivieres, QC, and LS Swedgan from Vancouver, BC, returned home to attend ceremonies, along with Naval Combat Information Operator LS Marsh who went to his home town of Calgary, AB.

Whether showcasing the RCNs capabilities during Op Projection or laying a wreath to honour Canadian sailors at the Battle of the Atlantic, Calgary stands ready to meet the challenges of the future. Crewed by some of the best sailors in the fleet, Calgary will continue to connect with the present public while honouring those who have served Canada in the past.

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