Beloved Naval Centenarian


Peter Mallett
Staff Writer

One of Victoria’s most beloved naval veterans, Cdr (Retired) Peter Chance celebrated his 100th birthday virtually last week.

On Nov. 24, to celebrate the milestone occasion and his over 30-year naval career, the Naval Association of Canada – Vancouver Island (NAC-VI) organized a Zoom call with about 50 people.  Bill Conconi, NAC President, served as host, and LCdr (Retired) Paul Seguna emceed the event.

It included a photo montage of his career coupled with important historical events that involved Chance. Signed birthday certificates were virtually presented from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Governor General of Canada Julie Payette, and the Township of Sidney. Congratulatory letters from the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia Janet Austin, and Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, Vice-Admiral Art McDonald were read by LCdr (Retired) Gerald Pash and Bill Conconi respectively.

Chance also received video well wishes from RAdm Bob Auchterlonie, Commander Maritime Forces Pacific, and Capt(N) Sam Sader, Base Commander.

“I am overwhelmed, delighted, and over the moon with being able to interact with all my friends and receive well wishes from so many people,” said Chance, who also noted his email inbox had been flooded with over 75 birthday greetings and messages of support.

During the event, Capt(N) (Retired) Kevin Carlé announced, on behalf of the CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum, that the museum’s permanent Battle of the Atlantic display is to be named the Peter Godwin Chance Gallery in his honour

“I am stunned by this news. I hadn’t the slightest idea this would be happening ahead of the ceremony. It’s a great honour to be recognized in this fashion and I am completely flabbergasted,” said the centenarian.

He was born in Ottawa on Nov. 24, 1920, and served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Battle of the Atlantic in ships of the Royal Navy and Canadian Navy. These included HMC Ships St. Laurent, Skeena, Seacliff, Ottawa and Gatineau. After the war, he went on to serve in RCN ships, ranging from frigates and destroyers to a cruiser and carrier. He commanded HMC Ships Outremont and Sioux in those years.

He was on board when Skeena ran aground off Iceland and sank during a fierce storm on Oct. 24, 1944, with the incident claiming the lives of 15 sailors.

Chance still lives independently at his home in Sidney but says he has been missing in-person interaction with his friends and lunch at his favourite ocean-side restaurant. He is eagerly waiting for the isolation and physical distancing requirements brought about by the COVID-19 to end.

He has written detailed accounts of his time aboard Skeena, the Battle of the Atlantic, and his impressive naval career in his biography entitled A Sailor’s Life.


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