A Chance Exhibit

Capt(N) Jeff Hutchinson, Base Commander, and 101-year-old Peter Chance cut the ribbon to officially open the Peter Goodwin Chance Battle of the Atlantic exhibit at the base museum. Photo by Rodney Venis, Base Public Affairs

Capt(N) Jeff Hutchinson, Base Commander, and 101-year-old Peter Chance cut the ribbon to officially open the Peter Goodwin Chance Battle of the Atlantic exhibit at the base museum. Photo by Rodney Venis, Base Public Affairs

Peter Mallett
Staff Writer
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CFB Esquimalt’s Naval and Military Museum has dedicated its permanent Battle of the Atlantic exhibit to Commander (Retired) Peter Godwin Chance.

On the day of his 101st birthday, Nov. 24, Base Commander, Capt(N) Jeff Hutchinson, base and museum staff, and museum volunteers held a small invitation-only ceremony.

“I was absolutely amazed, humbled, and astounded that I was being honoured,” said Chance. “The news from the museum came as a complete surprise and I never anticipated anything like this would happen.”

More than 30 years of his life were dedicated to the Royal Canadian Navy, including serving aboard HMCS Skeena during the Second World War. He survived its sinking on Oct. 24, 1944, during a storm off Reykjavik, Iceland, where it was anchored.  The storm pushed the ship aground in 15 metres waves onto Viðey Island. Fifteen crewmembers perished.

“He survived naval actions during the arduous years of struggle in the Atlantic that included actions against enemy submarines and surface vessels to the loss of his own ship, wrecked in a gale in Iceland,” said Paul Seguna, museum volunteer, and retired Lieutenant-Commander. “He rose in rank and responsibility from a high school graduate Midshipman of 1938 to command a frigate and destroyer in Canada’s post-war navy, and senior staff positions ashore in Canada, the United Kingdom, and United States.”

The exhibit features an account of Chance’s career and several items of interest from the Battle of the Atlantic. Among them are models of a Flower Class corvette and North Sands freighter, a diorama style exhibit of a Carley float, a food ration box and first aid kit, depth charge thrower, the repatriated war medals of famed Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve Cdr Ted Simmons, and other artefacts of the day.

Chance lives independently in Sidney, B.C., and is in good health, or, as he quipped, “disgustingly healthy.”

Until the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chance was a long-standing Guest of Honour at the All-Ranks Mess Dinner held annually at CFB Esquimalt to commemorate the Battle of the Atlantic.

He is also a prolific writer and public speaker. In 2001, he wrote and published a full account of his military career and life in his autobiography entitled A Sailor’s Life.

HMCS Esquimalt exhibit.

HMCS Esquimalt exhibit – Corvette mess deck.

HMCS Esquimalt exhibit.

HMCS Esquimalt exhibit – Mural.

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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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