It’s ‘All hands on deck’ in COVID-19 fight says veteran

Retired Royal Canadian Navy Commander Peter Chance

Retired Royal Canadian Navy Commander Peter Chance

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

A popular Facebook meme – brief, blunt and to the point – effectively shames those not adhering to the physical distancing and isolation protocols.

It reads: “Your grandparents were called to fight in World Wars. You’re being called to wash your hands and sit on the couch. Don’t [expletive] this up.”

Many of those grandparents who helped lead us to victory in the last global crisis are no longer with us, but a handful are still here, and have a thing or two to say about the COVID-19 crisis.

One of them is 99-year-old Peter Chance, a retired Royal Canadian Navy Commander with many a salty tale to tell of his service.

He had been planning to move into an assisted care facility, but the COVID-19 situation put the brakes on that. A social worker makes regular visits to assist him with cleaning, and until recently he received regular visits from friends. Now he is self-isolating and following physical distancing advice to the letter.

“Some people are making terrible mistakes and placing themselves in danger and creating a situation where they might contaminate someone else with the virus,” he said. “There are two sides to this coin, and neither are good sides.”

He says there are several parallels to now and the Second World War, especially in how the world responded and the unity that was required for victory.

Chance spent several months in London during the Blitz, the devastating bombing raids by Germany towards the end of the Battle of Britain.

“There were nightly blackouts, food and drink was hard to come by and it was rationed, but despite this crisis people pulled together,” he said.  “We made jokes, tried to make light of what was really a terrible situation, and did our best to enjoy life and remain happy despite events beyond our control.”

He hopes people can do the same thing today. He believes the Brits had it right in their “stiff-upper-lip” approach. He fondly remembers hearing Winston Churchill’s “we will never surrender” speech on the radio. That same spirit needs to be adopted by everyone around the world right now in fighting COVID-19.

“Just like during the Second World War, that was a life-and-death struggle, we didn’t know the outcome, if Britain and the Allies would prevail or the Germans would win,” said Chance. “This bloody virus is the same because we simply don’t know how it will unfold. But we will have to win this one way or another and do whatever it takes. It’s all hands on deck right now and everyone has to comply.”


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  1. Michael Mooney says:

    Respect to you Sir, for your service then and your informed, rational and practical words now. We would all benefit from a return of “we” before “me” in our culture. Perhaps it is a lot to hope for, but if this pandemic situation does anything to foster than change, it will have been a test worth meeting that improved us, possibly the best outcome available. Best wishes for continued good health. Thank you for sharing with this forum.

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