Message from the Admiral

Rear-Admrial Angus Topshee, Commander Maritime Forces Pacific

Rear-Admrial Angus Topshee, Commander Maritime Forces Pacific

Rear-Admiral Angus Topshee, as part of the veteran’s speaker program, spoke to students  at Shoreline Middle School about Remembrance Day. The following is his message to them:

On this Remembrance Day, Canadians stand united. On the one hundred year anniversary of adopting the poppy as the symbol of remembrance, we honour generations of brave Canadians who have put themselves in harm’s way for peace and freedom.

Canadians have always been there when the world needed us and the Royal Canadian Navy has a proud history of being Canada’s first responder in times of conflict.

In both the First and Second World Wars, it was Royal Canadian Navy ships based in Esquimalt that were the first to put to sea upon the outbreak of war. In 1939, HMC Ships St Laurent and Fraser were among the escorts for the first convoy across the North Atlantic – beginning a campaign that would last until the final day of the war and would cost Canada over 4000 lives and 22 warships, including HMCS Esquimalt, the last RCN ship to be sunk in the war in April 1945 within sight of Halifax.

When the Korean War broke out in the summer of 1950, it was three Esquimalt-based destroyers, HMC Ships Cayuga, Sioux and Athabaskan who sailed within days to show Canada’s commitment to the first attempt at collective security by the new United Nations.

Throughout the Cold War, Canada stood ready with our allies to defend Europe and democracy. For the Royal Canadian Navy, this meant being continuously forward deployed, and tragically included the death of nine sailors in an explosion aboard HMCS Kootenay in October of 1969.

In Afghanistan, Canadians fought and died to bring stability and security to a desperate place – fighting that included navy clearance divers who worked to identify and render safe a wide assortment of improvised explosive devices.

War is horrible and it should never be the first choice for countries to solve their problems. When it happens, time and again, Canadians have fought with honour and compassion.

This year, as has been the case throughout the pandemic, the courage and commitment of our soldiers, sailors, aviators, and operators remains beyond question as we’ve helped Canadians at home through fires, floods, and COVID-19, while continuing to support Canadian interests in missions around the world.

It can be challenging to understand what Remembrance Day represents for us in uniform and to relate to an occasion that mostly features wars that happened before we were born.

Those veterans were people like you. Young adults whose lives took a different and often unexpected turn when their country asked them to serve.

Remembrance Day is a day to thank and honour our veterans. It’s also a time to think about and appreciate what we have because of them. Please try to do that in your own time and your own way.

Rear-Admrial Angus Topshee
Commander Maritime Forces Pacific




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