Navy replaces veteran’s stolen coin


Darlene Blakeley, Navy Public Affairs Ottawa ~

A 91-year-old naval veteran who had a treasured coin stolen from his car during a recent move in Cornwall, Ont., received an unexpected visit from the Deputy-Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) on Sept. 2 at the Cornwall Legion.

Six years ago, Edgar Hughes received the coin from the commanding officer of HMCS Fredericton in honour of his service on D-Day. On the day the allies stormed the beaches of Normandy, Hughes, just 19 at the time, was a gunner aboard St. Croix, one of the Royal Navy’s merchant ships. After the Germans launched three shells at the convoy St. Croix was sailing with, the young Hughes set up a smoke screen that saved the lives of hundreds of sailors.

The story of the veteran’s stolen coin came to the attention of the RCN after media reports on the crime. RCN Deputy-Commander, Rear-Admiral Gilles Couturier, decided to personally travel to Cornwall to present Hughes with a replacement coin, as well as other gifts including navy books and ball caps. The items all came from the ship’s company of HMCS Fredericton, of which RAdm Couturier was once a commanding officer.

“We saw the article about Edgar Hughes and read about how much the coin meant to him, so we thought it would be a great opportunity to replace it for him,” said RAdm Couturier. “It’s important to recognize the hard work of our veterans and express how much gratitude we have for them.”

Hughes knew the RCN was coming to the Cornwall Legion to pay him a visit, but was surprised by the fact they were coming to replace the coin, and that an admiral had come from Ottawa to present it to him.

“I’m so happy,” he said. “It’s so wonderful for you to have come down. I’m pinching myself wondering if this is really happening. Thank you so much. I’m just speechless.”

Hughes and RAdm Couturier enjoyed exchanging naval stories. “Once navy, always navy,” Hughes said. “I wish I could go sailing with you, with today’s navy.”

The Admiral responded sincerely, “Thank you, but you’ve done your part.”

With files from Lt(N) Linda Coleman, Navy Public Affairs Ottawa.

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