Harper Government Commemorates Merchant Mariners at Battle of the Atlantic Ceremony in Halifax

HALIFAX, May 4, 2013 /CNW/ - On behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister for La Francophonie, the Honourable Stephen Greene, Senator for Halifax, marked the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic today at a wreath-laying ceremony on the Halifax Waterfront. The ceremony, organized by the Company of Master Mariners, commemorated Canadian and Norwegian Merchant Navy efforts during the Battle of the Atlantic.

"The Atlantic Ocean was a merciless battlefield during the Second World War," said Minister Blaney. "Merchant mariners demonstrated incredible heroism by putting their lives on the line for the sake of others. Their efforts to keep trade lines open between North America and Europe were critical and may ultimately have been one of the most important contributions to victory."

The Battle of the Atlantic was Canada's single longest continuous military engagement of the Second World War, lasting from September 1939 to May 1945. The Merchant Marine provided a crucial lifeline across the Atlantic between North America and Britain which was threatened from the very beginning of the war. For almost six years, the men and women of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Merchant Navy courageously braved the dangerous and freezing waters of the North Atlantic to ensure vital supplies reached Europe. After receiving more training, air cover, special intelligence and better equipment, the Battle of the Atlantic reached a turning point in May 1943.

"As we stand here today, 70 years later, we can be grateful for the opportunity to say thank you not only to those who served during the Battle of the Atlantic, but to all those who have served and still serve our great nation today," said Senator Greene. "These brave individuals are willing to pay any price to protect and promote our shared values. We can never thank them enough for that."

For more information on the Battle of the Atlantic and commemorative events in your area, please visit veterans.gc.ca.

2013 is the Year of the Korean War Veteran—Canada proudly remembers the heroes of the Korean War and their brave fight to uphold freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

Note to editors: Although the Battle of the Atlantic was fought from 1939 until 1945, May 1943 has been recognized as the date of the turning point in the battle when the Allied forces finally gained the upper hand and managed to "turn the tide" against the German U-boat threat. However, the battle went on until May 1945 and wasn't over until the last day of the war in Europe (V-E Day). This being said, VAC recognizes the turning point, hence the 70th anniversary of the battle, in 2013.

SOURCE: Veterans Affairs Canada

For further information:

Media inquiries:
Janice Summerby
Media Relations Advisor
Veterans Affairs Canada
613-992-7468

Amanda Kelly
Communications Advisor
Veterans Affairs Canada
902-426-1707
Cell: 902-401-2895

Jean-Christophe de Le Rue
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs
613-996-4649


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