OTTAWA, Sept. 3, 2014 /CNW/ - The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, today issued the following statement to mark Merchant Navy Veterans Day and the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Atlantic:
"Each year, on September 3, Canadians proudly come together to recognize our nation's Merchant Navy Veterans who served with great skill, commitment and courage during the Second World War. We also mark the beginning of that war's longest battle, the Battle of the Atlantic, which began in 1939.
"Canada's efforts in the Atlantic Ocean included maintaining and protecting the vital supply routes between North America and Britain. To enhance its naval fleet, Canada conscripted civilian cargo ships into war service. While the crews of these vessels were not obliged to enlist, most merchant sailors, some of whom had also served in the First World War, answered the call. In all, some 12,000 men and women served with the Canadian Merchant Navy.
"Working with the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force, our nation's merchant mariners guided convoys of ships as the Battle of the Atlantic approached Canadian and American shores. They endured torpedo attacks and perilous conditions while transporting desperately needed supplies across the Atlantic and around the world. In delivering millions of tonnes of cargo to the United Kingdom, their efforts would help make the liberation of Europe possible.
"With gratitude, our nation remembers Canada's Merchant Navy Veterans, the more than 1,600 merchant mariners who gave their lives, and all members of Canada's naval and air forces who took part in the almost six-year Battle of the Atlantic.
"Lest we forget."
For more information about the Canadian Merchant Navy and the Battle of the Atlantic, please visit veterans.gc.ca.
SOURCE: Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information: Barbara Mottram, Director of Communications, Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs, 613-996-4649; Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468