Town to pause to pay Tribute to Veterans and current service members

    Ajax marks 70th Anniversary of the Battle of the River Plate with Tribute
    to all Veterans

AJAX, ON, Sept. 21 /CNW/ - The Town of Ajax has the distinction of being the only town in the world to take its name from a ship - the HMS Ajax, who in December 1939, along with HMS Achilles and HMS Exeter, routed the powerful German pocket battleship Graf Spee at the Battle of the River Plate. The battle was the first major naval success of the British Allied forces during WWII.

The Town has maintained strong relationships with the veterans of HMS Ajax, HMS Achilles and HMS Exeter throughout its 50-plus years of existence, and will pay tribute to those who fought at the Battle of the River Plate when it welcomes a group of 75 visitors - including veterans, family members and friends - during the Town's 70th Anniversary Reunion of the Battle of the River Plate, September 26 through to October 4, 2009.

The Town will take this opportunity to recognize all Canadian service members who have, are, and will, serve our country. This occasion is a timely one, and will remind us of the reality and risks that our military personnel are facing in Afghanistan and throughout the world as they carry out their missions with an extraordinary sense of duty and dedication.

In speaking to the importance of the 70th Anniversary, Mayor Steve Parish said "The Town of Ajax was born from the conflict of the Second World War, and is a standing memorial and testament to the freedom we take for granted every day." He concluded by saying "The arrival of the veterans of the HMS Ajax, HMS Achilles and HMS Exeter is very special to all of us in Ajax, as it's our Town that is named after one of the ships, and our streets are named in honour of the veterans."

Councillor Pat Brown, Chair of the Planning Committee continued, "It's important to pay tribute to all Veterans - our heroes - who have proven their heroism and love for our country time and time again. The occasion will also provide the opportunity to pause for our current service members whose courage is remarkable. It is these men and women who make countless sacrifices to ensure our freedom and safety."

A series of events are planned for the 70th Anniversary, highlighted by street dedications, school visits, a gala dinner and a special musical tribute. The veterans, along with their families and friends, will be officially welcomed to Ajax by Town Council on September 28 at 7 p.m. (Ajax Town Hall, Council Chambers, 65 Harwood Ave. S.).

The event will draw to a close on October 4 with a Musical Tribute to all Veterans at Veterans' Point Gardens at 10 a.m. along the Town's Waterfront. The event will be attended by The Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, The Honourable David C. Onley; Mark Holland, MP, Ajax-Pickering;

Joe Dickson, MPP, Ajax-Pickering; Roger Anderson, Regional Chair; Mayor Parish and members of Town Council. The highlight of the event will be the dedication of the Ajax Legacy Obelisk, honouring those who have served in past wars and conflicts, and those that will serve our country.

Editor's note

Interviews with the veterans, including their families and friends, along with photographs, historical documents and items from the Battle of the River Plate, are available by contacting Christie McLardie at 905-619-2529, ext. 3362.

Background: A Town called Ajax

The Town of Ajax, named after the courageous and determined British warship HMS Ajax, has a history deeply routed in industry and community spirit.

The Town began as the site for an ammunitions plant built by the Federal Government and operated by Defence Industries Limited (DIL) to provide war munitions to support the Second World War Allied effort.

In 1950, in response to a petition from citizens of Ajax, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) ordered that Ajax become the Improvement District of Ajax but that it would be owned by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and administered by a provincially appointed Board of Trustees.

In 1954, a petition for Town status was submitted to the OMB and the Board once again ruled in favour of the petition and the Town of Ajax was born. The first Council, comprising of Mayor, Reeve, Deputy Reeve and six Councilors, was elected on December 11, 1954 and were sworn into office at the first Council meeting on January 10, 1955.

What began as a munitions plant during the Second World War has grown over the last fifty years into a vibrant community with a robust economy that will continue to grow well into the future.


For further information: For further information: Media Contact: Christie McLardie, Manager of Communications, (905) 619-2529, ext. 3362

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