Canada Commemorates Allied Merchant Navy Sacrifices

Credit: MNCTP
Credit: MNCTP

Published Sep 3, 2019 7:15 PM by The Maritime Executive

Canadians and the international community commemorated the sacrifices and contributions made by the Allied merchant navy and American merchant marine veterans during World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam on September 3.

During World War II, 25,343 merchant ships, with 164,783,921 tons of cargo on board, sailed from North America to Britain. The Royal Canadian Navy lost 2, 000 people and 24 warships. More than 900 RCAF and Canadian Army personnel were also lost. 

Over 2,199 Canadian merchant navy seaman were killed in both World War I and World War II. Over 6,835 American merchant marine seamen were killed and over 11,000 wounded. In addition, 604 merchant mariners were taken prisoners of war, resulting in 61 casualties within POW camps.

On September 19, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, said: “They have delivered the goods when and where needed in every theater of operations across every ocean in the biggest, the most difficult, and dangerous transportation job ever undertaken. As time goes on there will be greater public understanding of our merchant fleet’s record during this war.”

“Several thousand New Zealand civilians proudly served in the Merchant Navy during the Second World War. These volunteers played a vital role in the Allied war effort. It was a tough and dangerous job. We will not forget their service and their sacrifice,” said H.E. Daniel Mellsop, High Commissioner of New Zealand.

“I am a strong advocate in promoting the recognition of the Eastern Métis and our Voyageurs as the first “merchant marine” operating in the Canadian territory. These nautical pioneers labored intensely, and many lives were lost as a result. They too did this for the benefit of all Canadians, including all Métis and First Nations people from coast-to-coast,” said Claude Aubin, Senator, Métis Nation Québec, and Honorary Governor, MNCTP.

“During World I and World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, many courageous men and women came together in a united front, fought for all of humanity under unthinkable conditions, and against unimaginable odds. Now, we must rise to the challenge and create a new united front to preserve their memories, and the way of life for which so many perished,” said President and Chief Executive Officer, Merchant Navy Commemorative Theme Project (MNCTP).