A solemn ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the loss of three Royal Navy ships and 57 Royal Naval reservists from Newfoundland during the First World War was held today at Bowring Park in St. John’s.
In attendance was the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice, who laid a wreath at the Caribou Memorial along with Jack Harris, Member of Parliament for the Riding of St. John’s East.
“Canadians owe it to their history and to their country, to remember the sacrifices of our sailors during the First World War,” said Minister MacKay. “These losses were so keenly felt in the small rural towns across Newfoundland and Labrador and can never be forgotten.” The three Royal Navy ships lost in the winter of 1915 were: HMS Viknor, sunk January 13; HMS Clan McNaughton, sunk February 3; and HMS Bayano, sunk March 11.
HMS Viknor and HMS Clan McNaughton are thought to have been sunk due to either heavy weather or mine strikes, and HMS Bayano was torpedoed by the German submarine U-27 off the coast of Ireland.
The 57 Royal Naval reservists from Newfoundland are commemorated on a memorial at Beaumont Hamel, France, as well as on the Caribou Memorial in Bowring Park, St. John’s.
“Our Government is committed to honouring the memory of our brave men and women who served Canada during the First World War. All Canadians should take the time to commemorate the sacrifices made by Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada during that conflict,” said the Honourable Rob Nicholson, Minister of National Defence.
Newfoundland was the first colony where a Naval Reserve was formally established in 1902. The number of inshore and deep sea fishermen in Newfoundland and Labrador was seen as a rich source for potential recruits.
Also in attendance at the ceremony were members of Naval Reserve Unit Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Cabot, as well as family members of the lost sailors.
Press Release; Image: Wikimedia