A memorial service was held on April 16, 2015, to honour the service and sacrifice of the crew of His Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Esquimalt, the last Canadian warship lost to enemy action in the Battle of the Atlantic during the Second World War.
The ceremony marked the 70th anniversary of its sinking.
The service was attended by Captain (Navy) Steve Waddell, CFB Esquimalt Base Commander, Her Worship Barbara Desjardins, Mayor of Esquimalt, and Doug Grant, President of the Esquimalt Legion. Approximately 50 members of the public were present at the ceremony, which included a 21-person Ceremonial Guard and a performance by the Royal Canadian Navy’s Naden Band.
HMCS Esquimalt was conducting a routine anti-submarine patrol in the harbour approaches to Halifax when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat, U-190, on the morning of April 16, 1945, just three weeks before the end of the Second World War.
The explosion instantly knocked out the onboard power, preventing the crew from sending out a distress signal. She began to list heavily to starboard, pushing the lifeboat under water, and sank within four minutes.
The surviving members of HMCS Esquimalt’s crew spent six hours adrift on four Carley floats before HMCS Sarnia reached them. They rescued 27 men and recovered the bodies of 13 others. In total, 44 sailors were lost.
The sinking of HMCS Esquimalt is commemorated annually in April at a gathering outside Esquimalt City Hall. She was one of 18 Bangor-class minesweepers built during the Second World War and is the only ship ever to be named after the Township of Esquimalt.
Image: Canadian Navy