Two local heroes were recognized for their efforts and achievements during the Second World War at Fort Rodd Hill on Friday.
High winds welcomed 500 school children, dignitaries and two 97-year-old Second World War veterans to the beach at Fort Rodd Hill.
The ceremony included a naval band, the firing of a historic field gun and the ringing of a ship’s bell. It also included a Royal Canadian Navy patrol frigate, a flyover by a vintage military aircraft and Second World War military vehicles with re-enactors from thee Victoria-Esquimalt Military Re-enactors Association.
Special tribute was also paid to Canadians who traded in their civilian shoes for combat boots to serve during the Battle of Normandy. This was symbolically represented by combat boots on display.
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“During the course of the Second World War, more than a million Canadians and Newfoundlanders — from every part of the country and every walk of life — came to the defence of our allies and liberated a continent from tyranny,” said Lawrence MacAulay, minister of Veterans Affairs and associate minister of National Defence. “As time passes, it is critical that we not forget those who served in the Second World War, as well as all our brave men and women who continue to serve our country in uniform today.”
Commander Trevor Cole Shuckburgh who served in the Royal Canadian Navy and Petty Officer Alice “Ruddy” Adams who served in the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service were at the heart of the ceremony as they told stories of their service.
Meet the heroes
Alice Adams, born Rutherford, was teaching at an elementary school in rural Saskatchewan at the start of the Second World War.
She came across a recruitment notice for the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service and went to Saskatoon to enlist at HMCS Unicorn, a naval reserve division of the Royal Canadian Navy.
Adams was selected to be among the first group of wireless telegraphists. She learned to be proficient in Morse code in present-day Scarborough, Ont. and was sent to Ottawa to help establish a station to intercept German naval communications.
After a few months in Ottawa, Adams received more wireless operator training and was then posted to HMCS Coverdale in Moncton, N.B. She copied enemy naval traffic and also tracked bearings of enemy German submarines.
The intelligence gathered from these stations and others helped the Allies determine the location of U-boats. Merchant convoys in the North Atlantic Ocean could then be diverted from the path of U-boats, saving countless lives.
When Japan entered the war in 1941, Adams learned Kana — the Japanese version of Morse code — and learned how to transcribe it on special typewriters. She was posted to the Gordon Head Special Wireless Transmission Station on Vancouver Island in 1944.
The Canadian posts Adams served at were considered outstations of Bletchley Park, the top-secret British military intelligence headquarters. Decades later, Adams was honoured for her work with the Bletchley Park Commemorative Badge.
Adams is one of approximately 50,000 Canadian women who served in uniform during the Second World War.
“The story of the German and Japanese codes has now passed into history,” Adams said at the ceremony. “I am proud to be part of this story and to have served with so many young women who became friends for life. I am honoured to represent them here today.”
Trevor Shuckburgh, born and raised on a farm in Stettler, Alta., wanted to see the world. At the age of 17, he joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1940 as a Boy Seaman and received his basic military training at HMCS Naden near Victoria.
During the Second World War, he served in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres of war and was taken to the west coast of South America and the waters off the coast of Newfoundland. He quickly rose through the ranks to Petty Officer.
Shuckburgh was serving aboard the frigate HMCS Teme by winter of 1944. It was one of the 6,900 vessels that participated in the largest seaborne invasion in history that enabled the Allied invasion of Normandy which began on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
On HMCS Teme, Shuckburgh earned a Commander-in-Chief commendation two months before war’s end for his actions in helping save the vessel from sinking when a 20-metre stern section was blown off during a torpedo attack.
“I was assigned to stay with our ship and to call for volunteers to secure the ship for towing to the nearest port, Cardiff, Wales,” Shuckburgh said. “The tow into Cardiff was uneventful, the ship held together and stayed afloat.”
Shuckburgh said the crew that helped secure the ship for towing was made of mischief makers and evoked laughs from the crowd as he recounted what it was like working with them.
Friday’s ceremony took place ahead of the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. The 500 students there were given a chance to learn about history and the people who served and continue to serve Canada.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing that the schoolchildren are here, that’s the most important part,” Adams said. “To remember, to learn more of their history.”