I am 78 years old.
78 years ago today, on 6 February 1943, the Canadian corvette HMCS Louisburg, pennant number K-143, was escorting a convoy from Londonderry to Algeria. Many of the ships were ‘troopers’ carrying US soldiers who would (along with thousands of Canadians) invade Sicily in July. As they approached the coast they were attacked by German aircraft based in Italy. Louisburg manoeuvred so that she was between the aircraft and the ‘troopers.’ She was sunk by the German aircraft.
Her captain, Lieutenant Commander Frank Campbell, was on the bridge when she was hit. He knew, instantly, that she was dead; he ordered the XO to abandon ship as quickly as possible … then he went below to search for wounded sailors. Louisburg sunk about one minute after being hit. Thirty-eight offices and sailors, from a ship’s company of 85, were killed in action, including her captain … he was my father.
I never saw him; he never saw me; Mom had sent him photos … in one of his letters he told her that he had received them. Of course, I don’t remember him, as an individual, in any way, but there is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t remember that Canada fought, hard, to defeat Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and imperialist Japan. I remember, too, that Canada was woefully unprepared for that great and terrible war ~ the Great Depression had weakened our economy and made it too hard for MacKenzie-King’s government, even had he had been so inclined, to rearm until war was declared. It was a mistake that I sincerely hope we do not make again … little boys and girls shouldn’t grow up ‘remembering‘ fathers they never knew.