Authors in the News

Retired Admiral donates collection of beer steins

Lieutenant (Navy) Eric Dignard, Division Commander, Venture Division, Naval Fleet School (Pacific); and Commander Jeanne Lessard, President Mess Committee, stand with Vice-Admiral (Retired) Nigel Brodeur and Acting Sub-Lieutenant Charles Boyes in the Gun Room at Work Point.

Vice-Admiral (Retired) Nigel Brodeur donated beer steins from the early part of his naval career to the Naval Fleet School Pacific’s Gunroom Feb. 23 in hopes of inspiring the Royal Canadian Navy’s future leaders.

Lt(N) Eric Dingnard, Venture Division Commander at Naval Fleet School (Pacific), introduced VAdm (Ret’d) Brodeur by affirming that the Brodeur family “are of great significance to the Royal Canadian Navy.”

The Admiral’s grandfather, Louis-Philippe Brodeur, introduced legislation to create the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) while he was Minister of the Naval Service. His father, Rear-Admiral Victor Brodeur, served in the RCN through both world wars.

VAdm (Ret’d) Nigel Brodeur, followed in his father’s footsteps and served from 1952 until he retired in 1987.

“These mugs, I hope they be put to good use,” he said to a host of Acting Sub-Lieutenants currently undergoing their Naval Warfare Officer courses. “I hope they will give you an indication of the starting out, from lieutenant to captain…Learn all you can. Learn about the sea, learn about other navies.”

While some of the donated steins were departure gifts from ships VAdm (Ret’d) Brodeur served in, others were gifts from friends within the fleet.

After the presentation, the Admiral spoke one-on-one with a few students, curious to know how far along they were in their training.

Acting Sub-Lieutenant Travis Boyko said the steins were a great addition to the Junior Officers Mess.

“I think it re-instilled some life into the Gunroom. I know a lot of people were keen on using them.”

The ceramic steins will be kept on display while the pewter ones can be signed out for use in the Gunroom.


French medal bestowed upon Canadian naval veteran

Crowsnest – Fall 2014 / October 31, 2014

By Carmel Ecker

Seventy years after his ship, HMCS Skeena, took part in the D-Day landings, Commander (retired) Peter Chance received recognition from the French government.

Along with 500 other Canadian army, navy and air force veterans of the pivotal Second World War battle, the 93-year-old was named a Chevalier (Knight) of the Ordre national de la Légon d’honneur, France’s highest honour.

Five hundred are all that remain of the more than 34,000 Canadians who participated in Operation Overlord and began to push German forces back out of France.

Cdr Chance and 14 other veterans gathered in Vancouver on May 21 to accept the medal from the Consul General of France, Jean-Christophe Fleury, who presented it on behalf of the President of France.

Each recipient was assigned a cadet escort “to make sure we didn’t fall down,” Cdr Chance jokes.

Though he earned several other medals and awards during his more than 30-year naval career, this one is special, he says.“It is very special because it recognizes Canadian participation in the Normandy landings.”

Cdr Chance was the navigating officer in Skeena when the allies made their Normandy assault on June 6, 1944. As part of Escort Group 12, Skeena’s duty was to block German submarines from entering the landing area.

The most memorable moments of that mission came on June 8 when two homing torpedoes – designed to target the frequency of a ship’s propellers – streamed through the water and exploded in Skeena’s anti-acoustic torpedo gear.

It was a terrifying experience for the crew, says Cdr Chance. “We saw these damn fish go whizzing by. The next thing, a periscope went by us and we fired our Hedgehog [bomb] at it,” he recalls.

The ring of Hedgehog bombs landed ahead of Skeena and U953 disappeared, presumed damaged. “We didn’t see it again and we couldn’t pick it up either. But obviously we had damaged it.”

That might have been the end of the story, but many years later, Cdr Chance got a phone call from Virginia in the United States. A man with a thick southern accent asked, “Mr. Chance, were you navigating HMCS Skeena on the 8th of June 1944?”

Upon learning he had the correct Peter Chance, the man proceeded to say he had come to know someone named Karl Baumann, who was serving in U953 on that day. Just 19 years old at the time, he had been wounded on board and was taken to a hospital in Brest, France. When allied forces overtook the area, Bauman became a prisoner of war and was eventually sent to Virginia to wait out the war.

“I was able to speak to Karl,” says Cdr Chance. “He said, ‘You know Peter, we were trying to kill each other on the 8th of June 1944, ja?’”

With a chuckle, Chance says he replied, “Absolutely.”

“Now we can be friends?” Bauman asked.

The two stayed in touch until Baumann died a few years ago, and Cdr Chance even wrote the foreword for a book about Baumann’s life entitled The Longest Patrol.

“The common enemy was the sea,” says Cdr Chance. “We had no ill feelings toward these guys, you know, individually.  They were the enemy, sure, but individually, of course not.”