60th Anniversary Nov5.1940-2000
Saint John, NB, Canada


Together They Remember

Hundreds of people from here and abroad attend an emotional Saint John ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Jervis Bay

Robert Squires doesn't remember much about the day he was pulled from the icy Atlantic after clinging to a raft for nearly 14 hours. All he knows is that he was "lucky to come out of it in one piece."

Mr. Squires, of West Saint John, was one of 65 survivors of the HMS Jervis Bay, sunk in 1940 by a German battleship, claiming 183 lives.

Yesterday, Mr. Squires, one of only eight Canadian survivors, was among more than 200 people who took part in a parade and commemorative ceremony at the cenotaph at Ross Memorial Park, marking the 60th anniversary.

"It means everything," said Mr. Squires, 80, his blue eyes clearly emotional before laying a wreath in the Victoria Street East park. "It's really special."

About 30 of those in attendance during the rainy ceremony were from England and Scotland, relatives of crew members. Mike Chappell of Edenbridge, Kent, whose father James Harold George Chappell, chief engineer, died on the ship, raised nearly $12,000 to bring families to the city.

It's a great honour for us to be here," said Chris Davison of Dover, England. His late father, Tom Davison, a naval seaman, was one of the survivors rescued by a Swedish ship about 1,000 miles from Halifax. This was Mr. Davison's first trip to Saint John, but his late father was here in 1983 to visit the memorial. "We hope to be carrying on the tradition of remembering those who gave their lives," said Mr. Davison, a chief engineer, who laid a wreath representing the U.K.

His son, Mark Davison, 28, who lives in London, said he found the ceremony particularly poignant because he is the same age his grandfather was when the ship went down. "I can't begin to imagine what it would be like," he said.

The Jervis Bay was an armed merchant ship that spent much of its drydock time in Saint John during the second World War. In October 1940, it left Halifax, escorting 37 other food-laden merchant ships to a starving England. One of Germany's famed pocket battleships, the Admiral Scheer, attacked the convoy and the Jervis Bay rushed to the attack despite the difference in vessel size and firepower, laying down a smokescreen to enable the convoy to break up and escape. Capt. Fogarty Fegan, who went down with the ship, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

Don Peters, of Essex, England, welcomed the opportunity yesterday to pay tribute to his father, Sydney Peters, chief butcher. "There's nothing to describe or show our appreciation," said Mr. Peters, who was only three years old when his father died. "It's quite emotional for my family," he said, adding he was "overwhelmed". Mr. Peters noted that he made many friends over the weekend including Mr. Davison. "If it's done one thing, it's brought us all together; people who know the story and remember."

A plaque to commemorate the founders of Ross Memorial Park was also unveiled yesterday. The founders were Leon Sautiere, Ron Harding, J.C. Sonny Thomas, Bill Cawley and Fred Gamblin.

Among those present were Saint John MP Elsie Wayne, Liberal candidate Paul Zed, and Saint John Mayor Shirley McAlary.

By Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon, Staff Writer, Saint John Times Globe Monday, November 6, 2000

Visitors from England
Barbara Fegan Niece Capt. Fegan RN VC
Jill Cooper Niece
Michael Chappell Son Comm. JHG Chappell, C.Eng.
Ian Russell Grandson
Chris Davison Son Tom Davison, AB (Survivor)
Joyce Davison Daughter
Mark Davison Grandson
Lee Leatham Grandson
Cynthia Bridges Daughter Samuel Miles, Gunner
John Penfold & Patricia Nephew Lt.Comm. Driscoll
Michael Sharphington & Audrey Nephew
Ronald Rainsbury & June Brother Thomas F. Rainsbury, AB RNVR
Tom Rainsbury Nephew
Don Peters & Elizabeth Goodwin Son S.A.Peters, RNR
Visitors from Scotland
Joanne Mackay & Angus Daughter Robert Durrend, RNR Seaman (Survivor)
James Bain & Margaret Son James Bain, RNR Seaman
James Anderson & Anne Son James Anderson, RNR Seaman
James Oag Son William Oag, RNR Seaman (Survivor)
Andrew Oag Son
John Innes Son John Innes, Seaman
Barbara MacRae Daughter

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