Remembrance Day is just a week away, and the passing of a true Canadian hero like Rear Admiral Piers is a poignant reminder of all those who served, many of whom never made it home.
As the article notes, Piers was from my hometown, Halifax, N.S. - then, as now, the east coast home of the Canadian Navy. For anyone who is ever visiting Halifax, make sure you take the time to walk the waterfront, and take the tour of HMCS Sackville, a decommissioned WWII corvette. It helps one appreciate just how tough service on the North Atlantic convoy route was.
When Admiral Piers was inducted into the Legion d'Honneur, the ceremony was held in Halifax - the first time that it had been held outside of France. Admiral Piers accepted the recognition on behalf of all D-Day veterans saying: "We did our stuff, we were very lucky and we survived it."
Rest in peace, Admiral.
Note: for more information, see http://www.jproc.ca/r17/piers_bio.html and http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/Feature_Story/2004/jun04/11_f_e.asp. The photo shown below, of then Lieutenant Commander Piers addressing the crew of HMCS Algonquin prior to the D-Day bombardment, comes from the latter site.
Canadian naval hero Desmond Piers dies
Retired rear admiral Desmond Piers, the Canadian navy commander who led convoys through submarine-infested waters during the Second World War, died Tuesday at the age of 92.
When he was 28, the Halifax-born Piers took the helm of HMCS Restigouche, leading merchant convoys across the submarine-infested Atlantic to Europe for two years.
He took command of HMCS Algonquin when he was 30, giving fire support to Canadian and Allied forces during the invasion of Normandy. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. In part, the citation with the medal reads: "He has by his vigorous leadership and aggressive attack been an inspiration to those under his command."
Piers was also inducted into France's Legion d'Honneur in 2004.
He became a rear admiral in 1962 and retired in 1967, after 35 years of service.