A Rare Canadian Memorial Cross to HMCS Louisburg Casualty
A Rare Canadian Memorial Cross to Lt. Wilson; HMCS Louisburg Casualty - GVIR (LIEUTENANT E. WILSON R.C.N.R.). Naming is officially engraved. Original ribbon, very dark patina, very light contact, mint. In its hardshelled case of issue with Government of Canada Sympathy Card, traces of scuffing on the exterior, case also near extremely fine. Footnote: Lieutenant Ernest Wilson (O78775) made his home in Ottawa, Ontario and was the son of John Wilson and Winnifred Wilson of Vancouver, British Columbia, and the husband of Lillian Wilson of Ottawa, Ontario. Wilson served aboard HMCS Louisburg, a Flower-class corvette that served with the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War, that had been named for Louisburg, Nova Scotia. She was commissioned on October 2, 1941 at Quebec City and during her brief career, Louisburg underwent two significant refits. The first took place at Halifax from the end of March 1942 until June of that year. The second took place on the Humber in the United Kingdom where she had extra AA fittings added in preparation for her escort duties related to Operation Torch. She fought mainly as an ocean escort during the Battle of the Atlantic. After arriving at Halifax for deployment on October 15, 1941, Louisburg was initially assigned to Sydney Force. She remained with them until mid-January 1942. At that time, she was transferred to the Newfoundland Escort Force. In February 1942 she took part in the battle for SC 67. During that battle, her sister ship, HMCS Spikenard was lost. After her refit, she returned to service, now as a mid-ocean escort on convoys between St. John's and Londonderry. In September 1942, Louisburg was sent to the United Kingdom as part of the Canadian contribution to Operation Torch. On December 9, 1942, she was rammed by HMS Bideford while anchored at Londonderry. She spent five weeks in repair yards at Belfast recovering from the damage. Upon her return to service, she was assigned to escort Torch-related convoys. While escorting a convoy KMF 8, from Gibraltar to Bone, Algeria, on February 6. 1943, with six "submariners" on board who were to join a British crew meant to fight in the campaign to stop the Nazis led by General Erwin Rommel in North Africa, HMCS Louisburg was among those hit by bombs and torpedoes from two formations of enemy aircraft, identified later as Italian. The first formation was made up of seven Ju 88 bombers and the second seven He 111 armed with torpedoes operating out of Italy. Thirty-eight crew were lost when she sank near Oran, Algeria, most of the fatalities coming when Louisburg's dept charges detonated as she sank, including Lieutenant Ernest Wilson, at the age of 41. The Louisburg was the only Canadian naval vessel lost through enemy aircraft action during the war. Wilson is commemorated on Page 227 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance and is remembered with honour on the Halifax Memorial, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Panel 7. The Halifax Memorial was erected in Point Pleasant Park and is one of the few tangible reminders of the men who died at sea. Twenty-four ships were lost by the Royal Canadian Navy in the Second World War and nearly 2,000 members of the Royal Canadian Navy lost their lives. This Memorial was erected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and was unveiled in November 1967, incorporating a great granite Cross of Sacrifice over 12 metres high, clearly visible to all ships approaching Halifax. The cross is mounted on a large podium bearing twenty-three bronze panels upon which are inscribed the names of over 3,000 Canadian men and women who were buried at sea. The dedicatory inscription, in French and English, reads as follows: "1914-1939 1918-1945 IN THE HONOUR OF THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE NAVY ARMY AND MERCHANT NAVY OF CANADA WHOSE NAMES ARE INSCRIBED HERE. THEIR GRAVES ARE UNKNOWN BUT THEIR MEMORY SHALL ENDURE." On June 19, 2003, the Government of Canada designated September 3rd of each year as a day to acknowledge the contribution of Merchant Navy Veterans.