CP Remembrance Day ceremony to be held virtually on Nov. 11, 2021
Canadian Pacific (CP) will pay tribute to all veterans who courageously answered the call of duty, and to the more than 33,000 CP employees who have served, at its annual Remembrance Day ceremony on Nov. 11, 2021.
In order to respect provincial and public health COVID-19 regulations, CP will live stream a private ceremony in place of a public gathering again this year. CP invites viewers to watch the ceremony virtually commencing at 10:45 MT.
The ceremony continues the company's annual tradition of honouring veterans on Remembrance Day (Canada) and Veterans Day (U.S.) at CP's Memorial Square, which was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.The ceremony will include a CP locomotive whistle sounding at 11:01 a.m. local time, and across the network where safe to do so, to start a moment of silence. Flags on CP property in Canada will be lowered to half-mast in honour of all veterans.
Frederick Thornton Peters was born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, on Sept. 17, 1889. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the British Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry in action in World War I (WWI) as a lieutenant.
He joined CP Ships after WWI as a third engineer in the interior of British Columbia. When World War II (WWII) erupted, Captain Peters re-volunteered for the Royal Navy service and rose through the ranks to become Captain of the HMS Walney during WWII, protecting shores as far away as Africa.
His last act of service was on Nov. 8, 1942, with Operation Reservist - an attempt to capture valuable facilities and ships and sabotage French defenders at the port of Oran, Algeria. Captain Peters led his troops inside enemy lines at the harbour towards the jetty in the face of point-blank fire from a French destroyer. Captain Peters fought bravely alongside his men; he was blinded during the siege, and the HMS Walney was destroyed. He and a handful of men managed to reach the shore but were taken prisoner until Oran was liberated from the French.
For his heroic deeds, Captain Peters was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Ronald Neil Stuart was born in 1886 in Liverpool. In 1910, Stuart worked as a junior ship's officer for Canadian Pacific Line. When World War I broke out, Stuart was called up to serve as an officer in the Royal Naval Reserve. In 1916, he was transferred as first lieutenant to a Q-ship. A Q-ship was a merchant ship with hidden weaponry, commanded secretly by the navy and manned by a Royal Navy crew.
On June 7, 1917, the while disguised as a British merchant vessel, HMS Pargust was attacked by a German submarine in the North Atlantic. Even after sustaining a devastating torpedo hit, the Pargust crew managed to lure the enemy sub close enough to open fire with all guns and sink it. The crew, including Stuart, displayed the utmost courage and discipline when faced with a formidable opponent while having sustained heavy damage.
For his valour, Captain Stuart was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Stuart went on to have a long and illustrious career at CP. In 1929, he was given command over the newly completed 20,000-ton ocean liner SS Duchess of York. He was also awarded the Decoration for Officers of the Royal Naval Reserve in honour of his long service, and in 1935, he was made a full Naval Reserve Captain.
James Peter Robertson was born in Albion Mines, Pictou County, Nova Scotia, on Oct. 15, 1883. He grew up in Medicine Hat, Alta. and later worked as an engineer at the Canadian Pacific Railway, where he earned his 'Singing Pete' nickname for his cheerful singing and whistling. Private Robertson entered military life in 1915 and served in the 14th Canadian Mounted Rifles and the 27th Infantry Battalion in England.
During the final assault on Passchendaele on Nov. 6, 1917, Private Robertson's platoon was held back by barbed wire and a German machine gun. He ran to the opening on the flank of the enemy position and rushed the gun, killing four of the enemy crew after a desperate struggle and turning the enemy's gun on the remainder. He kept firing, making it possible for his platoon to continue towards their final objective as the enemy retreated.
Later, when two of his snipers were wounded in front of their trench, Private Robertson bravely rushed to them and carried one of them under severe fire. He was killed by a bursting shell just as he returned with the second injured man.
For bravery and sacrifice, Private Robertson was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Michael James O'Rourke worked as a tunneller and miner on CP's major infrastructure projects like the Connaught Tunnel before he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1915 as a stretcher-bearer soldier – a critical and dangerous role requiring him to brave enemy fire while carrying the wounded to safety.
Private O'Rourke became known for his courage in retrieving wounded soldiers. In the Battle of the Somme of 1916, he received the Military Medal for his bravery in battle and devotion to duty under fire.
A year later, Private O'Rourke risked his life bringing wounded soldiers to safety again as the Allied forces desperately fought for Hill 70 near Lens, France. On several occasions, enemy shells partially buried him – but he kept going, working tirelessly to serve the wounded, bringing them to safety, treating their injuries and getting them food and water.
For courage, devotion and gallantry in the face of the enemy, Private O'Rourke was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Born in Norfolk, England, on Jan. 2, 1899, John Robert Osborn served in the First World War as a seaman in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. After seeing action at the Battle of Jutland in May 1916, he moved to Wapella, Sask. where he farmed for two years before joining the maintenance division of the Canadian Pacific Railway in Manitoba. When World War II broke out in 1939, Sgt. Maj. Osborn served his country again as part of the Winnipeg Grenadiers. In October 1941, at the request of the British government, his battalion was redeployed to reinforce a garrison in Hong Kong.
On Dec. 8, 1941, Sgt. Maj. Osborn's Company was ordered to capture Mount Butler. They held it at bayonet point for three hours before their position became untenable. By mid-afternoon, they had driven off two Japanese attacks but were surrounded by the enemy and running low on ammunition. With casualties mounting, and cut off from the Battalion, the Company withdrew. Sgt. Maj. Osborn engaged the enemy and exposed himself to heavy fire as they withdrew, ensuring the remainder of his men made it safely back to their Company.
In his final act of service, Sgt. Maj. Osborn shouted a warning as he shoved a man aside and threw himself on a grenade, which exploded and killed him instantly.
For heroic deeds and self-sacrifice, Sgt. Major Osborn was awarded the Victoria Cross.
William Merrifield was born in Brentwood, Essex, England, on Oct. 9, 1890, and later emigrated with his family to Aylmer Road, Ottawa and was a fireman with Canadian Pacific Railway when war broke out. On Sept. 23, 1914, at Camp Valcartier, Québec, William Merrifield enlisted and was assigned to the second Battalion. He fought with this unit during the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915, before being transferred to the 4th Battalion, with which he served for the remainder of the war. He was awarded the Military Medal for his conduct during the Battle of Passchendaele in November 1917.
On Oct. 1, 1918, Sgt. Merrifield and his men were attempting to advance near Abancourt, France but were held back by intense gunfire from two German machine gun emplacements. Sgt. Merrifield attacked both positions alone. Running from shell-hole to shell-hole, he killed the crew of the first machine gun and, although wounded, continued to the second emplacement, where he used a hand grenade to kill all of the enemy defenders. Merrifield refused to be evacuated, and went on leading his platoon until he was wounded again, this time severely.
For showing the highest qualities of valour and leadership in this action, Sgt. Merrifield was awarded the Victoria Cross.
After the war, he took a job with the Algoma Central Railway in Sault Ste. Marie.