Paying tribute

Siblings, from left, Brian Davis, Carol Anuik and Allan Davis attend the Merchant Navy flag-raising ceremony at Thunder Bay City Hall on Thursday in memory of their uncle, Leo Le Feuvre.

Brian Davis made the trip from Red Rock to Thunder Bay’s city hall on Sept. 3 to honour the memory of his uncle.

Davis’s uncle, Leo Le Feuvre, was 26 years old when he died as a merchant seaman on the St. Lindsay in 1941. The ship was torpedoed in the North Atlantic Ocean travelling from England to Canada.

“He was chief radio operator at the time and all hands were lost on the St. Lindsay,” said Davis.

Davis and his siblings were in attendance at city hall on Thursday for the raising of the Red Duster, the flag that honours the merchant navy.

Sept. 3 is recognized nationally as Merchant Navy Day to pay tribute to the men that lost their lives on the supply ships during the Second World War.

Davis, whose middle name of Leopold is in his uncle’s memory, said he made the drive up to Thunder Bay for the flag-raising ceremony because of his uncle’s dedication to the service of his country.

He noted he and his daughter also spent time as sea cadets.

“We have carried on Leo’s memory,” he said.

There are no longer any living veterans of the merchant navy in Thunder Bay but the Red Duster still flies every Sept. 3 to honour their legacy, said Gene Onchulenko, secretary of the Canadian Merchant Navy Veterans Association of Thunder Bay.

“They were largely ignored after the Second World War by the government in place at the time,” said Onchulenko.

Merchant navy veterans didn’t receive the same benefits as those in the army, navy or air force and they had to fight for recognition of their role ferrying supplies to allied countries during the war.

In Thunder Bay, the merchant navy was represented by Thornley Christiansen, Robert Lloyd, Robert Hughes and Bert Vickers.

All of them are now deceased but their families still attend the flag-raising ceremony every year.

Onchulenko recalled how at one of their last meetings as a group, it was proposed they ask city hall to fly the Red Duster on Sept. 3 every year.

“And that’s what we are doing today,” he said.

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