Continuing from last week, my busy day started with meeting up with a good friend of mine, whom I have known for over 40 years. He gave the Canadian military his service for over 30 years. Years that saw him on several tours into very dangerous territory including Afghanistan.
Our day started off with a trip to the Royal Oak Burial Park to join up with a small continent of men and women from the highly respected local naval reserve unit known as HMCS Malahat. (Due to Covid restrictions for the last few years, the unit could only send a handful of well dressed commissioned and non commissioned members.)
The purpose of the meeting at Royal Oak was to once again pay our respects to late Commander Rowland Bourke VC, DSO, and his wife at their final resting place. This visit was I believe the 12th for the naval reservists and the 14th or 15th for me.
Back in the Spring of 1918, then Naval Reservist Lieutenant Bourke, who... blind in one eye ... was called into service along the coast of Belgium. Within a few weeks he and his crew saved over 40 men from drownings. They saved several others at another port within days.
For the first event he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. For the second he would be awarded the Victoria Cross.
He would be one of only 5 Canadian's to be awarded the VC in the naval services in the entire history of the medal, dating back to 1856. (William Hall, Indian Rebellion of 1857, Fred Campbell 1915 at Givenchy France, Fred Peters in North Africa and Hampton Gray in Japan during WW ll are the others.)
Commander Bourke's story has often appeared in this space.
The above image shows the Commander's original burial marker. Several years ago several groups and individuals payed an important toll in the creation of, and unveiling of the new marker that stands today. it appears here, behind the acting commanding officer of HMCS Malahat.