April 23rd, 1945

My dearest Michael,

I am writing this letter with the deepest and most solemn intentions. What I wish to tell you cannot be confined into words, and I hope you take my words, but most importantly my feelings to heart. I wish to tell you a bit about my life, and the cause that I fought for, and with all my mind I hope I can live through tomorrow to see you at home.

It is now the April of 1945, and we have been at war for the past 5 years. I serve now in the RCN, on HMCS Brantford, and I know firsthand the perilous conditions we face every single day on the Atlantic. What a miserable, rotten hopeless life, an Atlantic so rough it seems impossible that a sailor can continue to take this unending pounding and still remain in one piece. Over the course of the battle so far, more than 3,600 Canadian sailors lost their lives in the seas, and more than 752 air men passed away. Canada and our allies, the USN, RN and FFN, stand together in the fight, but no one is safe from the U-boats, and nowhere can we find refuge. Stretching from the cold water of Labrador Sea or the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the waters sailed by the Home Fleet, the allies have been racing to transport materials to Europe, escorting convoys of more than a dozen ships. In the longest battle of the War, the Battle of the Atlantic, we have suffered more than 4000 allied ship loses so far, and millions of tonnages of goods. The imminent victory to the Allied Forces did not come at a small cost.

Canadians are peacekeepers and non-aggressors for the most part, but we are also loyalists to our allies. I have said this in disregard for the French, which you know I am not a part of. I believe that they have made a mistake by going against our war efforts like conscription, and their recalcitrant attitude hinders our support to the rightful cause. Anglophones like me cannot understand their decisions now, but at least they cheer with us when we secure a U-boat kill. The success of the Navy and Air Force united Canada for short bursts, but looking back at the Great War, I doubt its longevity. I do hope that in your time the French Canadians will stand at the same front as the English, and Canada can stand united in a time of global conflict.

The war is affecting Canada on many fronts, many dear to your own family’s lives. Your parents, who are young children at this time, live conservatively with limited supplies. Even the dress of women changed to a simpler outfit. As result of millions willingly contributing to the war effort, Canada has built more than a million tonnages of cargo ships, and more than 200 worships. This has been called “remarkable,” “astonishing” and “magnificent” by an English official, and Canadian strength and economic stability is just starting to shine through the horizon. Canadians are also starting to get together to hear the news and bond with their neighbors, and new job opportunities industrialized many towns. Through the French may realize that their voices are not being considered in this country, bringing some degree of political separation, the war so far has changed Canada’s economy and social identities for the better. This, in no way, mean that the War is beneficial to us, and you must remember that one life lost is one too many. We can only look back blessed that we were not hit as hard as others are.

The Battle of the Atlantic is the turning point of the entire War, even if you take my personal bias out. Without the support of hundreds of Canadian warships, Britain and the Soviet Union could not have continued fighting, and we would have lost the war in Europe. Canadians entered the War with less than twenty serviceable warships, and the number now exceeds three hundred. Canadians are now respected worldwide for their valiant fighting and their industrial power, and we are gaining speed economically and politically. The industries that were built up will continue to power Canada, and our international relations are never stronger. I see a bright future for Canada, one in which it is considered an equal to other world powers.

This is both a testament and a memoir from a sailor, documenting the experiences of the terrible War. I write in a perilous situation, facing a last, desperate attempt by a U-boat wolfsrudel. I write this so that you may know how war changes everything, from the perspective of one who has gone through it all. History is written by the winners, and I hope that you can learn it first hand and never repeat it again,

 

Your grandfather,

Sherman Scheer

boatbackground
Convoy assembled in the Bedford Basin, Halifax N.S., in April 1942
HMCS Brantford covered with ice at February 1944
HMCS Brantford covered with ice at February 1944

Anti-submarine grenade launched into the air by our corvette

Anti-submarine grenade launched into the air by our corvette