DSC, CM, CD, DscMil, Klj, RCN (Ret'd.)
More than 1000 mourners filled three churches in Chester, N.S. on Friday Nov 18, 2005 to bid farewell to a Second World War Canadian naval hero. Rear Admiral Desmond Piers died on November 1, aged 92.
Piers, a professional sailor from 1932 until his retirement, helped evacuate Allied soldiers from France in 1940, fought in the Atlantic convoy battles, and was commander of HMCS Algonquin during the D-Day invasion in 1944.
France awarded him its highest military medal, L'Ordre National de la Légion d'Honneur, and he won the Distinguished Service Cross for his service at sea during the convoy battles. "We did our stuff, we were very lucky, and we survived it," he said in 2004.
After the war, he served in top Canadian and NATO military jobs, including chairman of the Canada's Joint Staff and commander of the Canadian defence liaison staff in Washington.
Services were held at St. Stephen's Anglican Church, while St. Augustine's and Chester United Baptist Church carried live feeds. After the service, his remains were brought aboard HMCS Toronto for return to Halifax and placement in the naval crypt at St. Paul's Anglican Church.
At the memorial, his leadership and humility were praised. Among those present was CPO1 Jerry Sigrist (Ret'd). He reports that "It was a very fitting tribute to a very prominent and well loved Naval Officer. The service was lengthy but a beautiful one with about 1000 in attendance.
Herewith the list of Honourary Pallbearers:
Brigadier General Ned Amy, Ret'd
Vice-Admiral Andy Fulton Ret'd
Commander Anthony Griffin, Ret'd
Commodore Bill Hayes Ret'd
Vice-Admiral Ralph Hennessy, Ret'd
Lieutenant (Navy) Andrew Irwin, Ret'd
Vice-Admiral Hugh McNeil, Ret'd
Vice-Admiral Duncan Miller, Ret'd
Commodore Bruce Oland, Ret'd
Vice-Admiral Harry Porter Ret'd
Major General George Spencer, Ret'd
Captain (N) Dick Steele, Ret'd
Rear-Admiral Robert Timbrell, Ret'd
Commodore Larry Wilkins, Ret'd
I had the honour of carrying his medals right behind the above and the ashes. It made an old Chief feel good to be among the brass. To top it off, the pallbearers all stood at attention and saluted as I carried the medals by them. I know it was the medals and ashes but I felt I've never been saluted by so many Admirals".
THE NAVAL PRAYER
0 eternal Lord God, who alone spreadest out of
the heavens, and rulest the raging of the sea;
who has compassed the waters with bounds
until day and night come to an end; be pleased
to receive into thy almighty and most gracious
protection the persons of us thy servants and
the fleet in which we serve. Preserve us from
the dangers of the sea, and from the violence of
the enemy; that we may be a safeguard unto our
most gracious sovereign lady. Queen Elizabeth
and her dominions, and security for such as
pass on the seas upon their lawful occasion; that
the inhabitants of our commonwealth may in
peace and quietness serve thee our God; and
that we may return in safety to enjoy the
blessings of the land, with the fruits of our
labours, and with a thankful remembrance of
thy mercies to praise and glorify thy holy name;
through Jesus Christ our lord.
|Piers Baker (Grandson) carrying the urn followed by Justin Baker (Great-Grandson) carrying Debby`s Medals enroute to the Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) after the funeral service. (DND photo HS2005-0881-07a)|
|HMCS Toronto firing a 13 gun salute off Chester, N.S. on November 18th, 2005. The RIB carrying the urn and wreaths is just approaching the ship. Also BRAVO ZULU DEBBY signal is flying from the yardarm. (DND photo HS2005-0881-22a)|
|Desmond Pier's tombstone. (Photographer unknown)|
Contributors and Credits:
1) CBC News
2) Jerry Sigrist <adpna.sigrist(at)ns.sympatico.ca>
3) Adm Desmond Piers Naval Association http://www.adpna.com/
4) Andy Irwin <airwinr17(at)sympatico.ca>
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