DESMOND PIERS NAVAL ASSOCIATION
by Gerald W. "Jerry" Sigrist, CD, CPO1 (Ret'd)
Honouring R/Admiral Desmond William Piers DSC, CM, CD, DscMil, Klj, RCN (Ret'd)
On April 25th 2003, at their annual Battle-of-the-Atlantic dinner, the South Shore Naval Association, a branch of the Royal Canadian Naval Association, honoured and paid tribute to 89-year-old retired Admiral Piers. Last year, for his dedication to the association, Admiral Piers was given a life membership and the title of Honourary President. This year the membership unanimously decided to pay further tribute to him by renaming their club the Admiral Desmond Piers Naval Association. This will perpetuate the name of a deserving sailor, one of Canada's great wartime heroes.
The ceremony was held in Bridgewater and was attended by over 160 shipmates and friends. These included the
Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic, R/Admiral Glen Davidson, V/Admiral Hugh McNeil, (Ret'd), V/Admiral Lynn Mason, (Ret'd), V/Admiral James King, (Ret'd), past Lt. Governor James Kinley, several Captains, Commanders, friends of all ranks, and some wartime crewmembers: his former XO Yogi Jensen, Navigator Dick Steele, Crewmembers Andy Irwin, Ken Garrett both from Ontario, and Sid Crossly.
The evening began with a candlelight ceremony conducted by Shipmate Larry Truelove, to commemorate the naval and merchant ships lost in World War Two. After a lovely dinner served by the Ladies of the Legion, the ceremonies began. The usual naval toasts were followed by a presentation to the Sackville Memorial Trust and the Legion. Two Certificates of Merit and Life Memberships were presented to Shipmates Larry Truelove and Jerry Sigrist. RADM Davidson addressed the guests and, after intermission, the guest speaker Capt. (N) Dick Steele RCN (Ret'd) gave his address.
Head table. (Photo by Gerald Sigrist).
V-Adm Piers and Mrs Piers accepting the new kisbey ring. (Photo by Gerald Sigrist).
The banquet attendance was excellent. (Photo by Gerald Sigrist).
Admiral Piers was introduced and presented with several gifts by Shipmate President Maurice Legault. Shipmate
Dave Robinson, the RCNA National V/President, presented the new Charter to Shipmate Richard Doc" Halliday, our RCNA Director. The new colours were then marched on and a new kisbey ring unveiled.
Admiral Piers, who will be 90 in June, was the first RMC ex cadet to join the Royal Canadian Navy in 1932. After five years in the training system of the Royal Navy, he returned to Canada. World War Two found him serving on the destroyer HMCS Restigouche as XO under LCDR H.N. Lay. In June 1941 he was given command of Restigouche and remained with her until June 1943. On many occasions he was the Escort Commander escorting convoys from Newfoundland to the UK. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for vigorous service at sea.
On leaving Restigouche, LCDR Piers was employed for a few months as Training Officer in Halifax while
waiting to take Command of the new destroyer Algonquin being built in Glasgow. Algonquin played a major part in D-Day operations on June 6th, 1944 and saw much action in the North Atlantic.
Following the war, he had a successful peacetime career that included time in Magnificent during which time he
completed a flying course and was awarded an "A" class flying license. He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1962 and retired in 1967 after 35 years of service. In 1977 Admiral Piers was appointed Agent General of Nova Scotia in the United Kingdom.
For these reasons we have paid tribute to a great sailor and gentleman who so many years ago went to war and fought for the freedom we enjoy today.