November 12, 2011
First, let me introduce myself: I am Yves Rainville from Ottawa, Ontario. I just recently retired from the RCMP as a Staff Sergeant after nearly 35yrs of service. My first 11 years were spent in Saskatchewan, at Carrot River, Maple Creek and Hafford when we were transferred back home to Ottawa in 1987. For me and my family, these were some of the best years of our lives.
The reason I am writing is to remind the residents of Weyburn, especially the younger generations, that in WWII, there was a Canadian warship, a convoy escort Corvette, named after your town, the HMCS Weyburn (actually an article was published in your paper on June 9, 2010 in that regard).
My father, RCN Able Seaman Leo Rainville, Regiment # V6915 (he was 18 years old at the time), was on HMCS Weyburn from the time it was put in service in December 1940 right up to when it was torpedoed (some also speculate it hit a mine) in 1943. My father is still with us at 89 and still recounts his many adventures on the Weyburn during the war.
Many Weyburn residents would write to the sailors, giving them words of encouragement and some would even knit them mitts, caps and sweaters and send "care packages". Unfortunately, all of my father's precious letters and gifts were lost when the ship went down. He spent twelve hours alone in the sea before being spotted by a search aircraft and then rescued by another Canadian ship. He was injured but recovered once he was brought to a Gibraltar hospital. He was 21 years old. Unfortunately, the Weyburn suffered many losses when she sank.
When he talks about the letters and the gifts received by the sailors on the Weyburn, all between the ages of 18 and 25 (with one or two exceptions), you can feel a sense of pride in his voice in that he was representing not just Canada, but a Canadian community - it wasn't just a ship, it was a part of Canada! He often said that he would have liked to visit after the war but the opportunity never presented itself and now, nearing 90, he cannot travel those great distances anymore, whether by plane, car or train.
I just thought I would share this with you so that the residents of Weyburn do not forget and are reminded that young men fought and gave their lives for our freedom aboard a ship named after your great community. There are many sites on the Internet about the Weyburn - just search for "HMCS Weyburn".
On behalf of my father and all of my family, I wish to thank those who lived in Weyburn during WWII for their support and encouragement in what were indescribable challenging times for our young Canadian sailors. WE certainly will never forget you.
Thanking you for your time,
Yves Rainville, S/Sgt (RCMP, ret.)