The last surviving naval officer of the long-running, hard-fought Battle of the Atlantic discovered the CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum had renamed a gallery at the museum in his honour while celebrating his 100th birthday, on Nov. 24.
Commander (Retired) Peter Godwin Chance was honoured for a career that spanned some of the most momentous and turbulent times in world history.
“I was totally surprised when they told me. I was overcome with happiness and gratitude,” said Chance from his home in Sidney. “To be recognized such as that is a great honour and never expected.”
Formerly known as the Battle of the Atlantic gallery, it will now be known as the Peter Godwin Chance gallery as a means of recognizing a long and distinguished naval career at sea and shore.
During the Second World War, Chance served in a variety of Canadian warships, including HMCS Skeena, HMCS Sea Cliff and HMCS Gatineau.
He served not only in the Battle of the Atlantic but in the Korean War, when he saw combat again as part of Canada’s support of UN operations there.
Even when retired from the navy, he continued to be active, serving with the Naval Association of Canada, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Program and the Royal Canadian Legion, all for more than 40 years.
Until very recently, he would arrange the Remembrance Day wreath-laying on behalf of the Naval Association of Canada in Victoria, Oak Bay and Sidney.
He has completed three Veteran’s Memory projects with University of Victoria history students, sharing his first-hand recollections during interviews.
Still living independently, he has written a 210-page memoir, A Sailor’s Life 1920-2001, that details his long career.
“I have had a great life at sea.”
Access to the base is currently restricted due to COVID. The museum plans to host an official dedication of the renamed gallery when it is deemed safe. When it reopens, visitors will also find a display board at the entrance to the gallery outlining the significance of Chance and his career and experiences.