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Base Commander, Capt(N) Sam Sader and Cdr (Retired) Peter Chance chat during an unveiling ceremony for the war medals of Cdr Ted Simmons at the CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum on July 10. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout

Seven medals that once belonged to Second World War hero Commander Edward ‘Ted’ Simmons have returned to his home province on short-term loan to CFB Esquimalt.

The medals, including a Distinguished Service Order, Distinguished Service Cross, and a 1939-45 star, were unveiled at a ceremony at the CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum on July 10.

Base Commander, Captain (Navy) Sam Sader presided over the ceremony, and Second World War veteran and Battle of the Atlantic survivor, 98-year-old Commander (Retired) Peter Chance was the special guest of honour.

The two men pulled away a black curtain revealing the glistening and freshly polished medals inside a cubed glass display case. They are now the focal point of the museum’s new HMCS Beacon Hill exhibit celebrating the River Class frigate and its daring commander Simmons.

Simmons was the most highly-decorated member of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve during the Battle of the Atlantic. His most notable heroics include the thwarting of a German U-Boat attack and boarding and later sinking the submarine once he acquired its code books, exploits which are featured prominently in the museum’s exhibit.

“Simmons was an ordinary man who rose to the challenge and made an extraordinary impact during the Second World War,” said Capt(N) Sader.  “We are truly honoured to be able to display his medals and it’s great to have the decorations earned here with us today.”

Chance, who was attending the event on behalf of the Naval Association of Canada – Vancouver Island, wore his own rack of medals and awards from his Royal Canadian Navy career, including being named a Chevalier (Knight) of the Ordre national de la Légon d’honneur, France’s highest honor. Like Simmons, Chance fought his own battles against German subs aboard HMCS Skeena as the ship’s navigator.

Chance says it was men such as Simmons, coming from other jobs and walks of life, who through perseverance eventually helped turn the tide of the war in favour of the Allies.

“He was one of the guys who found himself in a position to take on the opposition and did well,” said Chance. “His exploits tell the story…he was highly respected.”

Cdr Simmons retired in the United Kingdom and his medals remained with a relative following his death in 1988. Despite continued efforts by the Canadian branch of the family to bring them back to Canada, they were eventually sold at auction in England. The Canadian War Museum came to the rescue in 2017 and was able to acquire them. The war museum then agreed to loan the medals to CFB Esquimalt once made aware of the current exhibit at the base museum earlier this year.

The CFB Esquimalt Museum has extended its hours of operation and is now open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., until Sept. 2. For more information about the museum and its exhibits visit their website www.navalandmilitarymuseum.org

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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