Stoker Joseph Germain Pilon
Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve
29/12/1919 - 21/8/1944

Royal Canadian Navy Ensign

Stoker Joseph Germain Pilon was born in 1920 and raised in the small Ottawa Valley town of L'Orignal, Ontario, Canada, the son of Félix and Sophie Pilon (click here to learn about Joseph Germain's ancestral line).  He had probably never been beyond the St.Lawrence Valley during his short life, but events were taking place in Europe which would draw him away from the gentle farmlands of Eastern Ontario and pit him and his new friends against Hitler's deadly U-boats which criss-crossed the North Atlantic seeking out defenceless merchant marine ships that were fighting the elements and packs of roving submarines in order to provide England with food, supplies, equipment, and most important of all, hope.

Joseph Germain Pilon was a member of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve. (V49934).  He served aboard the Canadian "Flower" Class Corvette, H.M.C.S. Alberni (K 103).  That ship was one of three corvettes built on Canada's west coast and which took part in escorting many North American merchant marine convoys to England.  During the landings in Normandy, the Alberni took part in Operation Neptune which provided escort for ships transporting men, munitions, supplies and equipment in support of the Allies offensive actions against German troops in France.

On August 21, 1944, just before noon, the Alberni was struck by a German torpedo near the engine room.  In no more than 30 seconds the H.M.C.S. Alberni had sunk beneath the surface taking 59 men, 4 officers and 55 ratings, to their watery graves.  Three officers and 28 men survived.  After the war, records indicated that the Alberni was sunk by U-480 which eventually went on to be sunk with the loss of all its crew on February 24, 1945.  

Joseph Germain Pilon's body was not recovered from its watery grave and he likely remains entombed in the remains of the Alberni. His name, along with 2846 others who died at sea during the Secon World War and 274 who died at sea during the First World War, is commemorated at the Halifax Memorial, located at the tip of Point Pleasant Park which forms the outer edge of the harbour at Halifax from where so many Canadians left their country to face the perils of war in distant lands. Follow this link to view photographs of the Memorial and Joseph Germain Pilon's place on it.

Up until the week of October 20, 2005, efforts to locate a photograph of Joseph Germain Pilon had failed.  However, they did elicite a poignant story of a young brother's reaction to the news of Joseph Germain's death.  "Oh, my brother did not die in the war, he drowned". Thanks to the internet and the kindness of Louise Bédard, Julie Pageau and Gertrude Pageau, we can now see a photograph of this handsome young sailor. Many thanks!

To learn more about H.M.C.S. Alberni, follow these excellent links:

The H.M.C.S. Alberni - The Naval Museum of Manitoba
The Alberni Project - One Man's Determination to Keep Alive the Memory of the Alberni and her Crew
The Lost Crew of the Alberni - Ed Paquette

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