World War II at Forillon's gate
Forillon National Park
Fort Peninsula is the only World War II shore battery that has been completely preserved and that is open to the public in Quebec. This deeply moving site is also the main vestige of the Gaspé naval base, one of Canada’s primary military stations during the Second World War.
From 1942 to 1944, German “U-boote” (submarines) entered the St. Lawrence Gulf and River. There they sank 23 Allied ships during what has become known as the Battle of the St. Lawrence. The war, which until then had been a somewhat remote concern, suddenly became an immediate, threatening and palpable reality for people in the Gaspé.
In response to this danger, Canadian Navy strategists chose to site a naval base at Gaspé Bay. This sprawling natural port is considered as one of North America’s finest havens. In particular, Gaspé Bay’s deep waters were easy to defend, being sheltered by the surrounding coastal relief and the sand spits of Penouille and Sandy Beach. Furthermore, the bay was strategically well positioned, enabling the navy to defend both the St. Lawrence Gulf and River.
Inaugurated on May 1, 1942, the Gaspé naval base would play a dual role, protecting Gaspé Bay (seen as offering haven to a portion of the Allied fleet in the event of an invasion of Great Britain by Nazi Germany) and helping to protect Allied commercial and military vessels sailing in the St. Lawrence.
This military complex, christened “HMCS Fort Ramsay,” consisted of the naval base proper, three coastal batteries (Fort Prével, Fort Haldimand and Fort Peninsula), a huge anti-submarine net, which closed off Gaspé Bay to any would-be incursions by German submarines, and a fleet of 19 warships.
This site is a moving remnant of the Gaspé naval base, one of Canada’s leading military stations during the Second World War.
Inaugurated in 1942, the Gaspé military complex consisted of a naval base (H.M.C.S Fort Ramsay), three coastal batteries (Fort Haldimand, Fort Prével, and Fort Peninsula), an enormous anti-submarine net that closed off Gaspé Bay to German U-boats, and a fleet of 19 warships.
Fort Peninsula and the Second World War
Torpedo attacks off the coast of Cap-des-Rosiers
Did you know that ships were torpedoed by German U-boats near the coast of Forillon in 1942 during the Battle of the St. Lawrence?
In fall 2015, over 70 years later, five shipwrecks were located off the coast of Cap-Gaspé and Cap-des-Rosiers through the joint efforts of several partners, including Samuel Côté, researchers from the Interdisciplinary Centre for the Development of Ocean Mapping (CIDCO), archaeologist Érik Phaneuf, REFORMAR, and Canadian Heritage. This discovery generated a great deal of interest and brought back memories for many Gaspésiens.
What really happened on September 15, 1942?
Two witnesses, Gérald Giasson and Guy Ste-Croix, share their memories of this little-known episode of the Second World War.
The Battle of the St. Lawrence at the doorstep of Forillon
Photo : © Musée de la Gaspésie. P246 Fonds Edgar Dorais.
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