Commemorative plaque honours Coast Guard vessel namesake

Ceremony conducted by CP Railway, Coast Guard and RCMP took place in Burlington

Photo courtesy Canadian Coast Guard (Carol Launderville).

The Canadian Coast Guard, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Pacific Railway paid homage to a true Canadian hero December 10, 2017, with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque aboard the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Private Robertson V.C.

The vessel is a familiar one to those in the Sarnia-Lambton area, especially given the fact that the Private Robertson V.C. was dedicated in Sarnia Harbour on April 29, 2013.

The individual honoured, Private James Peter Robertson, was awarded posthumously the Victoria Cross for his extraordinary valour and devotion to duty while facing a hostile force in one of the most significant battles in World War I.

The memorial plaque plaque quotes the official 1918 London Gazette report on the actions which led to the Victoria Cross award. At Passchendaele Belgium Private Robertson led his platoon in an advance that resulted in the Canadians capturing the enemy’s machine gun, forcing them to retreat. When two of his platoon mates were badly wounded he went out and carried one of them in, under severe fire. He was killed just as he returned with the second man.

CP commissioned the plaque at the request of CP engineer Darrel Sundholm of Calgary Alberta, who provided additional background on the honoured soldier.

“After his family moved from Springhill Nova Scotia to Medicine Hat Alberta, James Peter Robertson joined the Canadian Pacific Railway, working his way up to locomotive engineer. He earned his nickname ‘Singing Pete’ for his cheerful singing and whistling, whether in the cab or at the roundhouse,” said Sundholm. “The bravery that earned him the Victoria Cross made him a legend among locomotive engineers the world over.”

Steve Pauley, commanding officer of the Canadian Coast Guard ship named in Robertson’s honour, said the plaque will educate all who step aboard the ship.

“In this, the 100th year anniversary of his death, it is our honour to share the story of Private Robertson’s service to our country and remember his ultimate sacrifice with dignity and respect.”

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