Late Colwood man, retired sailor, will have name on navy ship

Max Bernays was honoured for bravery during the Second World War

A former Colwood resident has been given one of the Royal Canadian Navy’s highest honours.

One of the three new Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships will be named for the late Max Bernays, a chief petty officer who served as coxswain on HMCS Assiniboine during the Battle of the Atlantic in the Second World War.

“Chief Petty Officer Bernays is a true Canadian hero who served our country with great distinction during the Second World War,” said Associate Minister of National Defence, Julian Fantino. “Our government is grateful for the service of all our men and women in uniform and will continue to stand behind our serving members and pay respect to our veterans for the sacrifices they have made. The naming of a naval ship in honour of Chief Petty Office Bernays is a proud moment for the Bernays family and all Canadians.”

HMCS Assiniboine sailed in and out of fog attempting to ram and sink an enemy German submarine during intense surface gun action in 1942. The Assiniboine wound up in flames, with both vessels firing high explosive shells at close range. CPO Bernays steered the ship, despite the bridge being engulfed in smoke and flames. He even ordered two junior sailors to clear, trapping himself in the blaze while he executed all helm orders as they manoeuvred for position against the U-boat.

The Assiniboine eventually rammed and sank the enemy U-210 and CPO Bernays was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal for his courage.

Bernays died in 1974 and some of his family still live on the West Shore.

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