Honouring a gallant seaman
Family, Coast Guard pay tribute to the late Capt. Gregory P. Peddle
The harbour in Harbour Grace was thick with fog on Sunday, Oct. 17 as theCanadian Coast Guard shipSir Wilfred Grenfell appeared like a ghost out of the haze at around noon.
Much like it did 21 years ago following a devastating tragedy in the waters off Middle Cove, the vessel sounded its horn in a mariner’s salute to Capt. Gregory P. Peddle of Tilton.
Peddle was one of three Coast Guard members who perished in their attempt to rescue a diver during heavy seas on the evening of Oct. 15, 1989. Their fast-rescue craft overturned after being hit by a large wave. Peddle’s remains were never recovered.
His gallantry and devotion to his family and the sea was extolled during a special memorial ceremony at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church.
In addition to the mariner’s salute, the Capt. Gregory P. Peddle memorial stained glass window was also blessed by Archbishop Martin Currie of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s.
For Peddle’s family, the recognition was long overdue.
“ The sea was his passion,” said Peddle’s widow, Barb.
Peddle’s 28-year-old son, Gregory, noted that his father will “ live on in tributes like this.”
Peddle was born and raised in the community of Tilton. But the church in Harbour Grace played an important role in his life. It’s where he received several of the church’s sacraments, and was married. The couple’s two sons — Gregory and Daniel — were also baptized in the church.
And Barb pointed out that it’s fitting that the window faces the harbour.
She added that he would “ burst with joy” to see the “ fine young men” that his sons have become.
As for the Sir Wilfred Grenfell, Barb said the presence of the ship in the harbour made her heart swell with pride.
“She will forever remain in our hearts as Greg’s ship,” she said.
Gregory was a driving force behind the memorial service, and has also launched a fund-raising drive to erect a monument to the victims at Middle Cove.
“I think about him every day,” Gregory said during the service. “I loved him with my heart and soul.”
Added Daniel: “He was a very hard workers. He knew what he wanted in life. But most importantly, he loved his family.”“
The superintendent of Coast Guard operations in this province, Capt. Brian Penney, was also in attendance. He spoke very fondly of Peddle.
“ We had a very special friendship,” said Penney.
He said “ the thought is always there” each time an emergency calls comes in and a fast-rescue craft is dispatched.
For Peddle’s 81year-old mother, the ceremony brought back memories of the worst day of her life. Susan Peddle’s mother, Emily Hutchings, passed away mid-morning on Oct. 15, 1989.
Susan was at the funeral home later that evening when a family member delivered the grim news that her son had died.
Losing a mother and a son on the same day sent Susan into a crippling shock.
“It was a full year before I realized what I had lost,” said Susan.
Those gathered at the funeral home in Harbour Grace that evening could look across Conception Bay and see the lights as searchers attempted to located the four men lost in the tragedy, recalled Susan’s sister, Emmie Neil.
“ They were such young lads at the time,” Emmie said of her nephews, Gregory and Daniel, who were ages 7 and 5 when they lost their father.
Anyone wishing to contribute to the Middle Cove monument can contact Gregory at the following e-mail: gpeddle@3Ddatacomm.ca
Archbishop Martin Currie blesses the Capt. Gregory P. Peddle memorial stained glass window at Immaculate Conception church in Harbour Grace on Oct. 11. In the background is Peddle’s son, Gregory.