November 11, 2019
A Story about a Man and his CORVETTE
For the last 10 years, I have taught a continuing education program on November 11th. Not today, that’s a thing of the past.
After two minutes of silence at 11:00 am, I would tell a story about a man and his Corvette.
Actually, it was a story about Tony Griffin a good friend who commanded a CORVETTE for the Canadian Navy during the Second World War. Don’t get the wrong image here, this was no sleek super-designed state of the art warship. This was a freight tanker that was modified for war by adding a few guns.
The job was to protect supplies being carried through the North Atlantic enroute to Britain. The German U boats were state of the art. In one battle, remembering that the CORVETTE had to be extremely accurate, they downed a German U boat.
What took place afterwards was historical.
Immediately, the Canadians rushed to the assistance of the Germans. Everyone was rescued and brought back to Halifax where they remained as prisoners of war.
I saw a picture of the CORVETTE arriving in Halifax harbour with all the German soldiers smiling and waving. To me that was an iconoclastic image of wartime. They had obviously been well-treated. In all fairness, I suppose they had nowhere else to go. The Atlantic can be rough.
Within a year following the war, the commander of the German U boat, now a merchant banker, contacted his one “friend” in Canada, Tony Griffin. That contact set into motion a series of extremely sizeable financial transactions and investments in Canada’s banking and insurance industries, and a personal friendship that lasted for decades.
Tony was written up in the “Who’s Who of Canadian Directors” in the 1980’s, having served on the boards of over 70 major corporations in his career.
Notwithstanding his many accomplishments, he says that one of the best things he ever did in life was to save the lives of the innocent soldiers, struggling to stay alive in the middle of the night in the cold North Atlantic waters.
Eight years ago, I started telling his story at classes. Eight years ago, and for many years before and a few years after, he told his story to the students at Forest Hill Collegiate, a few minutes after 11:00 am.
This year, I have no one to tell, no course today. And, I’m sorry to say that Tony passed away on 11 September 2015. He died at 104.
All the best! Take 2 minutes at 11:00 am this morning.
Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker