Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   
Canadian Forces in Europe - the ships that got us there!

Canadian Forces in Europe - the ships that got us there!

Data current to 15 Feb 2021.

Author's note: on Wednesday 10 June 1959, our family left Montreal’s Pier 42 after boarding the Greek Lines ship “Arcadia,” and, along with many other RCAF families, sailed for LeHavre, France, where we arrived on 17 Jun 1959.  On 18 June we boarded a coal fed steam locomotive to go to Paris, where we changed trains and then rode on to Homburg, Germany.  From there we drove to our new home at No. 19 Zaberner Straßße, Zweibrücken, Germany, as my father, then LAC Aage C. Skaarup, prepared to serve as a Mobile Service Equipment Operator (MSE Op) at No. 3 Fighter (F) Wing. 

After four years overseas, on 19 Jun 1963 we said goodbye to Zweibrücken, and took a bus to 1 (F) Wing, Marville, France, stopping for lunch at 2 (F) Wing in Grostenquin, France, en route.  On 20 Jun 1963, we boarded a Canadair CC-106 Yukon No. 22 and flew back to Canada.  This was my first flight, landing at RCAF Station Trenton, Ontario.  We spent the first of many later stops at the Yukon Lodge. 

I was later very lucky to have been based at CFB Lahr, Germany, from June 1981 to 2 July 1983.  Good things happen quite unexpectedly sometimes, and after completing a lot of courses, training and postings, we found ourselves back in Germany again in June 1989.  Our last flight out of Lahr was on 28 June 1992, this time on a Boeing CC-137.   I was also able to visit Lahr while on leave from Bosnia-Herzegovina on 10 Sep 1997.  The city is the same, but except for a few signs, the Canadian presence is missing, much like Zweibrücken.

One of the common themes I have found when talking to RCAF families who were deployed overseas during the Cold War, is that most remember the ships they sailed on to get there in the 1950s and early 1960s, after which, most, like our family, flew back.

For a trip down memory lane, I am presenting a photo here of each of the passenger ships that were used to transport Canadian Military families overseas in the early days of the Cold War.  If I have missed any, please send me an e-mail at and I will add a photo asap.  Smile if you see your ship!




Empress of Canada

Empress of England

Empress of France

Empress of Scotland