The single longest battle of the Second World War was commemorated across the country Sunday as people gathered to mark the 71st anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic.

In Halifax harbour, the ashes of 27 sailors and loved ones of those in the navy were committed to their final resting place.

battle of the atlantic

Barbara Howell-Wright said goodbye to her father, Chief Petty Officer Jack Howell-Wright aboard the HMCS Sackville Sunday. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Retired navy ship HMCS Sackville escorted the ashes to a spot in the Halifax Harbour just off the tip of Point Pleasant park.

Roy Busby served in the navy for 35 years. On Sunday, he laid the remains of his wife Shirley to rest.

“In my case, I think it will give me closure. It’s been a hard five years since she passed away. We were married for 52 years and it happened very suddenly, so I still feel it. I think that maybe after this ceremony is over, Shirley will have come to rest,” he said.

Barbara Howell-Wright said goodbye to her father, Chief Petty Officer Jack Howell-Wright. He was 89.

"I'm really hoping he's looking down right now and he's thrilled because he started the war on one of these corvettes and the fact that he's taking his last voyage from one, to us, is just fabulous."    

HMCS Sackville is the only surviving corvette from the Second World War. There were about 200 people on board Sunday.

On Prince Edward Island, the Battle of the Atlantic was also remembered on the waterfront in Charlottetown.

In Ottawa, the names of ships lost at sea between 1939 and 1945 were read out on Sunday as the Battle of the Atlantic was remembered on Parliament Hill.

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson and Chief of Defence Staff General Tom Lawson were among the dignitaries who attended the ceremony in Ottawa.

A bell rang each time the name of a ship lost during the battle was read out.

German sub sinks SS Athenia, triggers battle

The Battle of the Atlantic was fought between 1939 and 1945. It was one of the defining conflicts of the Second World War.

More than 3,000 sailors and merchant seamen lost their lives delivering supplies across the Atlantic Ocean to Britain.

HMCS Sackville

There were about 200 people on board the HMCS Sackville Sunday. (CBC)

Halifax served as the home base for the battle.

Canada's navy had only six destroyers and 13 ships in total when the Battle of the Atlantic began in 1939, according to a Veterans Affairs Canada website.

During the next six years, the Canadian fleet grew to 373 fighting vessels, making the Canadian navy the third largest in the world.

The Battle of the Atlantic began on Sept. 3, 1939, when a German submarine sank the Montreal-bound passenger ship SS Athenia west of Ireland.

The sinking killed 188 of those aboard, including four Canadians.

The Royal Canadian Navy's chief responsibility during the years-long battle was to escort merchant ship convoys. The first sailed from Halifax on Sept. 16, 1939, escorted by the Canadian destroyer St. Laurent.

By mid-1942, the Royal Canadian Navy, with support from the Royal Canadian Air Force, was providing nearly half the convoy escorts, and afterwards carried out the lion's share of escort duty.

Training, air cover, special intelligence and more and better equipment turned the tide in mid-1943, although the battle is considered to have lasted until the end of the Second World War.

With files from The Canadian Press