Wm. Boudreau remembered 50 years after fatal explosion

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STELLARTON — Members of William Boudreau’s family are paying tribute to the member of the Royal Canadian Navy 50 years after his death.

Chief Petty Officer Second Class William Alfred Boudreau was 40 years old when he and seven other crew members were killed in an engine room explosion aboard the Canadian destroyer Kootenay on October 23, 1969.

Arrangements were made recently to mark the anniversary in Halifax.

Reports at the time indicate that the Kootenay was escorting the Canadian aircraft carrier Bonaventure west of Plymouth, England when the explosion occurred. The vessels had been taking part in NATO exercises.

Boudreau’s sister Margaret Henderson is among those remembering her brother. They grew up on Riverbank Street, although she currently resides on Bridge Avenue.

“Billy joined the Navy 20 years earlier,” she said. “He was going to retire and buy a farm.”

Henderson remains amazed with how military officials reached out to members of Boudreau’s family and his wife’s family during funeral arrangements.

“He was buried at sea off Plymouth,” she said. “He wanted to be buried at sea. They took us all, his wife’s family and his family.”

Henderson has several scrapbooks that include photos of Boudreau in uniform.

“He was a very nice fellow and a good father to all his children,” she said. “He was very well liked and a very good worker.”

One of the items is the original letter from then-Central Nova MP Russell McEwan addressed to their mother, who was then a widow.

“Chief Petty Officer Boudreau was a credit to his town and nation and, along with other Canadians, was carrying out his duties in an exemplary way,” McEwan wrote.

Margaret Henderson, sister of the late Chief Petty Officer Second Class William Alfred Boudreau, looks through scrapbooks that include photos of her brother in uniform. (Goodwin photo)