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Convoys of World War II (Amazing Stories)

Convoys of World War II (Amazing Stories)

Dangerous Missions on the North Atlantic

Nine men tell their personal stories of life at sea during World War II. In extreme danger, they battled seasickness, injury, and less than comfortable living conditions while avoiding floating mines and torpedoes in their efforts to guide ships safely across the Atlantic Ocean.
"Torpedo ahead," the lookout yelled. With thudding hearts, a pair of Canadian sailors watched the torpedo skim the water in front of their corvette. It was racing straight for the tanker one of the 35 ships in their convoy and only a few hundred feet away. With a deafening impact, the shock of the explosion almost blew the sailors right off their ship.
The tanker's cargo of fuel, destined for the Allies' war efforts in Europe, spewed into the ocean and ignited into a hissing, spitting, roaring fireball. As the tanker burned, the horrified witnesses heard only weak cries. After a short time, these too were drowned out by the thunder of the angry fire. The sailors knew there was no point in the convoy's rescue ship sticking around.
Escorted by armed navy vessels, the convoy of Canadian and British merchant ships raced onward, trying to put distance between them and the visible and invisible dangers of the North Atlantic. Despite the reputed safety of the pack, another of their ships was stricken soon after. This time, there was no fire, but the ship was sinking quickly. Lifeboats had been lowered but some sailors barely had time to grab a life ring before hitting the frigid water. The rescue ship was ordered to stay for them as the rest of the convoy again sailed on.
Choppy seas made the rescue agonizingly slow and difficult. Scramble nets were thrown over the side of the rescue ship for the desperate men to haul themselves aboard. Half an hour later, only a few men and boys had been saved. Many more were losing the fight with the frigid water. Then the order came that was even more chilling: "Abandon the rescue." Once again under attack, the convoy had signalled for help. The rescue ship revved up its engines.
In the ocean, the weakening hearts of the remaining sailors sank alongside their ship.
About the Author
Dorothy Pedersen is a freelance writer. She is the daughter of Archibald McInnes Thomson of the 52nd Anti-tank Regiment of the Royal Artillery. Her father’s willingness to depict his war experiences without censorship gave Dorothy a glimmer of insight into the psychological impact of war. She found history books abandoned the human impact of war in favour of strategies, statistics, and military leaders. Dorothy wanted to know more about the thoughts and feelings of people who were given a uniform and sent overseas. No one seemed to know, or those who did know, didn’t want to talk about such things or weren’t encouraged to do so. But abiding by her father’s teaching (“If you’re not honest, you’re nothing”), Dorothy tracked down real live men — mariners — who had been in the war and were willing to tell their stories with honesty so that other people could learn what war was really like.

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