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Going over by Convoy

Heroes Remember

Going over by Convoy

From there we went to, I think it was called Debert in Nova Scotia where they loaded us up, and there was oh, hundreds of boats making up the convoy and it would be pretty late in the season ‘cause it was cold. It took about two weeks to get it all lined up. It was so heavy, we were just barely above the water lots of times. You'd almost sink if a big wave would come because you have all your stuff with you, eh, supposed to have, anyway. You're kind of sorry because, gee whiz, look, I'm going to end up sinking in the ocean, I'm not going to get over there. It was cold and dirty. Any ship that they could find it was loaded with people, and they said they cleaned them out but they didn't. And there'd be rats and mice and stuff, anything that would float. And there would be maybe four or five hundred boats, big convoy, big convoys. They would take weeks, couple of weeks to get across. The worst part, you didn't have enough water to keep clean. Even the toilets and that were all messy. They had to wash them down, hose them down, because there's about six, seven hundred, to a thousand people. The boats weren't meant for that because you've got all your trucks, tanks, some tanks, service tanks. Each boat had something so if one sunk the equivalent might be on the other. Some part of your regiment or division would get over there with something with it, because those German U-boats were good. They weren't scared. They'd come right into the middle of the convoy at night and start blasting away because during the day they could could be picked off from the air planes. You could see the shadow in the water or stuff like that. And then to throw depth bombs, well you would get some of your own ships because they were loaded with stuff. It didn't take much to tip one over. You know there was something going on, because sometimes... they'd all start signalling. They'd have a kind of ‘woot-woot-woot-woot' kind of a foghorn thing and blinkers and lights, flashlights, signal lights. Well, you knew there was an air raid. The captains would pass it down, you know, to get your jackets on, but it wouldn't have done any good. You would have froze in the water.

Mr. Senycz describes the long voyage to England, the poor and overcrowded conditions on board, and the fear they’d sink and freeze to death.

John Senycz

Mr. Senycz was born August 22, 1920 in Colhurst, Alberta. His parents were both of Polish descent, born in Czechoslovakia, and moved to Canada to work in the coal mines. At age two, his father died and his mother remarried. Mr. Senycz joined the Canadian Army 4th Division Tank Corps in 1942 and was shipped overseas to England. It was during the Battle of Falaise that his tank got hit and the crew of five soldiers was badly burned. Because of the severity of Mr. Senycz’ burns, he was transported to Basingstoke hospital in England for rehabilitation. With the many burns and scars, Mr. Senycz underwent three to four years of plastic surgery to his face. On September 18, 1945, Mr. Senycz was discharged from the Canadian Army from the orderly room in Vancouver, BC. He later married, moved to Calgary, Alberta, and raised a family.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
John Senycz
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
4th Armoured Division

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