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The Black Hole

Heroes Remember

We had to go through what they call a black hole. That was an area in the Atlantic Ocean in the middle that there was no aircraft that could protect that certain area and that’s where the U-boats would wait for us. And the lone wolf submarine would just plow the Atlantic in the middle, the black hole. They would note down the convoys, send them, send the information to Admiral Dönitz, head of the submarines of Germany and send it back to the wolf pack and they line up just waiting for the convoy to come through. So much on each side, say twelve submarines on one side and twelve submarines on the other side and then we had to run the gauntlet. Moonlight nights was the worst. Your whole convoy of maybe 50 ships silhouetted against the moon and make perfect targets. And sometimes I couldn’t understand why they would, a convoy was spaced in such a way that every hole in the middle of the ships, there was another ship blocking that hole. So it wasn't a very easy target for a submarine to hit a ship in the middle of a convoy. And they can pick the, they had the silhouettes of the different ships and destroyers and that and they would check and see who was what and what kind of, was it an oil tanker, was it a cargo ship. When I used to go on deck and see a ship get torpedoed and I witnessed men in the water in their life jackets with one little light on them. Ad the U-boats used to go underneath them to protect themselves, and the first part of the war, the escorts wouldn’t go inside the convoy, but when they found that the Germans were going underneath the convoy for protection and then when they went to hear the propellers of the destroyer take off, they go and come up again and blow a few more ships out of the water. It was quite a strategy, that was

Mr. Tanner describes the Black Hole, an area of the North Atlantic where U-boats launched their most devastating attacks. He also describes German strategies for attacking, and hiding from, Allied shipping.

Allen Tanner

Allen Tanner was born on December 1, 1925 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. After finishing Grade Nine, he went to work for a Norwegian shipping firm on the Halifax dockyard. As a member of the Navy League, he served in an Honour Guard for the Queen when she visited Halifax in 1939. Too young to join the Canadian Merchant Navy, he joined a Norwegian ship, whose crew shortage made him a welcome addition. Mr. Tanner worked on board a freighter, but was lured to work on tankers due to the higher pay they offered.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Allen Tanner
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Atlantic Ocean
Battle of the Atlantic
Merchant Navy
D/S Sirehei

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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