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Protecting Convoys From The Wolf Pack

Heroes Remember

Protecting Convoys From The Wolf Pack

Because the way the wolf packs are Rick, it was all the wolf packs, until the Allies got used to it. One sub would go up to the head of the convoy and he'd stick out the snout and soon as the, soon as the word went out that a convoy . . . a submarine contacted off the right starboard bow. Well all the escorts rush up there, to get that one sub and the others would just work down in the middle of the, in the middle of the convoy and it's just: boom, boom, boom, boom. Freighters, that's what their, their priorities were freighters, because they had the goods. You know. The big freighters. Interviewer: You mentioned some of their strategy, of decoying off the escorts towards one and then . . . did you, yourself do a convoy escort? Oh yes, in the Atlantic, yes. Yeah, yeah. Interviewer: So what, when, when freighters in your convoy were being hit? (Yeah!) What did you guys do? Well, you were going after the Pings first, you know what I mean, if the submarine and I don't know what the movement of submarines when they were below, but they had great hiding techniques. You know, they, they let out a torpedo go and then go to the bottom. Not sink their sub, but just to get out of the way for a while. And, not much you could do about it, you didn't know where they were. And sometimes they went that deep, that you couldn't pick up a ping you see? A ping is from the radar. And you never knew a lot of the times, whether you got the sub or not, because they had ways down there, of sending oil up to indicate to you, that you made a hit, when you probably didn't make a hit at all. And probably sail off and the, that submarine just went to the bottom and waited for a little while, until everything cleared, then they'd be on their way again. Interviewer: When you were on the, on the deck, sending out those depth charges what kind of thoughts were going through your mind? I don't recall right now. I was hoping what we were doing had a result, whether it was that submarine that you were dropping that depth charge and we didn't know. Didn't know half the time. Interviewer: It strikes me as sort of a cat and mouse game! (Exactly!) But this is one where people die, and nobody of our generation and the children's generation have any idea. (No, that's right) what it's like to be in a . . . what it is like to be in that kind of cat and mouse game? Well deep down, there is no question about it, you are scared. And you hope that, you're not hoping that, it's just an automatic thought that you hope everything goes alright for you and your friends, you know. Shipmates. But your mind is so taken up with your assigned duties, you don't really have the time to think about yourself, or just that the end result of that torpedo sending off . . . that's the one. Your mind is set on that.

Mr. Doherty recalls the attack strategies of packs of German submarines, and describes hunting for them while escorting convoys.

Ivan Doherty

Mr. Doherty was born on May 4, 1926, in Boston, Massachusetts. His family having originally been from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, decided to return soon after his birth. His father left the family soon after moving to Charlottetown, Mr. Doherty was raised by his mother and grandparents. Soon after turning 15, Mr. Doherty and a friend of the same age, eager for excitement and to see the world, became very anxious to join the Navy. His friends father, understanding that the boys would not be deterred, convinced a recruiter to ignore their age and allow them to join on May 21, 1941. Promising his mother and grandparents to continue with his education, they did not attempt to have him discharged. As he was found to be colour-blind, Mr. Doherty was only allowed to join the Navy as a stoker below decks. After two months basic training, and an 18 month posting in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, he was drafted to the Guysborough, escorting convoys across the North Atlantic, and sweeping the French coast for mines in preparation for the D-Day invasion. In addition to serving as a stoker (Acting Petty Officer), Mr. Doherty acted as a depth charge loader in his off-duty action station. After D-Day, Mr. Doherty left the Guysborough to take a Petty Officer course, but after several delays was drafted to the American carrier, HMS Puncher as a Killick (with the same duties as Acting Petty Officer), escorting convoy ships on the Murmansk Run. Still on the HMS Puncher on VE-Day, Mr. Doherty and the rest of the crew volunteered for the Pacific battle, but it finished before any could enter. Mr. Doherty stayed on the HMS Puncher ferrying troops home across the Atlantic, until he returned home to Charlottetown in September 1945.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Ivan Doherty
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Murmansk Run
HMCS Guysborough
Acting Petty Officer

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