Sixteen-year-old Bill O’Connell is a good hunter. He has to be; helping put food on his family’s table during the Depression is no easy task. When the war comes, it’s Bill’s steady aim that gets him assigned to gunnery training, beginning a deadly five-year mission to run supplies from Canada to Britain.
Most books about the Second World War celebrate the front line soldiers. Edward Kay’s Sink and Destroy: The Battle of the Atlantic tells the lesser known story of the sailors charged with protecting the supply lines, men whose task was not to engage the enemy, but instead, hide their precious cargo from them.
Tanks, munitions, gasoline, and food sent from Canada to Britain were critically important to the outcome of the war, and during the treacherous journey, had to be protected from bombers and submarines. Bill describes the hardships endured as his convoy crosses the Black Pit—the 600-mile stretch of unprotected open water in the North Atlantic—and the harrowing sea battles that ensue when the convoy is discovered.
Calm throughout the battles, Bill’s strongest emotions are reserved for the Canadian government. Critical of Canada’s military readiness, disturbed by the lack of support shown by the citizens of Halifax towards the soldiers, and frustrated that Germany has superior technical capabilities, Bill curses Prime Minister Mackenzie King for putting Canadian lives in danger. Based on his interviews with veterans, Kay has provided an intriguing look at times past.
Full of detailed information about guns, ammunition and shipboard life, Sink and Destroy is an action-packed navy adventure with a thought-provoking core.