by Linda Cox
My father described it as one of his proudest moments aboard the INGHAM during WWII…
The winter of 1942-43 in the North Atlantic was nicknamed “Bloody Winter” because of the carnage the German U-boats inflicted on the U.S. and Canadian ship convoys crossing the ocean with supplies and troops to England. SC-107 was one of those convoys.
Leaving New York on October 24, 1942, SC-107 was unaware that the encrypted message giving its date and time of departure for England had been deciphered by the German U-boat command and a “wolf pack” of U-boats was waiting for it. The convoy of forty-two ships was accompanied by a small number of escort vessels. But they were no match for the U-boats, which began their attacks the night of November 1 and continued through November 4. Initially, fifteen U-boats led the attack, but this number doubled at one point in time.
Each night, the quiet was shattered as torpedo after torpedo slammed into ships. Munitions exploded, ships burned, signal flares popped as the Northern Lights formed a canopied backdrop in the dark skies. Daylight hours brought a regrouping of the convoy, assessment of damage, count of survivors, etc. But as soon as nightfall came, it would start over again.
As SC-107 approached the Iceland area, my father’s ship, the INGHAM, was dispatched along with two other Coast Guard vessels to provide additional protection for the convoy. The Commander of the INGHAM, George McCabe, knew how shaken the convoy crews had to be after these attacks. A convoy that had started with forty-two vessels had lost fifteen, including the 81,000 tons of materials they carried. Over 500 survivors had been picked up by escort vehicles. He knew it was important to remind the men of the remaining ships of SC-107 that “the cavalry had arrived.”
As the INGHAM approached the convoy on November 5, Commander McCabe ordered all hands to battle stations. With the INGHAM “showing the flag,” he then took the 327-foot cutter up and down all the lanes of the convoy at twenty knots in high seas, the American flag and all signal flags standing stiff in the breeze. A blue/gray camouflaged man-of-war bringing encouragement and inspiration to the battle-weary convoy, which finished its journey to England without losing any other ships.
What a beautiful reminder of the role that encouragement plays in our lives. Whatever our battle—civilian or military—weariness and discouragement can set in. And we, as part of God’s “cavalry,” are placed here to encourage others with words and actions to help them regroup and continue the journey.
And who better to encourage than our veterans? As we approach Veteran’s Day, may we seek ways to “show the flag” of encouragement to them and their families as our way of saying “thank you” for their service.
May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 (NIV)
Linda Cox is a regular contributor to DivineDetour. She recently retired after twenty-five years as a district office secretary for the State of Illinois. Her first loves are studying the Bible and reading, but she occasionally tries her hand at writing. Her work is published in All My Bad Habits I Learned from Grandpa (Thomas Nelson), The One-Year Life Verse Devotional (Tyndale), Life Lessons from Grandparents (Write Integrity), Love Is a Verb (a devotional from Bethany House), and Chicken Soup for the Soul’s I Can’t Believe My Dog Did That. She lives on a farm with the “Bone Mafia,” her two indoor/outdoor farm mutts.