Battle of the Atlantic Heroes: Alex Burton and friend Jack Ebsury

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Navy News / April 30, 2021

During the Second World War, two friends from Newfoundland, Alex Burton and Jack Ebsary, joined the Battle of the Atlantic with the Merchant Navy aboard Cable Ship John W. McKay.

In 1942, the ship and its crew were part of convoy HT 1, and were escorted by His Majesty’s Canadian Ships Sudbury and The Pas, normally being tasked with laying cable and maintaining communication lines.

On a particular night in 1942 however, the crew of C.S. John W. MacKay embarked on a new mission - the opportunity presented itself to steal 450 miles worth of unprotected enemy undersea cable that linked Italy and South America. This cable was later deployed to link up all the British cable lines off Africa and into the Indian Ocean.

Unfortunately, later in the war, Jack was lost on Steam Ship Wayfarer, falling victim to torpedos from U-862. Alex Burton always credited Jack with saving his life, by taking that repatriation cruise.