Long Night of the Tankers is the story of the German effort to cut the Caribbean off from Britain, the United States and Canada and the desperate defence mounted by the Allies, along with a half dozen other Caribbean and South American nations. The loss of the oil threatened Britain’s ability to wage war; the loss of the tankers almost strangled the oil supply to America’s industrial north east. When even Churchill and Roosevelt began to worry about the vulnerable Caribbean, the US and its allies poured thousands of men, hundreds of aircraft and dozens of ships into the Caribbean region, organized an effective convoy system and rallied the Central and South American nations against the Germans. By mid 1944, the Caribbean had become an Allied lake and the submarine threat was defeated. But to this day, the old timers of the islands still remember the oil-soaked beaches, the explosions in the night and the bodies of dead sailors washed ashore that marked this dramatic chapter in the Second World War.
David J.Bercuson is a Professor of History and Director of the Center for Military and Strategic Studies atthe University of Calgary. Holger H. Herwig is the General Series Editor of Naval Policy and History.