The Ghost Ships of Archangel: The Arctic Voyage That Defied the Nazis
William Geroux. Virginia Beach, VA: Viking, 2019. 338 pp. Notes. Biblio. Index. Illus. $28.
MOST IMMEDIATE: Convoy is to scatter.
“Having heard the expression ‘All hell broke loose’ used many times as a figure of speech, we found ourselves in the middle of the real thing.”
–Lieutenant William Carter
Thus begins the core of The Ghost Ships of Archangel, which chronicles four crews fighting the worst convoy massacre of World War II. Deserted by their Royal Navy escorts, fighting swarms of Luftwaffe aircraft, and stalked by U-boat wolf packs, only 15 of convoy PQ-17’s 39 ships survived. Instead of continuing east through the enemy gauntlet, which almost would have ensured their destruction, four ships made the perilous choice of heading north into an ice field.