The Cruel Sea Retold

The Truth Behind Monsarrat's Epic Convoy Drama

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Overview

Bernard Edwards recounts the history that Nicholas Monsarrat used as the basis of his famous adventure novel, The Cruel Sea, which tells the tale of British ships trying to evade destruction by U-boat wolf packs hunting them in the North Atlantic. This work—a factual retelling—describes the actions of the three British convoys featured in the novel, first detailing the experiences of Convoy OG 71 when it attempted to sail from Liverpool to Gibraltar on 14 August 1941 with twenty-two merchantmen and eight escorts. During the trip, ten ships were lost without a single U-boat being sunk, and the convoy had to seek refuge in Lisbon. A month later, Convoy HG 73 sailed from Gibraltar with twenty-five merchantmen and thirteen escorts. Ten more ships were lost and only one U-boat was damaged. British fortunes began to improve when Convoy HG 76 sailed from Gibraltar in December with thirty-one merchantmen and a heavy escort of fifteen warships. During a six-day running battle, five U-boats were sunk and seven British ships lost.

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