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T WAS A JOURNEY TO THE TOP OF THE WORLD, A COLD ONE AT THAT, WHEN ALLIED MERCHANT SHIPS BRAVED ARCTIC WATERS TO CARRY VITAL SUPPLIES TO THE SOVIET UNION IN 1943.

THIS IS NO FUN IN THIS BRASS MONKEY WEATHER! GIVE ME THE TROPICS ANY DAY.

STORY MAC MACDONALD ART KEITH PAGE COVER KEITH PAGE

BESIDES THE COLD AND THE BAD WEATHER, THEY ALSO FACED THE THREAT OF AIR AND U-BOAT ATTACKS. ALAN JONES, SECOND MATE ON A LIVERPOOL-REGISTERED MERCHANT SHIP, WAS AS VIGILANT AS ANY OF THE OTHER LOOK-OUTS.


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THIS WAS HIS FIRST CONVOY BUT HE WAS ALREADY ACCUSTOMED TO THE VICKERS MULTI ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS ON THE E-CLASS DESTROYER ESCORTS SUDDENLY ERUPTING INTO LIFE. HE WINCED AS HE KNEW FULL WELL WHAT THAT MEANT.

JERRY IS SOMEWHERE UP THERE.

AS THOUGH ON CUE, A HEINKEL III H6 TORPEDO BOMBER, OPERATING FROM A BASE IN THE NORTH OF OCCUPIED NORWAY, POWERED IN TO BEGIN ITS ATTACK RUN. I WILL HOLD THIS COURSE FOR AS LONG AS I CAN BUT THESE GUNNERS DON’T HOLD BACK.

THIS WILL DO NICELY, HERR LEUTNANT.


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THE CIVILIAN SHIPS WERE ALSO ARMED, THE GUNS MANNED BY ROYAL ARTILLERY PERSONNEL OF THE DEFENSIVELY EQUIPPED MERCHANT SHIPS UNIT. ALAN WAS GLAD TO HEAR THE 20MM OERLIKON MANNED BY SERGEANT LOU BRYCE AND HIS LOADER THUMP INTO ACTION.

GET BACK WHERE YOU CAME FROM, NAZI!

GOOD FOR LOU. HE NEVER SHOWS ANY FEAR.

THE CONCERTED FIRE OF LOU AND OTHER D.E.M.S. GUNNERS FAILED TO PUT THE ENEMY CREW OFF AND AN LTF5B TORPEDO WAS LAUNCHED.

TORPEDO GONE, HERR LEUTNANT!

GOOD WORK, KAMERADEN. LET’S GET AWAY FROM THESE GUNS.


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AN AMERICAN FREIGHTER CARRYING TANKS AND FUEL IN ITS HOLD WAS HIT AND EXPLODED. THE SHOCK BROKE THE SHIP’S BACK AND THE VESSEL PLUNGED BENEATH THE WAVES, TAKING THE CREW WITH IT.

THE POOR BLIGHTERS!

CURSE THOSE JERRY FLY BOYS!

LOWERING CLOUD AND WORSENING VISIBILITY DROVE THE LUFTWAFFE MENACE AWAY BUT THE IMMEDIATE DANGER WAS FAR FROM OVER. AN OIL TANKER CREWED BY CANADIANS FIREBALLED INTO THE SKY WHEN IT TOO WAS HIT.

NO PLANES ABOUT, THERE MUST BE A U-BOAT ON THE PROWL!

WE NEVER GET ANY REST OUT HERE!


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THE UNDERWATER HUNTER LOOSED OFF ANOTHER TORPEDO SECONDS LATER.

THIS TINFISH WOULD MISS, A ROYAL NAVY DESTROYER COUNTER-ATTACKING WITH DEPTH-CHARGES.

RUNNING TRUE, HERR KAPITAN! KEEP THE JERRIES’ HEADS DOWN!

THE KRIEGSMARINE CREW HAD EXPECTED RETALIATION. THEY CUT DOWN ON AS MUCH TELL-TALE NOISE AS POSSIBLE AS THEIR U-BOAT DESCENDED LOWER INTO THE ICE-COLD WATERS. AT AN UNDERWATER SPEED OF LESS THAN SEVEN KNOTS PER HOUR THEY ATTEMPTED TO CRAWL AWAY.

QUIET AS YOU LIKE NOW. DON’T LET THEIR LISTENING GEAR PICK US UP.


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THIS TYPE VIIC CRAFT WAS COMMANDED BY EXPERIENCED KORVETTENKAPITAN HORST MEIDEN, WHOSE SENIOR PETTY OFFICER, STABSOBERBOOTSMAN KLAUS DIETER, HAD SERVED WITH HIM FOR A LONG TIME. AS MORE EXPLOSIONS ROCKED THE U-BOAT, THE PAIR CALMLY ASSESSED THEIR OPTIONS. WE CAN GO DEEPER STILL...THE HULL WILL TAKE IT.

NOT FOR TOO LONG, HERR KAPITAN. BAD FOR THE BOAT AND THE NERVES OF THE MEN.

MEIDEN’S FATHER HAD BEEN A U-BOAT COMMANDER IN WORLD WAR ONE. BOTH MEIDEN AND DIETER BELIEVED THAT THE ATTACKS ON MERCHANT VESSELS BACK THEN HAD HURT THE GERMAN KAISER’S CAUSE BADLY. NOW, ALTHOUGH NO FAN OF THE NAZIS, THE KORVETTENKAPITAN WAS FIGHTING HARD FOR HIS COUNTRY. THEY SAY WE ARE CRIPPLING THE RUSSIANS BY HOUNDING THESE CONVOYS, BUT THE ALLIES KEEP COMING. THE SOVIETS STILL GET MORE SUPPLIES THAN WE CAN MUSTER ON THE OSTFRONT.


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THE UNDERWATER DETONATIONS HAD CEASED BY NOW AS FROZEN ROYAL NAVY HUNTERS HAD REALISED THEIR PREY HAD SLIPPED THEIR NET.

THE SHOW IS OVER FOR TONIGHT. STAND DOWN!

THERE WAS NOTHING CALM ABOUT THE PROGRESS OF KAPITANLEUTNANT HANS HILFER, THE U-BOAT’S SECOND-IN-COMMAND, AS HE HURRIED THROUGH THE CROWDED SUBMARINE, HIS VOICE AN ANGRY HISS.

MOVE, DUMMKOPF! WHY MUST YOU ALWAYS BE IN THE WAY?

THE POMPOUS PRUSSIAN IS THROWING HIS WEIGHT ABOUT AGAIN…

WHEN MEIDEN WAS SURE THE IMMEDIATE DANGER WAS PAST THE U-BOAT BEGAN TO RISE AGAIN.

HOLD THAT SPEED AND ANGLE, NICE AND SMOOTHLY.

SORRY, SIR. IT WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN.


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THE SKIPPER AND DIETER HEARD THE EXCHANGE AND EXCHANGED LOOKS. NEITHER OF THEM HAD MUCH TIME FOR HILFER, WHO WAS OVERBEARING AND DID COME FROM PRUSSIA, BUT IT WAS IMPORTANT TO WORK AS A TEAM AND NOT LET THEIR REAL FEELINGS SHOW.

WHAT WAS I SAYING? JA, FOLLOW THAT COURSE WE DISCUSSED.

TO THE LETTER, HERR KAPITAN.

HILFER WAS NEW TO THE BOAT, A POSTING TO REPLACE A CAPABLE, WELL-LIKED AND FEARLESS PREDECESSOR WHO HAD BEEN LOST WHEN HE HAD BEEN SWEPT FROM THE DECK IN A FREAK STORM. HIS LOSS WAS A SORE ONE.

WELL, JOHANN, THE SEA THAT TOOK YOU WILL LIKELY TAKE US TOO IN TIME. TODAY WE RODE OUR LUCK.


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