Never too old for a pierhead jump

It is New Year 1944 and Lieutenant Harry Gilmour RNVR, is recovering in Beirut from wounds received during an ill-fated British campaign to seize the Greek Islands. After four years continuously at sea and at war, he is expecting a shore job as his next appointment. Instead, a flash signal from C-in-C Mediterranean arrives: Report to Alexandria and assume command of HM Submarine Saraband.

His new command has just arrived there from her builders, back in Britain, en route to the Indian Ocean and the war against Japan. But there’s been trouble on board. The Navy will only describe it as, ‘conduct prejudicial to naval discipline’, yet her skipper and first lieutenant have been summarily removed. And now it’s up to Harry Gilmour to pick up the pieces.

With a sullen and uncooperative crew and a boat plagued by glitches and breakdowns, Harry is ordered into action against the Japanese convoy routes through the shallow, treacherous waters of the Malay Archipelago.

There, endless, tedious hunts for targets through the island chains, and sudden, bitter little actions fought in sweltering heat and monsoon rain leaves Saraband’s crew even more exhausted and demoralised.

Yet, if they are to survive against an Imperial Japanese Navy growing in anti-submarine expertise, Harry must turn them into a taught, fighting machine.

Because waiting for them, as the war in the Far East grinds towards its final conclusion, is a mission as daring and audacious as it is vital. One that could deliver the Royal Navy’s most spectacular success of the war.

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