"A colossal geyser of black mud followed along with the terrific roar of the explosion. Mud and water rained down on the Apache, drenching everyone on deck, while the little ship leaped frantically in the waves." Gold From Crete, by C. S. Forester
A Reading Recommendation: Sea Story
by Malcolm Torres
When you search around for sea stories naturally the Horatio Hornblower collection by C. S. Forester comes up at the top of many lists. But, I'm not much of a fan of Hornblower and the old tyme wooden-ship sea stories, so naturally when I saw C. S. Forester's collection of WWII stories, Gold From Crete, I snatched it up and read it cover to cover.
What I wonder is: How did Forester write these stories? While reading them I simply took it for granted that the author was a Royal Navy officer, but I was quite surprised to find that he did not serve in the Navy at all. He did server in the British Infantry during WWI, but that does not explain how he wrote such wonderful sea stories. Forester left England prior to the start of WWII, and lived in California writing sea stories and movie scripts for most of his life.
This collection, Gold From Crete, is written with great authenticity, containing so many small details that one experiences while aboard a ship at sea. The story puts you aboard the HMS Apache during operations in the Mediterranean during WWII. There's plenty of action and humor, character development and insights into life aboard a ship during wartime.
Five of the stories are about the brave crew aboard the HMS Apache, as they barely survive being bombed as they recover the national treasure of gold at the Greek port of Crete. In one funny, yet hair-raising story, the Apache's captain dons a diving suit to defuse an accidentally dropped depth charge in port at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. And of course, as any good WWII sea story should, this volume includes an intense hunt for a German submarine, this time with a new high tech sonar system.
There are several stories in this collection that do not take place aboard ships at sea, and we'll forgive Forester for straying from his nautical plots and themes, but these others stories are well worth a read. They take us into tank battles on the sands of North Africa, a spy story in New York City and a what-if story that ponders what may have happened if Hitler had invaded England.
For those who enjoy good sea stories, especially those aboard a small ship during WWII, Gold From Crete by C. S. Forester is well worth a read.