In short, terse sentences Tom Palmer gives a vivid picture of life on an Arctic convoy during the Second World War. Frank and his two childhood friends, Stephen and Joseph joined the Royal Navy together, and are serving on HMS Forgetmenot taking needed supplies of tanks and guns to the Russians. Joseph can’t wait to see the Russia whose system of government he believes in, and which he finds on a brief trip ashore in Murmansk is far from the truth. There is tragedy when the ship is torpedoed, and on a new ship HMS Belfast, Stephen is involved in the sinking of the Scharnhorst at the end of 1943.
Tom Palmer has captured the awful conditions and the danger so well, and the cold and the ice do seep through the pages. Somehow the short sharp sentences convey the tension and drama of the ships sailing in such great danger. Stephen’s guilt and sorrow at how his relationship with Joseph ended is well portrayed, and the visit to Joseph’s father by the two young men makes clear the emotional cost of serving at sea and losing comrades.
In double spaced text and with a map and a very good photograph at the beginning, and black and white drawings/photos at the bottom of each page, someone has taken a great deal of trouble to make this story as authentic as possible. There are some notes about HMS Belfast at the end and a photo of the Arctic Star, the medal given to those who served on the Arctic Convoys, after the star that they sometimes saw en route. Also there is a tribute to the Imperial War Museum which may well inspire boys in particular to visit the ship and the museum. Because of the way the book is presented the story will appeal to those boys who do not read so well, as well as other readers of 12+.