The water was a deep blue that day… it was only suitable after the big storms that we had been having for the past week. We were still trying hard to drain the water that managed to fall through the hatch. Our cook was still complaining about his book having been ruined by the little flood we had when a wave nearly got us capsized with our hatch open. I guess that’s why our food tasted a bit too salty a few hours ago…
We were in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. We couldn’t see land wherever we looked, but we knew that there was Malta somewhere to our west, so we felt covered. That’s pretty much an unsinkable aircraft carrier, and as long as we allies have it under our control, this sea will never become the Italian Mare Nostrum the Nazis want it to become. Dreams of a new Roman Empire? Not if we can help it.
Despite the fact that the submarine we were on was British, we were an odd bunch. Myself, I was a Brit torpedo man. The captain was Danish, the cook was French, the food was terrible and the water was pretty much Italian. Heh, stereotypes. All prejudices are blown from the water in a life or death situation and the only one who can save you is your not-yet-dead comrade.
It was a relaxed day. No U-Boat activity was reported in a large radius, so our patrol route seemed pretty clear. We were supposed to supply distant cover to a big convoy headed for Casablanca. Having in mind that we were passing Malta momentarily, we felt pretty safe. Had the captain not woken up swearing in Danish because of his wet bed, we would’ve had the time of our lives. We were taking it easy anyway though. The deck watch was more concerned about breathing in the fresh air than spotting aircraft, and even I was taking a break from taking care of the eels for a bit of sunlight. The torpedoes were ready, but I had a feeling that we weren’t exactly going to need them.
People were actually staying on deck and cleaning it. Cleaning the deck we were going to get under water anyway. I guess that’s no reason not to be tidy… I mean we were boat crew after all. We were trained to clean the boat’s deck all day. A submarine can just go under water sometimes.
The convoy we were covering from a distance was some hundred miles away to our west, heading to the Gibraltar Strait. It was trying to get some vital supplies out there, we didn’t know what, but apparently it was quite precious cargo. Regardless to say, the Germans would want it, if not for themselves, then denied to the enemy. The last thing on our mind though, was encountering an enemy U-Boat lingering underwater at periscope depth.
It was when I was just leaning against the conning tower railing looking at the blue clear water that the diesel engine started coughing violently as if it had a piston lung tumor. From downstairs a very annoyed “Bollocks!” rose up over the dying engine.