Submariner Sinclair (The Submariner Sinclair Naval Thriller Series)

Written by John Wingate
Review by Loyd Uglow

In the middle of World War II, Sub-Lieutenant Peter Sinclair, Royal Navy, commands a small warship, Chaser 25, on escort duty for coastal convoys in the English Channel. The work is bleak but dangerous enough, with German mines, aircraft, and warships constantly threatening. Sinclair escapes from the dreary assignment unexpectedly when orders arrive assigning him to the valiant British submarine flotilla operating against Axis shipping from the beleaguered Royal Navy base on Malta in the Mediterranean.

Sinclair transitions quickly into the closed community that is a submarine’s crew and immediately comes face to face with the constant danger his new shipmates have lived with for so long aboard the submarine HMS Rugged. Attacking and being attacked in turn become a way of life for the young officer in an environment where life expectancy is measured in days rather than decades. Whether hitting Axis supply ships carrying fuel for Rommel’s Afrika Korps, braving depth charges from the deadly Italian destroyer squadron the “First Eleven,” or raiding German-held positions on the Sicilian shore, Sinclair and his fellow sailors don’t shrink from giving their all.

The story is a solid wartime tale, with author John Wingate’s own long experience as a naval officer very evident in the authenticity of the action and the shipboard routine. He brings alive not only the frantic action and palpable fear on a vessel in combat, but also the mundane naval life that takes up the far greater part of a sailor’s time even in war. Wingate’s occasional viewpoint shift to German or Italian characters is weaker and stereotyped, but by and large the novel is a realistic, engaging narrative.