The Seas That Mourn

Once again, Patrick Smith is back. This time, though, he has taken to the high seas in a novel based on his experiences with the merchant marine during WWII. This heartfelt work shows that Patrick Smith is a novelist who is never off his game.

~Anonymous (Barnes and Noble)

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The United States Merchant Marine provided the greatest sealift in history between the production army at home and the fighting forces scattered around the globe in World War II. The prewar total of 55,000 experienced mariners was increased to over 215,000 through U.S. Maritime Service training programs.

Merchant ships faced danger from submarines, mines, armed raiders and destroyers, aircraft, “kamikaze,” and the elements. About 8,300 mariners were killed at sea, 12,000 wounded of whom at least 1,100 died from their wounds, and 663 men and women were taken prisoner. Some were blown to death, some incinerated, some drowned, some froze, and some starved. 66 died in prison camps or aboard Japanese ships while being transported to other camps. 31 ships vanished without a trace to a watery grave. It is estimated that approximately 9,300 merchant mariners gave their lives in the war.

Some argue that without the Merchant Marine the Allies would have lost as there would not have existed the means to carry the personnel, supplies, and equipment needed by the combined Allies to defeat the Axis powers.

The Seas That Mourn is Patrick D. Smith’s moving tribute to the brave mariners who served in the Merchant Marine during World War II. It has been called “A Land Remembered of The High Seas” and it is an action packed book that has humor, war, love, romance, loss and much more to make it an exciting and memorable read. You’ll be on the edge of your seat as you follow the main character through convoys that really happened.

Here’s a brief synopsis of The Seas That Mourn:

In 1942 alone, German U-Boats sank almost four million gross registered tons of Allied ships convoying goods and war supplies to the war ravaged European continent, Britain and North Africa. That same year, 19-year old Jimmy Kendall leaves his small Mississippi town to join the Merchant Marine.

He soon discovers that supplying the troops in unprotected waters exposes him to some of the fiercest battles in WWII. The Seas That Mourn is a riveting story of unsung heroes who navigated dangerous waters and perilous conditions to provide American and Allied troops with critical supplies of ammunition, fuel and goods. These sailors, often overlooked for their service, were key in turning the tide of the war.

Want to know where the title “The Seas That Mourn” came from? We took several paragraphs from the book and created this video:

Patrick Smith joined the Merchant Marine just after the end of the war. He writes battle scenes at sea that are so realistic you will swear that he was there. He clearly knows every inch of a ship and how they would operate in the sometimes horrific situations the Merchant Marine faced during World War II. It is surely one of the best novels written about the Merchant Marine in World War II and it certainly deserves its place alongside Smith’s better known novels like A Land Remembered, Angel City, Forever Island and others.

 

 

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Below is a promotional video that takes some of Patrick Smith’s dramatic dialog and sets it to images and music.

 

 

 

In The Seas That Mourn, Pat Smith does for the Merchant Marine what his previous novels have done for Florida Crackers. Flourishing his decency and humanity, as always, he has come through with another fine book for Smith collectors.
~Al Burt, Former Miami Herald Columnist & Award Winning Author


From this reader’s view there is a shortage of books about one of my favorite subjects, the merchant marine. Here is one that was found by chance in a kiosk at a book show that I otherwise may never have known about and was pleasantly surprised with upon reading. The author is best known for his historical novels about Florida, so this is a atypical, but written with a degree of esotericism usually reserved for authors who actually lived through it.

One of the reasons stories about the merchant marine are so rare is because it is usually only when something goes drastically wrong that it is written about. That is to say a sinking, stranding, fire, striking an iceberg, war or piracy (a relatively new threat facing modern merchant mariners) are subjects that might make a story worthy of telling. Otherwise a merchant ship voyage becomes a boring affair of watch standing, eating, sleeping, loading and unloading, with short stays in port, but yet successful, either financially or militarily.

In this case it is World War II featuring an antiquated pre-war cargo ship in three transatlantic convoys with all the mayhem that ensues. The central character is a college boy who receives brief training at the Maritime Service training school in St. Petersburg, but who has no clue about what he is getting involved in. The book proceeds rapidly through the voyages dwelling much on the U-boat attacks, port calls in Liverpool, Murmansk and Casablanca and the girlfriend left behind.

The shipboard life otherwise acurately portrays the young man learning to steer the ship with no prior training, cynical shipmates, drinking, poker playing, the loneliness and the self-loathing that often occurs amoung merchant seamen. Ashore the crew are met with the disdain often shown by members of the armed forces and others.

~R. R. Parent