Escape from Archangel
An American Merchant Seaman at War
Publication Year: 2007
During World War II, merchant marine tankers in convoys plied the frozen North Atlantic through the flaming wreckage of torpedoed ships. Working to keep sea lanes open, valiant merchant seamen supplied food, fuel, and goods to the Allies in the last pockets of European resistance to the Nazis.
This exciting book acknowledges that the merchant marines, all volunteers, are among the unsung heroes of the war. One of these was Jac Smith, an ordinary seamen on the Cedar Creek, a new civilian tanker lend-leased to the U.S.S.R. and in the merchantman convoy running from Scotland to Murmansk. Smith's riveting adventures at sea and in the frozen taigas and tundra are a story of valor that underlines the essential role of merchant marines in the war against the Axis powers.
This gripping narrative tells of a cruel blow that fate dealt Smith when, after volunteering to serve on the tanker headed for Murmansk, he was arrested and interned in a Soviet work camp near Arkhangelsk.
Escape from Archangel recounts how this American happened to be imprisoned in an Allied country and how he planned and managed his escape. In his arduous 900-mile trek to freedom, he encountered the remarkable Laplanders of the far north and brave Norwegian resistance fighters. While telling this astonishing story of Jac Smith and of the awesome dangers merchant seamen endured while keeping commerce alive on the seascape of war, Escape from Archangel brings long-deserved attention to the role of the merchant marine and their sacrifices during wartime.
Published by: University Press of Mississippi
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TItle Page, Copyright
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University Press of Mississippi, and to copy editor, Ann Finlay-dodgers. After the war the government refused to grant them vet-erans' benefits. Yet the American Merchant Marine suffered cata-strophic losses during World War II—proportionally greater lossesthan those of all American armed forces except (by 0.1 of 1 per-...
Prologue: Just an Old Bridgetender?
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...thirty years at sea. He had sailed across all the oceans, past allThe fishing fleet was still there, but the old sailing schoonersspent scanning endless horizons, and he was still tall and thin.on the water, and he had time to fish, to think, to sort out hiswith him. He's just an old fart of a bridgetender." He let go of...
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...far side, they scraped the ice off the soles of their feet on the...
Mama, I'm Going to Sea
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...once silent ways. Jac's father and the fathers of his generationwith little regard for their flags of registry, and in these en-Shortly after that visit, O. M. Smith, Jr. informed his family thattion, but one could not tell it by the traffic on Canal Street. It...
Four Dollars, Thirty-Five Cents and a Sack Lunch
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...back the tears. "Here, you'll need this—it's all we have in themore and forgot their stiff joints and tired sea legs. Many wereing noon sun. They learned to use the sail as a shelter. Jac also*The official Maritime Service newspaper said, "Representing Division195, these eleven stalwarts brought their boat across the finish line ahead...
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...sengers, well clear of their burning ship, were still set on firestricken vessel ignited and fell from the sky like burning rain.* In sea jargon "black" has nothing to do with race but refers to the sootyfaces of stokers who in early days shoveled coal all day long into the fire-boxes of ships. Diesel engines have replaced coal, but men working in the...
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...against the bright lights of the cities along the coast—citiestruck, rail, barge, and coastal freighters for transfer to thosenot been perfected. It is easy to see why their favorite tactic,in their respective places. By noon all preparations for gettingare loaded with aviation gasoline. If you show a light, you will...
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...ings, or actual attack, they had to stand by the lifeboats, readylight, and use the knife to cut your throat if the first two don'tmerciless gales. All efforts of crews were directed at surviving...
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...for first place as favorite topics, but there was also simple talktured to the crew's quarters astern. Therefore, the furry littlegenus Callithrichidae. Stop. If you reply to this signal, we are...
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...to a point just north of Ireland without a loss, in part becauserealized, within five hundred yards of his own ship. Ironically,the tanker, with only her stern visible, refused to sink and hadlittle to sell, gasoline was in such short supply that almost nopretty girls, children, families of friends, pub keepers, little...
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...edial action fast—like use of a fire hose. But there wasn't eventake off his leg, carefully placing it in exactly the same posi-leg and grabbed for his artificial one, which wasn't there. WithFirst Sparks, barely restrained from killing his assistant, finallyried his life jacket with him at all times and explained to any-...
A Russian Captain
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...fine, just fine. Sure, Dad, it's a little rough at times, but nothing...
The Murmansk Run
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...crewmen ate little and slept, if at all, at their duty stations.vivors. To do so would risk the lives of the crew, the ship, andthey can never forget, faces black with oil, faces in pain, coldthat smiled as if to say, "I'm all right, mate." One captain pass-...
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...door. A single light fixture, a light bulb with a frosted shade,lems, but the official either didn't understand English, or pre-This wall sported a grilled window, like a bank teller's, behindtheir first trip to Russia—anything about that. After all, they...
Twenty Minutes Too Late
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...doors. As his eyes adjusted to the dim light from a single elec-...
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...protein. He ate every bit of it except the scales and teeth. Butnext day to straighten this out." "Yeah, damned if we'll give inrecruits he'd trained at St. Pete. He'd never in his life, as far asrise in the terrain, picks and shovels, wielded by forced labor,...
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...soup, or use of their blanket for a night, and especially for anextra piece of clothing, a pair of gloves, or socks. Jac was veryit sitting there in the center of the room for all to see. Almost...
You'll Die Out There
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Jac replied quietly, "I'll go mad—and then I'll die. I'd ratherigate. How far have I come? Fifty, sixty miles? Let's see. Speedbe just to lie there for a moment, to rest his aching tired body....
The Reindeer Spoke
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...fire, its smoke drawn out through a vent at the top of the tent.of leaves and branches near the fire. He had not slept for threehistory, or of great deeds, or just plain tall tales, Jac was neverfriendly, cheerful, curious, with a certain vivacity about them.clothes, tools, the smallest of personal items, all were beauti-...
In the Hands of Strangers
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Identification papers clearly stated an individual's district andvoice, the breaking of a twig, the falling of a loose rock couldSmith did not put all of this together at once. At first he felt...
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All the other guides had appeared at least twice this boy's age.fell heavily upon him. He slept all the rest of the day. At mid-village to see a relative. Since there was a shortage of doctors,other Resistance cells directly. In this way if one cell fell, itlittle point of land. Jac's heart leaped to his throat. There, just...
The Shetland Bus
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...nails, after they had broken all the fingers on his right hand, aofficer and several of his troops had been killed. In retaliation,all of the men in the village, sixteen years old and above, wereGradually, while fishing, they spread farther and farther apart.faced again, swirling water pouring off its spherical bulk as it...
Just What Were You Doing in Norway?
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...notes. "Quite a lucky fellow, I'd say" The senior officer added,utilitarian hall, offered another cigarette and a chair, and toldnally late in the afternoon, the presiding captain asked, "Well,...
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...smile. Captain Wold first went to sea on a sailing vessel at theage of sixteen. In the sixty-eighth year of his life, he was rid-tanker. Jac thought about it. A lot of people had risked a great...
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...story at the time, he said sadly, "It really doesn't matter any-least a salute in passing—if only for the wake of freedom they...
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Page Count: 168
Publication Year: 2007