Espionage Thriller Was Set In Wartime Bermuda

June 3, 2013

surcouf-620x300There’s something fishy going on in wartime Bermuda — something codenamed “Wahoo” and involving both the Nazis and a renegade Free French submarine stationed on the island.

In the 1944 bestseller “Bermuda Calling”, American novelist David Garth used the then recent disappearance of the giant submarine “Surcouf” [pictured] — which had vanished without a trace after leaving the island in 1942 — as the point of departure for an inventive thriller.

Pitting American intelligence officer Zach Rowland against German spies, Free French submariners who want to defect to the pro-Nazi Vichy regime and machete-wielding Portuguese assassins, the espionage novel — which unfolds against the backdrop of life in Bermuda during World War II [1939-1945] — was well reviewed by critics for such publications as “The New York Times” and “The New Yorker.”

“The Boston Globe” newspaper serialised the book the year after it was published.

Mr. Garth — then a Staff Sergeant in the US Army and one of the outstanding combat historians of World War II — draws vivid word-pictures of conditions in Bermuda during that global conflict.

With a historian’s eye for detail he comments on everything from the fact windows on incoming flying boats were curtained off as they made their landing approaches — to prevent any spies travelling on them from taking aerial photographs of the new US military bases constructed in Bermuda during the war — to the lighting-up time for bicycles and carriages negotiating roads still largely free of automobiles except for military vehicles.

Mr. Garth — an expert in Civil War history — wrote such other novels as “Gray Canaan”, “Fire On The Wind” and “Challenge for Three.”

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