It was the custom of the German Naval Command in the Second World War to name Allied convoys after the U-Boat commander who made the first sighting report. Kapitanleutnant Johan Kleber sighted convoy JW137, Murmansk bound, as it battered its way through the freezing storms and gloom of an Arctic winter; and so Kleber's Convoy it became. The U-Boat's signals were intercepted by the Admiralty in London and passed back to the commanders of the British escort vessels; notably to Lieutenant-Commander Redman of the destroyer Vengeful. The name of the U-Boat commander was for him a painful shock: years before a Hans Kleber had saved his life on a Swiss ski-slope, he had fallen in love with the German's sister and still reproached himself for her accidental death. Could this be the same man? Was the relationship between these two friends and enemies to provide a haunting counterpart to the savage naval battle? Kleber, with fifteen U-Boats concentrating for the attack, was determined to inflict mortal damage on the convoy of thirty-five merchant ships. The British Vice-Admiral, with twenty-six escort vessels, was determined to get it through. It was to be a fight to the death; and death came quickly in Arctic waters where freezing temperatures killed in a few minutes and the chances of survivors being picked up were minimal. This is an authoritative and gripping account of the grim struggle of an Allied convoy to reach Murmansk.
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