Saturday, June 17, 2017

New release: Global Tilt: A Chuck Brandt Novella


Chuck heads to Macau to stop the unthinkable. Will he succeed?

A ship en-route from North Korea to Iran—and its horrifying cargo—have gone missing…
The CIA is desperate and time is running out…
The unthinkable is about to become an earth-shattering reality...
They turn to their last hope—unstoppable operative Chuck Brandt

45 pg novella

Download here:

International customers click here: 
Global Tilt: A Chuck Brandt Novella

Looking for a non-stop action-packed thrill ride?
Start reading The Brandt Series today

Book 5 coming summer 2017

What others are saying about The Brandt Series:

5.0 out of 5 stars if you dont mind losing sleep because of a good book
By Amazon Customeron March 21, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was a fast paced book adrenalin pumping. It is like a cross between Mitch (Vince Flynn) and Dewey (Ben Coes). Mr Weston kept it exciting and intriguing with a good story line.

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb story. Action adventure writer that keep readers longing ...
By jd on March 26, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Superb story. Action adventure writer that keep readers longing for the next book.
Thank you Mr Weston !

5.0 out of 5 starsAnother fast paced fantastic adventure by Roger Weston !!!
By John H. Kuhl, CPCM on July 30, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
Every novel I have read by this author seems to be more exciting and enjoyable. If you are a reader that really enjoys an action thriller, you have to get the Rogue Op.

5.0 out of 5 starsHe is a great writer and the Rogue Op books are thrilling
By Sandra Y. Smithon April 24, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Anytime you come across a Roger Weston book, buy it. He is a great writer and the Rogue Op books are thrilling.  Really hard to put down. So looking forward to the next one.

Brandt Series Book 5 coming 
summer 2017.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

New Release: ROGUE OP II: A Chuck Brandt Thriller (The Brandt Series Book 4)

        They thought he was dead. They were wrong... 
  Rogue Op II: A Chuck Brandt Thriller (Brandt Series Book 4)

General Ivan Lazar and his Black Cobra Brigade thought they could get away with their crimes against humanity. They thought they could unleash death and chaos and not pay a price. They thought they could plot against America and fly under the radar, but they forgot about the Brandt factor—the sheep dog, the protector. Brandt is back like never before in a no-holds-barred action thriller. He is a rogue operative—an ex-assassin determined to protect the innocent and his country. 

Download here:

Looking for a non-stop action-packed thrill ride?
Read The Brandt Series

What others are saying about The Brandt Series:

5.0 out of 5 stars if you dont mind losing sleep because of a good book
By Amazon Customeron March 21, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was a fast paced book adrenalin pumping. It is like a cross between Mitch (Vince Flynn) and Dewey (Ben Coes). Mr Weston kept it exciting and intriguing with a good story line.

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb story. Action adventure writer that keep readers longing ...
By jd on March 26, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Superb story. Action adventure writer that keep readers longing for the next book.
Thank you Mr Weston !

5.0 out of 5 starsAnother fast paced fantastic adventure by Roger Weston !!!
By John H. Kuhl, CPCM on July 30, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
Every novel I have read by this author seems to be more exciting and enjoyable. If you are a reader that really enjoys an action thriller, you have to get the Rogue Op.

5.0 out of 5 starsHe is a great writer and the Rogue Op books are thrilling
By Sandra Y. Smithon April 24, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Anytime you come across a Roger Weston book, buy it. He is a great writer and the Rogue Op books are thrilling.  Really hard to put down. So looking forward to the next one.

The explosive conclusion to The Brandt Series coming 
summer 2017.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Maravillas Shipwreck

The Maravillas Shipwreck

by Roger Weston

Padre Diego Portichuelo de Rivadeneira stood fast against the pounding wind. He clung to the rail as the Nuestra Senora de las Maravillas rose on the sea’s liquid hills and sunk into her deepening valleys. He struggled to stand against the wind, and so he leaned into it. He leaned forward over the rail as gusts pounded him and thrashed the ship. He had survived a shipwreck just last year, yet fear touched him as he beheld the sinking low clouds, which were thick and unleashing torrents of driving rain.

Big sheets of water were torn off the surface of the waves and dispersed as spray. White streaks and foam patches covered the surface of raging, uncaring and unrelenting sea. The power of the advancing sea was a frightening spectacle to behold. Padre Diego could not help but feel just how insignificant he was in the universe. He sensed the vulnerability of the ship beneath his feet that was being tossed around like a mere cork. He knew to his bones that one rogue wave could doom the Maravillas and her mortal crew. His knees shook. Guilt and shame clung to him. As the storm raged, he felt no less fear than the apostles had on the Sea of Galilee before Jesus stilled the storm and rebuked them for their lack of faith. Oh, he was ashamed, indeed.
In the distance he saw other ships of the fleet tempting fate thanks to the staggering boldness and courage of their crews and captains, men who lived every day as if it was the only day they would ever have. They lived boldly and gloriously, in contempt of fear, choosing even death as preferable to a life of defeat and cowardice. Better than anyone, Padre Diego knew they were deeply flawed, but they were pushed and pulled by the conflicting currents and riptides of the cross-seas of life. Now their ships were facing the same liquid insanity. They rose on the rough, confused seas that had replaced the long, deep swells of earlier. They followed perilous courses through the black of night, long streaks of glittering green phosphoresce trailing in their wakes.
A voice from the crow’s nest cut through the thick, electric air. The voice dropped down from high overhead, announcing the coast of Florida off the port beam and touching off the emotions of Padre Diego. Land was always a comforting sight for those in troubled waters; it could also be a frightening sight for sailors who understand the dangers of shallow waters. Padre Diego had been around long enough to understand this.
As if responding to his fears, a stiff wind rose up and the temperature sank by ten degrees. High overhead, the sails flapped and luffed. Sailors sprang into action. They climbed ladders with as much confidence and skill as geckos that cling to walls. They furled and trimmed the sails. Down on deck, sailors secured all loose gear and battened down hatches.
Padre Diego went below and tried to sleep, but it was impossible due to the rough, awkward seas. Even in his bed he was jarred and shaken. He could not only hear the strains on the timbers, he could almost feel them. He felt something ominous that darkened his spirit and drove him to recite scripture to fortify his courage and give comfort and reassurance to his spirit.
Hours ticked by as the Holy Scriptures passed through his lips. Then he found himself back out on deck in the midst of pure chaos by night. The Bahamas Channel struck him as an evil, malevolent place. Showered with ocean spray, Padre Diego clung to the rail and watched the rising and falling of the lights of other ships in the fleet. He watched legions of whitecaps. He noticed how low the heavily-laden treasure galleon was riding in the water. He felt a pang of fear. The ocean was a furious beast, and Padre Diego knew how fragile and tiny the life of a man truly was. All around him sailors worked feverishly as if their lives depended upon their performance, yet they were tiny little souls, toiling in the midst of massive powers. In the blink of an eye, their little lights could be extinguished on any given day, but especially on a day like this.
His deepest fears blackened his heart when the ship was jarred. A huge wave rose up and pounded her like a fist in the face. Foamy whitewater spilled over her decks. The boatswain’s shouts spoke of shallow depths, and Padre Diego heard the gasps of sailors. A warning cannon was fired to alert the other ships of mortal danger.
Padre Diego watched in horror as the galleon of Juan de Hoyos, another ship in the fleet, hurtled into a rock. The rudder was snapped off like the breaking of a matchstick. Minutes passed like the slowness of torture and oppression. Reality was so real, yet also unreal. It seemed unbelievable when Padre Diego watched the Capitana out of control, heading straight for Padre Diego’s ship, the Maravillas.
Men screamed like doomed souls and ran for the opposite rail. What happened next confounded Padre Diego. The Maravillas attempted a desperate turn, but hit bottom. The Capitana, carried by the might of the sea, plowed into the Maravillas. Padre Diego felt the ship buck. He was thrown and rolled on the deck. He felt the ship tilt and tremble as she was broken in half. Then he saw the other half being torn away by the waves.
The remaining half of the Maravillas was helpless before the insane currents. She was carried right into the shoals where whitewater churned in the rocky teeth. Timbers snapped and razor-sharp rocks stove gouges in her hull. Water poured in through the damaged timbers.
Realizing now that their lives truly hung in the balance, sailors formed lines and bailed, but Padre Diego, who was also passing buckets, could see that their task was doomed to failure.
He fought his way through the chaos on deck, only to come face to face with Admiral Don Matias de Orellana, who told him, “The ship will be lost. Please, Father, confess all those who want to be absolved.”
The Father nodded and knew that he must do this. All around him, the cries of hopeless and distressed sailors filled the air. The spirit of Death was in the air. Padre Diego could feel her presence. And Doom rode on her back.
Padre Diego climbed to the highest deck and faced the terrified crowd below. He could see the terror and regret in the eyes of hundreds of souls who now realized that their final hour had arrived, and they had not lived as they should have. Desperation clung to their faces. Men who had cared nothing for God yesterday were now begging for his mercy. Everyone was begging for his mercy—sinners and saints alike. Men of status and countless honors realized suddenly that their titles counted for nothing. They knew instinctively that what mattered was how they had treated God and man, and this devastated them to the bones.
Padre Diego shouted above the storm. Words spilled off his tongue and down over the wailing crowd of distressed souls. “Calm yourselves,” he said. “There is nothing to fear.”
The sailors did not calm down. Padre Diego opened his Bible and read Holy Scriptures to so many men who listened and cried in despair. Padre Diego then began to hear confessions, but time was short and those who needed confession were many. He resorted to bestowing a general absolution upon the crowd.
Even as this was going on, the boat was breaking up under their feet. Men leapt into the water and swam for any scraps of wreckage that they could hold on to. Padre Diego dared not leap into the raging ocean, for he could not swim. The cold fingers of dread were choking his faith.
Admiral Orellana emerged out of the chaos of the grim night and put his hand on the Father’s shoulder. “Do not fear Death, Father. I am not afraid. Death will find us sooner or later.”
It was just what Padre Diego needed to hear. He watched in admiration as Admiral Orellana turned to help other sailors in their efforts to launch a boat.
“Come with us, Father.”
“No, I will stay here. Let another man take my place in the boat.”
This was done, but the same boat was promptly smashed to kindling as a wave flung it against the side of the galleon. All hands were lost.
Padre Diego whispered a silent prayer even as he heard the ship’s timbers bend and break. All around, men wailed in despair.
Even though he could not swim, Padre Diego acted on his faith. He leapt into the water, hoping to reach some wreckage. The cold gave him a shock, but he stayed above water long enough to grab hold of a floating hatch. He dragged himself aboard his makeshift raft. At that same moment, he saw the ship roll. The stern castle crashed into the water, dumping sailors into the sea.
A man swam out of the darkness and climbed onto Padre Diego’s hatch-cover raft. Realizing that he was in the presence of Padre Diego, the man began confessing his sins.
This man was Don Domingo de Vega, a knight of the Order of Christ. Water poured off the fantastic blue-and-golden Cross of Malta, which he wore around his neck.
After giving his confession, Don Domingo said, “Hang on to the raft, Father. Whatever you do, hang on. We will survive if we endure.”
Another swimmer reached a floating boom close by and wrapped an arm around it, yet his eyes showed he was resigned to death. With all the strength he could muster, he heaved a package to Padre Diego. “Take it, Father. I’m giving it up—and my sins with it.”
“What is it?”
“An artifact. A lead book with a written confession.”
“Whose confession?”
 “I will tell you father, but I must also confess. Please hear my confession, Father, for I am the greatest sinner in the world. I will tell you everything.”
“I will hear it.” Padre Diego shoved the bundle into his pocket.
Padre Diego had heard thousands of confessions during his career, but never had a confession shocked him and frightened him more than this one. From the darkest bowels of his soul, the man told a harrowing and astounding tale of evil.
For such terrible sins as he’d scarcely dared imagine, Padre Diego gave forgiveness. The sinner’s eyes were burdened with utter devastation and torment, yet once his sins were confessed, crushing weight seemed to lift from him. Relief glinted in his eyes for just a moment before he sank beneath the waves.
Padre Diego and Don Domingo held on through the night. In the morning, Padre Diego spotted a boat. Gaspar de los Reyes was in command. His oarsmen heaved on their sticks. They rescued several survivors from the sunken Maravillas. Then they dragged Don Domingo de Vega and Padre Diego to safety.
Thankfulness filled Padre Diego’s heart and soul, but words, the confession of the world’s greatest sinner, filled his mind. He knew that he would never see the world in the same way. 

Author's note. After reading the true story of the Maravillas, I was inspired to write:

(Sands Series Book 2)

(Sands Series Book 2)

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Sultana Shipwreck

Last Tragedy of the Civil War

by Roger Weston

One of the most amazing shipwrecks in American history is largely unknown. The ship was called the Sultana, and she ran a route on the Mississippi River, transporting cargo and passengers. On April 27, 1865, she swung up to the docks at Vicksburg, where her lines were made fast. It was then that the engineer noticed something worrisome: the boilers were leaking. After evaluating their options, the engineers and captain decided that the boilers would be repaired straightaway.

Vicksberg, at that time, was swarming with semi-invalid civil war veterans. These Union soldiers were newly-released POWs. They’d come from various prisons where they had been sadly neglected. They were diseased, half–starved skeletons with many wounds that needed proper medical attention.
Because the Civil War had just ended eighteen days ago, the government was paying boat captains for every veteran that they shipped up river. Soldiers began boarding the Sultana even as it was being repaired.

Despite their sad physical condition, they were in high spirits like Captain J.C. Mason had never seen before. They were singing, smiling, shouting, and dancing with joy. They had just gotten their lives back and were headed home. Many of them had expected to die in the camps. Now they’d literally been given a second life. They were ecstatic. There weren’t just a few soldiers on the Sultana either. There were lots of them. They poured onto the paddle wheeler like a flood. In no time at all, the Sultana was full, packed well beyond capacity. In no way was she built for this many passengers. It was a dangerous situation. The Sultana was legally entitled to carry 376 passengers. It was presently carrying 2,300. The captain was nervous, but he felt he must follow through with his mission of returning the veterans to their homes.

The engineers were lively, and wasted no time. The boilers were quickly repaired, and the Sultana headed upriver, her big paddle wheels thrashing the water.

Despite being grossly overloaded and running against the current, the Sultana  performed well for the next couple of days. At Memphis, the boiler showed more signs of leaking. Once again, repairs were done. The boat moved on, heading into the current with over five times more passengers than she was allowed to carry.

As it turned out, the current was stronger than usual. At 2 a.m., they were only a few miles upstream from Memphis. The weighed-down boat was really working hard to make progress. It was earning every inch against the flood-stage currents. Then the boilers failed and a tremendous explosion lit up the ship. It was so powerful that the boom was heard all the way back in Memphis. The detonation blew hundreds of sleeping soldiers into the river. These half-invalid men landed in freezing water, splashing down below the surface along with half of the boat’s superstructure. A large portion of the boat had been obliterated. It was a miracle that men survived both the explosion and the shock of landing in the river during their sleep. Because there was wreckage in the water, many soldiers were able to grab onto some flotsam and hold on for their life. This was a rude awakening, but also a lucky one.

Sadly, many of the men could not swim and were also malnourished and weak. At the same time, pieces of wreckage were quickly claimed. When too many men tried to climb on, the wreckage was driven under water. Then panicked drowning men grabbed onto other men to use them as flotation devices. In many cases, both men sunk and never came up. In other cases, survivors drove away those who would take them under. It was an easy choice to make to drive them off and let them drown; it was frequently a hard memory to live with.

The ice-cold water proved too much for many of the worn-out men. Hundreds of them died from the shock because they could not swim.  

Back on the boat, people were fighting over lumber. They were tearing away lumber wherever they could find it. Everyone wanted a flotation device. Only the most determined were successful.
One man found a ten-foot alligator in a wooden cage. He bayoneted the beast and rolled the cage into the river. He dove in and clung to that cage until a boat picked him up. A man who been caged up himself for so long now owed his life to a cage.

Three other men held onto a bale of hay and floated all the way to Memphis.

James K. Brady had awoken to find that he was on fire, or at least his clothes were. Most of his hair had burned off. He and his friend David Ettleman put out the flames on Brady, but the boat was also burning. Next, they rushed around looking for a flotation device. They had no luck, so they went to the hurricane deck, where they saw an astounding scene.

As Brady said, “Oh, what a sight met our gaze! There were some killed in the explosion, lying in the bottom of the boat, being trampled upon, while some were crying and praying. Many were cursing while others were singing. That sight I shall never forget; I often see it in my sleep, and wake with a start.”

Brady and Ettleman found a gangplank, which they grabbed onto just as it was going over the side. Brady later explained that “About fifteen or sixteen of us that had stuck to the plank. But now a new danger had seized me, as someone grabbed me by the right foot and it seemed as though it was in a vise; try as I would, I could not shake him off. I gripped the plank with all the strength that I had, and then I got my left foot between his hand and my foot and while holding on to the plank with both hands I pried him loose with my left foot, he taking my sock along with him... He sank out of sight and I saw him no more.” Such incidents were common, but that didn’t make it any easier. Anyway, Brady’s troubles weren’t over.

The gangplank flipped over during the struggle, and several other men were lost. Brady’s spirits were plummeting. He was losing hope. He was weak, having lost thirty percent of his body weight in prison. In his darkest moments, it was his friend who helped him: “Every little while he would call out some encouraging word to me to keep up my spirits.”

On the burning ship, Chester Berry was fighting his own battle for survival. He got himself a piece of cabin door casing, but hesitated to jump in the water. The flames had not reached the bow yet, but the real reason was what he saw in the water.  As he explained, it was  “literally black with human beings, many of whom were sinking and taking others with them. Being a good swimmer, and having board enough to save me, even if I were not, I concluded to wait till the rush was over.” To jump into a crowd of drowning men would have been extremely dangerous.

Remaining on board a little longer gave him time to look around and see how humans responded to a situation where they were facing death, men who had faced it before, but finally thought they were getting another shot at life. Then suddenly they saw that second chance slipping away. Berry said, “The horrors of that night will never be effaced from my memory — such swearing, praying, shouting and crying I had never heard; and much of it from the same throat — imprecations followed by petitions to the Almighty, denunciations by bitter weeping.”

Berry saw that different men responded differently. He saw men who would fight tooth and nail to survive. He saw one man whose flotation devices had been taken from him by stronger men, and he would not fight anymore. He could have gotten more wood from the pile, but he had had enough. He was done fighting. Berry was angry at his defeatist attitude and let him be. For years, it would haunt him that he didn’t do more to help that broken man. Berry was haunted by a man who would not help himself.

Finally, the waters cleared of people, and Berry dove in. He struggled with the current for a time and on account of the ice-cold water, he became completely discouraged to the point where he decided it wasn’t worth it to struggle any longer. He realized that he would drown in spite of his efforts, so it would just be easier to give up and die. He started to do just that when a miracle happened. As Berry puts it, “I was transported for the moment to ‘the old house at home,’ and that I was wending my way slowly up the path from the road gate to the house…    as plainly as I ever heard my mother's voice, I heard it that evening.” Their family had always prayed together. His mother said the prayer because his father was mute. Now Berry actually heard her pray “God save my boy.”

After that, Berry’s attitude changed. He knew that his mother was expecting him to return home from war and how much it meant to her. He said, “I fiercely clutched the board and hissed between my now firmly set teeth ‘Mother, by the help of God, your prayer shall be answered.’''
Berry ended up clinging to a tree until a boat rescued him.

James K. Brady, whose friend’s encouraging words gave him strength, was another survivor. Brady lasted till daylight and they managed to get to shore. Another man crawled ashore with them, but he was so badly burned that he died three minutes after reaching land.

Eighteen hundred other men also passed away. They had survived the Civil War, including time in POW camps. They were on their way home to see their families. But destiny had other plans.

More people died on the Sultana than on the Titanic. It is the worst shipwreck in American history, but few know of it. To some degree it was overshadowed by greater events and bigger news. Lincoln had been assassinated only a week earlier. His assassin, John Wilkes Booth had just been apprehended the previous day.

The impact on the eighteen hundred families was no doubt profound. But the 1,800 men are not forgotten. We honor them for their sacrifice for their country and their fellow man. This was the last tragedy of the Civil War, but it was more than that. It was the loss of 1,800 brothers. Their story reminds us of who they were and what they did.

Author's note:
After learning about the worst maritime disaster of all time, resulting in an even greater loss of life than the RMS Titanic, I wrote FATAL RETURN. This little known tragedy took place on a cold and dark night during WWII. I was so fascinated about the circumstances surrounding this shipwreck that I wrote about it in my novel FATAL RETURN

$2.99 on

If you enjoyed this story, sign up for my email list here: Weston's list

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Empress of Ireland: Shipwreck in the Night

Empress of Ireland: Shipwreck in the Night
by Roger Weston

2:00 a.m. St. Lawrence River. May 29, 1914. The river was shrouded in fog. Two ships were steaming towards each other. The Canadian Pacific steamship Empress of Ireland, was headed outbound from Quebec. The Norwegian collier Storstad was heading upriver. The Empress was close to shore, and so was the Storstad. The officers on each ship spotted the other in the distance.  

On the bridge of the Empress of Ireland, Captain Henry Kendall began to change course. Just then his ship was swallowed in the fog. Kendall blasted his whistle three times, signaling that he was ordering his engines full astern. The ship slowed and was nearly stopped. The next thing Kendall saw was the masthead lights of the Storstad glowing out of the fog to starboard. The other ship was booming straight at him. They were so close that there was no time to move. Collision was inevitable. All Kendall could do was change his ship’s angle to limit the damage to a glancing blow. He ordered a sharp turn to starboard. The Storstad's bow smashed between the liner's steel ribs, ripping the steal and cutting an opening, in which flowed the river.

The Empress began to list from the rising water, and tragic consequences followed. People sleeping in starboard cabins were submerged in freezing water and died in their sleep. On deck, the situation was also dire. The new slant of her decks made the lifeboats useless. Only six of them could be deployed. After only ten minutes, the ship fell over onto her side. Hundreds of passengers climbed on her hull and hoped for rescue. Four minutes later, the beautiful Empress of Ireland sank into the freezing water and one thousand and twelve souls perished, including eight hundred and forty passengers. 

The four hundred and sixty-five who survived were pulled out of the river in hypothermic condition. Among the survivors was an entrepreneur named Edward Seybold, but his wife Susanna Seybold was lost. It was their 43rd wedding anniversary.

Grace Hanagan was also among the survivors. She was an eight-year-old girl, who was traveling with her parents to London to take part in the Salvation Army’s International Congress. Her parents were lost. For a year afterwards, Grace believed that her mother might have survived because her body was never found.

Egildo Braga and his wife Carolina managed to survive as well, but it was tragic good luck. Egildo had done everything he could to save their son in the freezing water, but the river was too powerful. It tore away his boy, even though Egildo had tied him to himself. Egildo desperately searched for their child in the darkness, but could not find him. Their young son had perished in the river that dark and tragic night.

One thousand and twelve lives came to a sudden, unexpected end on that foggy night in the St. Lawrence River when the Empress of Ireland went down. The death toll exceeded that of the Titanic.


If you enjoy reading fast-paced action adventures with a maritime twist, check out Fatal Return.

When an eccentric billionaire hires Jake Sands, a maritime history professor, to give the farewell speech for the Queen Mary's last voyage, Jake readily accepts the offer, not knowing he will be sucked into a fatal plot for revenge that began in WWII with a disaster five times more deadly than the Titanic. 
 Roger Weston writes action-packed thrillers with a maritime twist.
You can find all of his books at Roger Weston's Amazon Author Page 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

New Release

                                 BRANDT IS BACK!
      Rogue Op: A Chuck Brandt Thriller (Brandt Series Book 3)

They thought he was dead. They thought that problem was solved. They were wrong. Brandt is back! 

Chuck Brandt is determined to save America from a dangerous plot. And he's dead set on saving Maria from her psychotic father--General Ivan Lazar. Chuck is chasing a legend deep into the heart of the Peruvian Amazon, but his impossible quest leads him straight into a green hell. There he faces diverse evils, from the jungle itself to General Lazar's Black Cobra guerrillas--the sadistic monsters tasked with the slow death of Chuck Brandt. He uncovers a horrible secret, but will he be able to stop a madman?
 From a monastery in Spain to deep in the Amazon jungle, Chuck Brandt hunts down the man who started it all, and gets more than he bargained for. Don't miss the explosive climax on the upper reaches of the mighty river. "Very enjoyable action thriller! I would recommend it to friends." Customer review for The Recruiter 

Download here:
Rogue Op: A Chuck Brandt Thriller (Brandt Series Book 3)

                  International customers click here:

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Athenia: First Sinking in WWII's Battle of the Atlantic


Roger Weston

In October of 1939, the Nazi party’s official newspaper, the Voelkischer Beobachter broke the story that England had intentionally sunken the cruise ship Athenia in order to blame Germany and draw the U.S. into the war as an ally. It was a shocking revelation that England—for political reasons—had sunk a passenger ship with over 1,100 passengers on it, mostly women and children. There were also 311 Americans.

Germany’s accusation against Britain was not just a vague reference in a side bar of the Voelkischer Beobachter; it was specific. It singled out Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty and accused him of masterminding the diabolical plot.

In America, US Senator Robert Rice Reynolds, among others, claimed that Britain may have wanted to “infuriate the American people”, which is why they sunk a ship with hundreds of Americans on board.

The Athenia’s passengers, of course, had not been worried about Churchill sinking a British ship. Nobody would have thought that he would do such a thing. 

The Athenia had departed from Glasgow on Friday, September 1, 1939—destination Montreal, Canada. England had just declared war on Germany hours before, and many Americans—at the encouragement of the British government—secured their tickets on the Athenia to return to America and flee the war. Ironically, they were about to become its first victims. 

Most people who boarded the ship expected a safe trip. After all, they were heading away from Europe where trouble was brewing. They were heading towards safety. The ship itself was a peaceful place, a wonderful place to be. In many respects it was just another cruise; however, the travelers did notice a few disturbing signs.  For one, the windows were all painted black to hide any light; in addition, smoking was prohibited on deck. Nobody was allowed to even light a match on deck. Third, the ship sailed a zigzag course to foil any submarine attack—presumably by German U-boats.

Other than these minor details, it was life as usual on the Athenia. Although one crewman was convinced he would never live to see America, this was not the general sentiment. It was a happy, social time, a time of meeting people in dining rooms, of relaxing and reading good books. In some respects, life didn’t get any better than this. They had caught the only ship out, and they were safe! Children walked happily on deck, enjoying the novel experience. Games were played. Church services were held.

The sense of relief and excitement didn’t last long, however. In less than 24 hours, a massive explosion rocked the boat; it ripped through the engine room and blasted the cargo hatch high into the air including people that were sitting on it. These people landed on deck blackened and lifeless. Mrs. James Orr, along with her one-year-old daughter, were blasted against the railing; they survived but with injuries. Crude oil sprayed out of broken pipes.  

In the kitchen, two huge vats of boiling oil spilled onto two cooks, burning them severely. Out in the dining area, one woman had just dipped her spoon into her bowl of soup, but that’s as far as her hand ever got. 

In the accommodations area, half-dressed people filled smoky passageways that smelled of cordite. In the darkness, they felt the water level rising up their legs. Their knees bumped into floating debris. A stairwell had been eviscerated, leaving some people to climb from edge-to-edge to work their way up to the main deck.

The ship began to list, causing the lifeboats to hang at awkward angles. Nevertheless, people who had survived the blast and made it outside gathered around the lifeboats. They had been through the emergency drill, so there was some sense of order, but there were also outbreaks of panic.

Women and children were supposed to board lifeboats first, but at one lifeboat station, a number of men feared there would be no space left for them. They shoved aside the women and children and tried to claim their seats by force. The crewman manning that lifeboat fought them back by wielding an ax.

As one of the lifeboats was lowered, a rope broke. Mrs. Orr and her daughter, who’d just been blasted against the railing, now barely survived another traumatic event as the lifeboat crashed down into the water. Now, despite her cracked ribs, Ms. Orr began bailing with their shoes, a chore that would continue on through a long, dark and very cold night.

Not everyone stayed active. Many of the people in the lifeboats were miserable. They were sick from the gas that was released in the explosion and seasick from the rocky ocean. Many were only half dressed. One woman was dressed in nothing but a satin nightgown. Hypothermia set in for those who had been forced to jump in the ocean or who had been thrown out of their lifeboat during the rough launchings.

“Look!” a woman said, pointing. “A submarine.”

A German U-boat opened fire on the ship’s wireless antennas. It then approached the scattered lifeboats. The boats were spread out around the sinking ship, spread out for just this reason—in case a submarine showed up and tried to machine gun the survivors.

The U-boat approached long enough for the captain to get a good look at the ship. Then it turned tail and stole away into the night.

“Help us!” a woman cried out. “We’ll die out here!”

The U-boat did not stick around to save a single person. Her German commander, with his submarine now safely beneath the surface, was in shock. He had thought that the ship he had attacked was an armed merchant cruiser. After dealing the fatal blow, he’d approached to identify the ship for his log entry. When he checked the ship against the Lloyd’s Register, he was sickened to realize that he’d just sunk an unarmed cruise ship. This was against all prize rules of warfare, for both Britain and Germany. Commander Lemp realized he had made a horrible mistake.

As Lemp stole away in his U-boat, he was in a state of disbelief. He’d been sure of his conclusion. The ship had been acting like a warship. It had been blacked out and was following a zigzag course. Plus, it was following an unusual course for a passenger ship. He began to sweat profusely. He feared he could face a court marshal back in Germany. He feared what would happen when Admiral Donitz learned of this. Lemp decided then and there that he must hide his fatal error. He forced his crew to take an oath of secrecy and never speak of what had occurred. As for his log entry, he never made it. The event never officially happened.

Up on the surface, the people in the lifeboats were miserable and shaking in the cold because of what had happened, and they were the lucky ones. Many had been killed in the explosion. For the survivors, it was a night of suffering.

One woman, Mrs. Rhonda Thomas or Rochester, New York, had been well dressed because she’d been out on deck. A naked baby was handed to her to keep under her coat. The baby had no relatives in the boat. Mrs. Thomas and another woman shared duties, alternately rowing and sheltering the infant.

Unidentified bodies floated by in the water. It was enough to plunge a person into deep depression and despair, the sort that weakened the individual’s propensity for survival. People dealt with their grief in different ways. Some women and children cried. Others endured the pain of serious injuries. A cook was not expected to live from his burns. He was in a miserable state. People did what they had to do to adjust and keep their morale up. Some prayed while others sung hymns. Women bailed with their shoes and found that keeping busy kept their mind off their fate. By morning, some of the people had died.

Then ships began to arrive on the scene. The Sweedish yacht Southern Cross, the US cargo ship City of Flint, the Norwegian tanker Knute Nelson, and the US destroyers Electra and Escort all showed up to rescue survivors. Rope ladders were thrown over the sides of ships. Those who could climb did so. Others were raised by rope. Many lives were saved, but there were also accidents. Some of the ‘survivors’ fell and were crushed to death between their lifeboat and rescue ship when the waves lifted and lunged the smaller boats against the bigger ones. Fifty people died when one of the lifeboats was crushed under the propeller of the tanker Knute Nelson. While there was sadness, there was also relief. Together, the rescue ships saved 981 lives while the US destroyer Fame did an anti-submarine sweep during the rescue operations.

In Germany, Admiral Donitz learned of the sinking from the BBC. Hitler was furious, but he decided to cover it up. Lemp’s war diary was falsified. Hitler denied Germany’s role and used the incident as propaganda, blaming England to hopefully drive a wedge between England and America.

Commander Lemp went on to sink twenty more ships. Finally, he was killed when his German U-boat was severely damaged by depth charges. He surfaced, and before destroying classified materials, he ordered his men to abandon the sinking ship. The sub was boarded by sailors of the HMS Bulldog. They did a quick search and found an infamous German encryption device—a find that soon helped America win the Atlantic war. Lemp’s fate is matter of confusion. He was either shot in the water or chose to drown rather than be taken prisoner.

Either way, Lemp played a key role in World War Two history—as the man whose crucial mistake launched the Battle of the Atlantic—and as the man who caused the beginning of the end of that battle, when, thinking his ship was doomed, he failed to destroy sensitive equipment.

The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest unbroken military campaign of World War Two. It raged on from 1939 through 1945. During that time, 3,500 merchant ships and 175 warships were sunk against 783 sunken U-boats.

For the actions of one rogue, one Commander Lemp, to have had such a profound impact on the beginning and the end of the Battle of the Atlantic is truly astonishing. 

After learning about the worst maritime disaster of all time, resulting in an even greater loss of life than the RMS Titanic, I wrote FATAL RETURN. This little known tragedy took place on a cold and dark night during WWII. I was so fascinated about the circumstances surrounding this shipwreck that I wove it into my novel FATAL RETURN
Download Fatal Return hereFATAL RETURN

 Roger Weston writes action-packed thrillers with a maritime twist.
You can find all of his books at: Roger Weston's Amazon Author Page