November 1942. Hitler’s Sixth Army is in danger of being surrounded at Stalingrad.
An Allied invasion of North Africa is expected soon.
For the first time in the war, Hitler senses defeat. Bold action is needed.
The Führer has no faith in his generals. He decides to take action himself.
The result is ‘Operation Armageddon’: a cargo U-boat filled with 250 tons of high explosive. Its target is a deadly secret – not even the U-boat’s commander is allowed to know the purpose of his mission.
Helberg, the Cap d’Enfer base commander is ordered to take delivery of an out-of-service cargo U-boat and prepare it for Armageddon.
Marie Le Faucheur, the local Resistance leader, works as a secretary on the base. Her reports on the preparations of the U-boat soon reach Admiralty House in London.
Lieutenant Commander James Bosanquet takes charge of the case.
At first, Bosanquet’s boss, Admiral Forster, takes little interest in the U-boat. That is, until he receives a message from Marie to say that Armageddon ‘will be devastating for the enemy in the Mediterranean’.
Forster decides to send Bosanquet to help Marie organise the sabotaging of the U-boat. His drop by a Lysander is met both by Marie and a German patrol. So begins the trail of disasters that overtake Marie and Bosanquet.
The sabotage attempt fails and the U-boat departs. In desperation, the Admiralty despatches the destroyer HMS Ideal to pick up Bosanquet from a beach at Cap d’Enfer before going in search of the deadly U-boat.
Meanwhile, the U-boat officers and crew are trying to understand why they have half a dozen SS men on board.
The role of the SS becomes clear when the U-boat commander reads the second part of his orders.
They are so diabolical that he refuses to obey them.
The SS officer arrests him and takes command of the U-boat.
There are further control tussles and a mutiny on the U-boat before the fateful hour of fulfilling its secret order comes.
At that hour, HMS Ideal arrives on the scene. In the U-boat there is war between rival commanders, the seamen and the SS. On the destroyer, the lacklustre commander is at loggerheads with the more swashbuckling Bosanquet.
Under unbelievable pressure, the true natures of the key characters – a murderous SS officer, a mild U-boat commander, an ambitious second-in-command, a rule-bound destroyer captain, his more thrill-seeking Number 1, and the intrepid Bosanquet – finally emerge.
Will anyone listen to Bosanquet when he discovers by accident the true and horrific nature of Armageddon?
Will the U-boat commander regain control of his boat?
Will the destroyer find the U-boat?
Will Armageddon succeed?
Richard Freeman graduated in mathematics before following a career in distance education. He now writes on naval history. His other books include First Command, Midway, Pearl Harbor and Coral Sea 1942.