Hell and High Water by John McKay @JohnMcKay68 @SharpeBooks #newbooks

I am so excited to let you know that the wonderful historical fiction The Worst Journey In The World by John R McKay has been re-edited and re-published.  It is now Hell and High Water by John McKay, published by Sharpe Books. 

I read this in its original format, and gave 5*s to this “riveting read” set during World War 2 about life on board a Royal Navy frigate escorting, and protecting, supply ships. 

Book Blurb – (taken from https://johnrmckay.com/ )

““Thoroughly researched and brilliantly presented. A terrific story of the Arctic Convoys of World War Two.” Damien Lewis.

MARCH 1942.
After escorting relief cargoes to the besieged island of Malta, George Martin, a young telegraphist from Liverpool on board the ship HMS Virtuous, must now turn his attention to more hazardous waters.
With the Soviet Union entering the war, the crew of the Virtuous, under the command of the resolute and capable Lieutenant-Commander Harrison, is assigned escort duties for a large convoy taking vital supplies to the Russian port of Murmansk.
The route takes the Virtuous through the stormy waters of the Arctic Ocean where they soon become the prey of Luftwaffe dive-bombers, U-boats and surface ships, hellbent on stopping them at all costs.
As the battle to get the ships through rages, George, and his good friend Wally Honeyman, soon realise that the biggest threat to the convoy’s safety may not be enemy bombs and torpedoes, but the harsh Arctic weather and the sea itself.
Finding themselves castaway on a lifeboat as the storm rages around them, George and Wally must find a way to survive if they are ever to see home again.“

Although the novel is a work of fiction, the experiences George goes through are based on actual accounts of sailors who served on the convoys.

This novel directly led to John writing the wartime memoirs of a veteran of the convoys, Charlie Erswell, which has been published by Pen & Sword.

More about Hell and High Water (taken from https://johnrmckay.com/ )


The novel is set on an anti-submarine frigate during World War Two and is a tribute to all who sailed on the Arctic Convoys 1941-1945.

Winston Churchill described the Arctic Convoys as “the worst journey in the world,” due to the severe weather conditions the sailors had to endure taking vital supplies to Murmansk and Archangel in the Soviet Union. Not only did they suffer at the hands of the extreme forces of nature, they were hunted by the Luftwaffe and German surface ships and U-boats.

The inspiration to write this novel came after John met a veteran of the convoys, Bill Halliwell, who served as a telegraphist on HMS Bazely during the war. John was introduced to Bill in November 2015 by his former high school English teacher, Joyce Holden, at an event at Wigan Museum where Bill was giving a presentation to local school children. Unfortunately, Bill passed away in the summer of 2020.


I hope you enjoy Hell and High Water as much as I did. 

All the best, Emma

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