Survivor’s Leave

Survivor's Leave

Survivor’s Leave

by Robert Sutherland


  • Spring 2010
  • ISBN 978-1-55380-097-2
  • 5-1/4″ x 7-5/8″ Trade Paperback, 176 pages
  • Young Adult Novel

It’s 1944, and two young Canadian able seamen, Glen Cassley and Arthur “Ding Dong” Bell, find their ship sinking beneath them after a German submarine unleashes an acoustic torpedo. Miraculously, everyone on board survives, and Glen shouts out triumphantly:

“You know what this means, Ding? Survivor’s Leave. We qualify for Survivor’s Leave!”

With fun and adventure on their minds, Glen and Ding set off for London. But there is no rest from battle, for the Germans have begun dropping a new kind of bomb, the horrific V-1s, or doodlebugs. When a neighbour and her baby are trapped under their collapsed and burning home, an injured Glen is on the frontlines.

Glen and Ding then accept an offer to travel to Cornwall where they are to stay in a rundown manor house, Penraven. Their stay turns out to be more exciting than the boys could have imagined. Built atop a cave-riddled cliff, Penraven has been the home of smuggling, murder, dungeons and ghosts. To add to the excitement, the boys meet two young English girls who turn out to be charming company!

But the young seamen soon discover that sinister forces have an interest in what lies hidden below Penraven, for the Nazis have hatched an unprecedented scheme involving biological warfare, and it seems the caves are the perfect place from which to set the destruction in motion.

“With thirteen splendid novels to his credit, Robert (Bob) Sutherland is one of Canada’s most treasured youth authors.”
— Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association

Click here to read Chapter 1 of Survivor’s Leave

“TAKING WATER! BOTTOM plates and floor plates buckled.”

The distress call went out, seeking the ears of the commodore
in command of the sixty-ship convoy bound for Murmansk.
Hundreds of tons of war materials en route for the
hungry war machines of the beleaguered Soviets were in the
holds of that convoy. All available escort ships would be
needed to bring them safely through the blockade that would
be thrown up by the Nazi U-boats and aircraft determined
to interrupt the convoy’s passage north of Norway.And now
the distress call went out from one of those escort vessels,
the frigate HMCS Loch Lyon.

This was the worst weather the Loch Lyon had met in her
brief career. The seas were mountainous, rushing before a
fierce wind that had ice on its breath. The waves pounded
the ship ceaselessly, they rolled over her, lifting her, then
rushed on to drop her into black, frothing caverns, with a
crash that jarred the teeth of her watchmen.

Water was ankle deep in the mess deck, and anything that
was not properly stowed was sloshing about. This was not
caused by the buckled plates. They were down below. The
very bottom plates had given way first, then the floor plates
in the magazine. Pumps were working on that. But in spite
of battened hatches the raging seas were not to be denied
and salt water was everywhere.

Able Seaman Glen Cassley had left the mess deck, dogging
the hatch behind him, to take his turn as look-out. He
staggered across the heaving deck that dropped away from
his reaching foot to throw him against the bulkhead, then
came up and knocked him to his knees. He crawled to the
ladder that led to the upper deck. Once he was outside, the
wind hit him like the blow from a heavyweight boxing glove.
He grasped the lifeline stretched across and above the deck,
shielding his face as best he could from the stinging spray,
and worked his way aft. His lookout station was on the
quarterdeck, but that was continuously under water.No one
could stay there.

Instead, he made his way to the gun deck. Here was the
Pom-Pom, a four-barrel gun that took its fanciful name from
the steady pom pom pom as she hurled two-pounder shells
against the foe. But it was neither U-boats nor aircraft that
was the enemy now. It was the weather, and no weapon could
protect the frigate from that.

Glen couldn’t even protect his face from the stinging spray
and biting wind. It found its way into and under his oilskin
coat and hood. He gave up trying to shield his face as he
searched the heaving wastes for some sign of the convoy. It
would be scattered now, over hundreds of miles of ocean,
every ship for itself in its fight against the elements. The
Loch Lyon wouldn’t be the only casualty. Some ancient tramp
steamers, dragged out of retirement in the desperate battle
of the Atlantic, would succumb to the merciless pounding
and head, hopefully, for the nearest shelter, hoping to live
and fight another day.

When the weather eventually cleared, the escort ships’
first task would be to round up the scattered ships and form
them into defendable convoy again. But it looked as if the
Loch Lyon would not be a part of that . . .

The merchant ships might be lost in the murk where
heavy clouds dragged ragged hemlines across the towering
waves, but the nearest escort ship, HMCS Annan, should be
out there, not too far away. She had been there a few minutes
ago, her signal lamp blinking, a pitching, heaving grey
shape barely distinguishable in a grey world. He searched for
some sign of her. But she was gone. Disappeared. He caught
his breath, his numb hands clutching his binoculars . . .

There she was! Like a whale surfacing, climbing out of a
cavern deeper than a grave, throwing a cloud of spume
higher than her masthead, rolling far over, then righting
herself, slowly, fighting the screaming elements, just as was
the Loch Lyon . . .

But the Loch Lyon had lost the fight. Bruised and battered,
her pumps fighting to control the invading sea, she had to
abandon the convoy and head for shelter.

Click here to close the book excerpt.

Reviews & Awards

Winner of Bronze Medal, Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards

Survivor’s Leave is both factually detailed and a pleasing adventure story from stem to stern.”
Canadian Children’s Book News

“a fast-paced, action-filled adventure. . . . Recommended.”
CM Magazine

Survivor’s Leave was an outstanding book. . . If you like reading historical fiction about the Second World War, I highly suggest reading this book.”
What If? magazine