I watched the Cruel Sea last week. I have read the book many times and given the Brexiteer’s shite about about what we, or more accurately our parents went through in WW2 wondered how the film stood up to the test of time. The book was written in 1951 and the film made in 1953; it ought to have been contemporaneous.

Film technology has moved on immensely and somehow the actual film itself is too clean, it fails to bring home the fact that the main enemy is the Sea not the enemy submarines. It is quite short for today and fails to tell the story of the ordinary sailors, although the book itself focuses more on the Officers than the other ranks.

The accents of the officers was all so “cut glass”. Was that true or just a reflection of the acting profession? I was shocked at the scene of the bombing of Birkenhead as the crew return home to find their homes gone; the whole of the conversation between the crew and the civil defence team is held in the same cut glass accent without a hint of scouse. I can’t believe that would be true!

Another storyline which was massively under-emphasised was the story of infidelity of Morrel’s wife. I suppose that the censorship code inhibited the telling of the story but it made me think and check. I was sure that levels of adultery increased massively due to both opportunity and the economic freedom that work brought to women. I found this  From Chapter 13: The Girls They Left Behind  from “Love, Sex and War” by John Costello

The wartime divorce phenomenon afflicted British servicemen to the same increasing degree. The number of adultery petitions filed after 1942 rose by a hundred per cent each year above the 1939-42 average. The final twelve months of the war also saw a spectacular eightfold jump in the number of husbands who were suing for divorce on the grounds of adultery. By 1945, two out of every three petitions were being filed by men, whereas until 1940 female petitions had been in the majority.


The featured image is cropped from a graphic on this page, advertising the book as an audiofile. I have cropped it and justify my use as “fair use”.

The Cruel Sea

One thought on “The Cruel Sea

  • 9th May 2020 at 6:42 pm

    I returned to thinking about the Battle of the Atlantic as we i.e. remember the 75th Anniversary of VE Day. There remains one Corvette left in existence, FMCS Sackvilleand that acts as a museum and is located in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

    In another conversation, I was reminded how in Band of Brothers, they managed to tell the stories of the Officers, NCOs and enlisted men, their progress and growth and to some extent the moral dilemmas they confronted, but the Cruel Sea is 90 minutes long and Band of Brothers was/is a multi-part (10) series, they had more time.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: