The wars, brutal and appalling as they are, happen to be the source of some of the greatest stories that focus on human character, offering a diverse palette of people who become great subjects for studying the nature of people in some of the hardest times of their lives. Over the years, we have seen stories where against insurmountable odds and in the harshest of surroundings, people show extraordinary courage and exemplary leadership skills that not only save the day, but also the world. The Second World War is a goldmine for such stories, and it is during this time that the events of ‘Greyhound’ take place.
Starring Tom Hanks in the lead role, the film follows an intense battle that takes place at sea and depicts the struggle of a man to do his job diligently while fighting the inhospitable surroundings as well as the crushing responsibility of his position. The film reels us in with its thrilling story and focuses a lot on the details about life on a ship. Since a lot of war movies are based on real stories, we wonder if ‘Greyhound’ is too. Here’s what you should know about it.
Is Greyhound based on a true story?
‘Greyhound’ is inspired by real events, but it is not based on one particular true story. It is based on the book called ‘The Good Shepherd’ written by C.S Forester in 1955 and is adapted for the screen by Tom Hanks. It follows the story from the perspective of Captain Krause, who is on his maiden voyage into a war zone. Just like the story doesn’t derive its material from one particular incident, the character of Captain Krause is also not based on a specific person. It is simply a representation of the men who were put in charge of such a trying responsibility and failing at it was not considered to be an option.
The movie takes into account the Battle of the Atlantic, which includes a series of battles that took place over the course of six-years between the Allied and the Axis forces. It was considered the most important battle for the Allied powers because it was their means of sustaining themselves.
The sea route was used by merchant ships that supplied goods, arms, ammunition, and all that was needed to sustain during and survive the war. These ships would be accompanied by armed escort vessels, whose singular purpose would be to protest the ships at all costs. Air support would be provided to the convoys from both ends but there was an area where the planes could not reach. Called the Black Pit, this was the section of the sea where the ships had to make use of all their resources and rely on the wisdom of their captains to ensure a survivable, if not safe, journey.
The enemy? German U-boats. The Germans knew that these ships were effectively the lifeline for Britain, and if they severed this connection, they would win the war. So, they deployed hunting squads who called themselves wolf packs.
As essential as it was for the Allies to get the cargo safely across the sea, the act of protecting an entire convoy was extremely challenging. Coordination and timing were the key, but with around 40 ships moving in unison, it was a nightmare to pull off for people like Captain Krause. The Germans inflicted a lot of damage during the early years of the war, but with better technological aptitude and advancement and the entry of the United States in the war, things started to look better. This, however, did nothing to bring down the huge number of casualties, on both sides.
It is estimated that by the end of the war, an estimate of about 80,000 Allied sailors were killed. Apart from the loss of lives, there was also material damage. More than 2700 merchant ships were lost for the Allies, while more than seventy percent of German U-boats went down at sea.
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