Originally published in 1949, Storm Below tells the story of a fictional Royal Canadian Navy ship and its crew. The adventure unfolds over six days of an escort run across the Atlantic Ocean to Newfoundland during the Second World War. The ship, the HMCS Riverford, is a composite of the vessels, mostly corvettes, that author Hugh Garner served on during his time in the Canadian navy, and the Canadian sailors whose experiences he relates are masterfully drawn from the crewmen he knew during his months at sea.
In his preface to Storm Below, his first novel, Garner says: "It takes all kinds to make a world, and it also takes all kinds to make a war – or fight one after some of the others make it…. They [his characters] are not even ’typical’ sailors, if such exist. All I can say to justify them is that they are drawn in the image of hundreds who made up the Royal Canadian Navy. They do not need an apology – they were out there, and we won."
Hugh Garner (1913-1979) immigrated to Canada with his parents from Yorkshire, England, in 1919, settling in Toronto. In the 1930s he fought in the Spanish Civil War with the International Brigades. His most famous novel is Cabbagetown, which he published in 1950 in an abridged version, later released in its entirety in 1968. In 1963 he won the Governor General's Award for Hugh Garner's Best Stories.
Paul Stuewe is the author of The Storms Below: The Turbulent Life and Times of Hugh Garner, which was shortlisted for the City of Toronto Book Award in 1988, and Hugh Garner and His Works (1986). Currently, he is an associate professor of English at Green Mountain College in Vermont.