It’s World War Two, and some of the crew of a U.S. Destroyer are on a dock in Newfoundland loading supplies when Slim Teague hears the whimper of a puppy, a Newfoundland puppy shivering and abandoned on the dock. Despite the fact that his ship has a strict “No Dogs” policy laid down by their captain, he smuggles the frozen puppy back to the ship in his jacket, thinking he will drop it at the next port. That next port is a long time coming, as “The Melroy” is about to join a convoy escorting ships to Europe. Before long everyone knows about the puppy, now named Bosun, except the officers and captain. When Bosun alerts some of the men to a fire in their bunkroom, he becomes a beloved member of the crew, and eventually is discovered by the Captain. Slim is punished when they finally return to New York harbor for resupply and Bosun is given to a crewman’s wife, but he finds his own way back to the ship and stows away on their next voyage, to the captain’s annoyance.
Eventually, even that hard heart is won over and Bosun becomes the official ship’s mascot. When “The Melroy” goes to war in Operation Torch in the Mediterranean Sea, his training in water rescue comes in handy, but in the confusion of a sinking vessel, he’s left behind, to become the property of several new owners on the shore of North Africa. Will he somehow find his way back to Slim?
This is the last of many Keith Robertson books I hadn’t read, I’ve collected almost all of them from my childhood to now. He’s probably best known for his “Henry Reed” books, but wrote many others I love just as well. He lived in and sometimes wrote about New Jersey, my home state, and served as the captain of a destroyer himself in World War Two. I thoroughly enjoyed this 1953 book, and am a bit sad that there are no more unread ones to find, but I will probably reread some of the ones I already have.