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Portsmouth: Spies, U-boats, and Romance on the Outer Banks

Edward P. Norvell

Edward P. Norvell
$15.95 paperback
6 x 9
201 pages
Published in 2008

In 1942, German U-boats operated freely off the coast of North Carolina. That year, two U-boats were sunk off the Outer Banks—the U-85 off Nags Head and the U-352 off Morehead City. In May 1942, the HMS Bedfordshire, a British submarine hunter, was sunk off Ocracoke Island, supposedly killing all men aboard. The bodies of four of the British sailors washed up on the island and were buried at what is now known as the British Cemetery.

In Portsmouth, we follow Kurt Sanger, a German submariner who comes ashore on Portsmouth Island, located just south of Ocracoke. Kurt's assignment is to find out what happened to the U-85 with its Enigma code machine that the Germans did not want to fall into Allied hands. While pretending to be a British officer who survived the sinking of the Bedfordshire, a British submarine hunter, Kurt meets a local girl and falls in love. Through the story of what happens to the couple during and after World War II, we learn how wounds heal and how a beautiful place becomes imprinted on the soul.


“A terrific read for anyone interested in the Barrier Islands of NC and their amazing history plus a little bit of Nicholas Sparks-ish love story woven in to make all of us baby boomers recall what young love on the beach was like. The early years of WWII off the US coast have been kept secret from the average American until recently. This novel recounts the bravery and hardships endured by so many ordinary citizens caught up in that period and also provides an accurate glimpse into the particular culture of the coastal fishing villages that struggled to survive the elements, the changing moirés . . . and the Germans! Grab a chair, prop up your feet, and turn off the phone for several enjoyable hours.” —Amazon.com reviewer