One and Done – War Story: Nightingale

Garth Ennis – Writer
David Lloyd – Artist
David Lloyd – Colours
Clem Robins – Letters

The Nightingale, an escort ship for various convoys is a ship constantly under threat of attack and yet, such is its mission, to draw fire away and protect those ships under its watch. The men aboard believe themselves cursed though to be fair, there were probably numerous ships filled with men who thought the same of themselves. Throughout the story, as written by Garth Ennis and drawn by David Lloyd, they go about their business to the best of their ability and they are good at what they do. They follow their orders no matter how much they might disagree with them at times and as it goes, they are successful sometimes and others, not so much. With the constant threat of submarines and destroyers and more, there is always the chance that they will fail in their mission and yet, the Nightingale manages to come out on top in every encounter. On their minds is the Tirpitz, sister to the Bismarck, a nightmare of a ship that is always there like a ghost haunting them, the fright it inspires real and visceral and yet never do they cross paths with it. Out of the many stories Ennis has written about the war, Nightingale is one that seems quite real when it comes to the emotions of the characters within, of the bravery they exhibit, of the futility they sometimes feel and of the fright that is always there just beneath the skin, the thought that they will never make it home, that every mission they undertake could be their last. Lloyd for his part, almost foreshadows the fate of the crew with his heavy use of inks and the muted colours throughout the book, though war is a dirty thing and his artwork is far more appropriate as such than if it had been all sunshine and rainbows. The book as it is does not have a happy ending for these sailors and even if it had, someone’s happy ending is another person’s tragedy, especially in times of war. What is notable about this tale is that the Tirpitz would not factor into the deaths of these men, it never having left its port, yet they would die heroically, doing what they were ordered to do without a second thought. Altogether, Nightingale was a good book presenting yet another facet of the horrors of battle, both the good and the bad.

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