In War Sailor, Alfred meets Aksel, a boy who is not even an adult, fighting every day to live on the ship. Alfred vows to protect this kid, and when Aksel dies, his death haunts Alfred for a while.
Alfred and Sigbjørn first meet Aksel in 1940, when their ship becomes one of those that gets attacked. Alfred and Sigbjørn keep their ship afloat and succeed in rescuing a few of the people from other ships who are still alive and are barely surviving in the waters.
One of them is Aksel, who is not even sixteen years old. Alfred treats Aksel like he is his own son from the moment he first meets him. He cleans Aksel up and makes him part of the crew.
When Alfred and his companions lose some of the people they worked with, Aksel immediately breaks down. Alfred advises him to go back home. That’s when Aksel reveals that he has no one to go to; he has accepted his crewmates as his only family.
Aksel grows up with the crew and forms a connection with everyone else. He turns 16 when they hide underground to protect themselves from bombardments. Alfred teaches Aksel to swim and promises to teach him to read and write as well.
The sort of connection Aksel has with everyone makes his death more devastating for Alfred, who knew this day would come.
Aksel loses his leg
In 1944, Alfred and Sigbjørn learn that they will be heading to Murmansk, a place from where not many ships have returned; it will be a suicide mission for them.
They all may not see their families again, and sooner or later they are all going to die just like their companions. Alfred and Sigbjørn first arrange for Aksel and Hannah so that they can get them to safety.
Alfred had talked to the captains and claimed that they were both sick. The captain allows Aksel and Hannah to go. Alfred and his companions also plan to escape late at night until they see Aksel and Hannah return.
Hannah claims that death is no worse for her than it is for Alfred, who comes to realize that he holds some responsibility towards Hannah and Aksel.
Alfred and his companions, except for Kjell, decide to stay, and as expected, their ship faces the fate they feared. Hannah loses her life, and most of Alfred’s companions die.
Alfred, Sigbjørn, and a new crewmate survive on a big wooden piece of the ship. They also notice Aksel in the distance. Alfred jumps into the water and brings Aksel to the wooden piece. They notice that he has lost a leg, and the pain is killing him.
Why does Alfred kill Aksel?
The Germans on the submarine nearby notice Alfred and his surviving crewmates, who are floating on a wooden piece. Though they are enemies, they offer help as these sailors can’t fight.
One of the German soldiers is sent to check on Aksel. It turns out that Aksel might not make it. The soldier lets Alfred know this by nodding at him. Aksel questions why the soldier is moving his head.
The commander of the submarine orders the soldier to hand them the amount of morphine they need. Unfortunately, the Germans don’t allow them to board the submarine.
Alfred and Sigbjørn wait as they watch Aksel’s agony. They know he won’t survive. Therefore, to give him a painless death, the two decide to overdose him with morphine.
The new crewmate who is with them on the wooden piece sees this as an act of the devil. He attacks them once they send Aksel’s body floating. Alfred and Sigbjørn get rid of the new crewmate too.
Days go by, and Alfred and Sigbjørn finally get rescued by a ship that takes them to a hospital in Canada, where they recover. The death of Aksel continues to haunt Alfred.
Alfred attacks a crippled man at the hospital when he talks about not having a great life because he is missing one leg. Later, Sigbjørn calms Alfred down by reminding him that it was Aksel’s decision to stay on board; there is nothing he could have done.
Also Read: War Sailor review: A gut-wrenching slow burn