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Is Ernest Krause in Greyhound Based on a Real US Navy Commander?

July 10, 2020
4 min read

Apple TV Plus’ ‘Greyhound’ stars Tom Hanks in the role of a US Navy Commander who is sent on his first wartime mission, which is where his leadership and skill are tested through a brutal battle. The story takes place in 1942, just around the time when the United States had jumped into the Second World War and was supplying essentials for the Allies to survive the war raging in Europe.

The movie focuses on an envoy of thirty-seven ships and Commander Ernest Krause who leads the charge to keep them safe. As they enter the Black Pit, the area of the Atlantic where they have to make do without air support, they are hounded by the wolf pack of German U-boats. Krause’s test begins almost immediately, and for forty-eight hours, he has to let go of sleep, hunger, and if possible, his fears. By the end, his mettle in the face of worst dangers not only earns him the respect of his crew but also makes us wonder if he was a real person and what happened to him after the war. Here’s what you should know about Ernest Krause.

Is Ernest Krause Based on a Real US Navy Commander?

The story of ‘Greyhound’ takes place in the thick of the Second World War. It focuses on the Battle of the Atlantic which was a critical point for the Allies to win. ‘Greyhound’ takes inspiration from these battles, from the people who served in the unforgiving surroundings of the sea and the cramped quarters of their ships. At the center of it is Tom Hanks’ Ernest Krause. He is the representation of all the people who served bravely in those trying times, especially the ones who had to lead in the physically and mentally draining circumstances.

Ernest Krause was not a real commander in the US Navy in WWII. Hanks’ character is not based on a real person. The character is brought on the screen from the pages of C.S Forester’s book ‘The Good Shepherd’. In the book, the character’s name is George Krause, which was changed for the film to Ernest Krause. There was no real George Krause, either, on whom Forester could’ve based his protagonist.

The record of a man called Ernest Krause serving in the US Navy is found in the late 1800s. He was a coxswain who served during the Spanish-American War of 1898. He had served aboard the USS Nashville, and is said to have shown extraordinary bravery and strength during the time of action, much like Krause does in ‘Greyhound’. There are no records of how long he lived after the war, if he survived it at all. There is also no confirmation of whether Forester used him as the inspiration for his character in the novel.

The detail that goes into ‘The Good Shepherd’ displays the keen research that Forester must have indulged in during his writing process. He relied on the stories of several war veterans and must have merged their stories to give one to Krause. As for his own experience, Forester never served in the War. He failed the physical test but did support the cause by writing propaganda to encourage the United States to join the war for the Allies.

Over the years, he wrote several novels about men at sea. His most famous work comes in the form of the Horatio Hornblower series, for which he wrote a total of twelve books. It has a Royal Navy officer as its protagonist and the setting is the Napoleonic wars. In this series as well, he relies on real events to carve out the hardest challenges for his hero to overcome. He would find a way around the real history to create a fictional one for his character with an acute sense of accuracy. He took a similar approach with ‘The Good Shepherd’, which eventually found its way to the screens. Again, he never claimed to have based his stories on a real person, and so, none of his heroes were ever real people.

Read More: Best World War II Movies

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