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Imports and Exports in Wartime

by CSV Media NI

Contributed by 
CSV Media NI
People in story: 
Thomas Houston
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
25 May 2005

Steamship unloading in Belfast port

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bruce Logan of the CSV Media NI Team on behalf of Thomas Houston and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

Coal was coming from Glasgow. We were at Glasgow and we had to load up there. It wasn't very difficult, because they just brought the trucks came alongside and lifted them by crane, and took a truckload at a time, was put into the hold of the ship. It didn't take them very long, in fact it took us longer cleaning it down when it was being discharged. We didn't worry too much about that, because it meant an extra few days in port.

The ships leaving would join up a convoy from Liverpool. The ships would start out and join up from Glasgow. We would be waiting in Bangor bay and we would then join up and be in that Convoy, 118.

[coal] and china clay from Cornwall, that was another dirty cargo to have, it was export. And of course the whiskey! This was before American entered the war, but she probably was supplying the ... We would have maybe come back home with tanks on our deck. They would be sealed, welded to a link and welded down and of course, all right through the voyage you would have to be down and check they were still tight and there wasn't any loose so it might go and perhaps do more damage. It just became part of the routine, to check every hour on the hour.

It didn't take longer to unload by being welded.
As soon as we got into port, they weren't too worried about unscrewing it, they'd just either cut it off or use a burner, because the lock on the deck was welded too. They just took the nearest point, which was the weakest point, so they were able to go right round the 4 places that were holding the tank.

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