- Contributed by
- Gerrard Brown
- People in story:
- Ernest Richard Brown OBE
- Location of story:
- of the North Cape of Norway
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 12 November 2003
My father was a Chief Engineer in the Merchant Navy, sailing with Ropner's of Hartlepool. He served throughout the war and eventually retired in 1962, having been awarded an OBE in 1952. This is my recollection of his story of one day on a Russian convoy.
On the day in question he was sailing on the "Samsuva" which was part of Convoy RA60 bound from Archangel to Loch Ewe, she was loaded with pit props. It was the morning of the 29th September 1944 she was torpedoed by the submarine U-310. The torpedo struck in way of the engine room killing the three members of the watch on duty at the time. My father and the Chief Officer tried to get down below but the ladders were blown away. In the meantime the motor lifeboat was being prepared for launching and my father was called to attend to the engine, which were notoriously difficult to start in cold weather. Fortunately the weather was good and the engine did its job.
The boat was launched and the majority of the crew scrambled in but a few remained on board the Samsuva, having duties to perform, and there was little danger of the ship sinking due to the cargoe.
The boat motored to the convoy's rescue vessel "Rathlin". Once alongside most of those onboard scrambled up the nets slung over the side of the Rathlin, a few however, remained on board and returned to the Samsuva to pick up the Master and those remaining on board. They,too, embarked in the boat and were successfully transferred to the rescue ship. The Samsuva was eventually destroyed by one of the convoy's escort ships the HMS "Corsica".
The American ship "Edward H. Crockett", immediately ahead of the Samsuva, was actually the first to be torpedoed and she sank with the loss of one crew.
In due course the convoy arrived in Scotland without further problems and my father arrived home for a few weeks leave. He suffered to some extent from what would now be referred to as post traumatic stress, but at that time there was no such thing, and one simply got on with life and he returned to sea about five weeks later
The commander of the U-310, Wolfgang Ley, was no doubt pleased with his days work having "killed" two ships in one attack, he was after all doing his job to the best of his ability, as was my father his.
This was not the worst day of the war for my father however as two years before my eldest brother Arthur was lost in the Indian Ocean at the age of 19. I will try and add his story when I have researched it better.
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