- Contributed by
- Stockport Libraries
- People in story:
- William McGregor
- Background to story:
- Royal Navy
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 26 May 2004
This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Elizabeth Perez of Stockport Libraries on behalf of William McGregor and has been added to the site with his permission. He fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
Just before the war I was serving on the "Cameronia", which was a passenger liner. We came back from New York on Friday, on Sunday war was declared and we sailed on the Tuesday and took survivors from the "Athenia" to New York. We sailed without escort to Halifax and New York. We loaded the ship with all kinds of food, aircraft guns and tanks. We loaded right above the plimsole line. We went to Halifax and joined a convoy. Next time we sailed we were camouflaged and we had a gunner with a six inch gun for the defence of the ship. We did four trips up to the January, all were uneventful.
I signed up in the Navy as a T124 rating for two years in an ardent merchant cruiser, "HMS Cilicia", at various places on the north/south patrol stationed at Freetown. We escorted convoys to the Western approaches to Cape Town and various other approaches.
After the naval service I went back into the Merchant Navy taking various troop ships all over the place. We took troops (paratroopers) to Singapore, but it fell before we got there. We picked them up from Cochin. The troops we took took the Japanese prisoners. Meanwhile our ship was used as a base for prisoners from POW camps. When we departed we took ex-prisoners of war to Liverpool. It was a very silent service, you never knew when you were coming or going, parents didn't know if they'd see you again.
I joined the "Winchester Castle" commando ship. We went on a trainig course up to Holywell in the Scottish Highlands. One day we passed Holywell and were told late evening we were going to Algiers for the invasion. When it was finished I went back onto passenger ships. We lived in Southampton then.
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