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Worldwide Cadetship

by millennium_vols

Contributed by 
Location of story: 
Avonmouth to New York
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
04 February 2005

I arrived at Basra on September 2nd 1939, as a first trip Cadet on the S.S Gorjistan, Strick Line, London. Within a couple of days, a 4 inch gun was fitted on our stern and a R.M gunlayer, who was already there, joined us. As we had an Indian crew, the ship Officers made up the rest of the guns, for which we were given two days training. So at fifteen years and nine months, I was "a gunner". We loaded a cargo of dates for New York and ST John. After discharging, we loaded War supplies for U.K joining our first North Atlantic convoy. She must have been a lucky ship, as, during the next four years, we had our fair share of enemy action, but came through ok. Indeed the ship was still sailing until the 60's. My most poignant moment, I think, was on my last trip on her in June 1943. We were in a "fast convoy", 12 knots, Halifax to U.K. There were 100 ships in the convoy and one day we received a signal from the Commodore for every ship to fly their ensigns at half-mast, as a mark of respect for an electrician on a Norwegian ship who had died. His ship steamed ahead of the convoy, with a corvette escort, whilst he was buried. This was even more impressive, as at the time the convoy was sailing through numerous small icebergs.

My Cadetship finished, I went to Southampton Navigation College for three months to study for my 2nd Maths certificate. I then joined the M.V Jamaica Planter, an ex-banana boat, doing two trips from Avonmouth to New York. Shewas sunk the trip, after I left. I was ashore then for several months with a breakdown, but having been passed fit again, joined the S.S Empire Don, Bound for the med, where we stayed for about six months, carrying Army supplies, being in Piombino, N.Italy on V.B day and being home in time for V.J day.

I remained deep-sea on various ships until 1953, when I joined Port of Bristol Auth.

I am now enjoying retirement in Sherborne, Dorset.

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