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Atlantic Crossing

by firstnickgo

Contributed by 
firstnickgo
People in story: 
John Georgano (my father), Helen Hebbs
Location of story: 
North-Atlantic
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A3624158
Contributed on: 
05 February 2005

With my parents I was returning from New York to Liverpool in October 1941. We had with us Mrs Helen Hebbs whose husband was a business associate of my father's. We were aboard the SS Glenogle, a small cargo ship which was part of a large convoy taking war material from the US to Britain. There were only about 12 passengers, and I imagine it was not easy to get a transatlantic passage at this stage of the war, but my father had been summoned back after a 9-month stay, as his business in America had ended.
The voyage took three weeks, and after about two weeks Mrs Hebbs became ill with what the ship's doctor diagnosed as appendicitis. The Glenogle had no operating theatre, and he said she must receive hospital treatment as soon as possible. Itwas a large convoy, and we were due to dock with the second part, the docks not being able to accommodate all the ships at once. This would have meant a day's delay, which might have been fatal.
My father went up to the bridge at night to see the captain to ask if we could take a place in the first batch. The captain agreed, but needed to get permission from the warship protecting the convoy. He could not use the radio as this would betray our whereabouts to enemy submarines, of which there were many around. As soon as it was light he sent a message by flag from one ship to another until it reached the warship. Permission to steam ahead was granted, and I remember standing on deck watching us overhauling what seemed like many ships to get into the front batch.
When were were in a safe area the captain was able ro radio to Liverpool asking for an ambulance to await us, which duly appeared when we docked. Mrs Hebbs was taken to hospital and made a full recovery.
I was nine years old, and clearly remember what was my most exciting war experience.

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