- Contributed by
- Elizabeth Lister
- People in story:
- Albert Bargeman, Tom Jones
- Location of story:
- The North Atlantic, Halifax, Canada, Swansea
- Background to story:
- Royal Navy
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 20 May 2005
This story was submitted to the People's War site by a volunteer from Reading on behalf of Albert Bargeman and has been added to the site with his permission. Albert Bargeman fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
I was on the DEMS - Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships. The Royal Navy put us on a tanker called the Empire Oil. Five days out of Swansea we were torpedoed.
One of the gunners, a lad named Tom Jones, got hit in stomach when a rivet blew out.
Three of us managed to get out of the cabin. (the torpedo had hit the engine room) We got Tom to the boats, then the second torpedo hit. The lieutenant told us to abandon ship. We were picked up by the HMSC Ottawa. Two days later, the HMSC Ottawa got torpedoed. We’d buried Tom at sea. We used a carly float to get afloat. We were torpedoed at 10pm, and in the water all night until midday the next day, when we got picked up by the Anrita (which was a Corvette boat). We were taken into Halifax, and picked up another ship to get home.
My wife had been told I was missing in action, but I was able to send a telegram to her to say I was well thanks to the Canadian equivalent of the Women’s Institute, the Knights of Columbus. Could never figure out why they were called that, since Columbus was just on an expedition to find money for the Spanish.
While we were waiting for a ship home from Halifax, where we'd ended up, we were told we couldn't get a ship from Halifax, as there weren't any going then. They sent the three of us right across the Rockies on a train to Victoria to get a ship home. That kind of trip would cost several thousand pounds today - we went right across the top, and the views were amazing. All the survivors were billeted at Nova Scotia. I was billeted with Dr. Woodruff and his wife. In that area, Americans with money used to go for holidays there. The area was a lake with 365 islands. The Americans got together a fund for all the people billeted there in the village in preparation. Whoever took in survivors got paid from that money. Mrs Woodruff was the main contact and if money got low, she'd call up.
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