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Dad's Story - in the Merchant Navy Aged 13

by patjmorgan

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People in story: 
David [Harry] Morgan
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All over
Background to story: 
Merchant Navy
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Contributed on: 
09 November 2003

My Dad ran away to sea at the age of thirteen. This was during the Depression and there was six to feed at home, with two older brothers in the Army already, and not enough money to go around so Dad done the 'I'm small for my age' trick, forged his Mothers signature and joined a ship sailing the same night from Liverpool Docks. He turned up at home whenever the ship he was on docked in the Pool, gave his Mother the money he had saved up and went again.
When he was 15 WW11 broke out and he decided to stick with the Merchant Navy. A few months later the ship he was on was torpedoed but he was rescued by another merchant ship. He said it was the worst experiance of his life and brought home the meaning of countries at war. He carried on with the 'Merch' doing the supply bit on the ships he served on until he was torpedoed again at the age of 17. Again he was rescued and went home to Liverpool but after a few days joined another ship and was off again.
My Dad was also on the Russian convoys and he said that was scary, you were waiting to be blown up at any minute by a U-Boat. One funny incident, which wasn't funny at the time, was Dad was on one of the night look-out shifts when he saw a torpdo coming straight at the ship and shouted the alarm [he's thinking 3rd time UNlucky]. The crew goes into action only to discover that the 'torpedoe' was in fact either a dolphin or porpoise or seal. Poor Dad had to put up with a lot of ribbing after that but it has remained one of the family stories that we laugh when we talk about our Dad,who died not long after his 70th birthday. I just wonder how many 13 year olds these days would do what he done so that his younger siblings would be fed.

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