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15 October 2014
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Crossing the North Atlantic in wartime on the Rossington Court

by cambsaction

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Pamela Jacqueline saville re James Saville
Location of story: 
The North Atlantic
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
25 August 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Margaret Waddy of the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire Story Gatherer Team on behalf of Pamela Jacqueline Saville, and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

My father was a Merchant Navy captain, in command of Rossington Court. His ship was sunk when the convoy he was in left Newfoundland.

Just before the convoy left, all the captains had a briefing meeting. My father’s was the largest ship, with medical supplies and food. The convoy had a non-Merchant Navy vessel — a full navy ship — as escort as it ploughed across the Atlantic.

Another ship’s steering got jammed and it cut into my father’s ship. The Chief Engineer saw the bows cut into the engine room.

At the briefing, another captain had said that he’d come back if my father’s ship were in trouble. When dawn broke, he realised that my father’s ship was missing. He broke away from the convoy. The Atlantic was very rough — this was wintertime — but by a miracle he found the lifeboat. One lifeboat had been crushed, but all the crew and officers had managed to squeeze into the other boat, so everyone was saved. They had very little food, but managed to get back — I think to Falmouth.

My mother had been told that the ship had been sunk, but no other news. My father telephoned from Falmouth when he got back. In those days everything was so secret.

My father continued in the RNR. The war changed. He went over with the bridgeheads in France and supervised things there for the Normandy landings. Eventually he was posted to Sri Lanka.

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Merchant Navy Category
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