Somewhere in the thirties my father grabbed a chance to sail on a tramp ship as a carpenter. It was depression times and he did'nt hesitate to grab the job. Before that he worked at anything going so long as it brought in a few coins.During this period he was also in the territorials as a bugler with the Argylle & Sutherland Highlanders and I remember him getting all dolled up in his uniform, kilt,busby,etc to blow the last post at the Greenock Wellpark war memorial,on 11th November, where he also got a few shillings for his work.Where we lived, in a single-end house,it was a case of nudge-nudge, look who's coming, the " wee tin sodger " as he made way thru wisecracks and corny jokes to go to the park, he was only about five feet two but all he cared about was the few bob he managed to get so when he joined the ss Cape Howe ,Lyle Shipping Co.,at Greenock in the mid thirties he was over the moon. Eventually the ship arrived back to Jarrow for drydocking and my mother and I joined him on board for a while during which time WW2 was declared.He was asked if he would stay with the ship under T124 articles which was classed as special services and found himself an instant naval P.O.
The ship was turned into a Q ship ( decoy ship ) and in June 1940 was torpedoed by U28 in the southwest approaches and sunk.He survived after several days in an open boat and picked up but there was a heavy death toll and a few days later another Q ship in the vicinity, the Willamette Valley, went down with a great loss of life and as a result the Q ship idea was abandoned. It should never have been implemented in the first place as so many books had been written about them after WW1 where they were more successful.
When he got home and was made to work in Scotts he used to remark to his old nieghbours that there seemed to be a helluva lot of tin sodgers in the street. Of course,by the same token no one had the faintest idea what a Q ship was !