We loaded commercial in Middlesboro for Jamaica and that voyage was one of the quietest of the war.  Hardly worth mentioning but to keep the list complete I will.  We first went to New York to pick up the local convoy.  Then we went down to Jamaica in an American convoy.  We seemed to be dodging hurricanes most of the time down that way.  Having had a pennyworth of one hurricane, I don’t feel too happy when they are knocking about.  We just managed to miss each one.  Jamaica had a nasty bashing just after we left.  We discharged in Jamaica and loaded sugar in the West Indies for home.  On the way up to New York there was a spot of bother knocking around.  Independent ships were ordered out of certain areas.  We were all escorted and carried on through the areas and saw and heard nowt.  We left New York for London about the end of August.  This was by far the largest convoy I’d been in.  About 130 ships. What an area they covered.  We had lovely weather and no trouble that I can remember.

When we neared the home coast we were very much thrilled to learn that we were going up the English Channel, instead of round the North of Scotland.  Except for coasters the Channel had been closed since just after Dunkirk.  Of course it had been well in use since “D” day, but I believe we were the first ocean convoy to come up the Channel.  He still held the area opposite Dover and according to the wireless was shelling fairly heavily.  We passed through at night, saw plenty of gun flashes, but otherwise all was quiet, much to our relief.  We had no wish to be spotted and get a wallop from his heavy guns.

In London we discharged and loaded part cargo for the Persian Gulf.  Experienced the V1 and the V2 bombs.  On a very small scale though.  From London we went round to Glasgow to complete loading.  Our cargo was mainly commercial.  It was a beautiful day when we passed through the straits of Dover.  The guns the other side had all been captured, so there was nothing to worry about in that line.  The south coast of England is very beautiful and the cliffs of Dover have a majestic beauty all their own.  I have never seen it so clear.  We could see the French coast for miles.  I hadn’t seen the cliffs since 1940.  Five long years.  To us it meant a definite sign of victory.  In peacetime when we are getting near home and begin to get a wee bit excited we say, “He’s got the Channels.”  So passing up and down the Channel meant something more to us than mere shortening of our voyages.  It was the fruits of a battle won.    I wonder if you can grasp what I am trying to say.

We finished loading in Glasgow and left for the Persian Gulf about the end of October (1944).  I don’t remember any outstanding incident in the voyage out to the Persian Gulf, so we will take it as being quiet.  We were independent from Port Said.  We discharged in the Persian Gulf and loaded here for Ancona, Italy.  Our cargo was 3,500 tons of ammunition and the rest barley or wheat.  Lovely cargo, wasn’t it?  Ancona was then only about 100 miles behind the front line and well up the east coast of Italy.  However time enough to think about that when you got round that way.  We left the Persian Gulf early in January 1945.  I got an occasional sub report, but nothing in our way at first, and then about two days ahead of us, right in our path, and right smack in the entrance to the Gulf of Aden, a Yank reported a submarine.  We couldn’t get round it.  Either had to go on, or go back.  Being 500 miles ahead we went on.  The Admiralty wouldn’t divert us if they thought fit.  The Admiralty knew roughly the position of every ship at sea.  They gave you the routes to follow and they knew your speed.  Of course a Master was allowed to take “evasive action” if a sub was immediately in his path.  I think if I remember rightly, you avoid the spot the sub was reported for 12 hours.  After that well he might be anywhere…not likely to hang about, if he knew he’d been reported, especially with aircraft liable to come along.  There was a certain amount of air protection along the Arabian coast.  Getting back to our Jap sub.  We approached the area with much caution; we had no wish to be pipped at any time, least of all with 3,000 tons of ammunition.  We passed through the area and on to Aden and saw nothing resembling a sub.  For that we were very pleased.  From Aden to Port Said (independent).  The Yank we learnt later was convinced that he had seen a periscope.  May have done but no other report came from that area while we were knocking around.

 

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