This is the place for your yarns, get in quick before we run out of space! alehouse is burning up his keyboard!!
This is the place for your yarns, get in quick before we run out of space! alehouse is burning up his keyboard!!
BLUE FUNNEL`S `EURYADES`.
Samnesse 02 08 10.43 Launched as SIMON B. ELLIOTT, lease lend to Britain
1943 SAMNESSE, MOWT (A. Holt & Co, Liverpool)
1947 EUMAEUS, China Mutual S.N.Co (A. Holt & Co) - British flag.
1952 GLENSHIEL, Glen Line Ltd, London- British flag.
1956 Requisitioned by MOT as store ship in Suez crisis.
1957 EURYADES, China Mutual S.N.Co.- British flag
1959 December changed from Glen Shiel to Euryades
1961 MARINE BOUNTY, Bounty Shpg.Co, Liverpool (Wheelock, Marden & Co, Hong Kong)- British flag
1962 Prestige Shpg.Co, Hong Kong.- British flag (same managers)
1964 Mercury Shpg.Co, Nassau.- British flag.
25.2.66 Aground at Hasieshan, China coast, broke in two, CTL.
EUMEAUS (3)/EURYADES (3) was built in 1943 by Bethlehem Fairfield Shipyard at Maryland, USA with a tonnage of 7308grt, a length of 441ft 7in, a beam of 57ft and a service speed of 11 knots. Holt's acquired eight Liberty ships and the Eumaeus was launched as the Simon B. Elliott for the U.S.M.C. but completed for the Ministry of War Transport as the Samnesse with Alfred Holt & Co. as manager. She was purchased for the China Mutual Steam Navigation Co. in 1947 with whom she remained until March 1952 when she was transferred to Glen Line and eventually renamed Glenshiel. In 1957 she returned to China Mutual Steam Navigation Co. and was renamed Euryades. Four years later, in 1961, she was sold to Bounty Shipping Co. of Hong Kong who renamed her Marine Bounty. On 25th February 1966, during a voyage from Chingwantao to Singapore with a cargo of coal, she ran aground at Hasieshan in China. She was later refloated but was driven ashore again and broke her back after she was abandoned.
VOYAGE OF `EURYADES`????..
Ted , my old school mate from Bolton, and I went to the Pool and were told to go to Odyssey Works the headquarters of Blue Funnel Line and see Captain Greenwood. He signed us on the Euryades, a Sam Boat which was laid up in the River Fal. So the following day with 14 other men we met at India Buildings in Liverpool`s Water street. There was a coach and in the back were several mattresses, bed linen and lots of other stores. We climbed aboard at four pm and set off for the long journey to Redruth in Cornwall a fourteen hour drive, no motorways in those days.
We had a couple of stops on the way and had a couple of pints at each one. All the mattresses were laid out so we could lie on them and have a sleep on the way. We arrived at Redruth at six in the morning and then carried all the gear down a path to a boat landing and stowed them aboard a boat that was waiting for us. We went down River a while and came to a ship by the name of `GLENSHIEL`. A rusty hulk of a SAM boat that had been laid up there for three years.
We climbed aboard and loaded the stores A cook flashed up the Galley while we did the stores and made us a breakfast. The Engineers went below to sort out the engine room and to see if they could start her up and get power on. The ship was very damp and musty and was in need of a good clean throughout the accommodation.
We had a couple of days there, she had her anchor out forward and was moored to a buoy aft.. When everything was running we went forard to heave away the anchor. After three years the anchor cable was more than two feet thick with barnacles, too wide to go over the gypsey and through the spurling pipe, so we had to smash them with two big lump hammers. We eventually got going and made our way down the River to Falmouth and into the dry dock.
We had a few days in dry dock, they scaled bottom and gave her a good paint, we had to repaint the funnel from Red to Blue and stencil a new name on the lifebuoys and life boats, from Glenshiel to Euryades and we
also painted our cabins. They were manky. We had nine A.B.s at the time and a Bosun. We didn?t have a full crew yet, we were to take her back to Birkenhead to load a cargo for the East.
We sailed from Falmouth on the 22nd of December 1960 and hoped to be home by Christmas Eve, but that was not to be.
We got off Lands End and it was blowing a terrific Force 12 hurricane.
We were just like a balloon being blown over and everywhere. We had no steerage way or head way and even going backwards. We had to open Number 4 hatch and get several hoses and put them over the coaming and just pour water into the hold on both sides of the shaft tunnel, which would stop the free surface effect, and sink her deeper, increasing the draft. Christmas Eve arrived and then Christmas day
And we finally arrived in Birkenhead on Boxing day four days from Falmouth. We were all exhausted, had no sleep for the four days.
We were sent home and told to report back on board on the 7th of January 1960.
Ted and I got the train from Liverpool to Wigan, we had to change there to get another to Bolton. The next thing we knew was our compartment had two railway men putting us on shake, ?Aye Aye, lads, you are in the sheds, What are you doing here? had to much to drink then over Christmas.??
They were lucky to get out alive. We had been fighting for survival while they were with their families, and no ale. We had to climb down from the train and walk half a mile, dragging our bags, along the track to Wigan Station. No more trains today. We were stuck in Wigan and knackered. So we had to get a taxi, the ba*t*rd charged us a fortune, ?Its Boxing Day Lads, I could be home with the family.?
We eventually got home, cost us more to get home than we had earned.
Seventh of January, 1960 arrived and we joined the ship and sailed that evening for Penang, Belawan in Sumatra, and Singapore.
It was blowing a hooley all the way to Gibraltar then the weather turned and it was good to be in the warmer weather again. We had a full crowd on board now, 9 A.B.s a deck Boy and Lamp trimmer from Wales, who was a strange fellow with stranger habits. He enjoyed the company of native men on the Indonesian Coasts. Definitely strange when he could have had a beautiful mik mak. The Bosun was a plonky, we never saw much of him, he was always in his bunk with the D.T.s. If he came on deck we would shoot him with our spud guns, all the Sailors had one each so he would take out a bottle of whisky and turn in again.
The Chinese Firemen and Cooks and Stewards were on board this time.
On the way out it was Chinese New Year, so the Captain let them use the Officers Saloon for their party. The Firemen came from North China, around Tsingtao or Tietsin and the catering staff were from South China, Hong Kong or Canton and they hated each other. The party turned violent and they started fighting, wrecking the saloon then one went berserk with a fire axe and badly injured two stewards before he was over powered. He was locked up in a locker down aft until we got to Penang later where he was put ashore with the Police.
The Captain said it was the last time he would do that for them.
After passing through the Suez Canal, where we loaded hundreds of cases of eggs, stowed on the hatch, we went down the Red Sea to Aden for bunkers and delivered the eggs there. There were a few missing as we would collect a few every day and put them in a bucket and in the shower room was a steam hose that we used for boiling our dhobi, and boil the eggs with the steam. Great for taking on look out at night for supper.
Crossing the Indian Ocean to the Malacca Straits we had boat drill, where, in Blue Funnel was the real thing. We lowered a life boat and Ted, the Sparky and some Chinese and I had to take the boat away. The ship cleared off and disappeared over the horizon and then the Sparky would transmit a distress signal and the ship would come and find us. Ted and I would be turning the handle for the dynamo. The ship would get a DF bearing on the signal then come and get us. Meanwhile an American ship turned up first and tried to come alongside to `rescue` us.
We were shouting ?Go Away its only a boat drill?. The American Captain on his Loud Haler shouted something about `Crazy Lymies`.
The boat was leaking quite a bit of water, The Chinese were screaming in fear with both feet on the thwarts, didn?t want to get there feet wet. Ted and I were baling out continuously as waves would break over the gunnels. The Euryades turned up and we hoisted the boat up and stowed it. A good exercise. This practice was stopped a couple of years later when one of the Blue Funnel Line lifeboats went missing in a squall in the Monsoon, they were never seen again.
We were due to arrive in Penang around noon one day, Ted?s brother, John, was in the Ghurkha Regiment in Ipoh Malaya and had said he would try to see us when we arrived in Penang.
We spent the morning rigging the Jumbo heavy lift derrick, up aloft on the Foremast, We had to send up the topping lift blocks and derrick head blocks and shackle them on, shackle on the steaming guys and then break it out and lower it to the hatch and shackle on the topping lift blocks and wires, then heave it up in position, a good sailorising job, we were covered head to foot in grease when we finished, just wearing a pair of shorts and flip flops. We were coming up to drop the anchor outside George Town. Ted and I lowered the gangway on the starboard side, it was just outside our cabin.
The Captain and Chief Officer came down , immaculate in their `Whites` with the Chief Steward and two Cadets, they were lining up in the alleyway by the gangway.
The Captain said to Ted and me, ?Go away you two men. The British Consul is on his way and we don?t want you dirty scruffy men to be seen hanging around?.
We looked out and a boat was approaching, standing erect in the stern in a very smart white Safari suit, was Ted?s brother, John, he looked immaculate. We moved down the alleyway and watched,
John marched up the gangway and the Captain shouted attention to the other Officers. John appeared on deck and the Captain saluted, shook his hand, called him Sir and introduced the Officers to him and said, ?We?ll go to my cabin for a gin and tonic while the Lunch is being prepared.?
John said, ?Thank you Captain, but before we do may I have a word with my brother Ted and Brian first. ?
The look on the Captain?s face was a picture, Ted and I were falling over laughing. ?What, What, you are not the British Consul??
?No I have only come to see `ar kid.? said John.
?You two, why didn?t you tell me??
So we said , ?You told us to go away cos we were manky?.
The Captain was not a happy man, he had been made to look a fool in front of the other Officers and us two.
We went ashore with John that afternoon. Ted had had a discharge from his pipe, I said ?Who have you been with,? we have been at sea for a month?. He said ?Julie,?
I said ?My Julie? ? He said ?Yes?.
When was that? I was with her most nights except Thursday night, and that was Amami night, when girls stayed in and washed their hair. I wondered where he got to on a Thursday.` So Ted was sneaking into Julie?s flat, giving her one while I was at the pub waiting for him.
He said `you had better have a check up as well. As someone else might have been giving her one as well as us`.
What a mate he was. He was even thinking of my welfare.
So the three of us went ashore got a rickshaw and the man drove us to the Hospital. We went into the Reception, there was a snooty English receptionist on the desk. ?Yes what do you three want?? John said, ?He has a dose?, pointing to Ted, I shouted, ?Only suspected?. The woman looked horrified and said, ?Get out of here, if you are Seamen there is a native hospital down the road, that is where people like you belong, now go away from here?, whilst reaching for an aerosol spray to rid the odour of Seamen away from her nose.
We went out and got the Rickshaw boy to take us to the other hospital. We went in and the reception was crowded with Malays and Chinese round the desk. We towered over them and so the desk clerk could see us over the crowd, ?What do you want? she shouted, John shouted back, ?He has a dose?, again pointing to Ted, so I shouted back ?Only suspected?. All the Malays and Chinese all laughed at us. At least they didn?t throw us out.
They took the three of us in a room with a doctor and a nurse, they asked questions, ?Where was the prostitute when you went with her ??
Ted said, ?I have only been with his fianc??. pointing to me. The doctor nearly fell over.
?I will have to give you a Prostate Massage?, said the Doctor. ?I don?t want one? Ted protested, He had to drop his keks and lean over the back of a chair, Rubber glove and some Vaseline went on, gulp!!! Oh Eck!. Then some nurses came in and watched. The doctor went to town on him with the rubber gloved digit, a very attractive nurse bent down with a glass slide and held it underneath . The young nurses were giggling, the final humiliation of the European.
He pulled his keks up and had to wait, the slide was taken away for tests, an hour later the doctor returned and told us he was in the clear. Ted?s discharge must have been a false one.
We went out with John and went to celebrate in several bars. Before making our way back to the boat.
We sailed the following day for Belawan Deli, in Sumatra. We sailed across the Malacca Strait and up the river to Belawan and moored up there with the ropes on the bight, the eye brought back inboard and over the bitts for easy letting go. We didn?t go ashore as there was firing in the distance, the Rebels were having a go. There was a civil war going on at the time, President Sukharno was not a very popular man with some political factions. He was very pro Communist and the Rebels were made up of Americans, Dutch, Australians and Indonesians who hated Suhkarno
Early next morning the dockers did `nt turn up, and the firing, with bullets whizzing around, was round the back of the godowns, so the Skipper shouted ?Let go?, we cast off the turns and then the eye and started to heave away just as the Rebels ran through the godown firing on the ship. We went full ahead, trailing the stern lines behind us, and we lay flat on the deck as bullets were being fired at us from down below on the wharf, making a terrible noise, I was wetting my knickers, not very pleasant being shot at and trying to scratch a hole in the steel deck to hide in.
Once we got clear down river we heaved the lines in and had a well earned smoko.
The bullets had made a lot of dents in the steel of the ship around the accommodation also chipping paint off, but none went through the steel, tough ships those Sam Boats
We went back across the Straits to Singapore, we went to the anchorage and discharged the Belawan cargo there into barges, then the Singapore cargo. The sew sew Lady came on board there and all hands had sarongs made up, we could have any pattern we wanted but not the same as the Captain. His pattern was exclusive to him as a show of Rank. I bought three, one was for working in, one for sleeping in and a good one for going ashore in, I still have one left after 48 years, and usually wear it when I have had a shower and just lounging around, I get some funny looks sometime off visitors who come to my house and catch me wearing it. But then they have never been to the Spice Islands.
Singapore was always a good run ashore, a good place to go to at the weekend was the Norwegian Seamen?s Club.
It housed the Norwegian Pool and outside was a big swimming pool and bar so we spent all the weekend there drinking and swimming. On Tanjong Pagar Road there were a few little girly bars and dancing. On the way back to the boat landing at Jardine steps I found the Deck Boy squatting in an alleyway playing Mah Jong with the Chinese and he was winning a fortune, a big pile of cash in front of him. He was from Liverpool and had learned to play there. We got him out of there with his winnings, the Chinese were shouting, he was shouting that he was on a winning streak, but I don?t think they would have let him walk away with the money at the end. The Chinese were not happy but there were more of us than them.
A couple of days later we sailed for Tanjong Priok in Java, through the perfumed seas.
Tanjong was to be our home port, we were a feeder ship. going around the islands to all kinds of exotic places, some didn?t even have a name on the chart, picking up five ton here and ten ton there and then take it into Tanjong for the express boats to pick up. It was a good life.
As we tied up in Tanjong, a young native lad with a strong Liverpool accent, ?Hey Lah, yer wanna buy a parrot?? He pulled out a sock out of his pocket and then pulled a white cockatoo out of the sock. ?Here give us a few Rupiahs,? I gave him a handful of notes and I was the proud owner of a Cockatoo, I called him Charlie Kakatoa. He could speak a couple of words in Javanese, and over the next few months I taught him many other words in English and Spanish, Clever lad was Charlie. He started to take a liking to Javanese brandy, and then was always bevied and falling off his perch rolling over on the deck one claw clutching his head saying ?Teda Bagoose? [no good]. He was the same when I took him ashore sat on my shoulder, he would walk around the bar top drinking out of every ones glass then fall off the end, I would have to pick him up and shout at him for being stupid. He was a mess. At the end of the trip I decided that I could not take him home, I could not afford to keep him in Liquor so at the last port, Padang, in Sumatra, I took him to a bar built on bamboo poles up in the air, and gave him to the man who owned it. Charlie sat on a perch behind the bar and watched as the man gave me a bottle of brandy, a tear rolled down one cheek and he just muttered one word, ?Ba*t*rd?. I was choked, he was a good mate, I walked down the steps and hurried to the ship, before a tear ran down my cheek.
First night in Tanjong, in the London Bar I met a beautiful young lady, Dedeh Suardi, with long black hair that I could tie around my waist. She was lovely. I had a good portrait photo of her but the ex wife found it and destroyed it.
When I got Dedeh I also inherited a shoe shine boy, who was the lad who sold me Charlie, I only wore flip flops, a guide, and a rickshaw boy. They came as a team. As I said we were loaded for six months and I put them on the pay roll. Every Saturday they got a wage packet each in an envelope of around two thousand Rupiahs. The other lads had similar teams. They were very necessary for our safety ashore as they were our eyes and ears. There was a curfew around ten pm.
Every day around five o` clock they would be at the gangway in the rickshaw, I would be dressed in my finest sarong, straw hat and Dedeh would be in the back wearing a beautiful sarong and a flower in her hair, and our team taking turns to pedal. It was like a scene out of `Lord Jim`.
One night we were sat on the veranda of the London Bar and at the next table were two American sailors. My lads would sit on the steps and come to me if they wanted a Fanta and then the Americans shouted to me , ?get those kids outa here they are only bums?.
A little while later the kids came and whispered ?Piggy, piggy lackass? (go, go quickly) so we legged it round the back alley into the shack that belonged to Dedeh. It was the curfew, there was a blast of machine ne gun fire and the sound of a Jeep driving away. A little later when it was all quiet we crept around to the front of the bar and the two Americans were dead, blood and cr*p everywhere, they had been blasted with a machine gun and it was a terrible mess, the front of the bar was also wrecked. We went back into Dedeh`s hut and stayed till morning. Very depressing it was. But the kids had looked after me.
Most nights nearly all hands went into the Bataan Bar, it was very lively with a band and dancing with loads of Mik Maks. [Young Ladies]
So one night I went alone to the Bataan Bar and it was full of girls and the crowd off the ship even the Skipper was there dancing, we all had our sarongs on, I was dancing with a Mik Mak, when the bat wing doors slammed open, it was Dedeh with a big panga in her hand, screaming at me, the band stopped playing, and everyone stood silent as she screamed abuse at me.
"You Number Ten Boy. Teda Bagoos, Piggy lacass," All hands laughed as I went out with her back to the London Bar and sat in silence, She just said, `Tomorrow I show you all Number Ten boys.`
We just went to bed, again in that deafening silence that only women can do.
Next morning, we all climbed into the rickshaw and she took me a ride into the country to a cemetery, there were a few graves there, of English Seamen, some were from Liverpool when I read the inscriptions.
She stood there like Boudica and pointed, `All Number Ten Boys, You Number Ten Boy, You, teda bagoos." (no good}, drawing her finger across her throat in a menacing manner.
`No, No`, I pleaded, `Me Number One Boy, bagoos, OK..?`
`OK` , she said,` You be good Boy`.
We went back to the London Bar and had breakfast. and then she let me spend the day in bed. I had had a very stressful night lying awake wondering what the fate of a Number Ten Boy was. I never went into the Bataan Bar or any other bar again.
One beautiful place that we went to, had no name on the chart, it was inside a lagoon, a tug had come from Borneo towing teak logs and just left them floating in the lagoon. Opposite the entrance was a tiny village on stilts over the water. We anchored and had to lower a boat to pull the logs alongside and load them ourselves. There were about twenty logs and then four of us would dive with a sling in our hands and swim under the log and rig it ready for the lift then they were heaved onboard. We went ashore in the lifeboat and the natives were fascinated by us, they had never seen a white man before. The little children were hiding behind the trees, watching us in fascination, we must have been like Spacemen to them. One man was scraping my skin with a knife to see if I was black underneath. My hair was sun bleached platinum blonde, and they were cutting lumps of my hair off with their knives and looking at it as something they had never seen. It was an unusual experienced to be amongst them, probably one of the last places ever to be like that. I think we were very privileged to be there. It was only a small island, we walked around it in less than half an hour with an escort of all the villagers. The trees had monkeys and parrots and birds of paradise. Beautiful.
It probably has a load of ski boats, an Airport, Holiday Inns and Disco Bars now, destroying one the last true paradise on earth.
After two days we had loaded and went off to Tanjong again.
Tanjong Priok. We were soon established there with contacts from the rebels, they came alongside in canoes, who wanted to buy the flat tins of 50 ciggies like State Express 555s and the round tins of Players. We made a fortune with them, and became Rupiah Millionaires. We found out much later that they used the flat tins as land mines, a little explosive and a pressure detonator, when someone stood on it , it blew their foot or leg off and the round tins of players were used as hand grenades, a little explosive, a few nails and a fuse.
We had loads of money, as I said we were Rupiah Millionaires.
Sometimes we did a trip to Singapore and at the anchorage, arrangements had been made for a boat to come alongside the stern in the early hours, and a few boxes were heaved up, these were stowed in the old Gunners Quarters, and locked until we got back to Java and then another boat would come alongside during the night and then the boxes transferred to them with a huge wad of Rupiahs, in the millions. It was unbelievable, how much money we had.
The Rebels where made up of Dutch, Americans, Australians and Indonesians opposed to the Sukharno Government. They were anti Suhkarno as he was taking Indonesia into the Communist Bloc. Whilst we were there in Tanjong, Khruschev visited Suhkarno just up the road in Djakarta.
We were in Padang, Sumatra, when we had an air raid by one plane of the Rebs, with six ships alongside four of them were hit with bombs and set on fire, two settled on the bottom alongside. We were untouched, maybe they knew us. The anti aircraft guns shot the plane down and it went screaming into the jungle exploding in a big ball of orange flames. The pilot baled out, he came over the wharf and his leg hit the end of the wharf and he fell into the water. The Troops got him out and were battering him, he was screaming in pain, his right leg was obviously broken and couldn?t stand up. All this was about fifty yards from our poop. They dragged him to the wall of the godown and propped him up, we could see what was going to happen and all hands were shouting to the soldiers and then they pointed their rifles towards us so we hit the deck. There was a volley of shots and the pilot lay dead in a pool of blood. It was quite sickening to witness the execution. He was a young American.
Up the coast of Sumatra was Sabang, we had loaded some rice and on the gangway was always an armed soldier as well as on the wharves. At noon one day two of the dockers ran down the gangway, the Soldier shouted for them to stop, they carried on running and the soldier on the wharf fired his rifle and shot one in the head, the force of the bullet lifted him completely off his feet and he crashed on the ground with most of his head missing, spurting blood. It was quite gruesome. The other fella stopped with his hands up and the soldiers battered him with their rifle butts. We felt quite sick at the sight of all this. At smoko that afternoon the soldier came into our mess room and was boasting at what a good shot he was, to hit a moving target. He said they had stolen some rice, it was down their shirts so he shot him. These poor people were starving and on very poor pay, they just wanted to feed their families. We couldn?t do much, just agree with him as we had to go ashore and didn?t want to upset him again. I looked at the rifle, it was a Lee Enfield 303, British made in 1906. It was the same as the ones we had when we were Sea Cadets, so I did the rifle drill for him, ?Shoulder Arms, General Salute Present Arms, Slope Arms and Order Arms, and so on?. He was very impressed, I thought we had better keep this killer on our side.
The Indonesian Government kept the people under control by having Javanese troops in Sumatra, Sumatran Troops in Borneo, Celebes Troops in Java and Borneo Troops in the Celebes and so on. That way there was no sentiment between the troops and the local population, so when they killed they were not killing their own people.
In Tanjong Priok, the Militia at the gate were easy to get past, first time I ever went there I did the rifle drill for them, they were quite impressed and I acted like a Sergeant and had them all lined up outside the hut doing rifle drill, all same as British Army. They were like school kids in my hands, though we had to be very mindful that they could quite easy kill us if something went wrong. So every time we went ashore they just let us through unchecked. , On our last night there after six months while I was doing the rifle drill with them I removed the firing pins from some the rifles,
Dedeh and I would eat every day at a small bamboo hut across the road from the London Bar,
We had some of that UDANG, I thought they were small chicken legs in a batter, ?What are these? ? I asked, ?small chickens? ?No this is UDANG, After my second plate full I found out they were frog?s legs. They were lovely. couldn?t eat enough of them.
Another good feed there was Bami Goreng and Nazi Goreng.
Dedeh wanted to come to live in England with me, so I gave her the address of the Queen and told her she had to write to her. I am still awaiting for a knock on the door and finding an aging Javanese lady in a sarong saying, `Hi, .at last I have found you, .you Number ten boy, Teeda Bagoos.
We did many ports around the islands, from Singapore, Tanjong Priok, Tegal, Semerang, Surabaya, Macasser, Wallace Bay, Sandakan, Tawau, Probalingo, Kutching, Balikpapan, Bali, Ujung, Balitung, Molucca, Padang, Belawan, Sabang, Sumbawa, Brunei, Sarawak, and many others some without a name. A lot of these ports were anchor ports, and we had to keep a Pirate watch every day and night. At night we would have two AB.s one patrolling on either side of the ship watching for small boats trying to come alongside., we had light clusters over the side around the ship so canoes could be seen. One night in Semerang, around 2 am I was down aft by Number 5 hatch when I heard a clunk amidships, I walked for`ard with a ten ton shackle in my hand. There was a native just climbing over the rails by Number 4 hatch just abaft the accommodation on the port side. A grapelling hook was hanging off the rails, I ran up and hit him on the left temple with the shackle and he fell back into the sea. I looked over the side and just saw a ring of ripples and bubbles and a canoe with one man in disappearing into the darkness. I didn`t think they would come back again. I shouted to Ted to get the stand by man to get the Captain and report the incident. He came down and had a look around and then complemented me on the action. These Pirates can sneak on board and cut peoples throats in their bunks and steal anything they can. It is and still is a big problem in those waters.
Apart from the killings by the Militia, it was a paradise of a trip. We always returned to Tanjong to discharge for the big fast Blue Funnel ships. Deedeh and my team were always waiting for me.
We were in Surabaya and ahead of us on the same quay was a Soviet Liner, with passengers of the Soviet elite, I forget her name now but she was sunk by the Germans in WW2 and then refitted for the Vladivostok fleet.
We had a game of football with them on the quay and the Second Mate invited us aboard that evening. He was Victor, a big big man.
So that evening, Ted, Blondie, Paddy and I went across and met Victor.
He took us to his cabin and with the Sparky, pulled out a bottle of `Moscow Visky`, it was Vodka really. He poured out five half pint glasses and shouted `Babushka`, which means `Old Woman` in Russian, and we had to drink it in one gulp, or you were an old woman. This nearly blew our heads off, powerful stuff. Then there was more and more. We were drunk as rats, unbelievable stuff that `Moscow Visky`.
Mean while as we were getting bevied, Paddy was going through Victor?s drawers and putting gear down his shirt, he was robbing him.
Then the Sparky wanted to show us his Radio room, so as we were staggering out of Victor?s cabin, he stopped Paddy and removed several articles out of his shirt and muttered a few words in Russian that we didn?t understand. What a ******* Paddy was, it was embarrassing, stealing off the man who was giving us his hospitality.
We went to the Sparky`s Radio Room, and at that time we had never ever seen such an array of equipment, it was space age stuff compared with what we had seen before, on our ship, an old Sam Boat all our Sparky had was a Morse key and a transceiver.
We left the ship and were walking back past the old liner, there were a lot of port holes about waist height above the quay and in one a big Stewardess was getting stripped off ready for bed.
Blondie went up to the port, which was open, and bent down to have closer look, the Stewardess saw him and waved her arm to beckon him closer and closer, Blondie, thinking he was onto a good thing put his head through the port.
She got a head lock on him with her left arm and proceeded to batter his face with her right fist. He was screaming as she did this, pulling him closer, we had hold of his legs and tried to pull him out of the port, but she was a strong woman. She continued to batter him for quite a while before letting go and then battened down the port and closed the curtains.
Blondie was a mess two eyes were swollen and cut, nose busted and bleeding and his lips cut and bleeding. We couldn?t stop laughing at him, what a plonker. We dragged him back to the Euryades.
The following day, Victor and the Russian Sparky arrived on board, The Sparky wanted to see our Radio Room and equipment. I called our Sparky and told him, all about theirs and how embarrassing it would be if they saw he only had a Morse key.
Sparky went6 to see him and told him that it was all top secret equipment and was not permitted to allow anyone near it.. The Russian accepted that,
We took them both into the mess room with some beers, there were already four Danes in there from another ship that the other lads had brought on board. There were a couple of cases of beer on the table and everyone was getting stuck in.
Then one of the Danes who obviously did not like the Russians said something to Victor in Russian, Victor was exceedingly angry at this comment and leaned over the table and thumped the Dane knocking him to the deck. The other Danes jumped up and a big fight started. We were in the middle and we were getting thumped. The lads got the Danes out eventually and got them off the ship, I got Victor and took him and the Sparky back to our cabin.
There were three of us in the cabin, me, Ted and Blondie, so we all sat on the two bottom bunks and opened another case of beer. Victor shouted ?FRIENDSHIP? and thumped me in the ribs, Kinnel Victor, take it easy. He could only speak a couple of words in English. Friendship was his favourite word, every two minutes he would shout ?Friendship? and thump me in the ribs again.
We were sat there in our sarongs, drinking and smoking, when I could smell burning flesh and cloth, I looked down and my sarong was on fire, Victor?s cigarette was against my sarong and set it on fire, I was leaping about and dived through the door into the shower and put it out. My leg was blistered and the sarong had a big hole burned out of it. I still have it in my drawer at home here. I came back and sat down again and Victor shouted ?FRIENDSHIP? and then thumped me in the ribs again.
I was getting a little sore by now, a burnt leg and bruised ribs. Then fortunately, we heard a voice shouting on the quay at the bottom of the gangway, ?VICTOR, VICTOR?.
I ran out on deck and looked over and at the bottom of the gangway was the Russian Political Officer, ?Ver is VICTOR and Radio Officer? Tell them come now.?
What a nice man, he was coming to take Victor away. I went back to the cabin and got them out, the three of us helping them down the gangway, we were all bevied and could hardly stand. The Political Officer was shouting at them in Russian and ordered them back to their ship Pronto. He was not amused at his men being drunk on our ship so I think they would be in trouble when they got back.
We sailed to Wallace Bay, Borneo, it is not a bay but a small village up a river surrounded by thick dense rain forest, where we were to load teak logs, The logs were cut down upriver in the forest and floated down river to us.
There was a grass clearing with a few small bamboo huts and a small bar run by the English expatriates. They were as usual, in those far flung outposts of Empire always ****ed on the gin. We had a good drink with them and during the conversation one of them suggested that we could play football against the local Dayak tribe. He knew them when he went into the forests to search for suitable trees for logging. A match was arranged for Saturday morning and it was to be played on the grass clearing outside the bar. An old pick up truck falling to pieces amid a huge cloud of smoke appeared out of the forest and about twenty of these Dayaks climbed off, A fearsome looking bunch, wearing just a loin cloth and a bone necklace round their necks, and hair standing up, they play football in their bare feet and play their own rules. With the British Consul looking on, it was a real primitive outpost for him, we were told not to score any goals or we would be speared to death, we lost 16 goals to nil. Later, a Dayak who seemed to be a little educated, he could speak pidgin, English, invited Ted and I to his village in the jungle. We went in the old battered pick up truck tied together with string; we were squashed up together with all the other Dayaks. The British Consul told us to report back to him when we returned as nasty things could happen to a white man in the jungle there.
We took off and with all the Dayaks chanting songs we drove through the rain forest bouncing on a track with a truck that had no springs followed by a dense cloud of smoke, it was exciting.
We arrived in the village, it was straight out of `Lord Jim`, there was a long hut on the left, about 50 feet long where all the single men lived and facing it across the Soah, (open space,) was a long hut for all the single girls, and across the bottom of the Soah was another long hut for all the old people who looked after the children.
We were introduced to the Chiefs and Elders of the tribe. It was like something out of Conrad, unbelievable. We stayed in the men?s long hut sleeping on rattan mats and a log for a pillow. Around the `beds` of the men were skulls off men of other tribes that they had killed. A bit gruesome trying to sleep next to dead men?s skulls. I asked my `friend` what do you do if you want to get your leg over with one of the young ladies across the Soah. In Pidgin he replied that you went into the girl?s long hut and took one out and gave her one and then send her back. If she gets pregnant then the old folk look after the children. That night they had a feast in our honour, a huge fire was lit in the Soah and the men were dressed in straw tied around their waists and faces painted in white, a fearsome looking bunch. They danced and sang their songs, as we sat cross legged on the ground and watched. While this was happening the ladies were roasting chunks of meat on the fire and making kava, an alcoholic kind of drink. My friend told us it was long pig, and served to us on big leaves, and it was Pork, lovely.
The following day we had to get back so our friend drove us back and bade us farewell, a wonderful experience of a bygone way of life very few people have ever seen. We reported to the British Consul in his bamboo hut and he asked us all about our trip out there, we told him that they had a feast for us, he asked us what we had eaten, so we told him, Long Pig, ?Do you know what Long Pig is???, we said No, "It is human meat, they usually go to the next village and kill someone and then it becomes Long Pig, human flesh is the same flavour and texture as pig,?.
So we had become cannibals, it was good though`.
A wonderful experience of a bygone age in a world that no longer exists. It can never happen again.
The rain forests have all but gone now, they have been cut down and burned to grow palm oil trees for bio fuels. This has killed off most of the wildlife including the `wild man of Borneo`, the Orang Utang, and the Dayaks displaced and their way of life destroyed. This can never ever be replaced, it has gone forever. All in the pursuit of profits and these mad people who think growing bio fuels will save the world when they are the very people who are destroying it
Since the 1970s, the Dayak have been baffled by the existence of mining projects, logging by forest concessionaires, plantations and industrial timber estates. Socio-economic expert Mubyarto said the presence of the giant projects in Kalimantan and Sabah changed the Dayak?s source of wealth.
The rattan monopoly has impoverished the Dayak in East and Central Kalimantan. The gold mining in Ampalit (Central Kalimantan), coal mining in East Kalimantan and gold mining in Monterado (West Kalimantan) have caused the locals to suffer. The same thing has happened to the Dayak Bentian, Dayak Pawan-Keriau and Empurang. They struggle against the plantations, which are partly financed with foreign loans. They are forced to give their land to the investors. After the land transfer, all the plants, all the sacred places and cemeteries were demolished and replaced by palm oil trees. They are forced to pay the investors for the privilege of living on their own land in installments.
The project ruins the environment, as well as the social, cultural and political patterns. They have marginalized the sovereignty and dignity of the Dayak over the Land and natural resources.
We took our cargo back to Tanjong again. more precious nights spent with Dedeh.
That was the pattern of our trading and our way of life, we thought it would never end.
Then one day it was all over, our time in paradise had come to an end, we had orders to load for home after six months there, even the married men didn?t want to go home.
So the last day was one of tears from Dedeh and my team of boys, I gave Dedeh over a million Rupiahs to share with the boys. That would make them all very wealthy and a good start in life. It was a lot of money in Indonesia, but it was like Mickey Mouse money outside. Couldn?t even change it in Singapore. It was worthless to take out, so I hope my team made good use of it to improve their lives. We all said tearful goodbyes to our `teams`.
Then we were homeward bound and feeling very sad. After loading a cargo in Tanjong, rubber, latex, copra, mahogany and teak logs, spices and so on, we topped up in Singapore, and Padang in Sumatra where I also said good bye to Charlie Kakatoa, in exchange for a bottle of brandy. I felt like Judas. He could still be alive today, Cockatoos live around 80 years, maybe I will go out there one day to find him.
We sailed across the Indian Ocean and up the Red sea to Suez. Once through the Canal it was a fourteen day trip to London where we paid off. It was the end of a very fascinating voyage.
No one can live those lives again, the world has changed so much, we are the very last people ever to experience it, in that paradise we had death, love happiness , sadness, beauty and the ugliness of the dictatorship. Poverty and wealth, violence and tenderness all in a few bamboo huts, the ultimate human experience was in those Perfumed Seas of the Spice Islands.
It was a world that no longer exists, sadly it has gone and can never return.
We are so lucky to have been there, even though we thought it would never end, it did, and for ever.
Shore people could never believe what we did, what we experienced and saw, I never tell anyone about it here, they would not understand.
Last edited by captain kong; 01-19-2009 at 10:00 PM.
I was wondering where he was and when he arrives, eventually, he swamps us.
But what a wonderful way to be swamped Kevin,the old skipper has'nt lost his talent for a good yarn!
Passing by your way on Friday, past Bolton and up to ****heroe on our way to Slaidburn. Staying at the Hark to Bounty for a few days with Ruth - it's her birthday.
Welcome aboard our new home.
Ta for the great read Captain Kong..of the Spice Islands..
fascinating..Sounded very spicey indeed..
I hope the parrot lived happily there after..
Last time I was in Cltheroe was in 1965, I am not sure if it is still open.
Here is the RMS FRANCONIA.
She sailed on her maiden Voyage on 23 June 1923 from Liverpool to New York and she continued on this route during the summer months until the outbreak of war , Her maiden voyage was between Liverpool and New York on 23 June 1923 and she continued on this route during the summer months until the outbreak of war Her winters were spent on 133 day world cruises.
On 10 April 1926 she was involved in a collision leaving Shainghai harbour. While leaving her wharf she ran aground, her stern swinging around and hitting a Japanese cargo vessel and an Italian gunboat, the Libya. A buoy then became tangled in the Franconia?s propellers, sinking a lighter in the process and killing four members of its crew. I saw a phot of that event with the drowning men in the water alongside the Franconia.
In September 1939 she was requisitioned as a troopship and refitted at Liverpool. Her first convoy was to transport troops to Malta, but while travelling in convoy with the Alcantara and Empress of Australia the Franconia was involved in a collision with the Alcantara, As a result of this accident the Franconia had to undergo major repairs at Malta. Later, during the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from France, she was damaged by air raids while carrying 8,000 troops. For the rest of the war she continued as a trooper, travelling to India and the Middle East via Cape Town and taking part in the invasions of Madagascar, North Africa and Italy. A friend , who is no longer with us, was on the Franconia approaching Scycily for the invasion with troops, she was attacked by German bombers, A stick of six bombs exploded underneath her and he said the ship was lifted completely out of the water by the blasts. This damaged the engines and shafts, but she was able to carry on. In 1944 she carried American troops from New York to the Mediterranean. During her period of Government service she covered 319,784 miles and carried 189,239 troops.
The Franconia?s moment of war time glory came in January 1945. The ?Big Three? - Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin - were to meet at Yalta on the Black Sea to discuss the shape of post-war Europe. The Franconia acted as the base for the British delegation, returning to Liverpool in March 1945.
After the end of the war, the Franconia, like many of the requisitioned vessels, continued in government service repatriating troops and prisoners of war. She returned to Cunard?s control in June 1948 and was sent to the Clyde for a nine-month reconditioning. On 2 June 1949 she resumed a passenger service, this time sailing from Liverpool to Quebec, and later Montreal, In 1956 she did the Liverpool New York run.
The Franconia?s withdrawal from service was announced in October 1956. He last sailing was on 3 November between Liverpool and New York and back again. The return voyage she broke down with mechanical faults and she was four days late when she reached Liverpool. She had been meant to carry troops to Suez, but the unreliability of her engines meant that she was withdrawn from this duty. She was sold to the British Steel & Iron Corporation and left Liverpool on 14 December 1956 to be scrapped at Inverkeithing.
A Voyage on the RMS FRANCONIA
I was on the Franconia in the summer of 1956, The Master was Captain Donald Murdo Maclean, DSO, RNR. later to become Master of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth as Commodore of Cunard. The Bosun was Nelson and Bosuns Mate was Charlie Chin.
The Franconia was a good job , plenty of money, with the overtime, and a good run to New York. A week across, a week in New York , a week across and a week in Liverpool.
I remember when a first class waiter dropped dead whilst serving passengers, Our watch on deck had to go into the saloon and carry him out, the first class passengers rather disturbed at having their evening dinner disrupted.
We took him to the Medical Centre and the Doctor certified him dead then told us to take him to the cool room down below. We took the lift to the working alleyway then we had to use the stores lift which was four feet high and about four feet wide, so we folded him up in it and sent it down. There were no fridges on the Franconia, the Chill room was full of blocks of ice and the meat was stowed on top of this also the vedge. He was naked and we laid him on top of the ice.
The following day the Doctor wanted him up in the Medical Centre to do a post mortem, so we had to go down to get him. He was frozen solid when we got there. We didnt like to touch him, he was icy cold like a marble statue. The Bosuns Mate said dont be so soft and then slid him off the ice and stood him up. So we had to get a hold of him, a bit gruesome. we got him to the stores lift and he was stiff so we had to struggle to get hin in, he was put diagonaly from the bottom corner to the opposite top corner we had to get Tommy Miller to get inside with him to get him position. Then the Bosuns Mate slammed the lift door on Tommy, and pressed the button for it to go up, then he pressed it again when it was between decks and stopped it. Tommy was screaming , he couldnt get out. The Bosuns Mate shouted Smoko and so we all went forard for a ciggy and a brew. Meanwhile in the lift which was against the engine room bulkhead was getting warm, it was dark in there and then the stiff started to move as it melted, Tommy was screaming in fear as this corpse started to move against him in the dark, he was demented.
When we returned the screams were terrible, The button was pressed and the lift arrived in the working alleyway and Tommy was there with the corpse lying on top of him. I have never seen so much fear in a mans eyes as then. we lifted the corpse of him and put him on a trolley and Tommy was told to go and have a smoko. Tommy went straight into the Pig and got himself drunk and 52 years later Tommy is still drunk.
The dead Steward was carried ashore at the Landing Stage in Liverpool and into an Undertakers van.
On the next trip homeward bound again a very large American female passenger died, she must have weighed about twenty stones. The night before we arrived in Liverpool, Paddy Dirkin and I had to take the coffin forard to the crew gangway shell doors ready for taking ashore when we docked. Paddy and I had had a few drinks before we did this and she was so heavy we couldnt carry her so we were dragging the coffin, which was only a rough box lined with cotton wool, with a rope. we stopped half way along and sat down on the coffin for a ciggy. Paddy told me that I had fallen asleep on top of the coffin. he had to wake me so we could carry on forard. Next day alongside the Stage, Paddy, Johnny Golbourne and I dragged the heavy coffin down the crew gangway and with the Undertaker lifted it into his van.
New York was always a good run ashore, The beer, Wrexham Lager, in the Pig on the Franconia was an old 8 pence a pint, that was 30 pints for one pound. the Pig on the Franconia closed at 8 pm in New York, so we supped up and went down the gangway across the shed and up the gangway of the Queen Mary or Queen Elizabeth and carried on there in the Crew Pig, they didnt close until 10pm., then we would go ashore to the Market Diner across the road.on the corner of 52nd Street and 12th Avenue. The beer there was 10 cents a glass so we got ten glasses for a dollar. about twenty five to the pound. At those prices ale was cheap. Some times we go up to Broadway and do the bars and clubs, In Jack Dempsey`s Bar, for one dollar you could have your photo taken , shaking hands with the hand that shook the world, across the road Tommy Dorsey`s Orchestra was always on there, always full, and a good night was to be had. There was good shopping there, Nylon stocking for the girls back home were cheap, Dupont Nylon, 15 denier, Always had a pocket full and at home in the Locarno dance hall, throw a couple of packets around and the girls would be screaming after me. We bought our suits from the Salvation Army store on 8th Avenue and I had a beautiful pure silk midnight blue drape suit with the bullet holes in the back sewn up by my Mother. $10, the suits and shirts were got from the City morgue so they were very cheap, I looked a million dollars in that suit, with a mid Atlantic accent, we were Cunard Yanks and the girls back home couldnt get enough of us. Records were good swag in those days, In the States they came out 12 months before you could get them in England due to a musicians strike. So they were always in demand for the most popular artistes and always made a few bob out of them. They were good days, Another good thing was the washing machines and fridges from the Salvation Army store, they were about 5 to 10 dollars each, the ship was full of them all in the working alleyway lashed to the bulkhead hand rails and on B Deck Square where our accommodation was. At the Stage in Liverpool, Daley`s big van would deliver them for five shillings. A few of the Stewards on big money would buy second hand cars. Big Yankee ones with tail fins, Buicks, Dodges, Chryselers and so on. they sold them cheap in a Dock yard around 33rd Street. Cars that had been pounded by the cops for parking violations and so on were sold cheep every weekend, they still do it today, I was in New York in April this year and the yard was still there full of cars waiting to be sold.
Cunard allowed them to carry the cars home, without insurance, if we loaded and unloaded them ourselves. So the Stewards would drive to the Pier 92 and pay us a handful of dollars to rig the derricks and load them and stow them on the hatch on B Deck square lash them down and pay us again to do it at the Stage in Liverpool where they would drive them home. A lot of those Stewards were like millionaires, there were all kinds of rackets going big money could be made mostly from the dropsies from the Bloods. We could make a load of dollars from washing up and polishing glasses in the passenger bars, paid for by the cocktail bar tenders.
In the Pig there were all kinds of gaming machines, Roulette, Cock and Hen Boards, Crown and Anchor Boards, Crap games, and so on, with big time Poker schools that lasted for days, with men being paid to do the players work and also to fetch coffee and sandwiches. pots going for thousands of dollars. A lot of wealthy passengers including movie stars would come down to the Pig for the gambling. There were no casinos allowed on ships in those days it was illegal under United States Laws.
All good things have to come to an end, I was in the Pig having a pint with Joe Finnegan when I should have been on look out up the crows nest, the Masters at Arms dragged me up on the Bridge and Captain Maclean had me logged and sacked. Jo Finnegan then gave me the name of Alehouse.
Three months later the Franconia was taken out of service and taken to the breakers in December 1956.
Last edited by captain kong; 12-02-2008 at 02:38 PM.
I am putting this story on this thread so to keep ships together, hope you like it.
This was a hard ship,
W. SAVAGES, Ltd. ZILLAH STEAMSHIP CO
I joined the BEECHFIELD in Liverpool in at the end of November 1952, she was built in Lytham, around 1900, a coal burning steamship, tall woodbine funnel, and an open wheelhouse, oil skins and sea boots were required when on the wheel, I was 17 years old and an Ordinary Seaman.
We lived in the focsle underneath the chain locker, a square hatch on the deck next to the chain locker with a vertical ladder going down to a dark and smoky open focsle with two firemen, two ABs and me, it was a death trap down there
There was no electricity on board, all the navigation lights and accommodation lights were oil lamps, and my job was to keep them trimmed daily. Down in the fore peak where we lived was one grimy oil lamp, and it was still dark with that on, there was a coal bogey in the middle surrounded with ash, cinders and coal and the smoke was thick, there was no ventilation down there, we were below the water line when she was loaded. There were five filthy bunks, a black with coal dust mattress, one filthy blanket, of course no sheets, pillows or towels. There was no bathroom sinks or toilet, it was unbelievable.
One old fireman was 84 years old and permanently bent over at an angle of 90 degrees, he had never paid off for over 25 years he had no where to live and would have lost his job if he had paid off so he was there for ever.
The other fireman was a completely mad Irishman, always talking to himself and sometimes he had terrific arguments,
There were two ABs, one was over 80 years old, and had no where else to live, the other one joined with me, he was OK but after one week he leapt ashore, I was going as well but the Skipper, Captain Jim Marshall, made me up to AB, with a big increase in pay, so I stayed on for a bit longer.
We loaded coal for Dublin, Belfast, Londonderry, and stone from Paenmenmawr and Trevor in North Wales and Peel Island back to Liverpool. If you wanted a cr*p or a shower you had to wait until you got to the other side and leg it to the Seamen?s Mission.
It was December, the weather was atrocious, and on the open bridge the wheel was six feet in diameter with chains and rods to the rudder. When she was shipping seas they would go right over the open wheel house and you would get swept off the wheel and if you hung on to the wheel and a sea hit the rudder it would spin and throw you over the top and across the bridge if you tried to hang on.
The Captain?s way of navigating to Belfast or to the North of that would be ""Keep it on this magnetic course and if you see a light ahead it would be the Isle of Man so bring her round to port and when the light is abaft the Starboard beam bring her round to the next course, I will see you tomorrow," then all hands would turn in, I would be up there for about ten hours clinging to a spinning wheel, the sea, hail, snow and rain blinding my eyes, soaking wet and frozen.
During one of these storms after leaving Derry, with big heavy seas and swell coming in from the North Atlantic, the Cook got burned to death, A large pan of chip fat was flung off the stove and went all over him when the ship took a big roll, and then it burst into flames when some went onto the galley fire and he became a ball of flame and collapsed on deck into the scupper screaming his last.
The Cook was dying in the scuppers, blackened by the flames, the Second Engineer caught sight of him leaping about and then collapsing. He got a bucket of water and flung it over him to dowse the flames but it was too late. He had gone to where all good Cooks and not so good Cooks go to, that great Galley, with unlimited stores, in the sky.
All this time the wind was blowing a hooley and seas crashing over the decks.
We had to pick him up and we laid him on the hatch, Captain Marshall certified him dead. He told us to lash him on the hatch, a line around his wrists and ankles and star shaped, he said the salt spray, would keep him fresh and stop him from stinking. He looked gruesome lying there especially at night. He stayed there until we arrived in Liverpool two days later. A Policeman and an undertaker came down and took him away.
The Mad Irishman would sit on the hatch and have some terrific arguments with the dead Cook, and became worse when the Cook was ignoring him.
The Captain told me I was to be the Cook, until they got a replacement but I still had to do the night watches on the wheel. There was not enough food to go round, what the Cook had done with the food money no one knew, but he had a few empty whisky bottles in his bunk.
On those Coasters, known as Weekly Boats, you got paid weekly and out of your wage you had to pay the Cook for the food every Friday, and then he went ashore shopping including getting drunk in the alehouse on the way.
I was knackered doing the night watch as well as Cooking, but a few days later he found some dead beat `Cook` from somewhere.
Then he got rid of the Mad Irishman, he was in the focsle and started an argument with the coal bogey and because it would not stand up and fight he kicked the cr*p out of it, flaming coals and hot ash and smoke was all over the focsle, fire was burning every where. We had to leap up on deck and throw a heaving line with a bucket attached over the side and the pass the bucket of water down the hatch to pour on the flames. After a few of these the focsle was full of smoke and steam.
"That?ll teach the ba*tard not to fight wid me". said Paddy
The Captain kicked him down the gangway. I was going to follow, `I?ll promote you to Fireman` said Captain Marshall, `it is a good experience`.
It sure was, four hours on and four hours off, two furnaces, do your own trimming. Feed `em, throw a pitch on, a little twist of the wrist and jerk and spread the coal evenly across the fires, rake and slice, dump your own ashes at the end of the four hour watch, keep her on the blood, 180 psi, and watch the water level, I got myself a belt with the buckle at the back. A buckle at the front could blister your belly with heat of the furnace on the metal. No lights down there, just the light from the flames in the furnace, like something out of Dante. After dumping the ashes and handing over with a load of coal on the plates for the next man it would be twenty minutes later, then fight my way forard between the waves and then crash on my filthy mattress still covered in ash and coal dust, at seven bells, three hours later, get down to the galley have a bacon butty and then stagger down the fiddly to the furnaces.
After one month I had had enough, and paid off, a much wiser and fitter man. Even though Captain Marshall pleaded with me to stay on, "I will teach you Navigation if you do, and then you can go Mate".
Next week I went back to the Pool, Mr Repp said, "Why didn?t you stay there you have only been there for a month" it seemed like a lifetime to me, I had aged ten years, "Here is another coaster, one of Everards, the `Amity." . That is another story.
Last edited by captain kong; 12-02-2008 at 02:39 PM.
Aloha Captain Kong.. At 17years old.. you certainly had a lot to endure on that SSBEECHFIELD.. Your writing is marvelously discriptive.. ta.. I enjoy the read of the real accounts of seafarers like yours..
It was so unfortunate about the Cook...Almost like he became the French Fried Chip.. But, to lash him to the Hatch for 2 days..??? well, all I can say is ,I could never of stomached it for 2 days looking at him..
You sounded like you were a very brave young man..
aloha and peace..
Aloha, our Lilac,
Thanks for the comments.
There was nothing brave about the experiences, it was something we did because we were there and the conditions in those days were just like that.
But I like it when you say I was a brave young man, it will make me feel good for the rest of the day.
ELDERS AND FYFFES, BANANAS
The Steamship CORRALES was built at Alexander Stephen and sons at Linthouse on the Clyde.
she was completed in March 1930
Dimentions, Length 400 feet, Beam 51 feet and depth 33 feet
She was scrapped around the early sixties.
She sailed out of Garston, Avonmouth, Southampton and London to Tiko in the Cameroons, West Africa and the West Indies to load bananas for the UK.
I joined the Corrales, one of Fyffes Banana boats, in Garston for a voyage to Tiko in the Cameroons in West Africa. The day we joined we had to load all our stores, boxes of food, sides of beef and so on.
The following day we sailed down the Mersey, it was lunch time, and as we sailed close past the Pier Head all the girls from the offices were there cheering for us as we sailed close by.
We had a six day run down to Las Palmas where we stopped to load bunkers, It was during the night, a lorry came alongside the gangway as we finished rigging it. Then we were told to carry the stores we loaded down the gangway and onto the lorry. And at the end the Chief Steward with the Mate and Captain pocketed a wad full of notes. We got nothing. We had 12 passengers on board so we thought there must be plenty of food left on board. There was for them. The feeding was bad after that, we went hungry. Every meal was made of bananas, fried bananas, grilled bananas, roasted bananas, stewed bananas, boiled bananas, sauted bananas, mushy bananas, frappe bananas, we were going bananas.
We couldn?t sleep at night because of hunger pains.
The Captain, `Mighty Joe` Young was a huge man, and when I was on the wheel he would be on the wing of the bridge lifting a 400 pound barbell, ?Can you do this ?? he would say to me.
?If you gave us some food I could, I am weak with hunger.?
?Don?t be so soft ?he would say.
All we had for evening dinner one night was a thin soup with bananas instead of potatoes, called Irish stew.
I was voted in as the one to go and kick to the Captain, `Mighty` Joe Young.
I went up the boat deck with my plate of "Stew", I knocked on his door and he opened it, towering above me, ?What do you want? he said, ?The crowd want to complain about the food, it?s diabolical. This is supposed to be Irish stew. ??What`s wrong with that? he said. Me forgetting he was an Irishman said ?It?s alright if you?re Irish, but??. ? .
and with that he smashed me in the face with a big iron fist and I did a somersault down the ladder to the boat deck and ended up under a life boat. My face covered in blood from my nose and lips. I crawled down aft and all hands laugh at the state of me. They had eaten theirs, mine disappeared somewhere over the boat deck. So I went hungry again.
On the outward bound voyage on the Banana boats the big job was to clean all the holds and tween decks for the new cargo of bananas, they were swept and then mopped out with disinfectant. The big problem being down there was the spiders, uncountable thousands of them, most were giants, bigger than an out spread hand, some were poisonous and a bite could make you very ill or even kill you, the ship carried serum if you were bitten. Sometime if we caught a big one it was put in a glass jar and taken back to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine for research. These spiders would get into the accommodation, and I have woken up in my bunk with a huge one sat on my face. Not very pleasant looking up a big spider?s tail pipe with one eye. Too scared to move, until it went off on its own. Sometimes there were snakes and banana rats, the snakes got aboard by being coiled around the stem of the stalk of bananas, the banana rats were small and black with a bushy tail, like a small black squirrel, also Rhino Beetles, big black ones around five inches long with a head and two horns just like a Rhino. This menagerie of wild life in the holds would make their way to the cabins at some point in the voyage.
We arrived in Victoria in the Cameroons, and anchored in the bay we had a few tons of cargo, usually items for the Expatriates who lived and worked there.
These were discharged into a barge and towed ashore, and then we would have to wait for the tide to get over the sand bar into the creek that went for several miles to Tiko our loading port.
On board we had a sheep dog for an expatriate family in Tiko, he had a kennel on the after deck and we looked after him and took him for walks around the decks.
One day the dog was demented, crying and rolling over and over in obvious distress.
We examined him and his fur was full of spiders galloping around and biting him.
We rigged up a bath for him and gave him a good shampooing, and removed dozens of spiders off him. We up anchored and started to go up the creek, the dog began to get excited again. On the way up the creek, to get around the sharp bends, it is necessary to run aground, the bow is rounded for this, and the focsle crashes into the jungle, with trees crashing on deck, dropping monkeys and other wild life on deck. Then the ship goes astern and then does it again and again, working its way around the bend. An unusual and interesting way of rounding the bend in the creek. Then it was straight up the creek to Tiko, There just a small wood jetty in the middle of the jungle, with a few people stood waiting for us.
The dog was really excited by now and as we were approaching the jetty he jumped over the side and into creek, he was swimming alongside of us heading for the jetty.
We were cheering for him and on the jetty an English couple were also cheering him on
and as he got by the jetty he scrambled up the bank and onto the jetty and was reunited with his owners.
We moored alongside the jetty, there was a small narrow gauge railway line there, and the small train brought the bananas down from Tiko village, several miles inland through the plantations. When we went ashore we had to go on the train, the carriage was a bench where we sat back to back facing outwards, and this took us to Tiko which was a collection of mud huts and a bar. There was an Expatriate club there for the Colonial types and that is where the Officers went. We were not allowed in there, on a previous voyage two stewards went in there, got drunk and robbed the gramophone, so we just had the one bar to go into.
There was no electricity there just oil lamps, we walked into the mud hut bar, it was lit by a couple of oil lamps, and against one wall was a huge Westinghouse Refrigerator.
The man greeted us and said ?Ice beer for de sailors?, he opened the fridge and it was full of Heineken cans. The beer was warm, no electric, but the man was excited about his fridge, some super salesman must have turned up in the village and sold him one.
He also had a wind up gramophone with a big horn on top and HMV and the picture of the dog on the front. He only had one record, it was Gene Autry singing, `Riding Down The Sunset Trail`. We all sang it while supping warm Heineken and he put it on again and again, and again, and again.
Even today I know that song off by heart; we had a good time though, being simple sailors. Afterwards every time we had a beer anywhere we would always imitate the man, ?Ice beer fo de Sailors`.
After a good bevy in the mud hut we staggered to the rail line and waited for the train.
I was wearing Khaki keks and a khaki shirt, I had taken off my belt, the warm Heineken was blowing me up and buckled it and put it over my shoulder so I wouldn?t lose it, it looked like an army `Sam Brown`, Some of the Africans asked if I was Army, I said yes, I was here looking for recruits for a new army for Camaroon. They seemed interested so I got them lined up and got them marching up and down, I got a brush that was leaning against the shed and showed them the Rifle Drill. They were very keen to do this, Then the train turned up so I told them to keep on marching and do not stop until ordered to, `Quick March`, and off they went. I climbed on the train and off we went. I often wondered where they ended up, Mombasa maybe on the East Coast of Africa,
I sat on the train facing outboard with all the crowd, I could hear the booming voice of Mighty Joe Young behind me. I looked and he was directly behind the first trip Cadet, `Ding Dong` Bell who was sat next to me.
My nose was still swollen and buzzing like a fire alarm from when he thumped me.
So as the train rattled on in the darkness through the jungle, I decided that some action was required to even up the score. I turned around and thumped Mighty Joe as hard as I could on the back of his head. He shot off the train and straight down the monsoon ditch head first. The screams were terrible, the driver stopped the train when all hands were shouting that Joe had gone.
I could hear his foot steps coming down my side of the track, crunching on the gravel, I closed my eyes and waited for death.
?Its you, you ? ******* *******" I heard him say, and then he grabbed the Cadet, young Ding Dong, who was sat next to me. He flung him down into the monsoon ditch and dived in after him and battered him, then he picked him up and flung him back in his seat, ?Don?t ever, ever do that again? he said, and then walked around the other side to his seat.
They were both covered in blood, mud and slime.
I was lucky that night. Thank you Ding Dong. I felt better, honour had been regained.
We completed loading Bananas the following day and sailed down the creek over the bar and into the Guinea Gulf, a few hours steaming and we anchored off the island of Fernando Po.
It was a small island covered in trees, palms and banana plantations. A few barges came out to us and we loaded the bananas through the side Shell doors. That completed we heaved up the anchor and then set a course for Liverpool and Garston calling in at Dakar in Senegal on the way for fuel bunkers. During the voyage home, every day we had to inspect the bananas and if we found one banana turning yellow we had to take out the whole stalk and throw it overboard. Sometimes we had young Ding Dong with us and we would turn all the lights out and leave him down below in the hold, we could hear him screaming in fear, as the holds were full of spiders, snakes and banana rats. I think it was his first and last voyage to sea, I don?t blame him, it must have been horrific for him.
We arrived in Garston after a month long voyage and paid off. We always had a big stalk of bananas to take home with us.
Last edited by captain kong; 12-02-2008 at 02:40 PM.
Great story, remember the banana boats well, everyone in Garston had tons of green bananas for weeks after they docked. Used to put them in the airing cupboard to ripen.
S.S. Cairnesk, Cairns Noble of Newcastle. I did a few runs on her to St. John's in the Winter and to Quebec and Montreal in the spring/summer.
Anyhoo, I am the galley boy, 1953 winter run to St. John's Newfoundland. Cargo of Ford cars from Dagenham inthe holds, deck cargo of Terex trucks. A Terex is a monster the wheels and tyres are about 12feet across and they are are about 20feet long.
Going across the western we hit bad weather with snow and ice, the deck cargo was soon covered in the stuff. All hands were out with chipping hammers and steam hoses to get rid of the ice from the trucks. Meanwhile as the galley-boy I had to go for'rard to the foc'sle where the spud locker was located. This meant going across the open deck, hanging on to the safety line and climbing on to the foc'sle head and hauling out a 112 lb. sack of potatoes and going back to the galley with it on my shoulders.
We made St. John's O.K. but on the way back it was worse. She was a coal burner and we were hit by everything in the way of weather. I cannot remember just how many days it took us but we were running out of coal and we had to burn doors, messroom tables and whatever would go in along with what coal we had left.
We managed to make it into the Shetlands and bunkered there. Then we carried on to the Tyne.
Hi Fred, John Wayne did that, burning doors and mess room tables in the film SEA CHASE,
EEH, we had it hard in those days, they dont know they are born to day.
CUNARD`S ?PARTHIA? -
The PARTHIA was built in 1947, at Harland and Wolff at Belfast, the only Cunard ship to be built there, , to be used on the Liverpool-New York service. She was a sister of the MEDIA, By 1960 they were becoming uneconomical and were both sold in 1961, the PARTHIA was sold to the New Zealand Shiping Co, and after rebuilding and the accommodation extended to accommodate 350 passengers, instead of the original 250, she was renamed REMURA.. She entered service in in the NZSC`s London New Zealand service in June 1962. (Both Parthia and Media were used on the Liverpool-New York services. In 1953, she was fitted with the same Denny-Brown stabilizers which her sister MEDIA had fitted a year earlier.
Cunard Line?s all first class RMS PARTHIA and MEDIA were very popular ships, smaller than the great Liners and more intimate.
?The Cunarders? the Media and Parthia are my favorite ships?? Katharine Hepburn
Hollywood stars and celebrities like KATHARINE HEPBURN preferred to travel from New York to England via Liverpool on the smaller, deluxe, all-first-class liners like Cunard?s PARTHIA and MEDIA. They could avoid the crowds and have much more privacy. Hepburn made many such trips.
I joined the PARTHIA on 21 September 1961 then we moved from the dock around to the Liverpool Landing Stage and the loaded our Passengers and baggage.
We had an uneventful voyage across the Atlantic until we got off the Nantucket Shoals. Then there was a big crash and the ship lurched, I thought we had been in a collision with another ship. We ran out on deck and look over the bow, the ship was stopped and there was a large whale impaled on the bow, it had cut into it at the middle. about half way in, it was still wriggling around and blood pouring out of it. A few minutes later it stopped moving. It must have been sleeping on the surface and never heard us approaching. Very sad.
The Captain investigated it and then went back on the Bridge and went astern , nothing happened , we did this a few times , stopping and then going astern again. It was stuck fast. We carried on to New York and the US Coast Guard was informed and off the Ambrose Light, a Coast Guard Cutter came out to us and we stopped in the water again, the Coast guard got a couple of lines around it and then heaved away and then pulled it off us. They towed it clear and then we carried on, the Coast Guard disposed of it.
We moored at Pier 92, opposite the Market Diner. at the bottom of 52nd Street and 12th. I always enjoyed New York, everything you wanted was in a walking distance. After having a few drinks in the Diner it was a short walk up 52nd Street to Broadway, past the 21 Club where Edward G Robinson was appearing, then on to Broadway to Jack Dempsey`s Bar, so you could ?shake the hand that shook the world? and have your photo taken with him for a dollar.
Across the Road on the Strip was all the Clubs, with the Tommy Dorsey Band playing to dance to and many others with the famous musicians, Dizzy Gillespy, and singing recording stars, You could be with all the famous show biz stars and it was affordable. It was a Technicolor world up there. We would go to bed at 6pm and get a call at 11pm and then go up to Broadway and dance the night away until sun up around 5am. New York came alive at midnight until the early hours, `The City that never sleeps.`
After a week the PARTHIA sailed from New York for the last time,
We sailed through Long Island Sound and into the Cape Cod Canal. What a beautiful place that was in the Autumn, all the trees the full length of the Canal were Gold, Yellow and all shades of colours, a fantastic sight.
Off Boston the Pilot came out to us in a sailing ship, and took us in.
We tied up outside the city in a place called Maverick. Not a lot there just a couple of bars, we took a subway to Boston City centre but it was very quiet, not a bit like New York. We came back to Maverick and had a few drinks there.
Six of us were staggering back to the ship through the dock area. It was quite a way so we stopped for a relief against the wall of a cargo warehouse. The six of us were stood in a line with it all hanging out when searchlights lit us all up, and a loud haler shouted `FREEZE, DON?T MOVE OR WE SHOOT, POLICE. HANDS ON THE WALL AND SPREAD `EM`.
We froze, Kinnell, with hands on the wall all with our nudgers still hanging out. I think the whole of the Boston Police Department were there behind us.
The cops came over to us and frisked us for weapons and tuned us around, we were blinded by the search lights. `And put those away` the Cop said pointing his night stick at our nudgers. We zipped up quick.
We are Limies, we kept saying ,but didn?t make any difference.
One at a time they took us to a Patrol car, `Hands on the hood and spread `em`. Geof went first, a big black Cop towered over him, `Where ya from?`, Geof said `The Isle of Wight`, the Cop hit him over the head with his club, AARRWWGGHH, said Geof, as a large lump appeared on his head. The big black Cop said `Ya trying to be funny wise guy.?. `No` said Geof, `I am from the Isle of W-I-G-H-T not W-H-I-T-E. its in England`.
They went through all our pockets and found our US Immigration Passes.
A bunch of Limies off the Parthia, eh. So we got a Police escort back to the ship to make sure we got on board. The cops who were taking us back told us they had a stake out on that Warehouse as they had a tip off that it was going to be raided and we had ruined it. They were not amused.
We sailed the following day bound for Liverpool.
One of my Mates was my next door neighbour, Shaun, he had been in the army and then working as a steel erector, but he got laid off so I got him a job as an Uncertificated Deckhand. The Bosuns Mate, I think his name was Steele, was a big hardcase and he hated UDHs, and always tryed to wind Shaun up, Shaun was good on deck, having been a rigger and erector on the steel he was as good as any ABs I have seen.
The day out of Boston, Steele got onto to Shaun and a fight started in the alleyway.
It went down the alleyway out on deck, Stewards started taking bets on the outcome, Steele was first favourite as he was a well known fighter.
Shaun had been in the Army in the war in Malaya and was also the Regimental Boxing Champion.
They stood on deck slugging it out, their faces being covered in blood then rolling over on deck battering each other then up again, It was the `Duelo de Titans`
No one had seen a fight like it, they were fighting to the death. smashing each other, covered in blood their shirts ripped off, hammering and battering each other, it was terrifying just watching. As time went on they started slowing down, rolling over on top of each other gasping for breath through the blood in their mouths, spitting out broken teeth.
Eventually Shaun gave a last punch and rolled off Steele who lay there semi conscious in a pool of blood and broken teeth.
Shaun crawled over to us, we were sat on the Hatch, and pulled himself up, his face was just a mask under a curtain of blood, he smiled and his two front teeth were missing. Then Steele slowly got up onto his hands and knees and crawled over to the hatch, `I think he want`s another go` I said to Shaun.
Steel pulled himself up, his face a like a piece of battered liver, swollen and covered in blood with his front teeth missing, he held his hand out to Shaun and they shook. `You?re the best ` he grunted through his swollen lips. They both lay back on the hatch to rest. The Stewards paid each other the winnings from the `book`. Most had lost, with Steele being first favourite and Shaun the outsider.
After a while and a couple of ciggies later one of the Stewards took them both to the Medical Centre to see the Doctor who had the job of trying to patch them up. Their faces looked a mess for the rest of the voyage going home without their teeth and black and cut eyes swollen lips and noses.
It was the fight of the Century. They were friends for the rest of the trip.
We arrived in Liverpool on 16th of October 1961 and paid off, leaving the ship in the hands of the Shore Gang, After discharging she was taken away to Belfast for rebuilding for the New Zealand Shipping Company, and renamed
Last edited by captain kong; 12-02-2008 at 02:41 PM.