Sketch by Jack Chalker

Voyage

After the 48 in hour pass which contained the registry office wedding to Kathleen she was in a smart suit and dad his best uniform Then a wedding breakfast at the coop tea rooms the very short honeymoon was followed by a dash to Bristol to catch the liner Oronsea for the trip to Canada. They steamed out of Bristol in darkness on the 24th October, heading north up the Irish Sea to join up with a large convoy off Liverpool. The weather was atrocious; they had to travel as far north as they could to keep away from U-boats. The U-boats were sinking lots of merchant navy boats coming from America; the convoy had royal navy destroyers with anti submarine depth charges to keep the U-boat away. They only had hammocks to sleep in and with the thirty foot waves breaking over the bows the sea sickness was so bad that the troops were praying for the ship to go down to end their misery, When they set off from Bristol there were card schools all over the ship playing three card brag, most soon run out of money but not Phil he had luck and skill for the money to stay with him all the way to Halifax Nova Scotia.

Travelling to Halifax in storms was not the best way to travel but things were to change, joining the American troop ship the USS Leonard Wood, was heaven,  it was a brand new transport ship with a crew of 660 and could carry 1900 troops with equipment.

The liner Oronsay returned to England full of war supplies, she them took troops to South Africa, on the way back loaded with troops returning to England she was torpedoed at four o'clock in the morning 500 miles off the coast of free town by an Italian submarine. Because it was so far out it took ten days before the survivors were pick up.

USAT Leonard Wood-1

The Leonard Wood had beds not hammocks and the food was something else, no more praying to sink, as they headed south down the east coast of America the weather was calm and it seemed like a holiday although none had ever had a holiday!!! Trinidad was first port of call for refuelling.  The weather stayed with them for months eventually they arrived at Cape Town, the table mountain was the first land they had seen for months, as they sailed into port they passed Robin Island later to be made famous as the prison where Nelson Mandela later spent 30 years in prison. There followed two days of heaven ashore legs all of wobbly, fresh food bananas apples bread. The food was unbelievable.

USS Leonard Wood carried on to Bombay, life on board was pretty boring, as they neared Bombay all the card schools had run out of money, all the money was in one school dad had $13 000 dollars in front of him when he was dealt three kings and he gamble nearly everything only to be beat by a guy with three aces.

Arriving though the gate to India Bombay, they unloaded and moved all their gear to Poona, after two weeks they got orders to re embark on the old Empress of Asia launched in 1921 she was of the Canadian pacific fleet based in Liverpool. After transferring all the equipment they set off heading for Singapore.

 

Next Chapter

Singapore

 

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[My Dad and Me] [Training for War] [Voyage] [Singapore] [Escape] [Columbo] [Bombay] [Swimming Tanks] [Ireland] [Next Step] [Sister Christine]

 

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