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Author Topic: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O  (Read 13555 times)

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Offline CDP

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #21 on: July 30, 2015, 20:13:54 »
I well remember the Cocos Islands which are halfway between India and Australia, because the ship being a Royal Mail Ship (RMS Strathaird,) it would deliver the mail to this Island.This could  involve dropping the barrel of mail into the sea where it was immediately picked up by two outrigger catamaran boats,These were very small vessels each manned by six natives from the Island who paddled like mad to catch this mail before it was swept away.
But this day we were caught by a very severe hurricane/typhoon and the skipper decided to carry on to Australia and not to chance dropping the mail, but fifteen minutes later he changed his mind and swung the ship rapidly around and headed back to the Cocos Islands.
This rapid action caused some very large waves to smash windows (not portholes !!) on the top deck and the ship was swamped, really swamped with sea water and it cascaded down the stairways into the bows of the ship .One lady was in tears and asked us to save her two babies who would be in one of the flooded cabins, we rushed down the stairs with the water cascading on the top of us as we fought the waves to save her two daughters. We reached the cabin, burst open the door ready to save these babies and there were two 17 year old girls sitting on their bunks reading their books and they asked us what we wanted. So our good deed fell flat.
One of the catamarans came in too close to us and their mast was caught up in our railings and as our ship rolled it turned their vessel over and it sunk. Then catamaran No.2 came close to us and as the stern of our ship banged into the water it swamped their vessel and that  sunk. We hurriedly "saved" all 12 men and we took them to Australia and they enjoyed their forced holiday.

The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #20 on: July 20, 2015, 21:24:02 »
One trip to Sydney and I managed to have a long weekend off work so I made contact with some previous 10 Poms and Aussies in a Youth Hostel Group and we hitch-hiked using cars, buses, etc and hiked up to a mountain Hostel and we had a perfect weekend, Each little group designated a cook and we were only allowed to take a fork each. When eating our food we were told to be very careful as there were lots of birds, mainly Kookaburra's, who would swoop down, grab our food and " laugh" at us from the tops of the trees .We were not allowed to share our food with anyone if they lost theirs to the birds.
As Australia had had no rain for months and with bush fires all around us and water being very scarce, no bonfires were allowed in case they then became out of control. We talked to the Warden and he agreed that we could have a fire but we must put the fire out ourselves and we had to watch it all the day and night. So we sent all the girls away at the end of the night and did as we were  told.
Our little group sang songs around the camp fire, one of the lads showed us his magic tricks, another was a very good singer, another knew lots of (clean) jokes, the weather was perfect and we had a lovely time, going to bed about 3 o'clock each day. One lad had a withered leg and he was more acrobatic than most of us, he would toss his crutch away at the very last minute and complete very clever  and complex movements. He taught us all a lot about life that night!!
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #19 on: July 14, 2015, 12:22:24 »
On one trip to Sydney I met a Sheerness lad Harry Smith, who was the same entry in Sheerness Dockyard as myself and after a few beers he asked if I would do him a big  favour when I arrived back home. I replied of course and he asked if I would go to Queenborough,  to his girl friends house and tell her that he has found somebody else in Australia and so the engagement was off. When I arrived back  home I went to Queenborough, knocked on the door of Harry's (ex) girl friend`s house as I had previously phoned and asked to see her and was invited in as an old friend.

When I  broke the news to her she cried her eyes out, her (rather large ) father came rushing into the room and was going to hit me  kill me ??)?? After what seemed years  they both calmed down and said the wedding arrangements were all in hand, the cake, the guest list, the catering, the bridesmaids, etc, etc.and what a rotten fellow Harry was. .
We all parted as friends. I left the house rather quickly just in case she was wondering how she could use her wedding dress etc!!  I hope that she realised that I was only the messenger.

On a more pleasant note, via my mother`s !!! friends, I was asked four or five times to carry wedding gifts to / from Sheerness /Australia as they knew that I would look after the cake, cards and gifts, etc and they would be sure to get there safely. This I  managed to do and received many thanks, it was a pleasure .
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #18 on: June 24, 2015, 20:51:44 »
My ship RMS Maloja was in the London King George 5th dock for repairs. I was returning to the ship by train after a night at home (I thought that no one would miss me so I had  sneaked off home.  We were not allowed to work on the ship (Union rules) and I happened to look over a man`s shoulder in the carriage, to read in his Daily Mirror that "The RMS Maloja had sunk in dry dock in the repair yard complete with a picture of the ship leaning against three dock side cranes, all on the front page of the paper. I thought how can a big ship sink in a dry dock.
After the repairs on the ship have been completed the 2nd Engineer must sign a form stating that he has checked all the water cooling pipes/valves and it is safe to flood the dry dock. This he had done but he had failed to check a very large 4 foot diameter pipe at the side of the ship`s engine room that supplied cooling water for the main engine. This is a very large gate valve and takes forever to open or close. When water started to pour through this large hole to flood the engine room ....PANIC ... we realised that the dock was filling with water with the 2nd Engineer frantically shutting off this valve which he finally did with the water almost up to his neck. The salt water meant that we had to strip the main engine etc to remove the salt from the bearings etc., etc. and everything in the engine room had to be stripped down and cleaned as salt is very corrosive.

Every port that we arrived at after this event, the 2nd .Engineer was invited out to lots of dinners etc. and he made headlines in all of the local papers as "The Engineer who saved the ship", not realising that he was the man that caused it !!

The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2015, 11:31:39 »
NIGHTS THAT PASS IN THE SHIPS. !!!

We met up with the " Orcades ", an Orient Line ship, in Australia and I knew that a friend of mine from Sheerness was a storeman on this ship so I walked across the dock to where it was berthed but I  was turned away by the seaman on the gangway, so I returned to my ship and changed into my uniform and then returned to the Orcades and received a very smart salute and he gave me the instructions where  to see my friend Len. He was very pleased to see me and took me to the food store to show me all the food in the store room. He then invited me to select something that I would like so he opened up a largish container of Caviar. .I did not like it at all !!

At night we would see many ships racing past us because as a Royal Mail Ship (RMS ) we must be the fastest ships to carry the Mail, so they were not really allowed to be faster than us and pass us !

In Sheernes Dockyard I worked on the Royal Navy ship Loch Akinaught ???? converting it for the New Zealand Navy and then it was  renamed Tutara (or was it Pukaki ?) and I  was walking along the dockside in Melbourne, saw this ship and suddenly I saw some of my N.Z.friends from Sheerness Dockyard. We immediately made contact and I was invited on board. Sorry but that is all I remember after a very long stay on board. I think they managed to take me back  to my ship.

When the ship was in dry dock in London and being fumigated, no one was allowed aboard for 2/3 days and we would hoist the Jolly Roger, the Skull and Crossbones, to warn people. It was quite amusing to hear the comments from passing people.

One of the Engineers had been in the Ulster Constab. and always carried his gun with him, (the Customs etc. were very different in those days). One evening we had a party in my cabin and Paddy (obviously) had a lot to drink and was half asleep sitting on my bunk, someone banged on the door, Paddy jumped up, pulled his gun out and said "Who the """""" hell is that and fired his gun. Bang it went and we all ducked and ran for the door.
Another day we all went ashore and on the way back to the ship I said to Paddy "Do you always carry your gun?" When he replied "of course",  I asked him if he could hit a street lamp. He fired three shots, missed the light, but all the house lights came on in the street so  we quickly made a run for our ship.

The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2015, 22:44:01 »
I was on the last trip of the RMS Maloja  people who had sailed on her referred to her as the MaloYa and all  the others called her the MaloJA ) when we sailed her to Inverkeithin ? to the breakers yard in Scotland with a skeleton crew and food for 2 weeks in case we were storm bound etc !  This time we semi  unofficially took another P and O Engineer, who lived at Southend, with us because he had purchased one of the lifeboats and wanted to sail it from Scotland to Southend. So on the journey  to the breakers we kitted his boat out with all the best spares from all the other lifeboats, he was very pleased! His lifeboat was really loaded and the weather was good, he contacted us later to say thanks, we had saved him pounds and he enjoyed his trip with us. The few chaps on board this last trip spent most of the time searching the ship for any keepsakes such as clocks, cutlery (all Mappin and Webb),  etc. etc., we were unable to find any safes though!! We sent our gear and contents back by train, it was too heavy to carry.

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Just so that you thought our life was an easy one .When I  joined my first ship as a Junior Engineer I was alloted to work " day work " i.e. from 7 in the morning until 5 in the evening. One of the first jobs was to repair a broken down water converter, which converts sea water into fresh water. We had problems with this repair, we started at 7am worked all through that day and night and until 6pm the following day without a break. One chap mildly complained to the 2nd Engineer and was told to shut up and get on with it. He quoted " Safety of the ship " which means that we must do as we were told. We had another 2 of these machines standing by but we had to do as we were told. All of the lathe tools had been sent ashore for repair and had not been sent back to us, so I had to soften the square files, cut and make new tools and then re-harden them. This engineer was a  proper !!""$% as we were supposed to have Saturday and Sunday off each week, but for three months we were all working flat out (I did manage to have one Sunday morning off when I  managed to slip away to Church but I was grumbled at for that). This engineer would always sleep in a large chair with a sheet over his head and whoever turn it was to wake him up received a mouthful as he was very  embarrassed when woken up. He always drank a lot.
One day I had a very large painful boil on my leg and it was very difficult to move around, and I told the boy who woke me up that I was unable to work that day. A few minutes later the 2nd Engineer came to see me, full of sympathy, and we talked for a few minutes and he asked for a gin and then poured me a very large gin and said "do you take water with it" (there was no room for any water in the glass). He then shouted out that as I had walked over to the desk to pour the gin, " You can walk, therefore you can work, get below".

The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2015, 14:55:51 »
On another trip we sailed through a load of flying fish, they were very pretty to watch and the decks were full of the passengers watching this sight with lots of ooohs and aars, but one of the stewards was asleep in his bunk and one of these lovely coloured fish flew through his porthole and landed on his chest flapping away. The shock was such that it affected his mind and he was put ashore at the next port of call and was taken to the hospital.

One of the Engineers drunk too much Gin and he did not want to go to sleep because he had little tiny men about 3" tall with Tridents that  kept digging in his toes and feet.

Another Engineer, again with too much gin, started to eat the lino on the floor and he would see little people chasing him at night.

And yet another Engineer was stabbed by an Indian engine room crew member and was sent to Bombay hospital and we heard he was only fined 10 rupees.

On watch one night on the Strathaird, my engine room natives were attacked with sticks, hammers, etc. by another engine room watch who were from a different village. The headman of all the natives was usually a huge strong man who walked around with a three foot length of wood about three inches in diameter and he would use it on the crew. He was the Serang, the bossman, and the men from his village would have to pay him 10% of their wages if they wanted a job on the ship, they either wanted a job or not (all unofficial of course !!) He would employ the Tindals who were the next boss down. This practise was accepted by all, obviously this is not so now !!

The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2015, 15:27:52 »
The ship was in port and I had just completed my evening shift , 8pm to 12 midnight and having a well deserved  shower when the bathroom door opened and in walked an old friend of mine from Sheerness, Ray W.
Some months before this Ray was courting a girl from Sheerness and he decided  to be a 10 Pom. and save some money.  Way back in the 1950's   you paid only 10 to sail to Australia and if you returned to England  before two years you must repay the total return fare to  the Australian Government.
Ray had worked  in the outback  for about 18 months in a very small farm and had saved a huge pile of money but he was longing to return home to marry his girl friend. After talking this over I wondered whether we could stow him away on our ship back to England hence saving him a lot of money.  We had a meeting with a lot of the other Engineers ( and a few bottles of gin !!)and we thought that it would be fun to try it out.
The next day Ray returned with his gear, we spruced up the spare Pilots cabin, explained to the Indian cabin boys, so there was no problem  with his sleeping and eating. Everyone was helpful and we all enjoyed the fun of seeing if we could get away with it.
The ship knew that something was happening as at every port the ships loudspeaker called out  "Would Mr.R please go to the Pursers Office " someone had spread the word but  he joined in with all of our parties and was never officially discovered,  And of course there was no real Customs in Australia then. and England was very lax as he walked out with about six or seven of us.
Just before he married he came to my house and asked me to destroy any photos of him  at our parties, which I  did.  My lips are now sealed but he did really enjoy it all.
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2015, 13:07:48 »
In a previous post I mentioned the Casanova Engineer on the ship. We all had various pictures and souvenirs around our cabins but he had none because he said any girls invited to his cabin would look at these pictures and say such things as "That is nice/pretty, what is that or where is that from?", and according to "Casanova " That was wasting time.
He also removed all of his chairs from his cabin because he would say the only place that they could sit down was on the bed, and that was half the battle !!!

On another trip, when we were in the Colombo market, I was asked if I wanted to earn some easy money.
The task involved transporting birds from Colombo Zoo to Taronga Park Zoo in Australia. All feeding material, written instruction, etc. was supplied and if any of the birds died, that was acceptable. It was all legal with all custom etc., permits, papers being  supplied.
I declined but a friend said that he would do it. BUT, one day it was very hot crossing the Equator that he forgot about the birds,opened  his cabin door and lost the lot.
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2015, 12:18:41 »
One day I went ashore in Sydney to visit a friend of mine.  After a very pleasant 15 minute Ferry trip across the harbour to Manly, I called at her house and her mother said she was across the road talking to a friend and I was to go across. I went to the house which was having a party and they welcomed me to join in and the guest of honour was Burl Ives. We all had a lovely sing song, etc and he sang a lot of his songs also.

On one trip I was friendly with a girl whose g.father was one of the original gold miners in Kalgoolie, Western Australia, if I have spelt it correctly, and he or his son had 5 sons and 5 daughters. When he retired he gave the sons the shop, the post office, the hotel, the library  etc, etc, and he gave all his money to the girls and this girl decided to go to England She had been selected also to sit at the Captain`s Table by virtue of her past history.
One day I was late getting to the dining hall ( we ate in the same room as the passengers but had a separate long table near the exit in case of emergencies etc.) and when I was at the bottom of this long winding staircase she looked up and said in a VERY loud voice " Hello  you old bast.....  where have you been?" There was a deadly silence for a few seconds with the whole sitting turning to see what was happening. I just smiled, waved to her and carried on !



The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2015, 16:16:34 »
If Only ???

Walking through Bombay market one day in 1950 ish, I was approached by a smartly dressed Indian who asked me if I was from the Strathaid, the ship in the harbour. It is very strange how they can not only see that you are a stranger but what country you are from because when they approach you to buy any special postcards from them!! etc., they are always correct in the language they use.

This man wanted me to take a small parcel containing gold (which is not hallmarked in Ceylon) and take it to Australia where a man would collect it from me and give me a parcel with Black Opals (which are not allowed to be exported from Australia) to take back to Ceylon.
There I would be given a bag of sapphires plus other rare stones, these are mined in Ceylon, to take to England.
In England I would be given a bag of sovereigns to take to Ceylon, etc. etc, and repeat this again.
It would all be collected and delivered to me on the ship.and it was all using their money and no risk to my money, I would make 200? every time we docked in Colombo and after one or two trips I could use my own money and join them in the scheme. It was making a lotta money in each country.


The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2015, 13:53:54 »
On one trip we had a Junior Engineer who rather fancied himself as a Casanova, so one day, to keep him quiet we suggested that he tried to get his wicked way with one of the nuns who was travelling on board.
There was a group of about 15 novice nuns who every day would form a crocodile line and walk around the deck for 5 or 6  times each day being lead by the Mother Superior. So Paddy (an Irishman of course !! ) studied this, waited by one of the corners where the nuns turned, walked up to the last nun in the line and said something to her and they both went off to his cabin. We were amazed !! .The nuns soon then realised that one of the group was missing and raised the alarm thinking that she may have fallen overboard. All hell (if that is the correct term to use here !!) was let loose with the nuns wanting to turn the ship around, so some of us went quickly to Paddy's cabin, banging on the door shouting "Let her out Paddy" etc.
When it all calmed down Paddy said that he only asked the nun to sew some buttons on his shirt as he was not able to do it himself having a bad hand and she agreed to help him out.
When we asked Paddy what really happened, he just smiled.

The ship would often have Gala Evenings, everyone dressed up, ate well, and this was always followed with a dance lasting till the earlier hours of the morning with all the Ships Officers signing autographs for nearly all of the passengers, AND I DANCED WITH JESSIE MATHEWS.

The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2015, 21:04:07 »
On one of my trips to Australia, when we were in Columbo Harbour approaching the berthing spot, I was on deck with a young lady passenger and a ship came very close to us.  Jean said " That is my daddies ship The Steel Age ".and we watched as it came closer and closer- and even closer to my ship,  the Strathaird, and then BANG WE HAD COLLIDED.
It appears that the electric motors were not synchronised with the Propeller shaft and although the Bridge screamed out Astern,  Full Astern, Emergency Full Astern, it was no good and we hit the ship.
Our ship had a soft collision bow that took most of the impact but we hit the other ship mid ships by the Bridge.
We often used our Ward Room for our drinks and no cash changed hands, it was all signed for by chits and settled up at the end of the trip.
On this particular trip, the steward who worked in our Ward Room, had a big row with the bar bosses so he decided to drink his troubles away and some hours later he threw all of our bar chits over the ships side into the sea and all records of our (heavy) drinking were lost. We were pleased .

I remember another trip ,we were leaving Australia .We always had a big band or two ,playing all the usual sad songs (Now is the hour etc,) and all the streamers with the passengers trying to hang on to each other as long as possible, and all the tears and waving goodbye, when a drunken steward turned the fire hose onto the quayside drenching everyone. The Captain sent 3 burly men to restrain him but he thumped them all and a big battle then took place and they finally subdued him and locked him up for the rest of the trip back to England.
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

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Re: Working 1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2014, 12:29:29 »
We were taking the West Indies cricket team from Aussie to the UK plus Ray Lindwall who was going to play for Lancs (or was it Yorks?).
Constantine, their Captain, brought on board many cases of Jamaica rum as his father had a rum plantation in Jamaica and the whole team would often meet in my cabin to have a party.The team were not keen on the deck officers coming, they preferred our parties as we "work hard and play hard ". When we arrived in the UK I think Constantine had about one crate of rum left.

One day they challenged us to a game of Deck Cricket.
A long net is placed down one side to stop the ball going over into the sea, there is no wicket keeper, and three lines are drawn to mark the  length of the pitch and are also markers for,one, two or three runs across the pitch. The pitch is say 8ft(?) wide.Two fielders are placed at these marker lines and these have to stop the ball (if they can).
The two fielders nearest the batsman, called the suicide fielders !!! They were not keen on this position.
When Ray Lindwall  bowled me. I really whacked the ball much to his surprise and his second ball I never saw coming and he smiled and said,  "You are out".
We used a proper hard cricket ball also !! hence suicide fielders. not a job for the faint hearted.
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2014, 11:53:39 »
The French Rugby team, all burly, hunky type men whose second best hobby was playing Rugby were with us on one trip Aussie to UK and we were very pleased when we arrived at their port and we said goodbye to them.
We did part the best of friends after many battles to see who were the winners in the passenger conquests. Even now it brings tears to my eyes, the lonely nights etc .....................
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

 

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