Doug belongs to: Royal British Legion Seaman's Mess
Doug was born in South Shields in 1919. He joined the merchant navy at 15 with great ideas of adventure. During World War Two Bill was in the Arctic convoys and at the D-Day landings dropping off armaments.
Doug was interviewed by Kylea Little on 15 November 2005. The interview took place at South Shields Royal British Legion and lasted 55 minutes and 5 seconds.
"As I said previously, I served my time in the stag line. I started when I was 15 years old, 1934"
As I said previously, I served my time in the stag line. I started when I was 15 years old, 1934 and on the first voyage we went, loaded coal in Russia to take to Providence, Rhode Island, and we got there for the Christmas 1934, Christmas and into the New Year ‘35.
And we were going a shore the first night ashore, on a Saturday night, and we had to go and catch a street car to go into town, into Providence City. And going up the bank, it was winter time, there was snow around, crowd of American youngsters playing about, snowballing and sledging on the bank. And I had my uniform on at the time, I was with my three shipmates and a snowball landed on the back of my neck. I looked around and there was this school girl, fifteen years old the same as me. And laughing her head off so I, I didn’t say anything, I bent down and gathered some snow, made into a good snowball and ran after her, grabbed her and stuffed the snow down her jumper. And of course all her pals were laughing at that, and she says, “are you off that ship,” I said, “sure.” She said, “I never met an English boy before.” I said, “well, I’m English alright." "What’s your name?” I told and that was it, we went, caught a street car to go into town to the cinema or whatever
And, on the Sunday morning we just taking things easy, and someone shouting my name, they said, “there’s somebody on the dock wants to see you.” So I went out and there was this American fella with his car, and he says, “are you Douglas Cross?” I said, “yes.” He said, “I’d like to have a word with you.” I says, “come on aboard.” And he said, “yes, you met my daughter last night,” and I thought oh dear me I’m going to get in trouble here. He said, “you put snow down her jumper,” and I thought, he kept a straight face, I thought I’d be in trouble. And he started to laugh, he said, “my daughter told my wife and I about you.” He said, “we’d like to invite you up to my house for evening meal.”
So I went up to their house. As I say, the girl was 15 same as me, talking, promised to write and I started writing to her. I went to Providence three times after that between 1935 and 1938, was the last time I was there. We continued corresponding right through the war and after the war. She got married a year before me, I got married in 1942. She had 2 children, I got married, I had 4 children, eventually. But we never stopped corresponding between all those years.
And in 1955 she came over to see me and my family because her husband said to her, “you better get yourself over to England and see Doug.” And because she knew all about my family, had photographs and descriptions in the letters I sent to her and she used to tell me about her family affairs - we became very, very close through correspondence, very like brother and sister actually. She came over in 1955, met my family- my wife was dying to meet her because my wife knew all about her through the letters and, that friendship lasted until Doris died in 1999, so it was 64 years we were friends.
Doug has 20 memories in the memorynet:
Doug's memories with a Wartime theme:
- The Spanish Civil War
- The Spanish Civil War part two
- The Russia convoys part one
- The Russia convoys part two
- The D-Day landings
Doug's other memories:
- Joining the merchant navy
- Swimming with sharks
- Dorothy Irons
- Joan Horsbourgh
- The Seaman’s Mess
- Continuous Certificate of Discharge
- Port Saint John
- Going to sea
- In a Calcutta Park
- Wage slip
- Dorothy Irons
- I Sailed the World with 30 Men by Joan Horsburgh
- British Seaman's Identity Card
- Sea Breezes
- Merchant navy badge