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.
The Spanish Civil War
"1936, I was in a ship called the Gardenia and we were engaged by the Republicans to take supplies out"
1936, I was in a ship called the Gardenia and we were engaged by the Republicans to take supplies out. And we went out, we joined, I was already on the ship being an apprentice but the crew joined the ship in Antwerp and with the war being on and me being underage, I was 16-17 at the time I wasnít compelled to go, with it being a war zone, but I could go voluntarily, which I did. And, the, this, the captain couldnít make me go with the ship with it going into a war zone but I said I wanted to go thinking of it as an adventure. And I signed on the ship.
Well, the advantage of going, once the ship got onto the American, onto the Spanish coast with cargoes full of Republicans the crew were on 400% bonus. Now, my able seamanís wage at the time was about eight pounds, 12 shillings a month which meant the wage was four times that. Now, my wage, I was, being a junior, my wage was very, very low as an apprentice, it was about seven, seven and sixpence a month but, under the conditions of going there I had to be paid under able seamanís rate which meant I was earning nearly 36 pounds a month as compared to eight pounds 12, which was an advantage going into the war zone.
Well we had eight months charter, and were trading between the Spanish east coast ports in the Mediterranean up to Russia, through the Black Sea and back to Spain with medical supplies and arms and foodstuffs and the reciprocal cargo from Spain was mainly oranges. Thatís what we were loading, taking back to Russia. And we made a few voyages going to Alicante, Valencia, Barcelona, each of those ports.
And as I, while I was there, those ports were being bombed quite regularly, mainly by German and Italian planes because Mussolini was practising straffing towns and bombing the harbour, and the Germans were giving their pilots exercises in that type of bombing experience.
Doug has 20 memories in the memorynet:
Doug's memories with a Work theme:
- Joining the merchant navy
- Swimming with sharks
- The Spanish Civil War
- The Spanish Civil War part two
- The Russia convoys part one
- The Russia convoys part two
- The D-Day landings
- Continuous Certificate of Discharge
- Port Saint John
- Going to sea
- In a Calcutta Park
- Wage slip
- British Seaman's Identity Card
- Merchant navy badge
Doug's other memories: