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 Russia convoys part two
"An armour piercing bomb hit the ship, went through the deck, just forward of the bridge"
An armour piercing bomb hit the ship, went through the deck, just forward of the bridge, beside, through number two hold, that was the main hold in front of the, immediately in front of the shipís bridge, and then exploded in the lower hold of the ship. Blew plates open on the shipís end below the water line, and the ship normally would have started to settle and sink there but what prevented the ship sinking when the bomb exploded, we had a cargo of timber and cotton. The timber was on the top deck, the cotton was in the lower hold. And the force of the explosion, at the same time that it blew a hole in the shipís side below the waterline it split the tank, the ballast tank of the ship open.
Because cotton and timber are light cargo, so the shipís ballast tanks had to be full to give the ship depth into the water for sailing. And the tank held roughly, if I recall, about 200 tons of water. The tank didnít crack, it fell open, and the water didnít just pour out, it fell out, and the force of that water hit that cargo and pushed it from the starboard side to the port side which caused the ship to list to the port side which is the left hand side facing forward. And that lifted the hole on the shipís side above the waterline so that the river water couldnít penetrate the ship. The ship was just lying keeled over- it couldnít sink. Of course the cargo, a very inflammable cargo- a cargo of timber and cotton caught fire and crew got the hoses out we had, first of all we had to abandon ship, got the hoses out until the Russian fire-fighting tug came alongside but they couldnít extinguish the fire. It had a hold and it burnt all the bridge- the officersí quarters were completely gutted including the wheelhouse.
We had to leave the ship and were put in the hands of the Russians. And we got put ashore at the, stop at the naval base until the next day and then we returned to the ship. And the Russian tugs took the ship from where it had been hit in the fjords below Murmansk, took up river, to a part of the river that they call the graveyard. Itís where they took damaged ships, British ships, or any nationality ships, where they laid them up that had been damaged beyond repair. They put us alongside the quay while the cargo was burning continually for nearly a month.
Doug has 20 memories in the memorynet:
Doug's memories with a Adventure theme:
- Swimming with sharks
- Joan Horsbourgh
- The Spanish Civil War
- I Sailed the World with 30 Men by Joan Horsburgh
Doug's other memories:
- Joining the merchant navy
- Dorothy Irons
- The Spanish Civil War part two
- The Russia convoys part one
- The Russia convoys part two
- The D-Day landings
- The Seamanís Mess
- Continuous Certificate of Discharge
- Port Saint John
- Going to sea
- In a Calcutta Park
- Wage slip
- Dorothy Irons
- British Seaman's Identity Card
- Sea Breezes
- Merchant navy badge