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 D-Day landings
"Billy Wold and I were two of the original crew that was up in Russia on the Empire Portia and we joined the ship and we had, go to London to load, prior to D-Day"
Billy Wold and I were two of the original crew that was up in Russia on the Empire Portia and we joined the ship and we had, go down to London to load, prior to D-Day. We loaded troops and the main hold had been altered to accommodate troops to hold about 500 where the rest of the ship was used for holding the equipment for those same troops and deck cargo as well including small landing barges and trucks and things like that.
So we took the troops over, over on D-Day off Arromanches beachhead, that was near Caen where the British troops were landing. And we took our troops ashore. The time we were there, there were German planes were straffing the beaches but the ships werenít bothered a great deal- there was too much anti-aircraft defence. But we left there, discharged the troops, came back to London, took another lot of troops over with their equipment, put them on the beachheads and made a third trip, and we were coming back from the beachhead to come get another cargo from London when the ship got mined in the engine room.
We lost the five who were working down in the engine room. The firemen and, it was a coal burning ship, we lost the firemen and engineer.
At the time I was lying in my bunk. I had just finished having tea, I was off duty when it actually hit. I was bounced out of the bunk. The movement of the ship with the explosion, it bounced me out of the bunk. But of course everybody just lay on the bunks- they never slept without all their gear on- all kept fully clothed, ready to get out straight away. Well, I got bounced out of the bunk. I didnít hurt myself -I got straight up on deck- I was already dressed. I grabbed my haversack with essentials in and went up on deck to see what was happening.
Then we got orders to go in the boats. But it wasnít until, at the, at that moment when it did happen, we got onto the boat deck to lower the boats, and Billy Wold was in a different boat to me. he was on the other side.
We got the boats away, we were about an hour in the boats when the Destroyer picked us up. And they just cast the boats adrift- didnít bother taking them. And the Destroyer, as soon as we got aboard the Destroyer they issued us with a room, corned beef sandwiches, a bite to eat and then about an hour, roughly an hour and a half, they put us onto a landing craft which took us into Gosport.
Doug has 20 memories in the memorynet:
Doug's memories with a Travel theme:
- Swimming with sharks
- Dorothy Irons
- Joan Horsbourgh
- The Spanish Civil War
- The Russia convoys part one
- The Russia convoys part two
- Continuous Certificate of Discharge
- Port Saint John
- In a Calcutta Park
- I Sailed the World with 30 Men by Joan Horsburgh
Doug's other memories: