Passengers & Ship Pilots
PASSENGERS we carried.
1.A Dutch Doctor of Mature years who had an interest in entomology
and he was the first to show me how to use the "Killing Bottle"
He was a with us from the USA to the West Indies.
2. Young Lady " FITZALLEN HOWARDS" AND ONE HUSBAND
He wasa serving oficer in the Guards "Blues and Royals" who was a friend of "Bluey Mavroleon" the son of the owner of L.O.F.They had been on holiday in Jordan and had been given permission to join us in the Suez Canal for the trip back to the U.K.
They made themselves very unpopular when we got a change of orders to discharge in Rotterdam instead of the U.K. They tried to get the Captain to change the orders and even sent a message to "Bluey" to get him to order the the Captain to take the ship to the U.K. WHY ? Because the change in orders would mean that they would arrive too late to go to a party !
"Fitzallen Howard" is the name of the "Duke of Norfolk" England's Premier Earl.
3. Lady Cynthia Page
She did a voyage with us from the continent to Curacao. A very pleasant well spoken lady of
"Full Years" whom we all liked.It was her Town House at 8 Balfour Place Park Lane that the
company leased / bought and used as their Head Office
4.Boardman and wife.
We believed that he was the son of a friend of the owners and had been given his job as Purserto help him avoid conscription for National Service. He only lasted "eleven voyages"
1 outward 1 inward then he left .
Miss Valerie Bell
Joined for a voyage out to the Gulf where she was about to take up a job as a nurse.
Later she was to marry Geoff Baskerville the Ch/Officer on the ship which took her out
They are still married 43 years later.
WIVES WHO JOINED WITH THEIR HUSBANDS WERE SIGNED
ON AS "CREW" / SUPERNUMERIES.(their wages were 1 SHILLING
PER MONTH = 5 P IN TODAY'S MONEY) BUT THEY HAD TO PAY
THEIR OWN FARES TO AND FROM THE SHIP
although wives were alowed to visit ships when in U.K. ports.
The first time for us to have a wife on board to do a voyage was on the:-
London Pride in 1952 Ch/Off Williamson's wife MAI LAI
London Pride in 1953 Ch/Off Mrs Putt
London Pride in 1954 3rd Eng "SAMMY The White RAT's" Wife
London Integrity in 1956 2nd Engineer Murdoc
London Pride in 1958-9 2nd Eng Hughes
London Valour in 1961 Capt.wife Dorothy Dixon Ch/Off Jean Jeans
2nd / Off Valerie Jones Ch/ Eng Mrs Edwards
Overseas Courier in 1962 Ch/off Mrs Johnson 4th Eng Mrs Jose
London Majesty in 1962 Capt. Mrs Joan Brierley Ch/off wife Valerie Jones
R/O Ireene Riley Ch/Eng Maureen Mc Guire
2nd Eng Shiela Eckerma 3rd Eng Shiela Taylor
London Valour in 1963 Capt. Mrs A Alexander 2nd Eng Mrs Honeychurch
London Confidence in 1964 Ch/off Valerie Jones 2nd/Off Mrs Kingston
3rd Off/ Mrs Walshe 2nd Eng Mrs Blackshaw
2nd Eng Nancy Emmerson
London Harmony in 1965 3rd/ Off Mrs Walshe
The pilot's position is a strange one in that although the pilotage is compulsory
the responsibility for the ship remains with the Captain in that the Bridge instructions
are "To Masters Orders on pilots Advice."
The Panama canal is the one exception to the above rule is in the Panama canal
where the pilot assumes the responsibility for the safe navigation of the ship.
In the Manchester Ship Canal a Pilot and a Helmsman join the ship for a canal transit,
The Helmsman being a trainee Pilot.
As Apprentices one of the tasks when entering or leaving port was to maintain the
"Bridge Movement Book" into which we recorded every Tug name , time of
making fast/ letting go time as well as the time that each order of an engine movement
We formed an opinion that Pilots in the U.K. were British Merchant Navy trained and
used many more movements than any other type of pilot. In fact we could see that on
many occasions the pilot had ordered the next movement before the engineers
had had the time to get the engine revolutions from the previous order.
Suez Canal Pilot
In the 1950's the Suez canal Pilots were either British due to Historical reasons of our
running the canal or the Pilots were French ( the Frenchman De Lesseps Built the Canal)
On one transit we had a French Pilot who showed a great interest in the Welsh language.
He was a Breton and we found that we could carry out a simple conversation if we used our old language meaning as we had several words in common e.g. Fenestre = Window ;
Baad = Boat/ Barge .
Memorable for having the largest Belly that I had ever seen but now years later I wonder if
the man was suffering from a monumental size growth.
Memorable for the worst breath that I ever met. Not one of us could stand within 9 feet of him
on the bridge wing, never mind in the wheelhouse, His breath smelt of Garlic.
Other Russian Pilots used to be keen on asking questions which could help them win prizes
on foreign radio quizzes e.g. Radio Switzerland. They wanted to know such things as :-
Which were state or commercially owned from the following
National airline / Railway service / Mail service /
and....... if you cut a cross the middle of a 1 Kg Gouda Cheese
how many holes would you find ?
The next trip we had the same pilot who said that his friend had won the third prize
of a fortnight's holiday for two in Switzerland BUT as it was outside of Russia ,the Government would not allow him to take his wife. She had to stay in Russia to ensure he came back after his holiday
It was after all the time of the "cold war"
left to right
left to right: Mrs. Emmerson, McGuire,Valerie
The Suez Canal pilots were a special breed.
Here are some of my memories of Suez Canal passages
MEMORIES OF THE SUEZ CANAL
The first memories were of all the noise and bustle at Port Said as we were preparing for the canal transit.There were 2 rowing boats and their crews to each ship ( they were to be used to get our ropes ashore in the event of the ship having a need to moor in the Canal ) We had the very powerful Canal Searchlight to hang off the bow, so that we could see ahead as we did the night time transit.
There were small boats of traders with whom we would haggle for souvenirs and other s from whom the Ch/Steward would be buying stores, salad, potato, prawns, and fruit. There were "Gilly Gilly" men = Conjurers who could make a day old chick appear from anywhere and they could do amazing card tricks.If not carefully watched could also make any valuables in the cabins disappear with even greater speed.
When I was Chief Officer one was showing his skill in my cabin and
I moved faster than I thought possible to kick my desk drawer
shut ( The drawer in which my wallet was kept ). Just in time to
catch his hand in the drawer and stop his game for a few days at least.
There were also " Fortune tellers" who seemed to have a gift of
prophesy. For me the predictions did not come true, but for Alan, the
other apprentice, he did marry a girl called Joan, and did have three
children, but as these were adopted did it count or was it a self fulfilling
We once had an emergency when in the Canal. The ship ahead in the convoy stopped suddenly, and we had to do the same by putting the mooring boats down.
I then ran aft to get the stern ropes out and as I did so I became aware of shouting in the galley, but I had to concentrate on getting the ropes ashore and help to stop the ship without parting the ropes which because of our speed had to be joined & secured to the next mooring rope as the first one had been fully paid out.
Eventually we tied up, and I had time to look into the galley and I saw the Chief Cook dancing around the wooden table, swinging a meat cleaver at the Second Cook who was crying and screaming as he cowered under the table.I shouted at the cook to stop and as I was coming from behind him I was easily able to grab the cleaver when he held it above his head preparing for his next swipe. Again because of my size and his surprise I was able to hold the cook and the cleaver up in the air, until he let go of the cleaver.
Having sorted the problem for the moment I reported the facts to the Captain and he had a decision to make.How to deal with a potential on-going dangerous combination of men that could result in murder.Both men were " Logged " and fined but because the cook was such a good baker he remained on board
and the 2nd cook discharged when the ship got to Port Said a few hours later.
" BE GOOD AT YOUR JOB AND YOU MIGHT GET AWAY WITH ATTEMPTED MURDER ?"
When I was an apprentice we were asleep in our cabin with the Jalousi's shut
( Wooden Venetian Blinds) when we awoke to find the cabin bathed in a strong crimson light What is it ?? All very spooky.
It turned out that the 3rd Off had taken the ship on the wrong side of the Newport Rock light at the entrance to Suez Bay and VERY CLOSE to the light itself. It was the light from the lighthouse which had woken us up.The Captain was aware of what had happened, as he was just going up onto the bridge when it had all happened but by then it was too late to do anything about it.
We were all too aware there was not enough water so close to the light, but the vessel had NOT gone aground.The chart confirmed that at that location there was not enough water for the ship to pass at our draught ..........
BUT WE HAD BEEN LUCKY AGAIN
When I was 2nd Officer my watch was the 12:00 to 04:00 and I would be given a call by the secunny (quartermaster) to tell me that I was on watch in 15 minutes.
So to save time I developed a habit of laying out my clothes in a particular order on the settee so as to aid rapid dressing.
Starting away from the door the order was .. Vest, underpants, white shirt, white shorts, and draped at the end of the settee my long white socks and the white canvas shoes on the floor toes towards the the door.
All very fine and logical
Unfortunately one night as we were going through the Suez Canal my wife Valerie changed the order and I awoke trying to put my underpants over my head and in complete confusion in the dark cabin at being unable to complete the task.
In all the 52 times that I went through the canal I only got ashore
once, that was with John Moss R/O and apprentices .With Pledger
and Hillier we went by taxi to Cairo and did the full tourist bit of
seeing the Mohammed Ali Mosque which was brilliant, then we
went to Giza and saw the Sphynx. After a camel ride we we went
into the Great Pyramid before going back to Cairo for tea and cakes
at the Shephards Hotel one of the special Historical hotels of the
world at that time. Later we went to the Bazaar where I bought
some perfume essence hoping that when I got home Terry Webber
could get the alcohol from the Engine Room required to make the
Not all visits to the Canal had been happy ones because at one time
we as apprentices had to stand " Sabotage watches" as there was a fear that British ships were going to have limpet mines attached to their hulls by the Egyptians who wanted the British to leave Egypt.
What were we supposed to do if we saw a frogman ? " Shout Stop", throw a Shackle at him, or if he stayed still " put a fire hose" on him .
At this time our ship was still fitted with degausing wire which was to protect us from magnetic mines left over from WWII but I do not think that this equipment would have been any use against limpet mines.
When the French were fighting in Indo China ( Viet Nam) we saw the" Louis Pasture", a passenger vessel with a very distinctive high funnel, in the Canal loaded with French Legionaires, but when our south bound convoy had stopped in the by-pass to let the northbound convoy pass we saw four French Legionaires leap from their ship and run across the island between the two parts of the canal and as they did so the legionaires on the troop ship opened fire on them with what looked like bren guns mounted on the deckrails.
The soldiers who had got ashore were running and weaving in the sand dunes and we thought that they got away without injurybut no doubt they would be picked up quite quickly by the shore authorities.
In the late 1950's as we were going through the Suez Canal I started to talk to the French Pilot in Welsh and he spoke to me in ancient Breton.The following gives some idea of the level of conversation that was possible due to the similarities in the languages.
English Welsh Breton French
Estuary Aber Aber Estuaire
Bear Arth Arth Ours
Woodland Ar goed Argoed Pays/boise
Coastline Ar for (on the sea) Arvor Cote
Boat Baad (barge) Baad Bateau
Small Bychan Bihan Petit
Big Bras (course) Bras Grand
Island Ynus Enez Ile
White Gwen Gwenn Blanc
Black Du Du Bleu
Castle Castell Kastell Chateau
Town Tre Ker Ville
Mother Mam Mamm Mere
Father Tad Tad Pere
Song Can Kan Chanson
Giant Cawr Gawr Geant
Dog Ci Ki Chien
Meat Cig Kig Viande
The change in Tempo in the tanker trade from when I first went to sea to now can be illustrated by the fact that every 2 months we were allowed by the charterers to have 2 days off for boiler cleaning. We took this time off in Port Said where labour was cheap and plentiful so that the ship could also be painted round. I still remember the quantities of paint needed :-
60 gallons Black topside, 60 gallons Boot-topping, and 10 gallons for the White line between the two.
The Canal linking into the Great Lakes