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Thread: Great Bitter Lakes Association

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    Default Great Bitter Lakes Association

    Hello, I've just joined this forum. I am a professional writer and am fascinated by the story of the ships that were trapped in the Suez Canal from 196775, which I found out about when I visited Uriel Orlow's excellent exhibition, The Short and the Long of It, in Eastbourne Towner Gallery.

    I see that there are quite few sailors' recollections online. The only book seems to be Suez Castaways by Brian McManus but unfortunately, it's not available. (If anyone knows where I could buy it, please let me know.)

    I really think this amazing story deserves to be known about more widely. I'm interested in writing about the experiences of people of all nationalities who spent some time on the Great Bitter Lake, and particularly the activities of the GBLA.

    If anyone would be happy to talk to me, please get in touch.

    Thank you very much for your help.

    C Senker

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    Default Re: Great Bitter Lakes Association

    If I remember correctly the canal was closed a couple of times. I never had the misfortune to be caught at the wrong time, however knew people who were and crew changed every so often. What airports they used to use wouldn't know as never went into it. After the first closure I think it was, and transverseing the Canal the pilots all seemed to be Russian where previous had been a lot of British. Later on all the Pilots seemed to be Egyptian. It was a long time before the canal itself was cleared of mines etc. and for many years on the Sinai side were many burnt out tanks and other vehicles plus of course plenty of boots discarded by the fleeing Egyptian Army, think the Israelis went right up to the canal. Some on site were involved with the invasion of the canal so would have more accurate information. Cheers JS. PS Assume you are talking about the ships caught in the Bitter Lakes. JS
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 11th December 2014 at 02:33 AM.

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    Default Re: Great Bitter Lakes Association

    Hello Kath
    Welcome to the site and I hope in time you may get some good replies!
    Just a great pity that my late Uncle was not around now,as he could tell you a lot about that Suez Canal in the Years you mention!
    But that's life!
    Anyway keep looking in I am sure there will be someone out there who knows about it!
    Cheers
    Senior Member and Friend of this Website

    R697530

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    Default Re: Great Bitter Lakes Association

    HI Cath welcome to this site I had the good fortune to be on one of the ships Blue Funnels MELAMPUS trapped in the lakes when the GBLA was formed in fact I did two spells in the lakes I was there when we held our own OLYMPICS between the 14 nationalitys I still have my medals (Gold ) for football , plus we got to spend along weekend in Cairo visiting the Pyramids etc Very happy days Cath George Wharton

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    Default Re: Great Bitter Lakes Association

    Hi George , I walked off the MELAMPUS at the start of her maiden Voyage June/July 1960 at the start of the Seamen's Strike. So fired from Blu Flu. I knew she had been trapped in Suez , I think the Greeks bought her after they were released.
    Cheers
    Brian

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    Default Re: Great Bitter Lakes Association

    HI Brian yes I do believe she ended up with the Greeks, I think by the time she got out of the canal her engines would need major work , but good memories Brian, . cheers George Wharton

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    Default Re: Great Bitter Lakes Association

    Quote Originally Posted by George Wharton View Post
    HI Cath welcome to this site I had the good fortune to be on one of the ships Blue Funnels MELAMPUS trapped in the lakes when the GBLA was formed in fact I did two spells in the lakes I was there when we held our own OLYMPICS between the 14 nationalitys I still have my medals (Gold ) for football , plus we got to spend along weekend in Cairo visiting the Pyramids etc Very happy days Cath George Wharton
    Dear George

    Thank you very much for getting in touch. I would be very interested in talking to you about your experience on the Melampus and the activities of the GBLA. Would that be possible? Please let me know - thank you.
    All the best

    Cath

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    Default Re: Great Bitter Lakes Association

    Yes, most of the ships needed work on them by 1975 - it was only the 2 German ships that were able to leave the Suez Canal under their own steam.

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    Default Re: Great Bitter Lakes Association

    Hi Cath, Thanks for your reply I would indeed talk to you about my experiences on the Melampus & Agapenor , to save costs the company decided to moore the two ships together after which we fondly became MV Aggalampus George Wharton

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    Default Re: Great Bitter Lakes Association

    I can remember we were sailing through the canal quite late at night when I heard jets flying very low passing over us, interesting as 10 minutes later we all heard Explosions in the distance at the same time one could see a glowing red sky. Later we heard this was Nasser's air force up in smoke.

    It took about 2 months to get our passengers (6) and crew, less the skelitan crew of which I was one.

    There was no British consult in Egypt so everything had to go through the Canadian's consult who were in Egypt..

    Water was allowed for two hours a day, so one did not go swimming in the lake but made do with a shower.

    Eventually after about 6 months we were relieved with first swap over, coaches meet us on the shore were we then driven to Cairo, which I must say too a long time to get there.

    Interesting was the clothing the men wore as we drove along the road, they wore stripped white and light blue trousers and a jacket, which reminded what my father was issued when he joined the RAF at the young age of 15 years, may be the MOD sold a batch to them, who knows.

    We arrived late afternoon, into a nice hotel, showered nice meal and then in a taxi to see the Pyramids, unfortunately half way the taxi was stopped by police who told the driver to return to the hotel as it was not allowed to go there in darkness.
    The next day we were taken to the Airport and boarded an Air India plane, I must also say that this flight was made up of the 4 British ships crew, arriving at Heathrow early evening, all were meet by their company and were paid an advancement of their wages, si I and a fellow crew member flew to Glasgow some what worse for drink, but the flight was enjoyed by all with the jokes that we went through, as there were only 30 passengers on this we paid for a couple of rounds.

    That was the last time I had sailed as a few months later I joined the Army were I stayed for 9 years all in Germany.

    Hope this helps Abit, memory is starting to slip.

    Regards
    JohnAlistair

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