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Thread: Blue Star shipping 1961 to 1968

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    Te Horo
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    Cool Blue Star shipping 1961 to 1968

    The first Blue Star ship I joined was the Newcastle Star in 1961 and the last deep sea trip was on the Brazil Star, spent most of my time sailing between England and New Zealand. My last trip to New Zealand was on the Southland Star on her maiden voyage in 1968. Came out to New Zealand in August 1968 for a year to see what life would be like on the 'land' and some how never returned to England, I now live in Te Horo north of Wellington and often think of the great days I spent traveling around the world. My oldest son is a Chief Engineer on Supper Tanker moored on the Vincent Oil Fields . Over the years at sea I sailed on Napier Star, Fremantle Star, Brisbane Star, Newcastle Star, met some great people and had a ball. Now retired and enjoying the odd "Irish" or two, would be keen to hear from any old friends. regards Malcolm Francis

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    Blue Mountains NSW
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    Default Re: Blue Star shipping 1961 to 1968

    Hello Malcolm
    A warm welcome to the site ,we hope that you will enjoy,thee is lots to read.
    Thanks for the Opening Thread always nice to hear of ones past .
    Please feel free to post whatever you feel may be of interest here I am sure you must have some good stories to put forward! Where do you originally come from if it may be asked! What part of the UK ??
    Thanks again
    Senior Member and Friend of this Website


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    La Sauvetat du Dropt
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    Default Re: Blue Star shipping 1961 to 1968

    Welcome Malcolm, enjoy the forum , would that odd Irish include Bushmills by chance lol.

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    Default Re: Blue Star shipping 1961 to 1968

    Yes I sailed on blue star ships in the sixties Melbourne and ulster star happy memories

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    Default Re: Blue Star shipping 1961 to 1968

    My last voyage was on the Melbourne Star to Aussie and Tasmania 1964.

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    Victoria, B.C.
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    Cool Re: Blue Star shipping 1961 to 1968

    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm Francis View Post
    The first Blue Star ship I joined was the Newcastle Star in 1961. Now retired and enjoying the odd "Irish" or two, would be keen to hear from any old friends. regards Malcolm Francis

    Hullo Malcolm,
    I sailed with BSL 59 thru 64, as Cadet thru to 3/0. Left when I took Mates cert., and when they sold the old tanker Pacific Star. My ships were Royal, Sydney, California, Auckland, Hobart, Catalina, Ulster and Pacific. Great times, covered every route the company served, and then some.. Wrote about it in my Autobiography, now published by Amazon.
    Last edited by Doc Vernon; 4th July 2018 at 07:56 PM.

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  11. #7
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    Bolton UK
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    Default Re: Blue Star shipping 1961 to 1968

    Here is a voyage of the New Zealand Star in 1953......... I think I may have posted it before.........................

    Default A voyage on new zealand star, 1953/4

    The complete voyage on the NZ STAR

    "New Zealand Star" 1

    Blue Star Line M.V. "New Zealand Star"

    Built: Harland & Wolff, Belfast
    ON: 163213
    Dimensions: 524.2 x 70.4 x 32.3 feet
    Tonnage: Gross: 10740 Net: 6527
    Propulsion: Two 10-Cyl. 2 S.C.S.A. Burmeister & Wain oil engine by shipbuilder, driving twin screws
    Type: Refrigerated Cargo Liner
    Launched: 22/11/1934 ( Yard No.934) as New Zealand Star for Blue Star Line Ltd.
    Completed: 3/1935
    Transferred: 1940 to Frederick Leyland & Co. Ltd. (Blue Star Line Ltd. managers)
    Transferred: 1950 to Lamport & Holt Line Ltd. - same managers
    Transferred: 1955 to Booth S.S. Co. Ltd. - same managers
    Sold: 1967 to Shimabun K.K., Japan and 29/7/1967 sailed from Osaka for Kure to be broken up
    Demolition commcd: 8/1967
    Sister Ships: Imperial Star (1) , Sydney Star (1) , Australia Star (1) , Empire Star (2) , Melbourne Star 1 , Brisbane Star (1), Wellington Star (1), Auckland Star (1), Adelaide Star (1) , Empire Star (3), Imperial Star (2) & Melbourne Star (2)


    I joined the New Zealand Star on 13 November 1953, in the Gladstone Dock, Liverpool. She was one of Blue Star`s big fridge ships built in 1935 in Belfast, Six hatches, 20 derricks and a jumbo, she also carried 12 passengers.
    The Bosun was a well known maniac, `Mad` Angus McAskill the Bull, from the Isle of Barra in the Hebrides, a wild and lonely place, a giant of a man, covered in hair all over his body like a Yeti. He had six brothers and sisters just like him. He gave his orders in the Gaelic followed by a blow from a big iron fist, what a ba5tard he was, The only time he spoke English was when he was muttering "Liverpool Ba5tards, Liverpool Ba5tards" continuously while we were working.
    After leaving Liverpool we called In at London to top up the cargo for the voyage to South Africa. All hands got together and told the Captain that we were not going to sail with `Mad` McAskill and requested that he got rid of him. `No problem`, said Captain Edgar Rhodes, and Angus walked down the gangway and was replaced by a lovely little Bosun who was in his sixties. Good we all thought, it is going to be a pleasant voyage.
    Two days later we were sailing for the Cape, and as we were sailing through the lock gates into the River the little Bosun jumped over the rails onto the lock and `Mad` Angus who was hiding behind the Lock Keepers hut jumped on board shouting, "Liverpool Ba5tards". We could see Captain Rhodes laughing on the wing of the bridge and we knew we were in for a hard voyage.
    I was an Ordinary Seaman on £15 a month wages and was on day work, which started at 6am and finished whenever Angus decided, sometimes at midnight. There was plenty of overtime but it didnt seem to make much difference at one shilling and sixpence an hour.
    On the way to the Cape we called at Las Palmas for bunkers and we were there for a few hours and had time to go ashore for a few bevies,
    After we sailed, Kenny Hignett who was an EDH on the 8 to 12 watch decided he was too drunk to go on the wheel and asked me to do the wheel for him, and I was too drunk to say no. So Ken put a big duffle coat on me and pulled the hood over my head saying the Captain wouldn’t recognise me like that. After turning the ship around in circles, the Captain, who was still on the bridge with the Third Mate, had me thrown off the wheel and sent for another man to do the wheel. Next morning Captain Rhodes had Ken and me on the bridge and logged one days pay.
    On the way down to Cape Town we overhauled all the running gear, sending down all the topping lifts and blocks, these were greased and sent aloft again,
    Cargo runners greased and damaged ones replaced, wire and rope strops spliced all ready for discharging around the Cape Coast.
    We arrived in Cape Town on Saturday, 5th of December 1953.
    On the jetty in Duncan Dock as we were making fast I could see my Uncle Ted, the same man who was in the 1908 Olympic Games. He was on holiday there staying with my Uncle, Aunt and cousin Ernie, who all lived in Seapoint on the coast. After we had finished working he took me back to Uncle Jimmy`s house, I hadn’t seen them since 1946 so they were all making a fuss of me. So that Saturday night all hands were in Del Monacos drinking and dancing with the girls, I had to sit in and talk to my relations. Boring.!
    On Sunday afternoon all hands went to the open air swimming pool right on the beach at Seapoint. It was hot and sunny and we were surrounded by lots of pretty girls. During the afternoon I spent some time with Kenny Hignett trying to teach him how to swim, He had no idea how to swim and after a while he said “I will learn how to swim if it’s the last thing I do”. Little did we know how prophetic those words were seven days later.
    On Monday evening I was taken to Cousin Ernie`s `Westminster Restaurant` in the City centre and had a superb dinner, the first decent food I had had since joining the ship. These Blue Star boats were terrible bad feeders, every one I ever sailed on was a hungry ship.
    On Tuesday morning we sailed from Cape Town after battening down and dropping derricks and sailed round to Port Elizabeth arriving there next morning.
    Before sailing we embarked some passengers, some going up the coast to Durban and others going to New Zealand, One was a very attractive young lady, Rosemary Garfield Todd, her father was Prime Minister, Garfield Todd, of Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. The PM was originally a New Zealander and she was going to New Zealand to visit family.
    After stripping the hatches and topping the derricks ready for discharging in Port Elizabeth, `Mad` McAskill told me to go ashore and get him a bottle of whisky, I dodged his fist and ran down the gangway to the nearest liquor store. He was still on the gangway when I returned and started to gulp it down as soon as I had given it to him, I was hanging around waiting for the money when he started to shout “Liverpool Ba5tard” so I set off running down the after deck followed by the empty bottle which bounced off my head and smashed in the scupper. The guy was a lunatic, I will get even with him one day, I said to myself. When he was on the whisky he was more mad than he normally was, He used to march up and down the boat deck all night playing his bagpipes, no one got any sleep but no one dare tell him to stop.
    We stayed in Port Elizabeth for two nights. A quiet place just a couple of local pubs. Rosemary came ashore with our deck crowd and had a few beers with us, she was a good sport.
    We sailed round to East London and arrived there on the Saturday morning, we sailed up the Buffalo River and moored starboard side to at the bottom of the bluff to discharge.
    After we had finished topping derricks ready for discharging, the Padre, Mr. McCulloch, from the Seamens Mission came on board and told us there was a dance at the Mission that night and on Sunday 13th of December there would be a coach trip up the coast to Bonza Bay and a picnic on the beach with the girls from the Mission. It sounded good so we all booked for it.
    It was Saturday afternoon so I showered and changed and went ashore to have a look around East London. It was a nice quiet little town with one main street, Oxford Street which ran the full length of town. I called in a few bars and had a few beers up and down Oxford Street and after a while I decided to go to the Mission to meet up with the rest of the crowd at the dance. I got on a bus as I was a long way off by this time. The bus had a door at the front to get on and a door at the back to get off. When I got on the bus it was full so I had to stand and as more and more people got on I was moved further and further towards the back door which was open due to the hot weather.
    As we neared the Mission on Buffalo Street, the bus took a sharp right hand bend and I shot through the back door and bounced along the road and ended up in the gutter covered in dust.
    I lay there for a few minutes trying to figure out where I was, then I climbed to my feet and dusted myself down, there was nothing broken and no blood so I staggered into the Mission to clean myself up.
    None of the Sailors were in there except the Deck Boy, I asked him where they were and he told me they were in the pub just around the corner of Buffalo Street.
    I met Ronnie Vickers and Ken Hignett with some of the other lads in there. After a few more drinks the three of us got up to sing, we sang `I Believe` and `Answer Me`, all new songs that year by Frankie Lane. The girls in the pub were screaming and we felt like Pop Stars, by the end of the evening Ken and I had got friendly with two girls and invited them back on board the ship for a drink.
    They said they had never been on a ship before, but as they walked along the deck one was saying to the other, “Mind that ring bolt and the purchase on that guy needs to be tightened, watch that runner.”
    We took them into my cabin on the poop. When we got in there all hands started to come in and cases of beer appeared and a party began, all we wanted was a quiet drink with the girls. After a while Paddy Penson started to mess around with the girl I was with and she slapped his face, he belted her across her face so I thumped him and a big fight started in the cabin with everyone thumping each other and the girls were screaming, It was a shambles and the cabin was wrecked.
    Eventually Ken and I got the girls out and took them ashore, we got a taxi and took them home. They were OK and we arranged to meet them the following day, Sunday afternoon.

    more to come......................

    SUNDAY DECEMBER 13, 1953.

    The coach arrived at the gangway to pick us all up and take us to Bonza Bay, about 15 miles up the coast.
    Ken and I were supposed to meet the two girls in the afternoon at 2pm but we decided to go to Bonza Bay instead and then meet them in the evening, as we knew where they lived. That was a decision that was to have fatal consequences.
    When we got on the coach there were about a dozen Mission girls with large picnic hampers, so it looked as though we were going to have a good day out.
    When we arrived at Bonza Bay we went into a hut and changed into our swimming togs and when we came out the girls were setting out the food for the picnic
    On the way down the beach to the sea the girls shouted dont be long as the food would be ready in a few minutes and also beware of the currents, there is a strong under tow there. As Ronnie Vickers, Ken Hignett and I walked towards the sea I remember saying, "There is three of us going out and only two coming back" I dont know why I said it.
    We were enjoying ourselves jumping around in the surf, it felt good to be away from the ship, when Ken said he had a problem and wanted to get out. He asked me to help him up to the beach, I thought he was a bit nervous as he couldnt swim and didnt want to get out of his depth, the water was waist deep at the time.
    So I held his right arm and Ronnie held his left and we walked towards the beach when I noticed we were walking backwards with the undertow and the steeply shelving sand and getting deeper all the time. Next a huge wave hit us and knocked us under and when we surfaced we could not feel the bottom with our feet, then another wave hit us and swirled us under again. When we surfaced I realised we were in trouble. Ronnie and I were swimming hard holding onto Ken`s arms urging him to swim as I had been trying to teach him last Sunday in Cape Town. He wasnt doing too badly but we started to get hammered by a succession of bigger and bigger waves and we were being carried quite fast further out to sea. We were really in trouble now. I shouted to Ronnie to swim ashore and get some help which he did, it was a long hard swim for him to to get back to the beach.
    I was holding onto Ken swimming as hard as I could but the waves were getting bigger and more frequent, knocking us under and swirling us over and over, like being inside a washing machine, it was a long hard struggle. I could feel cramp coming on in my arms and legs and I thought we were done for.
    Then clouds covered up a clear blue sky, the wind increased in strength, the waves were getting bigger and it started to rain.
    After what seemed to be an eternity I saw Dennis `Mo` Riley, one of our sailors, swimming towards us. Ronnie must have made it back to the beach and raised the alarm. `Mo` grabbed hold of Ken and then we were hit by another giant of a wave and tumbled us around and when I surfaced I could see `Mo` and Ken about 15 yards away. I tried to swim towards them but I was getting weak and the cramps in my arms and legs were getting worse and I could not use them, I had swallowed a lot of water and was convinced I was going to die, I was scared. I heard Ken`s voice, shouting "Help, help, help," Three times. Then we all disappeared under a wave of raging foam.
    After several minutes I rose up on a crest of a wave and in the distance I could see ¬Mo` standing waist deep on a sand bank a few hundred yards off shore, hanging on to Ken who was lying down in the water, I saw a big wave hit them and they disappeared. I tried to swim towards them but seemed to be going further away with the current.
    Later `Mo` told me that Ken was unconcious then and when he found him again he thought he was dead. He was holding on to him when they were hit by another big wave and then he lost him and couldnt find him again.
    Meanwhile I was struggling to stay afloat, my arms and legs were dead and my vision was going and I was under water more and more as I was pounded by the waves, I knew then what it was like to die, I was in a no survive situation.
    Then suddenly, as if by a miracle, I was grabbed by a lad in a harness and life buoy and we were being towed towards the beach. The lad`s name was David Brinton, a 15 year old South African school boy. I was carried up the beach where I collapsed and some one gave me artificial respiration. As I awoke I heard someone say that Ken had drowned. It was a terrible shock. The three of us had tried so hard to save him but the sea had beaten us. I felt really bad as if I had failed him. I had done my best but it wasnt enough and for a long time I felt a lot of guilt and it was a long time before I could come to terms with his death.
    The Padre, Mr McCulloch, and one of the young ladies from the Mission, put me into his Land Rover and took me to Hospital where I was put to bed and given tablets which knocked me out for a few hours, then the Padre took me back to the New Zealand Star.
    Some of the lads met me on the after deck and as I walked aft I noticed the Red Ensign flying at half mast, that was really sad.
    I went to bed, taking some more tablets and told to stay there for about two days.
    At 5.30 am next morning, Monday, `Mad` McAskill crashed into the cabin,. "Get up you Liverpool Ba5tards, turn to"……………….
    I don’t remember getting up but I was on an electric chipping hammer scaling rust off the bulkheads amidships. I was in a total daze.
    Rosemary Garfield Todd saw me on the chipping hammer and could see I was not at all well so she complained to Captain Rhodes. She stopped me from chipping and took me down aft to my cabin and put me to bed. `Mad` McAskill was not amused, I could hear him shouting “Liverpool Ba5tard”.
    At 2pm I was called from my bunk again , the Police were on board and they wanted statements for the Inquest. `Mo` Riley, Ronnie Vickers and I went amidships to the ships office and had to tell the Policeman everything that had happened regarding Ken`s death, which was quite a harrowing experience. After making our statements, the three of us went ashore and had a few beers in a pub on Oxford Street. On the way we bought a newspaper, The Daily Dispatch and the story they printed was completely different to what had really happened. So after a few beers we went down to the Newspaper Office and saw the Editor and put the story right.
    That evening there was a Service for Ken at the Seamens Mission, which was very sad.
    Tuesday 15 December, we completed discharging and battened down, dropping the derricks and cast off and sailed round to Durban arriving on Thursday morning.
    On Friday, December 18, we heard that Ken`s body had been washed up on the beach and that the Seamens Mission was going to do the funeral and have him buried in the East Cemetery in East London.
    Ken was 20 years old and lived at Mill Cottage, 1 Mill Lane, Birkenhead.

    I dont recollect much of Durban, I was in a daze most of the time, I remember having a drink in the Playhouse with Rosemary over the weekend and thanking her for looking after me. On Monday we had completed discharging and we battened down and secured the derricks and then let go. We sailed out of the harbour past the Bluff and the coaling berths then past the Whaling Station just as two whale catchers were coming in towing whales.
    The next day we arrived in Lourenco Marques, now known as Maputo, in Mozambique, We were only there for one day for a quick discharge before sailing to Beira another days sail up the coast of Mozambique where we anchored over Christmas.
    The Cook put on a decent Christmas Dinner and a cake and we all got a case of ale each and all went on the poop deck and celebrated.
    Charlie Dry, a Liverpool fireman, did the dance of the flaming Assholes. He shoved a length of ten feet of toilet paper up his bum set fire to it and tried to dance and sing a song before the flames got to him, he failed with a load of screams and hilarious laughter from the crowd.
    On Boxing Day we went alongside to discharge the last of our cargo from England and stayed for two days. No one bothered to go ashore here
    We completed discharge and sailed light ship, a couple of days before the New Year bound for Auckland, New Zealand. It was a twenty one day run round the Southern tip of Madagascar down the Southern Ocean and then up to Auckland round the North Cape and Hauraki Gulf into the harbour to moor at the bottom of Queen Street, very handy for the centre of town.
    On the way across all six cargo holds and fridge hatches had to be cleaned and disinfected ready to load frozen lamb, fruit and dairy products.
    It was hard graft, with `Mad` McAskill driving us. We were on day work and we started at 6am and finished after midnight every day. I remember being knee deep in raw sewage in the bilges cleaning out the strum boxes so the pumps could take out the water. The African dockers used the bilges as their toilets so it was not a pleasant job.
    It had turned midnight on New Years Eve and I remember wishing myself a Happy New Year, covered in crap.

    We had a small cargo of `Dried Fish` and Ostrich Feathers for Auckland
    Auckland was a lovely city, but the pubs shut at 6pm, as they did throughout New Zealand. But Auckland had the world famous `Ma` Gleasons pub, a famous `Sly Grog`.
    It was a pub every seaman in Auckland went to. At six o`clock we paid five shillings for `Bed and Breakfast` and we could drink all night legally so it was packed every night. It has gone now, just a legend, I was in Auckland a couple of years ago and all there is, is a piece of spare land on the corner and a few memories and ghosts of sailors past.
    We were only there for three days and on the first night I met an attractive Maori in `Ma` Gleasons and she invited me to a `hooley` at someone`s house.
    When we arrived there it was full of Maoris and plenty of grog. After a while some of the young Maoris seemed to object to me being there with a Maori girl and they threw me out. The young lady was doing a lot of shouting and screaming and the situation was going to get violent so I was glad to go. I went back to `Ma`s` and rejoined the rest of the lads.
    On sailing day the crowd went ashore at lunch time for a few beers in `Ma` Gleasons. We were all in the upstairs bar enjoying ourselves when the Deck Boy ran in shouting that the ship was sailing. As we ran down the stairs one of the lads grabbed one of the `girls` and climbed into the taxi with us. We arrived on board to the abuse of `Mad` McAskill and started to let go.
    Once we were clear of the berth the 2nd Mate was walking past one of the Sailors cabins and heard screams of laughter from a woman coming from a port hole. When he investigated he found the girl from Gleasons in bed with one of the Sailors. When he told Captain Rhodes he went berserk. The girl got dressed and a tug came alongside and with a lot of laughing and joking she climbed down the Pilot ladder and onto the tug like a true professional.
    “Good bye, you Pommie Ba5tards” she shouted while waving to us as we continued our voyage to Lyttleton in the South Island.
    The Sailor who brought the young lady on board was logged a days pay.

    Lyttleton was another lovely small town in a bay surrounded by hills about ten miles from Christchurch. 50 years later it had never changed, except for a container berth.
    The same pubs are still there.
    At the same time the Queen was in Christchurch on the world tour on the `Gothic` Shaw Saville boat.
    We were only here for two days loading dairy produce. On sailing day, at lunch time all hands were in the `British` pub and were getting quite legless. At 1pm, `Mad` Angus sent me up there to tell the crowd to get back to the ship `muy pronto`. That is gaelic for quick,, as we were ready for sailing. When I got to the pub all the crowd were full of ale so I told them that `Mad` Angus wanted them back for sailing. Someone stuck a glass in my hand and then another. At 2pm the Deck Boy turned up in a panic shouting that the ship was sailing. Someone stuck a glass in his hand and that shut him up.
    At 3pm we could hear the ship blowing and then `Mad` Angus turned up shouting “Liverpool Ba5tards, Liverpool Ba5tards” and drove the crowd down the hill with a big iron fist. When the Sailors got on board, most of them turned in and the rest could hardly stand up so it ended up with the Engineers and stewards letting go and getting the ropes in. Next day all hands were queuing up in front of the Captain being logged.
    A couple of days later we moored up under the bluff in Napier in Hawkes Bay, North Island. A beautiful friendly town, one of my favourite places in the world.
    We were to be here for over five weeks to load frozen lamb for Europe, Dunkirk, Rotterdam and London.
    First night ashore I met a lovely blue eyed, blonde girl, Margaret Rose Johansssen and we went together for the next five weeks. Her Dad worked on our jetty as the water man. He was a giant of a man who had jumped off a Norwegian sailing ship many years before and had married a French lady in Napier.
    While we were in Napier we were over the wall every day painting the ship for homeward bound.
    The pubs in Napier closed at 6pm and all day Sunday, but there were plenty of sly grogs including the Palisades and the Criterion, where we all became well known in.
    I would meet Margaret about four nights a week then the other nights I would be in the Sly grog with the rest of the lads.
    Margaret and I would walk along the Marine Parade and then sit on the beach overlooking the Pacific. These were happy days, Sometimes on Sunday we would go to Cape Kidnappers, a beautiful place.
    One Sunday the local Kiwis challenged us to a game of cricket and I was chosen to play for the ship. It was a lovely warm sunny day and plenty of cases of ale were taken along to the cricket ground.
    We were batting first and as it was hot the cases of ale were opened and we had a few beers while waiting to bat, and some of the Napier lads had some as well.
    By the time I went in to bat I was well away. The bowler bowled and I swung the bat and staggered backwards, missed the ball and hit their wicket keeper in the face with my bat and knocked him out. He had a big cut across his forehead, he was taken to hospital and returned later with a few stitches in it. He was a good sport and had a laugh about it later. The match dissolved into a shambles as both sides got stuck into the ale, No one won and no one lost so every ones honour was intact and a good day was had by all.
    One morning the `Second Cook and Tabnabs` was still bevied from the night before and with a few cans of liveners in the morning was well away again staggering around the galley.
    The Chief Cook was doing the eggs and bacon and the Second had just made a very big kit of porridge, then he started chopping up the meat for lunch,. He was banging away with a cleaver when he screamed, he had chopped off his left thumb. They had to get him to the hospital as soon as possible, with a big towel wrapped around his hand, They looked for his thumb but could find it.
    Meanwhile the Peggy took the kit of porridge down to the mess room that was shared with the firemen and Sailors.
    Suddenly there were terrible screams from one of the Firemen, he saw the thumb just as he was going to put the spoon into his mouth. His screams were worse than the Cook`s. The offending thumb must have shot up in the air and landed in the kit full of porridge
    All hands were hysterical laughing at the Fireman, the 2nd Cook returned from hospital all his hand bandaged and was excused work for a couple of weeks until the stump had healed.
    One Saturday Captain Rhodes got married to a New Zealand lady and had the reception in the Officers Saloon and all the midships crowd had a big party. We were not invited, I wonder why.
    Half way through the reception Captain Rhodes told his new Bride to go ashore to a hotel and he stayed onboard. A little strange.
    Captain Rhodes was a big hero in WW2. He was on a Blue Star boat homeward bound from South America when they were torpedoed and he had a full lifeboat. He made a good passage to land in 14 days and never lost a man.
    All too soon we completed loading the frozen lamb and we battened down. We were to go to Auckland to top off with bales of wool then homeward bound.
    I could have stayed there for ever, with Margaret. So I decided to jump when we got to Auckland, then go back to Napier. The police would be searching for me in Auckland and not Napier so it would be easier to get away with. Or so I thought.
    Napier was a very small town in those days and every one knew each other.
    Big Johannssen, her dad, said he could get me a job at the meat works in Hastings on big money, sounded good to me.
    We sailed one evening and the whole town turned out to the pier to see us go.
    As we cleared the pier they all started to sing `Now is the hour` or `Aotearoa`
    We were choked listening to them, their voices fading away as we headed off up the Pacific coast, what a wonderful send off.
    A couple of days later we arrived at one of the piers in Auckland near to Queens Street, on Friday morning.
    I got a big sub and went to the Bus Station to check out the times of buses down to Napier and early on Saturday morning I was away with a small bag, down the Station and off to Napier again. No one would miss me until Monday when Mad MacAskill would be searching for me….
    What a hell of a journey that was, It was around 200 miles and across the plains to Taupo, a bite to eat, a changed of buses, and then to Napier, it took over eight hours.
    I got to Margaret`s home around six pm. The family Johansen made me welcome.
    They let me have a shower and change, the pubs had long closed so we just went for a walk around the promenade. Mr Johansen said he would take me to his friend, a manager at the meat works in Hastings, about three miles down the road, on Monday.
    On Sunday we had the day around the beach and visiting some of her friends and then we went into our favourite coffee bar, the Coconut Grove. We were having a drink with some friends when a Policeman walked in to order a coffee, He looked around and saw Margaret, said hello to her, asked how her Dad was and then looked at me. I recognised him as one of the Policemen who frequented the sly grog at the Criterion pub.
    “Are you off the New Zealand Star”? He asked, “didn’t she sail a couple of days ago?”
    `Oh bloody hell`, I thought, I was caught, only been here 24 hours.
    “Better come with me while we sort a few things out”.
    We walked down to the Station and into the Office. He telephoned the Agent, and inquired as to the whereabouts of the New Zealand Star, `Auckland eh. When is she sailing and where to? Tuesday to London, what is the Agents phone number in Auckland?, Right, thanks for your help.`
    He turns to me and says, “So your ship is in Auckland ready to sail to England, you are here with Margaret, I would guess that you have jumped ship”.
    “No I have just come back here for the weekend to see Margaret, I am going back to the ship before it sails” I said. “I think you had better stay here for the night so we can keep an eye on you while we make inquiries. Margaret can stay with you until 10pm then we will start in the morning and sort you out.” I went into a cell, Margaret was weeping, we just sat in silence holding hands. At 10 pm Margaret went home and another Policeman took over. “Better get your head down son, it will be an early start” At six am I was called and the man took me across the road to a café and bought me breakfast.
    “Now what we have decided is to put you on the bus to Taupo, another Policeman will be waiting for you and he will make sure you are on the Auckland bus. In Auckland your Agent will be waiting and take you back to the ship. OK? You are in a position of trust. Let us down and we will have you. Go back to England and apply to emigrate to here through the proper channels, and you will be much better off, we need young fellas like you here but do it right.” The Policemen in Napier were the best I have ever come across, very helpful and easy going. I thought about leaping off the bus at one of the small townships that we passed through, I didn’t have any money, I could not go back to Napier, the Police knew me. I was only 18 and the option the Policeman had given me was to go home and emigrate back, that way I would be welcome there instead of being a fugitive, he said if I refused then I would go to court and if I was Deported that would go against me if I tried to immigrate there. So I decided to go home, I would be there in five weeks so that is what I did.
    At 7am I was on the bus to Taupo and there was a Policeman who came on board asking for me. He bought me a meal in the café and then got me onto the Auckland bus. I arrived in Auckland late afternoon and was met by the Agent who took me down to the ship. It must have been the quickest skin out ever.
    Captain Rhodes gave me a load of abuse, I had been adrift for Saturday, Sunday and now Monday, He logged me three days pay. One Pound Ten Shillings, a lot of money then when I was on £15 a month.
    Mad MacAskill was in fine form calling me a Liverpool Ba5tard again.
    I never saw Margaret again, and I didn’t emigrate when I arrived home, we wrote to each other for a long time then it faded away.
    We sailed the next morning after battening down and dropping the derricks. As we were lifting the gangway Mad Angus thumped Paddy Swainey and knocked him down, Paddy stood up and when Mad Angus`s head was turned he hit him over the head with a gangway stanchion almost bending it. Mad Angus turned around and then beat the hell out of Paddy, leaving him lying on the deck covered in blood. No one dared to intervene.
    We sailed out of the harbour, past Rangitoto the extinct volcano and then set a course across the Pacific bound for Panama.
    We had an 18 day run across the Pacific to Panama. On the way we overhauled all the running gear, sending down the topping lifts and blocks, greasing then and sending them aloft again.
    One morning I was standing near the entrance to the focsle just forward of number one hatch and got into an argument with Mad MacAskill. Suddenly he smashed me with a big iron fist, I shot backwards hit the bulkhead and bounced off and landed against Mad Angus. His heels were against the steam pipe casing and he overbalanced and fell to the deck with me on top of him. Just at that moment the Mate was walking up the foredeck and saw me crash against Angus and land on top of him.
    He came running up to us and accused me of attacking a Petty Officer. He would not believe that I had been thumped by Angus and bounced off the bulkhead first.
    The Mate took me up on the Bridge and got Captain Rhodes who promptly logged me two days pay for attacking a Petty Officer. Mad Angus was laughing and muttering Liverpool Ba5tard when I came down.
    A couple of days later I got my revenge, I was at number two hatch by the fore part of the bridge I had climbed up the derrick crutch and sat on the derrick head, I had a heaving line and lashed up the ten ton SWL head block while I unshackled it to send it down to the deck ready for greasing and the opportunity was too good to miss. Mad Angus walked underneath me, I let go the lashing and the block fell six feet and landed right on top of his head.
    He sank to his knees holding his head and gave out a terrible roar. That blow would have killed a normal man, but Angus was not a normal man.
    I ran along the derrick to the ladder on the fore part of the bridge and up to the wing and over the dodger then up to the monkey island. Mad Angus staggered into the alleyway to the ladder that went up to the boat deck. I was terrified, I waited and waited for him to come for several minutes, so I went to look over the after end of the bridge and could see that he had collapsed on the ladder by the boat deck, he didn’t look too good. Hope the ba5tard is dead, I thought.
    I climbed down the forepart of the bridge again onto the foredeck and carried on greasing the blocks.
    There was no sign of Angus, then the Lampy knocked us off for tea, someone had found him unconscious on the boat deck ladder and called the Doctor. He was in the ships hospital with lacerations and severe concussion. He could not remember how he came by his injuries and it was assumed he had fallen down the ladder.
    No one had seen what had happened and so I felt a lot better then, we were even.
    We eventually arrived at Panama and had a pleasant trip through the Canal and two later we arrived in Curacao for bunkers. It was the middle of the night and so no one got ashore. After we sailed from there we sailed across the Atlantic to Dunkirk to complete a round the world voyage.
    On the passage across the Atlantic we started to paint the funnel, mast, Samson posts, derricks and the housing to make her look beautiful for out arrival in London.
    We spent a couple of days in Dunkirk and had two nights ashore on the ale.
    On the last night I was full of ale and turned in and zonked out. I remember waking up and seeing a beautiful French `lady` sat on my bunk with a little white poodle.
    She was saying, “Wake up honey I want to make love” or words to that effect.
    And I remember saying “Go away you are only a dream” then fell asleep again. I really thought it was a dream.
    I had forgotten about it until we were all sat in the mess room having breakfast next morning. I heard two of the lads talking about a French girl who had gone into their cabins and performed. I had lost out again.
    We battened down ready for sailing that afternoon and as we were letting go the French girl walked down the quay with her little white poodle and waved to us as we sailed. She was not a bad looking girl, she had ginger hair and was wearing an ocelot coat.

    Next day we tied up in Rotterdam,
    It was snowing and very cold, Mad Angus was stripped to the waist covered in snow as we topped the derricks, it didn’t seem to bother him. He really was mad.
    Two days later we sailed for London and paid off on 20th of March 1954, Happy days were here again.

    I never saw the New Zealand Star again, she was in the news a few years later when a Steward was murdered on board on the New Zealand coast. A detective from Scotland Yard was flown out there and stayed on board around the coast while he made his inquiries. Then one morning he too was found dead in his cabin.
    I heard a few years later that Mad Angus MacAskill the Bull, had been killed in Canada while trying to stop a big Locomotive with his fist. The Locomotive did not stop.
    He had a brother who sailed in the Port Line as Bosun and half way across the Pacific he decided to walk home to the Isla of Barra, a wild and lonely place, He didn’t arrive.

  12. Thanks Doc Vernon, happy daze john in oz thanked for this post
  13. #8
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    Australia NSW Newcastle
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    Default Re: Blue Star shipping 1961 to 1968

    Well Malcom seems that we have something in common as my last trip was also on the Southland Star arriving in Oz Feb 1969 must be something to do with the SS. Also on the Newcastle Star earlier and interested in hearing if you felt the same as I did? The Newcastle was the easiest ship on deck and like signing on daddies yacht really but the Southland for me was horrific in the aspect that it was all formica and push buttons not even a proper wheel on the bugger. Hence why I now live in Australia. Loved sailing with BSL and Port Line earlier but the star ships where work horses for sure until the newer ones came along.
    That's the way the mop flops.

    My thanks to Brian for this site.

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    Default Re: Blue Star shipping 1961 to 1968

    Brings back many pleasant memories,i was also in Lyttelton when the Queen was there,on the Adelaide Star,what a ship that was.

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    Default Re: Blue Star shipping 1961 to 1968

    Hi Bill
    here is the story of the ADELAIDE STARStart Of The Adelaide Star Voyage..
    Names have been changed to avoid embarrassment of some characters in the story. Family may be reading.
    After the voyage on the Dunedin Star, Tom and I went to the Pool and he got the Apapa to West Africa and I went on the Valdivia, one of Mac Andrews running down the Spanish coasts for oranges and barrels of wine., a good little job.
    During this time the girls in Melbourne had been writing to us begging us to come back to Australia to see them.
    I saw Tom and we went to the Pool again and got the Adelaide Star, which was loading for the Australian coast including Melbourne.
    She was a big floating workhouse, seven hatches, 26 derricks and a hard case Bosun, .the bastard, but our lust for the girls was far greater than any hardships this ship could throw at us.
    We sailed from Liverpool on Friday 26th of April 1957 bound for Adelaide and four days later we called in at Tenerife in the Canary Islands for fuel and fresh water for the long trip around the Cape and the Southern Ocean to Adelaide, arriving there on Wednesday 29th of May, a long trip at sea, after overhauling all the running gear on the derricks.
    Tom and I shaved showered and shampooed and leaped ashore to sample the delights of Adelaide after being at sea for nearly five weeks.
    We went into a couple of bars and met two very attractive young Nurses. We took them home and after trying unsuccessfully to get a leg over, we kissed them good bye and left them. The following night I had to go see my uncle who lived in Largs Bay and sit in with them while they had a prayer meeting and singing hymns while Aunty played the organ, They were Missionaries and were anti everything, I was glad to get away. I had done my duty.
    On Friday we sailed through Port Philip Heads and into Geelong. We just stayed there for the weekend before sailing up the Bay to Melbourne. So we had a few bevies in a couple of local pubs. While we were there I phoned Shiela to tell her we would be seeing them on Tuesday. “No you wont” said Shiela “my new fiancé who is a TV
    Executive wouldn’t like it”. “The bastard”, I said, “we are doing a five month voyage on this big floating workhouse just to see you and some Ozzy Puff wont like it, and what about Tom and Anita”? “The same there” she replied “and don’t call my fiancé an Ozzy Puff, Anita is going out with another man from the TV Studios so tell him she doesn’t want to know,. Bye Bye” then she hung up.
    I could never understand these girls, we were the most handsome, good looking lads on the Australian Coast and they kicked us into touch.
    Never mind it was their loss and we had been kicked into touch by better looking girls than them.
    We moored up in Melbourne Tuesday 4th of June and stayed until the following Saturday. We just did the round of pubs from The Sir Charles Hotham up Flinders Street to Swansons, said cheers to Cloe` in the Young & Jacksons, and had a few dances in the Seamens Mission. Took a girl home to Frankston but without success, good girls were those Mission Girls. What is the matter with those girls, don’t they know a good thing when they see one? Our success rate was abysmal.
    On Saturday we cast off and sailed down Port Philip Bay round Wilsons Promontory and up to Sydney, Maybe we would have more luck with the Sydney girls than we were having so far. But we didn’t know what was in store for us there.
    On Monday. 11th of June 1957 we sailed through the Sydney Heads and Harbour, under the Bridge and made fast at the piers on Millers point.
    That evening, Tom and I cruised into a bar in Kings Cross which was the liveliest part of Sydney.
    Whilst ordering a couple of beers we noticed a pair of attractive young ladies sat at a table.
    “Look at them” said Tom, “I wouldn’t mind getting a grip on one of those” , “Come on, lets tap them up” I replied. Tom moved over to the table, “G`day, Shielas, ya fancy a bevy?” he said, as smooth as a bucket of crap.
    “ Yers “ said one, “we`ll have a couple of sherries”. “ I think we`ve cracked here , Tom, I`ll go and get the Sherries”. After the usual banter of introductions the girls said they were waiting for a couple of fellas to come in and take them to a party and that we could go as well. “Great “ I said, “ I`ll go and get a few Carry outs to take with us.” “No need” said the girls, “there will be plenty of grog there”.
    Just then, two big guys walked in, stood by the table and said to the girls, ”OK lets go”
    Great , I stood up and finished my beer and standing up, I noticed the two had burst into tears, “What`s the matter with you two” I said, “They are Cops” one cried as I felt my arms being pulled back and handcuffs being snapped on my wrists. Tom was getting the same treatment, “Hey let go you bastards” I shouted, “We are Pommies, “ “Get outside” the big guy said as he punched me in the Kidneys, Arrgh. the pain.
    “Get in the wagon”.
    Outside the bar was a Police Van and several Police cars, the bar was surrounded by Cops. After a violent struggle, more thumps and shouts of abuse the four of us were flung into the back of the wagon and locked in.
    We arrived at a Police Station and dragged in protesting, We were separated and then questioned by the big Sergeant . I repeatedly told them I was a Seaman off the Adelaide Star and had only just come ashore and met the girls.
    “ Yeah, I`ve heard it all before” the Sergeant said, “ You`re a right pair of villains”
    He said we would be charged with armed robbery and would be lucky if we got less than ten years.. I was panicking by now, “Go and see the Captain off our ship, and he will identify us” but he took no notice, They threw Tom an me into a cell and the two girls into the next one. We shouted, “Put us all in the same cell, then we can have some fun while we are waiting.
    “Shut up you bastards, or I will come in there and shut you up” said the Sergeant.
    I looked at Tom, and said, “ This another fine mess you have gotten me into, I `ve only had half a glass of beer and now I`m facing a ten year stretch.”
    We stretched out on the dirty mattresses in the darkness, cursing the stupid Aussie Cops and eventually laughing at the daft situation we were in,
    We made up a Calypso song to the tune of `Maryanne` and we lay there singing.
    “All day, all night, in Sydney Gaol
    For getting bevied on the ale,
    When our ship is ready to sail,
    The Captain will come
    And pay for our bail.”……….
    “This is your last and final warning you bastards”. shouted the Sergeant, “Shut up”

    Next morning, Tuesday, we were taken out of the Cell and questioned again. The Captain on our ship was contacted and he confirmed who we were but would not sign for us until Thursday morning. We were going mad about this, all our stay in Sydney locked up.
    The big Sergeant said, “Tough, its your own fault, We had a stake out on that Bar,
    we heard there was a couple of villains going in there to meet the two girls. We were watching and had the Bar surrounded. when we saw you two go in and sit with them we thought you were the two wanted men so you were arrested. Mean while the two villains must have seen the Police activity and then disappeared.”
    The Cops were very angry that we had ruined their stake out.
    So to make us pay for this we had to stay in until the Captain came and signed us out.
    When we arrived back on board all hands were on deck laughing and cheering, they had heard all about it. The Captain then proceeded to log us three days wages for being adrift bastard, sometimes you just cant win.
    Later that afternoon, Yarpy, who was a very wealthy South African lad, whos father had sent him to travel around the world to make a man of him, invited Tom and me to go with him to Coogee Bay.
    We said we had no money, no problem, he said he was loaded. so that was OK by us, if he wanted to treat us we were quite happy to let him. We got the bus over to Coogee, quite a nice little Bay with a good beach as good as Bondi`s which was just to the north in the next bay. At the south end of the Bay was the Coogee Bay Hotel , a large very Posh hotel out of our class. Yarpy said “ Come on in, I will treat you to the finest dinner you will ever have in your lives”.
    We went in, had a beer at the bar while Yarpy ordered a table for dinner. The Matre D came out and told us the table was ready and lead us into this very posh dining room. with us feeling out of place in there. A bit different than the crew mess room.
    Yarpy was superb ordering from a French Menu and knew exactly which expensive wines to choose from the Sommeliere. “How are you going to pay for all this “ we asked him as we finished a superb dinner and on our fourth bottle of very expensive wine. “Now you two just wander to the wash room, go through the back door and then leg it down the beach. I am about to order another bottle of their fine wine.
    We got out of the hotel at the back and legged it down the beach and waited.
    A few minutes later we were followed by Yarpy running down the beach towards us.
    “Quick you two get down to the bus and lets get out of here before we are caught. We ran down a side street and leaped aboard a bus for Sydney just as it was pulling out.
    “ Jeez, Yarpy, whats happening” we said.
    “We have just had the finest dinner and wine on the house, I ran out as the waiter was going for another bottle of wine” he laughed, “I do it all the time”,
    “You crazy bastard, you are going to get us back in gaol again, but it was a good dinner.”
    The bus took us all the way to Circular Quay where we jumped off and walked up to the Lord Nelson in the Rocks near to the ship and had a few more beers with the rest of the lads off the ship while we told them of the story of our dinner.
    Next morning we battened down, dropped the derricks and then sailed out of Sydney Harbour bound for Brisbane.
    Meanwhile, Fleetwood and Jerry had had a couple of girls on board while we were in the gaol, they wanted to go to Brisbane so they sailed with us. They stowed them away in their cabins. They came in useful as well as servicing the two lads they also did our dhobying and scrubbing out the cabins.
    They were dressed in their Dungarees and check shirts and sea boots so that if they were seen from the bridge they would look like sailors.
    I was on the bridge on Saturday afternoon and I heard the Captain say to the Mate, it was about time the Sailors got their hair cut. I looked down aft and the two girls were on the poop with their hair blowing in the wind. I nearly fell over the wing of the bridge.
    We sailed up the Brisbane River and moored alongside New Farm Wharf.

    Whilst we were alongside at New Farm Wharf on the Brisbane River loading dairy produce for Europe all hands were over the side painting on stages. There were six stages around the bow, each with two men on painting the white and black on the ship’s side and in the water two more sailors were in the punt painting the boot topping red.
    After a liquid lunch in the alehouse outside the dock gate we climbed over the side again and slid down the gantlines onto the stages to the abuse of big Mac the Bosun, who was a bastard at the best of times
    The crowd were laughing, singing and hurling abuse back at the Bosun.
    After about an hour of swinging around and clowning about on the stages Paddy Duggan fell off his stage, he fell about 5 metres head first into the punt and then bounced into the river, sank and then disappeared.
    The laughter suddenly stopped when we realised what had happened, I dived off the stage into the river followed by Tom then the other ten sailors jumped off their stages into the water.
    There was nothing but mayhem then, two of the sailors could not swim and they were splashing about shouting for help. The water was covered with red, black and white paint and so was everyone in the water
    I dived below the surface and could just see a dark shape fading away as Paddy was slowly sinking and moving away with the current. I grabbed his arm and got to the surface and with Tom’s help we towed him back to the punt. By this time all hands were clinging to the side of the punt, all of them were covered with red, black and white paint. This would have been hilarious if situation hadn’t been so serious.
    With a lot of difficulty we dragged Paddy into the punt, there was a big gash on the side of his head and he was unconscious. The sailor who was standby man on deck lowered a rope ladder down to us and the sailors climbed up on deck, they had soon sobered up by now.
    They swung the derrick over the side and lowered down the cargo runner to the punt, we shackled on the sling and heaved away, lifting the punt with Paddy in it and then landed it on deck.
    By this time the Mate came running up the fore deck to see what the commotion was about.
    When he saw Paddy lying unconscious on the deck he just said “ It serves you right you bastards for going ashore on the ale, now take Paddy down to the ship’s hospital” This was only a spare cabin on the starboard side amidships. Tom, Jerry, Fleetwood and I carried Paddy aft and laid him on the mattress in the spare cabin.
    The Mate said, “Now get back over the wall and carry on painting, I’ll sort Paddy out.”

    We carried on painting over the side until 5pm without any more mishaps, then we dashed down aft to the poop to wash ourselves down with paraffin to remove the paint, then shaved, showered and shampooed ready for going ashore after tea. During this time we thought that Paddy was being looked after by the Mate or Chief Steward.
    At 7pm Tom and I were going ashore to the Grand Central Hotel in Brisbane and as we were walking along the starboard alleyway to the gangway I just happened to look through the porthole of the spare cabin and was horrified to see that Paddy was lying there just as we left him 5 hours before, in wet clothes and still covered in blood and paint
    I shouted to Tom “Go and get that bastard Mate”. I went into the cabin to see Paddy. He was lying still and I thought he was dead. The paint had dried on him and the dried blood had matted his hair. His face was an odd colour like a greeny white and his body was cold. I shook him and he gurgled a little and was barely breathing.
    The Second Mate came in with Tom, I shouted “Why has this man been left like this”, the Second Mate said “He will be alright when he sobers up, we don’t have time to look after you drunken seamen, we are busy decorating the saloon for the nurses party tonight”.
    I went berserk then “ This man is dying and you are too busy organising a party” and with that I thumped him and then he fell on top of Paddy across the bunk. I never liked him anyway, and then I dived on top of him
    “You bastard” I shouted while shaking him and bouncing up and down on Paddy’s body. Whilst doing this I noticed foam and bubbles coming out of Paddy’s mouth.
    Next I felt a thump on the back of my head and the Mate jumped on my back with his arms around my neck trying to pull me off the Second Mate. Tom jumped on the Mate and dragged him off me. After a lot of shouting we all calmed down a bit. Tom went to telephone for a doctor and an ambulance while I got some blankets to cover Paddy to try to keep him warm.
    The Second Mate went to get the Captain and when he turned up and found that Tom and I had thumped the Mates he was threatening to log us, flog us and to get the police to arrest us for assaulting his Officers.
    A few minutes later the ambulance arrived with a doctor and two policemen.
    When the doctor saw Paddy he was shocked, “How long has this man been in this condition without treatment”
    “About six hours “ Tom replied. “ My God Captain, if this man dies you will have a lot to answer for”.
    The Captain and the Mate were trying to get the police to arrest Tom and me for assault, but the police advised them to keep a low profile for if Paddy died they could possibly face more serious charges themselves.
    The gangway was too high and too steep to carry Paddy`s stretcher down so Tom and I with some of the other sailors rigged the derrick and shackled on a cargo pallet.
    We placed Paddy’s stretcher on the pallet and Tom, climbed on to hold him steady while we heaved them up and over the side and onto the jetty. The ambulance then sped off with a police escort and took Paddy to hospital.
    We went down aft again to get cleaned up and then continued ashore to the Grand Central Hotel to enjoy another night in Brisbane before we sailed next morning to Bowen on Saturday June 20th.
    Next day just before we sailed I phoned the hospital and was shocked to hear that Paddy was in the intensivecare unit. He had a fractured skull with several stitches in his head, a broken arm, a dislocated shoulder and pneumonia , he was very lucky to be still alive. If he had been left any longer he would have surely died.
    I never saw Paddy again until 23 years later in June1980. I was in Liverpool sitting for my Masters Certificate on Derby Square in Liverpool, when I called into the `Mona` now renamed `The Liverpool` on James Street and there was Paddy sat at a table.
    It was a great surprise to us both and over a couple of pints we reminisced over the years and I told him the story of what had happened. He said he was in hospital for three months and was then repatriated back to England

    On Saturday the 22nd of June, we arrived in Bowen, a sleepy little town by the Great Barrier Reef.
    Just a few wooden buildings, a couple of pubs with batwing doors and in the dock two wooden piers
    for the ships to moor along side.
    We moored alongside the North pier and as we were making fast a Haine`s boat, the `Trevethoe`,
    arrived to berth alongside the South pier.
    After topping derricks and stripping hatches for the Wharfies that morning I finished work and turned
    in for a couple of hours as it was my turn to be night watchman whilst we were alongside in Bowen.
    At 3pm I got up, shaved, showered and shampooed and went ashore to have a look around town and
    maybe have a couple of cool beers before going on watch at 6pm. Tom said he would catch up with
    me later when they had finished working.
    I called in the pub and ordered a beer and looking around I noticed that the crowd off the `Trevethoe`
    were in there gulping ale down. I recognised one sailor from Liverpool who I had sailed with on the
    old `Franconia` the year before and soon we were knocking them back, swapping yarns. Tom turned
    up at about 4pm with the rest of our crowd off our ship they filled the bar and were attempting to drink
    it dry.
    At 6pm I told Tmy that I was going back to the ship just as the lethal mix of Scousers, Glaswegians,
    Cockneys, Aussies and ale began to ferment and suddenly the pub exploded into a big battle.
    Men were thrown through windows; the doors were ripped off as the battle poured into the street
    sweeping everyone before it. Just at that moment a Salvation Army band were marching past playing
    “Come and join us “. If `John the Baptist` off the Dunedin Star had been there he would have been
    marching with them.
    As the fight crashed through them they screamed and dropped their instruments and fled in terror.
    Some of the lunatics picked up the drums and bugles and were marching up and down the main street
    making a terrible noise. The battle, which must have had thirty or forty men involved, carried on down
    the street, some cars were turned over, windows were smashed and the local people were terrorised.
    Tom and I came out of the pub and couldn’t believe the mayhem that was going on.
    We tried to get down the street towards the dock to get back aboard the ship to safety and so that I could
    go on watch, when a policeman ran around the corner jumped on me, knocked me to the ground and
    handcuffed me. Tom who was ahead of me didn’t see what was happening and carried on running back
    to the ship. The policeman dragged me round the corner and into the police station and threw me into
    a cell.
    I shouted that I had nothing to do with the fighting so he came back into the cell and thumped me again.
    There was only one cell, which soon began to fill up as the only two or three police in town pulled the
    men in from of the street. I could hear the cop phoning for the state troopers in Townsville and Mackay
    to fly in to help sort out the rest of the lunatics.
    By this time the only cell was bursting and as the door opened again to squeeze another one in everyone
    rushed out knocking down one policeman and as we ran through the office to get to the street the other
    cop was swinging into us with his truncheon. As I got past him he hit me in the face just under my right
    eye cutting my cheek. I kept on running down to the pier and the ship. It was about 7pm when I arrived
    back and I walked along the pier casually to all the bollards where our mooring lines were as if I was
    inspecting the moorings, which was part of my job as watchman, just in case the Mate was watching to
    see were I was.
    As I walked along the pier I came across a big Abbo who was sat on the end of the pier fishing. I spoke
    to him for a few minutes and looked at the fish that he had caught. I bade him good night and went back
    on board.
    I staggered down to our cabin, Tom said “ Kinnell, what happened to you” so I told him what had
    happened and how I escaped from gaol. I hadn’t been missed so I went and had a shower and bathed
    my cut cheek, changed into my working gear then had a coffee in the mess room with Tom
    Then some of the lads who had escaped were arriving onboard. They said some of the lunatics were still rampaging around town and fighting all comers. They were all turning in and locking their doors in case the police or the crowd off the `Trevethoe` came on board. I finished my coffee and then patrolled the deck to make sure everything was ship shape for the night.
    When I got to number 4 hatch amidships, I noticed that the derrick preventer wire was hanging over the side.[This is a wire rope from the derrick head down to the deck and made fast for extra security when the derrick is being used for cargo work] I fed the end through the panama lead and intended to heave it tight and then make it fast to the bitts, but the wire was badly kinked and it was like a coiled spring.
    As I heaved on it the kinks got fast on the lead and then suddenly sprang out and the wire hit me in the
    face right on the cut where the cop had hit me. I staggered back and clutched my face with my oily hands, the pain was terrible. By this time I was feeling really bad, my face and head were hurting so as everything was quiet I went down aft to my cabin and lay down to have a little rest.
    I must have fallen asleep, the next thing that I knew was the Mate was dragging me off my bunk and
    hurling abuse at me and accusing me of sleeping on watch.
    I explained that I had been hit in the face by the preventer wire and nearly knocked unconscious. There
    was blood and grease on my right cheek and my right eye was swelling up and nearly closed, so he
    reluctantly accepted this.
    The reason why he was shouting was that I had not seen a big Abbo come on board who was now in the
    Mate`s cabin and wrecking the joint.
    I went amidships with him and from the outside alleyway we looked through the window and saw that it
    was the same Abbo that I had spoken to earlier in the evening who was fishing.
    The Mate said go in there and throw him out and put him ashore. I said, “ No way, that guy is three times bigger than me, he’ll kill me, anyway it’s your cabin that he’s smashing up not mine.”
    The Mate then threatened to report me to the Captain for sleeping on watch and have me logged and fined. Reluctantly I went inside and knocked on the door and opened it slowly, the big Abbo turned round and looked at me. “G`day mate” I said “I saw you fishing on the pier earlier this evening,
    Can I help you?” I notice a bottle of whisky on the Mate’s desk and a carton of ciggies, “Sit down we’ll
    have a glass of scotch and have a ciggy as well”.
    We sat down and I poured two glasses of whisky and lit two ciggies, I noticed that he was dripping wet.
    I also noticed the Mate at the window mouthing obscenities at me for pouring out the whisky.
    As we drank the whisky he told me that when he was fishing some one had come up behind him and had
    hit him from behind in the darkness and he had fallen into the water. It had taken him more than half an
    hour to climb up the wooden struts of the pier to get out, he had also lost all his fishing rods and tackle. He knew that the guy who did it was off our ship so came up the gangway amidships and as the Mate`s
    cabin was the only one open he tried to wreck it to get some revenge.
    “The bastard “ I said, “Have another whisky” and poured another two large glasses. The Mate was
    jumping up and down outside the window, ”Put him ashore” he was shouting “and leave my whisky alone”.
    As we finished our second glass of scotch I said “Come on mate it’s time to go home, you can take the rest of the whisky and this carton of cigarettes there are nearly 200 of them”.
    I put my arm round his shoulders and led him out of the cabin, down to the gangway and then down to the end of the pier. I said good night to him there. The town sounded quiet, the State Troopers must have sorted out all the lunatics. I walked back to the gangway and the Mate was waiting. “You bastard,” he screamed, ” why did you give him my whisky and cigarettes?” “It was the only way I could pacify him, he could have killed us both if he had gone berserk, You didn’t do anything to help hiding outside like a coward”.
    I turned and walked away from him, I strolled up the fore deck to inspect the for`ard moorings.
    Looking at my watch I saw that it was 3am. “Jeeze, “ I thought “I have only been in Bowen for twelve
    hours and in that time I have been ashore, had a drink, ended up in the biggest fight that Queensland has
    ever seen, been thrown in gaol, beaten up by the cops, escaped from gaol, worked half the night and got
    injured doing it and sorted out the big Abbo. I hope we are not staying here too long, I can`t stand the pace.”
    The rest of the night was quiet and peaceful and at 5,30am I called all hands to start work at 6am.
    We had a laugh when I told Tom what had happened to the Mate and his whisky. I then had a shower and turned in, I was knackered.
    At 0800 the Bosun was hammering on the cabin door, “Get up you bastard, the police are on board and want all hands for an identification parade.”
    I fell out of bed pulled on my shorts and flip-flops and staggered up on deck. All the Sailors, Firemen and Stewards were lined up in front of three policemen and the Mate and Captain. They were sorting out the ones who they could recognise as being in the fight and also who had escaped from gaol.
    As I came out on deck one of the cops said he recognised me as being in gaol and my right eye, which was now all swollen, and black around the cut was where he had hit me with his club. I denied it and said that I was on watch on the ship. The Mate asked the cop what time was I supposed to be in gaol, and he replied that every one had busted out at 7pm. “Then it couldn’t have been himas he was on watch here at 6pm and he injured his eye with the backlash of a wire rope.” I couldn’t believe it. The Mate had got me off the hook. Reluctantly the cop had to let me go. I don’t think the Mate was being kind to me, it was that he didn’t want too many of his men in gaol or he wouldn’t get much work done.
    “ I am going back to my bunk now, I am knackered I have been working all night. “ the cops didn’t like it.
    A few of the Sailors and Firemen including the two Glaswegian bastards, were taken ashore and taken to the Magistrates court where they were remanded until the following day with some of the crowd off the
    `Trevethoe`. Next morning, Monday, the Magistrates had assessed how much damage had been done to
    the town, which was quite a lot, so they were all fined and shared the costs of the damages between them.
    The ships agents paid the fines and then it was deducted out of their wages. They were going home skint after a 5 months voyage.
    Shore leave was stopped in Bowen after that which was just as well as it would not have been safe as some of the locals would have been waiting to get their revenge.
    We stayed in Bowen until the following Friday, 28 June, then we sailed at 8pm for Port Alma, one day sail down the coast, near Rockhampton.
    On Saturday 29th of June, Tom and I returned to Port Alma, we had been here just a few months ago on the Dunedin Star. The place hadn’t changed, the crocodiles were still lurking in the creek, the mosquitoes were still biting, and the girls were still serving Sarsaparilla in the Wharfies canteen. The girls were very pleased to see us again and I suppose the crocs and skeetas were too.
    Tom and I had been writing to Theresa and Thyra, two identical twins since our last visit seven months earlier so they were expecting us.
    We were staying until Friday so we spent as much time as we could in the old railway carriages kissing and cuddling until the Mamasan was heard screaming for them to go to their shack.
    Jerry, another , Liverpool lad also had a girl friend there called Mary.
    When we were sailing on Friday the Girls said they would come down to Gladstone for the week end to see us. They had a long journey, they had to go up to Rockhampton to get the train down to Gladstone,
    On Saturday afternoon the girls turned up in Gladstone and checked into a boarding house for the night, In those days Gladstone was a sleepy one horse town with wooden buildings and just a couple of pubs with batwing doors.
    The girls arrived, Thyra my girl hadn’t been able to come so another girl from the Canteen came with Theres and Mary. She was Betty, who was a stunning blue eyed blonde but she was a slate short, she was a bit daft but was good fun to be with.
    On Saturday evening Tom and I took our guitars and Jerry carried the grog, we went down to the beach by the Lagoon.
    It was a beautiful night, we were sat under the palms drinking and laughing with the girls . A big august moon was rising out of the Pacific and sparkling on the ripples in the lagoon, a lovely evening with the smell of frangipani in the air, fantastic.
    With our guitars Tom and I were doing our Tab Hunter act, singing `Red Sails in The Sunset`, his record was popular at the time.
    It was a most romantic evening, we were kissing and cuddling the girls, Betty was really good.
    We eventually left the beach and waked back to the Boarding House with them.
    Seeing no one around the girls said we could come in and spend the rest of the night there.
    It was just a very sparse room with a double bed and a single bed in it. A couple of King size cockroaches galloping around the floor when we switched on the light.
    Soon we ended up in bed, .
    We all ended up laughing and rolling about at all this when the door burst open, and stood in the doorway was an ugly middle aged woman in a tatty dressing gown and curlers in her hair. She was screaming in an eastern European accent,”Vot is this in mein house, you turn it into a brothel already”, I hadn’t I didn’t do anything. “All the mens in mein house and not paying der rent”.
    Jerry climbed out of bed naked with all his tackle dangling, “Mein Gott” she screamed, “Vot is dat, don’t come near me with dat”,
    Jerry got his dungarees and pulled out two pounds and said, ”Here you are girl, here`s the rent”.
    She snatched the money from his hands and stuffed it down her grubby bra,
    “Now all you mens get out of mein house, the girls can stay until morning.”
    Tom and I climbed out of bed, both naked. “Mein Gott,” she screamed again, “Such things I have never before seen, get on der clothes and get out of mein house.” I think she was getting a bit excited I don’t think she had seen a naked man before, now she had three stood in front of her.
    She never turned away, she just stood there staring as we got dressed. I was wondering if her box was healed up, I didn’t fancy trying to find out.
    When we were dressed we kissed the girls good bye and told them we would see them before they got the train back to Rockhampton.
    As we walked away the old bitch was screaming after us, “Don’t you come back , next time I call the Police.”
    “Do you think we should go back and give her one” said Tom” “Go away “ said Jerry.” I wouldn’t touch her with yours”, I said, “I bet its either healed up or its got teeth in it.”
    We walked down the hill towards the Jetty just as dawn was breaking over the Pacific, beautiful. We were laughing at the nights events and we had had a good night out and really enjoyed it.
    On Sunday morning we met the girls in a café and bought them some lunch and had a good laugh at last nights events. All to soon it was time for them to leave for the train. We took them to the station and kissed them good bye. A few tears were shed and that was just the Sailors, we waved to them until the train went out of sight then walked to the pub and had a few bevies.
    We wrote to them for a while then it faded away. I wonder if Betty is still a virgin 55 years later. I hope so.
    .We stayed in Gladstone until Thursday 11th of July loading frozen beef, We had been working on the wharfs on shore pay most of the time on the coast assisting the Wharfies, we were getting shore pay for that, it was big money at the time. And they were saving it up for us until we had completed loading the full cargo.

    Early on Friday Morning, 12th of July, we arrived in Morton Bay to pick up the pilot and then sailed up the Brisbane River to moor alongside Borthwicks Abattoir wharf to load frozen beef for England.
    We got the fridge hatches ready, all cleaned and chilled for the thousands of sides
    Of beef.
    Meanwhile the stockyards behind the abattoir were filling up with the cattle the drovers had brought down from Winton in Northwest Queensland. By 5 pm we had completed the fridges ready for loading so we all got showered and shampooed ready to go ashore for a few grogs.
    Whilst we had been on the Queensland coast we had been working on the cargo side of the ship, which meant that they had to pay us shore rates of pay. We could earn as much in an hour as we did in a day and we were due to be paid out on Saturday morning.
    Tom, Jerry and I went down to the first alehouse on the way to Brisbane. In there were the cattle drovers washing down the trail dust with cool beers. We got talking to them and as all seamen have a yearning to be cowboys we asked the trail boss if there were any jobs going on the drives. He told us to make our way to Winton the next trail drive leave in around three months and there maybe jobs there or boundary riders jobs going. “Can you ride a horse?” he asked. “Only as good as John Wayne”, we replied, swilling our beer down, dreaming of being cowboys. “Good, then maybe I’ll see you up there”, he replied.
    We carried on into Brisbane to the Grand Central Hotel, by this time most of the ship’s crowd were in there but not many young ladies, just a few old hags that the old firemen were sniffing around. So we carried on with having a few more beers planning our journey to Winton.
    We got a few beers to take back to the ship when it was 10pm closing time and climbed into our taxis and back to Borthwicks.
    We were sat in the mess room having a drink when I saw one of the old whores that the firemen had brought back on board stagger down the alleyway and go into the cabin that Tom and I shared. “I’d better go and see what she is doing in there”, I said to Tom. When I got to the door she was stood with her legs apart and had the shits running down her legs into a big dollop in her shoes and around her feet. The stench was bloody awful.
    When she saw me she grabbed a carton of 200 cigs off the desk and ran past me and down the alleyway dropping crap as she ran. Tom, was walking up towards her to see what was happening so she opened Fleetwood’s door and locked it from the inside. “Open up you bastard”, I shouted, whilst banging on the door. Then I heard Fleetwood’s voice shouting ``Go away, she’s mine now”. I kicked the door and the lock flew off and I went into his cabin. The cabin was in darkness and Fleetwood was in bed, “What’s going on?” he shouted. then I grabbed my carton of ciggies off the woman and walked out of the cabin saying to Fleetwood, “She’s all yours now”. He hadn’t seen the crap until he switched on the light then he went berserk. There was crap all over his carpet.
    He dragged the whore out into the alleyway and dumped her there. Then one of the Glaswegians, a big fat ugly slob, saw her and dragged her into his cabin and locked the door. Next morning she had done a runner taking all his money, a carton 200 ciggies and a packet of washing powder, that he needed as she had crap all over his cabin and bunk. We had two Glaswegians on board and they were a right pair of bad bastards, always causing trouble and wanting to batter everyone. We sorted them out later.
    Meanwhile back in the cabin there was an ever-widening circle of crap on the carpet. The carpet was really coconut matting about six feet in length and three feet wide. So I rolled up the edge of the mat until it became a tube and very gently raised it up to the porthole and slid it through and into the Brisbane River. It probably ended up on some Aussie`s veranda later on.
    Then Tom and I had to scrub the cabin out with disinfectant to get rid of the stink before we could turn in.
    Next morning was Saturday and we got paid our shore pay, which amounted to about £350. over a years wages on the ship at £30 a month.
    Someone had the bright idea of going to the races in the afternoon. At the Doomden Race course was the biggest race in Queensland, the Doomden 10,000 Guineas, and so all hands got dressed up and ordered limousines to take us to the racecourse, we were millionaires for the day. The atmosphere there was quite exciting, we went into the restaurant had lunch and fine wines and then started to bet on the horses.
    We hadn’t got a clue about horses or betting and with £50 win on that horse and £50 win on this horse we soon lost the lot. The Bookies thought that we were dream punters. By the last race we were all skint, the lot had gone. We all went back to Brisbane on the tramcar with just enough money left for a few drinks in the Grand Central Hotel on Queen Street.
    After pooling our money, called a tarpaulin muster, we got a couple of bottles of grog to take back to the ship.
    We had formed what we called `the syndicate`, that was if the Glaswegians attacked one of us then the `syndicate would all join in to defend him. They were Tom, Jerry, Fleetwood and myself. The four of us were sat in our cabin drinking our grog and talking about the fantastic day out we had just had when the door was kicked open. In the door way was a big Glaswegian, the worst one of the two.
    He was as pissed as a rat, and was snarling, “ Och aye, I am going to kill you Liverpool bastards”. He stood in the door way and started to take his coat off, when his coat was half way down his arms, Tom looked at me and I looked at him, let’s go, we both stood up and both our fists connected on his jaw at the same time. He fell back and hit the bulkhead behind him, and slid to the deck. Then he started to get up and Tom and Jerry started to have a go with him. He was a big powerful man so there was only one thing to do, that was to put him down and keep him down. I got the two-gallon fire extinguisher off the bulkhead and bounced it on the Glaswegians head; he went down and stayed down. We dragged him down the alley way to his cabin and threw him in and locked him in, we didn’t want him coming back. He was a much quieter man after that, the bastard.
    During Sunday we went into the abattoir to see the cows being killed, it was not a very nice thing to see. They were hit on the head with a hammer to stun them and then they were hung up by the back legs and then were cut from belly to the jaw to gut them and then they went by an overhead rail where they were dismantled before being frozen ready to load on the ship.
    That night after a few grogs down at the alehouse we saw the cattle in the stockades at the back of the abattoir, they were mooing as if they knew what was going to happen.
    We felt sorry for them after seeing their friends die, so we opened the gates and let them out. There were hundreds of head of cattle all stampeding down the road trying to get to Perth 3000 miles away, or as far as possible from the abattoir.
    We got back to the ship fast and turned in. On Monday morning the Police and officials from the abattoir came on board and with the Captain and Mate we were all questioned about the stampede, but obviously we knew nothing about it. It took them a long time to round them up and get them back into the stockade. At least they lived another day longer.
    The rest of the week was fairly quiet, we didn’t have much money having lost it all on the horses and we were planning the trip up to Winton.
    Then on the Wednesday night Smithy, and AB from Stornoway, came back bevied and got to the top of the gangway and stood there on the platform singing in the Gaelic, he leaned against the manropes and toppled over the to and crashed onto his head thirty feet below., on the jetty.
    We legged it down there and he was lying still, a pool of blood creeping around his head. We thought he was dead. A phone call sent for the ambulance and he was taken away, the Medics didn’t think much of his chances of survival.
    I phoned the hospital next day and they said he was still unconscious in Intensive Care.
    I heard a few years later that he survived and on his way home on another ship he tied a rope around his neck and jumped over the wall and hung himself. Sad.
    The ship was sailing on Friday morning and if we were to jump ship we would have to do it on Thursday night.
    I decided not to go as I was broke and didn’t think we could get very far without any money. The syndicate had a final tarpaulin muster and all the spare cash that we had was given to Tom and Jerry.
    That evening, on the 18th of July 1957, they said their goodbyes, left and went into Brisbane to try and get out of town before the Captain notified the police that they were missing at sailing time.
    We sailed without Tom and Jerry next day, Friday, 19th of July, for Sydney, after the Captain reported to the police that two men were missing.

    We arrived in Sydney again on Sunday and stayed there until Thursday.
    It was a little quiet now, with the two mates skinning out and two ieft behind in hospital and we were short of money,
    The Captain didn’t give us a sub, said we had had enough money and didn’t want anyone else jumping ship.
    We picked up a couple of lads off the beach there, One was Morgan, a lad from New Zealand who was wanted by the Police there, he had got a `ring bolt` across from Wellington to Sydney on the Tasman Ferry and a job on our ship. He was a great fellow and a good comedian.
    We sailed Thursday evening for Melbourne.
    . We arrived in Melbourne on Saturday morning mooring at the bottom of Flinders Street.
    I phoned Sheila`s home in Melton South, which was way out in the country, a long train ride from Spencer Street Station. Her brother and Dad invited me to the farm for the weekend. So I was the train by lunch time.
    I had to tell the train driver where I was going, there was no station at Melton South so he would know where I wanted to get off. I also had to tell him I was returning on Sunday afternoon, he told me to be at the same place and wave him down. A bit different than British Rail. Very hard climbing down and up a trains side standing on the wheels and trying to open the door that was high above.
    I had a good time with the family, I had brought them over on the GEORGIC in 1955 so I did know them. I went horse riding through the bush and the plains with her brother Billy and that was a new experience. I thought, how daft is this? I come all the way to Australia to see Sheila and end up going out with her brother.
    I made it back to Melbourne on Sunday evening,
    We sailed from Melbourne on Wednesday 31 July, after battening down and dropping all the derricks and making ready for sea.
    We were going home via the Suez Canal, it was now open, Outward bound it was still closed due to the war, that was why we sailed around the Cape.
    We called at Aden for bunkers and then up to the Canal and then just one stop at Gibraltar, arriving there on Wednesday 28 August,
    We tied up at six am, The Cook was stood in his pyjamas by the rails as we tied up.
    We got the derricks topped and the hatch ready for the Dockers and then sat in the mess room waiting for breakfast. At eight thirty the Galley Boy ran into the mess room and shouted, ”No breakfast today lads, the Cook is Dead.”
    The Cook had gone back to his cabin and then collapsed and died. The Stewards had lifted him onto his bunk and he was certified dead by the Captain,
    The undertaker was sent for and a Van appeared at the gangway. The Bosun came down aft and said Ok Lads I want some of you to carry the Cook down the gangway to the Van. We all legged it to the gangway, ran down and up the road. He caught Fleetwood and Len Seed, they had to do the job. Meanwhile we were up the road to the first bar for a few bevies, Don’t like picking up stiffs.
    We stayed on the ale all day and then came back late and turned in.
    Next morning the Captain had us all on the bridge for being adrift all the previous day so we were logged a days pay.
    That day there was a funeral for the Cook and a select few were chosen to go the Funeral.
    The rest of us took the day off again and went into town.
    I walked past the NAAFI Club where we had been thrown out of when I was there on the Dunedin Star. There was a Notice on the gate, “No Dogs, Dagos or Merchant Seamen allowed.”
    Didn’t want to go in anyway, they get upset so easily.
    We ended up in the Cha Cha Bar, and soon had a few girls round us and sat on our knees, I had a lovely one, called Paquita, She gave me her necklace, a gold St. Christopher medal, I kept it for quite a few years but I think another young lady in B.A. took it off me.
    I was on a good promise with Paquita, and was looking forward to her finishing working there.
    The Bar began to fill up with Royal Navy fellows, and soon it was packed.
    The girls were dancing on the stage, and Morgan and Fleetwood went on the stage to the cheers of everyone. They were dancing, drunk as monkeys and linked arms and started spinning around, Morgan shot off the stage and crash landed on a table full of Royal Navy men smashing all their glasses, knocking the table and all the Navy men over. They started to batter Morgan so all our crowd joined in and soon the whole Bar was bashing each other, all the girls were screaming and the Bar was wrecked. Then the Navy Shore Patrol rushed in cracking skulls with their clubs and dragging out the Navy men. We legged it out and down the the Royal Oak, cursing Morgan. My chance with Paquita had gone.
    Next day we battened down again and sailed to Liverpool and the end of an eventful voyage, arriving there on Monday 2nd of September, and then paid off. Four months and seven days.
    Happy days were here again.
    Brian ......................

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