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Thread: S.s. Corrales,

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    Default S.s. Corrales,

    I thought I would post an oldie of mine,............

    Here is another , you may have read before.

    S.S. CORRALES,
    ELDERS AND FYFFES, BANANAS

    The Steamship CORRALES was built at Alexander Stephen and sons at Linthouse on the Clyde.
    she was completed in March 1930
    SHP 3750,
    Dimentions, Length 400 feet, Beam 51 feet and depth 33 feet
    GRT 5362.
    She was scrapped around the early sixties.

    She sailed out of Garston, Avonmouth, Southampton and London to Tiko in the Cameroons, West Africa and the West Indies to load bananas for the UK.

    I joined the Corrales, in 1956, one of Fyffes Banana boats, in Garston for a voyage to Tiko in the Cameroons in West Africa. The day we joined we had to load all our stores, boxes of food, sides of beef and so on.
    The following day we sailed down the Mersey, it was lunch time, and as we sailed close past the Pier Head all the girls from the offices were there cheering for us as we sailed close by.

    We had a six day run down to Las Palmas where we stopped to load bunkers, It was during the night, a lorry came alongside the gangway as we finished rigging it. Then we were told to carry the stores we loaded down the gangway and onto the lorry. And at the end the Chief Steward with the Mate and Captain pocketed a wad full of notes. We got nothing. We had 12 passengers on board so we thought there must be plenty of food left on board. There was for them. The feeding was bad after that, we went hungry. Every meal was made of bananas, fried bananas, grilled bananas, roasted bananas, stewed bananas, boiled bananas, sauted bananas, mushy bananas, frappe bananas, and we were going bananas.
    We couldn`t sleep at night because of hunger pains.
    The Captain, `Mighty Joe` Young was a huge man, and when I was on the wheel he would be on the wing of the bridge lifting a 400 pound barbell, `Can you do this ` he would say to me.
    `If you gave us some food I could, I am weak with hunger.`
    `Don`t be so soft ` he would say.
    All we had for evening dinner one night was a thin soup with bananas instead of potatoes, called Irish stew.
    I was voted in as the one to go and kick to the Captain, `Mighty` Joe Young.
    I went up the boat deck with my plate of "Stew", I knocked on his door and he opened it, towering above me, `What do you want` he said, `The crowd want to complain about the food, it`s diabolical. This is supposed to be Irish stew`. `What`s wrong with that? he said. Me forgetting he was an Irishman said `It`s alright if you`re Irish, but`. ? .
    and with that he smashed me in the face with a big iron fist and I did a somersault down the ladder to the boat deck and ended up under a life boat. My face covered in blood from my nose and lips. I crawled down aft and all hands laughed at the state of me. They had eaten theirs, mine disappeared somewhere over the boat deck. So I went hungry again.

    On the outward bound voyage on the Banana boats the big job was to clean all the holds and tween decks for the new cargo of bananas, they were swept and then mopped out with disinfectant. The big problem being down there was the spiders, uncountable thousands of them, most were giants, bigger than an out spread hand, some were poisonous and a bite could make you very ill or even kill you, the ship carried serum if you were bitten. Sometime if we caught a big one it was put in a glass jar and taken back to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine for research. These spiders would get into the accommodation, and I have woken up in my bunk with a huge one sat on my face. Not very pleasant looking up a big spider`s tail pipe with one eye. Too scared to move, until it went off on its own. Sometimes there were snakes and banana rats, the snakes got aboard by being coiled around the stem of the stalk of bananas, the banana rats were small and black with a bushy tail, like a small black squirrel, also Rhino Beetles, big black ones around five inches long with a head and two horns just like a Rhino. This menagerie of wild life in the holds would make their way to the cabins at some point in the voyage.
    We arrived in Victoria in the Cameroons, and anchored in the bay we had a few tons of cargo, usually items for the Expatriates who lived and worked there.
    These were discharged into a barge and towed ashore, and then we would have to wait for the tide to get over the sand bar into the creek that went for several miles to Tiko our loading port.
    On board we had a sheep dog for an expatriate family in Tiko, he had a kennel on the after deck and we looked after him and took him for walks around the decks.
    One day the dog was demented, crying and rolling over and over in obvious distress.
    We examined him and his fur was full of spiders galloping around and biting him.
    We rigged up a bath for him and gave him a good shampooing, and removed dozens of spiders off him. We up anchored and started to go up the creek, the dog began to get excited again. On the way up the creek, to get around the sharp bends, it is necessary to run aground, the bow is rounded for this, and the focsle crashes into the jungle, with trees crashing on deck, dropping monkeys and other wild life on deck. Then the ship goes astern and then does it again and again, working its way around the bend. An unusual and interesting way of rounding the bend in the creek. Then it was straight up the creek to Tiko, There just a small wood jetty in the middle of the jungle, with a few people stood waiting for us.
    The dog was really excited by now and as we were approaching the jetty he jumped over the side and into creek, he was swimming alongside of us heading for the jetty.
    We were cheering for him and on the jetty an English couple were also cheering him on
    and as he got by the jetty he scrambled up the bank and onto the jetty and was reunited with his owners.
    We moored alongside the jetty, there was a small narrow gauge railway line there, and the small train brought the bananas down from Tiko village, several miles inland through the plantations. When we went ashore we had to go on the train, the carriage was a bench where we sat back to back facing outwards, and this took us to Tiko which was a collection of mud huts and a bar. There was an Expatriate club there for the Colonial types and that is where the Officers went. We were not allowed in there, on a previous voyage two stewards went in there, got drunk and robbed the gramophone, so we just had the one bar to go into.
    There was no electricity there just oil lamps, we walked into the mud hut bar, it was lit by a couple of oil lamps, and against one wall was a huge Westinghouse Refrigerator.
    The man greeted us and said `Ice beer for de sailors`, he opened the fridge and it was full of Heineken cans. The beer was warm, no electric, but the man was excited about his fridge, some super salesman must have turned up in the village and sold him one.
    He also had a wind up gramophone with a big horn on top and HMV and the picture of the dog on the front. He only had one record, it was Gene Autry singing, `Riding Down The Sunset Trail`. We all sang it while supping warm Heineken and he put it on again and again, and again, and again.
    Even today I know that song off by heart; we had a good time though, being simple sailors. Afterwards every time we had a beer anywhere we would always imitate the man, `Ice beer fo de Sailors`.
    After a good bevy in the mud hut we staggered to the rail line and waited for the train.
    I was wearing Khaki keks and a khaki shirt, I had taken off my belt, the warm Heineken was blowing me up and buckled it and put it over my shoulder so I wouldn`t lose it, it looked like an army `Sam Brown`, Some of the Africans asked if I was Army, I said yes, I was here looking for recruits for a new army for Camaroon. They seemed interested so I got them lined up and got them marching up and down, I got a brush that was leaning against the shed and showed them the Rifle Drill. They were very keen to do this, Then the train turned up so I told them to keep on marching and do not stop until ordered to, `Quick March`, and off they went. I climbed on the train and off we went. I often wondered where they ended up, Mombasa maybe on the East Coast of Africa,
    I sat on the train facing outboard with all the crowd, I could hear the booming voice of Mighty Joe Young behind me. I looked and he was directly behind the first trip Cadet, Mr Bell, `Ding Dong` who was sat next to me.
    My nose was still swollen and buzzing like a fire alarm from when he thumped me.
    So as the train rattled on in the darkness through the jungle, I decided that some action was required to even up the score. I turned around and thumped Mighty Joe as hard as I could on the back of his head. He shot off the train and straight down the monsoon ditch head first. The screams were terrible, the driver stopped the train when all hands were shouting that Joe had gone.
    I could hear his foot steps coming down my side of the track, crunching on the gravel, I closed my eyes and waited for death.
    `Its you, you ? ******* *******" I heard him say, and then he grabbed the Cadet, young Ding Dong, who was sat next to me. He flung him down into the monsoon ditch and dived in after him and battered him, then he picked him up and flung him back in his seat, `Don?t ever, ever do that again` he said, and then walked around the other side to his seat.
    They were both covered in blood, mud and slime.
    I was lucky that night. Thank you Ding Dong. I felt better, honour had been regained.
    We completed loading Bananas the following day and sailed down the creek over the bar and into the Guinea Gulf, a few hours steaming and we anchored off the island of Fernando Po.
    It was a small island covered in trees, palms and banana plantations. A few barges came out to us and we loaded the bananas through the side Shell doors. That completed we heaved up the anchor and then set a course for Liverpool and Garston calling in at Dakar in Senegal on the way for fuel bunkers. During the voyage home, every day we had to inspect the bananas and if we found one banana turning yellow we had to take out the whole stalk and throw it overboard. Sometimes we had young Ding Dong with us and we would turn all the lights out and leave him down below in the hold, we could hear him screaming in fear, as the holds were full of spiders, snakes and banana rats. I think it was his first and last voyage to sea, I don`t blame him, it must have been an horrific experience for him.
    We arrived in Garston after a month long voyage and paid off. We always had a big stalk of bananas to take home with us.


    Cheers
    Brian

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    Default Re: S.s. Corrales,

    My Father Charles Clark (Nobby) was on the Corrales as AB joining 6th Nov 1942 in Liverpool just prior to the North Africa Landings between the 8th and 16th November 1942. He was taken off to hospital in Casablanca on the 8th Jan 1943. It seems he suffered a relapse from a previous incident on the RMS Windsor Castle where he was a Q.M. and in convoy to Glasgow. The ship was targeted by German Condor Bombers and a 500 Kg bomb landed on the foredeck and did not explode. It bounced up and went into the accommodation below the bridge and again did not explode. He was on the wheel at the time. I have my Dad's discharge book and I have been compiling his history of the Merchant Navy. The only ship I have not got a photo of is the Corrales. I have tried various sites but no luck to date. Can you help. Regards, Vernon Clark

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    Default Re: S.s. Corrales,

    Hi Vernon here she is.......................


    Name
    Official number
    Flag
    IMO
    CORRALES
    161902
    GBR

    Year built
    Date launched
    Date completed
    1930
    27/12/1929
    03/1930
    Vessel type
    Vessel description
    Refrigerated Cargo
    Steel Screw Steamer
    Builder
    Yard
    Yard no
    Alexander Stephen & Sons Ltd., Govan
    Linthouse
    528


    Tonnage
    Length
    Breadth
    Depth
    Draft
    5362 grt / 3316 nrt /
    400.6 ft
    51.2 ft
    30.1 ft

    Engine builder
    Alexander Stephen & Sons Ltd., Govan
    Engine detail
    1- Screw. T3Cyl. (27.5, 46.5 & 78 - 54)in. 447nhp

    First owner
    First port of register
    Registration date
    Elders & Fyffes Ltd., Glasgow
    Glasgow

    Other names

    Subsequent owner and registration history

    Vessel history
    1940-1947 War service including time as a NAAFI stores carrier.
    Remarks

    End year
    Fate / Status
    1961
    Broken Up 23/05/1961
    Disposal Detail
    Arrived at Santander for breaking.

    Three photos of her, all SS CORRALES the one.
    Cheers
    Brian
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Default Re: S.s. Corrales,

    Dear Brian, I am writing some notes about my life - mainly for my son. I have no intention of publishing them. May I quote your wonderful story? Thank you in advance. Philip Grant

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    Default Re: S.s. Corrales,

    Sure you can Philip,
    No problems,
    Cheers
    Brian

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    Default Re: S.s. Corrales,

    I well remember the Elders & Fyffes banana boats at Garston in the 1960's. As a Liverpool pilot apprentice we always appreciated a stem of green bananas being passed down into the boarding punt as the pilot went aboard through the side door. We had a drying room down aft on the pilot boat and we used to wrap the stem of bananas in an old blanket and await their ripening. The regular Liverpool company pilot at the time was Ken Cumpstey.

    I attach a photo of what I am sure are Elders & Fyffes in Garston Stalbridge Dock, presumably some laid up, so could be 1930's

    1930c Stalbridge Dock aerial cropped.jpg

    West Africa and Fyffes sounds pretty tough compared to my PSNC cadet voyage to West Coarst of S America.

    Geoff Topp (Liverpool Pilot - retired)

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    Default Re: S.s. Corrales,

    Thanks for the photo, Geoff.
    I have saved it.
    We always got a stalk of bananas to take home.
    Cheers
    Brian

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