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Thread: A voyage on the dunedin star

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    Bolton UK
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    Default A voyage on the dunedin star


    I was on the Dunedin Star in 1956 to South Africa and then across to the Ozzy coast, The story of the voyage is in here.

    voyage on the DUNEDIN STAR

    Early on Thursday morning, the 23rd of August 1956, on the Dunedin Star, we let go and moved through the Liverpool docks and out of the lock gates into the Mersey and were outward bound for the Cape.
    We had a good run down to Cape Town stopping off at Las Palmas for a few hours to bunker.
    We arrived in Cape Town on Friday morning, the 7th of September and moored starboard side to in Duncan dock ready to discharge our cargo.
    That night we went ashore to sample the delights of Cape Town. The place to go to in those days was to the `Delmonaco`, a night club on Adderley Street, It was built like the inside of a castle, and the ceiling was like the sky with moving clouds, changing colours and the night sky with twinkling stars. They had a band and dancing and lots of pretty girls, but Tom and I couldn’t cop off with any of them, we must have lost our touch. We had a few bevies and staggered back to the ship, next morning we found that Joe had got himself a woman from the `Seamen’s Club` and had stayed the night.
    Saturday morning we had a `job and finish` painting the funnel so we had finished at midday. That afternoon we shaved, showered and shampooed and legged it ashore to the `Seamen’s Club. We got Joe to introduce us to his new lady, who was the Stewardess of the club, and did she have any friends? we asked.
    She said she had one who was coming ashore later from the `Dunnottar Castle` where she was a `Steam Queen`, who worked in the laundry,
    The Steam Queen’s were legendary; they worked half naked down in the bottom of the ship sweating in the heat and steam of the laundry and were reputed to be `bang at it` all the time.
    “She’s mine,” I said to Tom. “ No she mine,” shouted Tom, the bastard, he always wanted my girls. We sat around the bar drinking with Joe and his lady, she wasn’t too bad but she a lot older than Joe. Later on this old lady came in the club and walked over to us at the bar, “Hi”, said Joe’s friend “this is my friend Mary, off the `Dunnottar Castle`, and these are Joe’s friends Brian and Tom”. “She’s yours,” I said to Tom. “No she’s yours”. said Tom.
    We had a few more drinks at the bar, we were chatting to Mary, who was quite funny to talk to with a good sense of humour, but just a little bit old for us, we were desperate but not that desperate.
    Joe’s lady invited us all back to her house for supper so all five of us piled into a taxi and went round there. She opened a couple of bottles of wine and had a pile of sandwiches for us, so we got stuck in we were getting a bit bevied by now and gulping more down just in case we got the old Steam Queen, we couldn’t go with her sober.
    When Tom went to the bathroom he found a line over the bath where she had a few pairs of knickers hanging there drying so he stuffed a few pair in his pocket.
    Later on we ordered a taxi and leaving Joe and his lady there the three of us got into the taxi and went back to the dock, she’s all yours I told Tom, no she’s all yours, he insisted.
    We got back to the Dunnotter Castle and left her at the bottom of the gangway; we declined her offer of going on board with her and continued back to the Dunedin Star.
    When we got into the cabin Tom pulled a few pairs of knickers out of his pocket, make a good souvenir he said.
    On Sunday evening we went to the `Delmonaco`, we had a few drinks and danced with some of the girls there but somehow we just couldn’t crack it with the girls there. I don’t know why as we were both good looking, lean, mean and bronzed with sun bleached hair and normally they couldn’t resist us. True!
    Joe was in there with his lady friend, and we called at their table for a chat, I just happened to have a pair of knickers sticking out of the top pocket of my suit as a handkerchief. Joe’s lady recognised them and went berserk and accused me of stealing all her knickers. Tom and I had to do a swift runner out of there and go to another bar down the street, to the `Navigators Den`. Here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into, I said.
    On Monday at lunchtime we were sat in the cabin having a ciggie before we turned to, when there was a knock on the door and when I opened it there was the old Steam Queen.
    “Hi”, she said, “I’ve come to see you before we sail this evening”, Tom jumped up and said I’ve got to start work now, and ran out of the cabin leaving me there with her.
    She was rampant. “Come on and get in the bed and give us a good seeing to”, she said trying to put her arms around me, pushing me against the bunk. “I’m all yours, take me now”. I was panicking now, just then the Bosun knocked on the cabin door, “OK lad turn to”, Saved by the bell. “All right Bose I am on my way” and was out on deck before he was. “Kinnel, what’s the matter with you two” he said to Tom and me.
    “ If you want a quick leg over Bose, there is one in my cabin, she’s more your age than ours and she’s waiting for you”.
    We left him and ran down aft to the Poop where we were painting, “ Jees, that was a close one you should have stayed with me” I said to Tom, “I was getting raped”.
    We knocked off at half past two for smoko and went amidships to the cabin and found that she had gone. We found the Bosun wandering around with a strange look in his eyes, “Book four hours overtime lads”,
    I think it was the first time he had had a leg over in years. .
    At 7pm that evening the Dunnotter Castle was sailing back to the UK and there were hundreds of people on the quay waving good bye to their friends and relatives, we joined them as the sailing of a large passenger ship was always a good event in the old days.
    Along side the poop we saw Joe’s lady friend waving to the Steam Queen who was on deck We started shouting to her and then Tom and I pulled out two pairs of knickers and started to wave them to her. The Steam Queen was laughing but Joe’s lady went berserk again and snatched them off us and chased us around the quayside trying to batter us. We ran up town again to the first bar and had a bloody good laugh over a few beers.
    On Wednesday we sailed to Port Elizabeth arriving there on Thursday morning and sailing again on Thursday evening for East London, so we didn’t get a chance to go ashore.

    On Friday 14th of September 1956 we sailed up the Buffalo River in East London and swung the ship and moored port side to at the bottom of the Bluff at 7am. We topped the derricks and stripped the hatches ready for discharging the cargo. We were on the 8 to 12 watch so we worked until 12 noon and had the afternoon off.

    The last time I was here was in December 1953 on the `New Zealand Star`, we went on a picnic with the Seamens Mission to Bonza Bay. Ken Hignett was washed away by the tide and huge waves. I went after him to try and save
    him. Ken died and I lost his body, I was drowning then but was saved by a South African lad by the name of David Brinton and ended up in hospital.
    Ken`s body was washed up five days later after we had sailed and was buried by the Mission in East London.

    The Ship was sailing at 4pm so we only had a couple of hours or so before we sailed again.
    We went to the Seamens Mission on Buffalo Street and asked the man there where Ken was buried, I wanted to visit his grave. The caretaker told us he was buried in the West Cemetery many miles out of town in the hills. We got a bus and went up there to a small township. The place was deserted. The cemetery was spread all over the hillside so we wandered around and there was no way we could find a grave out of the many thousands up there. Then we met a man who was just sitting on a bench, he said, “Who are you looking for”? , we told him, `Ken Hignett,` he said “You are in the wrong cemetery, he is on the other side of town in the East Cemetery". Then he said , "My son saved a lad that day", I said , "Is he David Brinton," he said "Yes". so I said , "I am the lad he saved". I was stunned, and we walked away and left him, I forgot to ask for his address.
    We had to get back to the ship, I was amazed that we had gone 7000 miles to the wrong cemetery and the only person we saw was the father of the lad who saved my life three years earlier. I had forgotten to thank him.

    Now I digress……………
    For a few years I tried to find David Brinton to thank him for saving my life. I wrote to the South African newspapers, including East London`s Daily Dispatch. but to no avail. I phoned the Salvation Army in Johannesburg, they have a fantastic tracing people reputation , but they referred me to London. I tried them and was told they only trace family members. I told them the story and asked if they could make an exception, I also told them I was a member of the Salvation Army when I was a lad, a "Little Sunbeam" no less. They said they would see what they could do. The only information I had was, he was 15 years old in 1953 and his name, David Brinton. Africa is a big place to trace people with that amount of information .
    In October, 2001 I decided to go to East London to try to find him myself. it was a quest I knew I had to do.
    Two days before we were sailing to Cape Town on the QE2 The telephone rang, it was the Salvation Army in London, they had found him. "Where in East London?" I asked, No he is in Stranraer, Scotland, they gave me his phone number and I phoned him. It was fantastic to be able to thank him for saving my life. He had lived there for 17 years after leaving South Africa he had gone to Rhodesia then to Scotland.
    I went to Cape Town and then we flew to East London to find Ken`s grave.
    We checked into a hotel and a South African family who had read my emails on the internet met us and took us to the grave. The East Cemetery was in town, easy walking distance from the dock.
    The cemetery was silent, not a sound. As Anne and I approached the grave, the screams coming out of the grave were terrible, I was shocked, Anne `s face turned white and was visibly shocked. The noise of a demented soul, we walked back and it stopped, silent. As we walked forward again the noise started again. There were no words, just an out of this world noise, which had a meaning, like, .. `why have I been here so long, no one has been to see me` and so on. I could walk into and out of this sound like walking in and out of a large bubble over the grave, His spirit was definitely there and in anguish as if he was tied there with no escape.
    I laid a Merchant Navy wreath that I had brought from England, on his grave. I got my camera but it would not work, nothing. So I got my video camera and that would not work,, I was very upset and disturbed by all these happenings, It should have been a happy day, that I had found him and laid a wreath on the grave.
    We went back to the hotel , the camera worked, the video camera worked, nothing wrong with them.
    The following day, the South African friends took us to Bonza Bay, even though it was 48 years later everything was still the same as it was. What scared me was, a sign on the Surfer`s hut, “Beware of the Great White Shark“. Bonza Bay was a favourite place of the shark and it amazed me that we were never attacked when we were there all those years ago.
    Two days later we were going to the Airport to fly to Cape Town, I was not happy and very disturbed, it should not be like this. I couldnt go home not knowing what was going on there. So I told the taxi driver to go back to the cemetery.
    When we got back to the grave , all was silent and peaceful. I took the photos, the camera worked and also the video camera worked OK ,
    Another strange event then happened, The printed writing on the card on the wreath, even though it had been sealed in plastic, started to run as I watched and in two minutes the writing had disappeared.
    He had gone, gone to Fiddlers Green, where all good Sailors go. He had been released.
    I felt good again as if a load had been taken off my shoulders. The trip had been worth while.
    We sailed back to England on the `Caronia`, and when we arrived home I had a phone call from Esther Rantzen, a TV Presenter from the BBC. She had heard of the story and wanted me to go to the London BBC studios and tell it on TV on the `Esther Show`. So on 14 February 2002, Anne and I went to London, expenses paid, a Limo waiting at Euston Station for us and then to the studios.
    I was taken to the make up room and sat with a few TV Celebs and had a make over, lip stick, and make up over my face and my eyebrows darkened. I was then interviewed by Esther on stage with a studio audience, and told them all about the tragedy and my search for David Brinton, Esther said have you ever met him?, I said `no`, so she said , well here he is, and David walked onto the stage. it was another fantastic moment to be able to shake his hand and thank him after more than 48 years. We went into the green room after the show and partook of the free bar, Later David had to go back to Scotland for his business and I stayed. That evening the BBC Staff poured me into a Limo and took us to our hotel in Kensington . I went into the bar there and ordered a couple of drinks for us both. A lot of men were smiling and winking at me, I thought, what nice friendly people there are in London.
    Later I went to our room and shock horror, I still had my make up on. They must thought I was a wufter.
    I keep in touch with David and always phone him or go to Stranraer on December 13.
    We talked later and he told me his father had died in a car crash in October 1956, around the time Tom and I spoke to him. So was he a ghost that we met????……………

    So Tom and I arrived back in East London at 5pm We thought we had missed the ship as she was down for sailing at four. We decided it was a waste of time going down to the berth so we went into a pub on Oxford Street for a beer. Ten minutes later whilst enjoying a cool beer we heard the whistle blowing. She`s still in we said to each other. We ran out of the pub and bumped into the Padre from the Mission. “I am looking for you two, the ship is sailing” . We climbed into his Jeep and he ran us down to the berth and the Dunedin Star was about thirty yards off the berth and moving outbound. The Captain, a very angry man, was on the wing of the bridge shouting he would sort us out in Durban and be there.
    Astern of her was the pilot launch, and the Padre called out to him, they came over and Tom and I climbed down the ladder and into the launch.
    We followed the Dunedin Star out passed the break waters then went alongside, the Pilot climbed down and we climbed up.
    The Captain met us on the boat deck screaming abuse at us, be on the bridge tomorrow morning for a big logging for holding up the ship.
    I tried to explain where we had been but he wouldn’t listen.
    Fortunately the Fourth Mate was with me on the New Zealand Star when Ken Hignett was drowned and later he told the Captain the story so next day he let us off with the logging.
    We then sailed on to Durban.

    We arrived alongside in Durban on Saturday morning on the 15th of September and we were only to be here until Monday, so there was not a lot of time to get ourselves known here.
    Saturday night Tony and I with some of the other lads went uptown to the Playhouse, it was a club very similar to Delmonaco`s in Cape Town, it was built as an Indian palace, a court yard with the `sky` above
    having moving clouds which changed colour as the sun set and then twinkling stars. There was a good bar and lots of pretty girls to dance with but we just couldn`t crack it, we must be losing our touch or
    I think maybe that the girls didn’t want to get involved with seamen, so we got ourselves bevied instead.
    On Sunday morning the Seamen’s` Mission put us on a coach and took us up to the Valley of a Thousand Hills to a Zulu village to watch the Zulus singing and dancing, quite interesting but we couldn’t crack it with the Zulu girls either.
    That was our last run ashore until we would arrive in Brisbane one month later. On Monday morning we dropped the derricks and battened down and then sailed to Lourenco Marques in Mozambique.
    We anchored in Delagoa Bay and unloaded our cargo into barges for a couple of days then sailed round to Beira. We were anchored out there for seven days completing discharging all our cargo again into barges, we were too far off shore to get ashore so we were quite happy when we were ready to sail to Australia to get a decent run ashore.
    I had a letter from my girlfriend Sheila in Melbourne and she said that she had a friend who wanted a Blind date with Tom, but when I told him he wasn’t too keen as on most blind dates you end up with the ugly one, still it was something to look forward to.
    We sailed from Mozambique on Saturday, 29th of September sailed round the southern tip of Madagascar and then had a good run down to the southern ocean to the Aussie coast.
    We landed in Brisbane in Queensland mooring at New Farm Wharf, that night we went into Brisbane and to the Grand Central Hotel in Queen Street. It was a bit quiet in there and we asked one of the local lads where all the action was. He told us to go a township outside the city, there was a pub and a brothel. Sounded good so `Blubs` Donnelly, John the Baptist, Tom and I climbed into a taxi and went there.
    It was just a small place with wood side walks a pub with bat wing doors, a few wooden houses and a Brothel facing the pub. It was used by the men who spent a few months in the bush who came into town had a few beers and a leg over before going back to the bush.
    We had a couple of beers in the pub and sat on the veranda looking at the Brothel.
    Then `Let’s get it over with lads`, we strolled across the street to the `House` and knocked on the door.
    A big buxom woman, who’s former beauty was fading fast, opened the door, "G`day boys you want to see my girls? come in" We went into the lounge with six scantily clad young ladies lounging around on divans waiting for us. "It’s 20 for a `quickie`, no pay no play."
    `Kinnell! Our wages at that time was 30 a month so it was 3 weeks wages for ten minutes, 2 minutes in Tom’s case. We argued and haggled but she wouldn’t bring the price down. You would think it was her who would be doing the deed, I am sure the girls would have done it for nothing the way they were looking at me, I was, lean, mean and bronzed with sun bleached hair and girls used to scream after me. In the end the old Mamasan screamed, " Get out you Pommie bums".
    We walked back across the street to the pub and ordered another beer and sat on the veranda overlooking the brothel, dreaming of what might have been. " You would have been finished by now Tom " I said sipping my cool Castlemaine xxxx
    "and I would have just about been nearly half way." Just then John the Baptist, a Liverpool lad, who looked like his namesake, said "they will all burn in hell for their sins, Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord, I will repay" `Why what’s going to happen John`, we asked. " When you were arguing with the Madam I put the electric fire behind the drape curtains and switched it on, just watch,"
    A minute later we saw flames licking up the drapes and then a flash and the tinder dry wooden building went up in flames, Kinnell! Six scantily clad young ladies ran out of the House followed by the screaming Madam, then 3 naked young ladies and 3 men staggered out trying to pull up their pants and falling over as they tried to run across the street. Suddenly the building collapsed in a shower of flames and sparks.
    `Come on let’s get out of here`, I shouted, we ran around the corner and found a taxi and went back to Brisbane.
    When we got back to Brisbane we went into the Grand Central Hotel for another beer and a young lady by the name of Gwen Taylor took a fancy to me and was all over me, chewing my ears and kissing etc. Tom was as sick as a pig cos no once else fancied him.
    A closing time we all piled into a taxi and went back to the ship. We went into my cabin and I got a bottle of Penfolds out and then went to the mess room to get a bottle opener and some glasses. When I got back Gwen had gone,” where is she?"
    Blubs Donnolly said she’s gone with Tom to his Cabin.
    I legged it up the alley way and hammered on the door which was locked, "Open up you ba*tard that’s my girl" " Not any more, she’s mine now, so *** off."
    I ***** off back to my cabin and drank the bottle with the rest of the lads while we laughed about the Brothel burning down.
    Next morning I got up early and went to the bathroom and found Gwen, who had just had a shower, scrubbing the crutch piece of her knickers with Tony’s toothbrush. Later on when Tom got up and was brushing his teeth he said, "What are you laughing at" When I told him what Gwen had done he was nearly sick. " Serves you right you ba*tard " I said. Meanwhile Gwen did a runner with Tom’s money and a carton of 200 ciggies.
    We stayed in Brisbane for a couple of days then sailed up to a place called Port Alma, up near Rockhampton.

    We arrived in Port Alma after calling in at Gladstone, another one horse town for a couple of days. Nothing much there just a couple of pubs with batwing doors. Next stop was Port Alma. on 3rd.November, a godforsaken place up in Queensland.
    It was up a crocodile infested creek, surrounded by salt flats, scrub and desert. a breading ground for millions of flies and mosquitoes. There was no electricity there only oil lamps when it got dark ashore.
    There was just a small wood jetty and six wooden huts and a canteen that only sold Sarsaparrilla pop, The Five huts were the accommodation for the wharfies and one for the girls who worked in the canteen, cooking meals for the wharfies. The girls were ruled by a huge Bosun type of a woman, a big forced draft job. We called her the Mamasan, who hated us Sailors cos she thought we were all sniffing round her girls and would have them locked up in the shack by 9.30 pm. The nearest town was 200 miles away where there was a meat works that sent the frozen beef down every day on a single track railroad. The wharfies and girls stayed there for the duration of loading a few thousand tons of beef.
    Saturday night was 5th of November, bonfire night and a large fire was lit on the beach and beer and grog appeared and we were all having a great time snogging the girls in the shadows. Tom and I were having a go at two beautiful Polynesian twin sisters , Theresa and Thyra Hornung, when the Mamasan gave us a load of abuse and threats and took the girls back to the shack and then locked them all in for the night.
    The party was over so we all went back aboard the ship and turned in.
    About 1am the watchman woke us up and said the wharfies were running about with shotguns searching for a sailor who had been trying to break into the girls shack. We checked the cabins and found that John the Baptist was missing.
    He was called John the Baptist cos he looked just like the man from the Bible and was always saying biblical phrases from the bible. He was from Liverpool.
    Tom and I got a torch and went ashore to find him before the wharfies did and blew him apart with their shot guns.
    By the shacks I spoke to a wharfie with a gun and he told us that they had heard singing of hymns coming from the top of the water tower,
    . John the Baptist had climbed up the tower to hide and fell into the water and the sides were to high and smooth for him to climb out and was just swimming around in ever decreasing circles. when the Wharfie and his mate climbed to the top of the tower they could see John singing `Abide with Me` and just as he was sinking for the last time he started singing `For Those In Peril On The Sea`. Just before he sank they grabbed him and pulled him out and got him onto the ladder, John just shot down and disappeared into the darkness and so they were still searching for him.
    Tom and I searched under the shacks and then I saw him, I grabbed Tom and we crawled underneath the shack and there was John the Baptist. on his knees with his head on the ground throwing sand over his head shouting "You can`t see me I am an ostrich" Crazy, he was out of his head with the grog.
    As we grabbed him he was shouting " The Lord Is my Shepherd, but He lead me astray tonght". We dodged our way back to the ship in the darkness and got him to his cabin and locked him in.
    The shouting and screaming ashore slowly died down and the Mamasan locked up her girls again and the wharfies turned in and Port Alma went back to sleep after the most exciting night it had ever had.
    Next morning the wharfies went on strike and refused to work until whoever it was apologised. So we got John to got out to meet the wharfies.
    He looked like John the Baptist, he had a little round white skull cap on, a thin haggered face with a beard , a long white shirt that came past his knees and open sandles. He stood on top of the gangway looking down on the wharfies and the girls.
    They were shouting abuse and kill the bastard, but when John appeared on the gangway platform, the light cluster was on the deck behind him, in the early morning light, he was glowing, he looked truly biblical. They were stunned and fell silent when they saw this apparition above them.
    He raised his arms and said "The Lord was my shepherd but I was lead astray last night, I was suffering from the sins of the flesh but now I have seen the light and and have found the paths of rightiousness I have cast out the devil within me and I will sin no more and now I walk in the shadow of the Lord. God Bless you all. Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord, I will repay." and with that he turned and walked back to the mess room.
    The wharfies stood there in a stunned silence for several minutes They could not believe what they had just seen and heard and so in their bemused state they went back to work and John became a legend.

    We stayed in Port Alma for another few days loading beef. We spent the evenings in an old railway carriage with the two twin sister, Thyra and Theresa, until the big Mamasan came along to chase them back to the shack and lock them up. When we sailed for Melbourne we said we would write to them until we returned the following trip on the Adelaide Star.
    Arriving in Melbourne we tied up near to the bottom of Flinders Street on a Saturday morning. After topping the derricks ready for the wharfies starting on Monday morning , I went ashore to phone my girl friend, Sheila, who I had first met on the `GEORGIC` when she was emmigrating in 1955. She was a beautiful green eyed ginger haired girl. She said she had a friend who wanted a blind date with my mate, so I told Tom.
    ` No, No, ` he said, `Blind dates you always get the ugly one.`.
    She said they would meet us in the cafe in Flinders Street Staion at 4 pm. We went ashore to the Sir Charles Hotham, on the corner of Spencer and Flinders Streets for a bevy. He was gulping it down, `Do I have to go? I dont want the Ugly one, I`ll have to get bevied to face her.`
    At 4pm we staggered up Flinders Street and went into the cafe, we had a couple of coffees. Then I saw them across the road on the corner of the Church. "Look at her Tom, she is beautiful, "
    `No I `m not looking `he said with his head in his hands.
    They entered the Cafe, Sheila came over to us and gave me a kiss, "This is Anita" she realy was gorgeous, Tom was still not looking, "And this is Tom" I said giving Tom a thump,`and fasten your flies". he raised his head and could not believe what he saw, I have never seen a man sober up so fast.
    We sat there for a while having coffee, then Sheila said they were going to the Olympic Village in Heidelberg. The 1956 Olympic Games were on then. So we climbed into a taxi and went there. There was a dance on and then Anita disapeared, `Where is she` Tom said, "Just wait " said Sheila. Then they announced the final heat for "Miss Olympic Games 1956"
    The finalists came on stage in their swimming costumes and there was Anita, looking fantastic. "You owe me." I said to Tom.
    Anita won the contest. What a blind date!!!.
    She then went on to win the Miss Victoria title and then Miss Australia, she had changed her name to Victoria Shaw, after the State of Victoria and her mother`s maiden name. She eventually got a movie contract and went to Hollywood and became a movie Star, I saw her a few times in in a few films, the last one a western. She died about three years ago.
    We spent a couple of weeks with the girls. I went to the `Hostel` where Sheila was living with her parents, it was a disused army camp in Brooklyn on the outskirts of Melbourne, I went through the iron gates and a depressing row of Nissen huts, two families in a hut seperated by a breeze block wall and a cold water tap outside the door. they had been there for twelve months. Six months later when I went to see her they had moved to a farm house out in Melton South in the country. a little better.
    The night before we sailed we kissed the girls good bye and went back on board the ship. In the messroom was the crowd drinking their bottles of beer, We got ours and joined them. There was a `beachy` there, a Liverpool bum who had been dossing down in the mess room. an obnoxious ba*tard. who was drinking everyone`s ale and money was missing from cabins.
    He got hold of one of my bottles of ale , so I gripped him by the wrist and said,"Put it down or I`ll break your arm", He pulled away and threatened to kill me and said he had killed before and would do me as well. I said `Who have you killed.?` He replied that he had killed two men in the Cameo Cinema in Liverpool seven years earlier in March 1949. ........
    {Now in 1949 my home was raided by the police and I was beaten up by the cops, a man, George Kelly was charged and then Hanged in 1950 for the murders and another man Charles Connolly was gaoled for ten years for conspiracy to the two murders at the Cameo Cinema. I became a close friend with Charles and eventually after a campaign we got them both cleared and proven innocent of the murders, Charles died just before the result at the Court of Criminal appeal in London. a sad story. ...................I digress. ]
    So I leaned over the table and smashed him in the face with a big iron fist. Of all the men to say that to it had to be me, who had been involved.
    I dived over the table and battered him, with Tom`s help I dragged him out on deck and flung him down the gangway. With hindsight I should have held onto him, and found out who he really was.
    After the Court of Appeal verdict I learned from a lady in London that she suspected that a relative was the man who did the murders and his description fitted the Liverpool bum and he was in Australia at that time.
    Next day we dropped the derricks and battened down, we had a full load for the Continent and London. we sailed that afternoon bound round the Southern Ocean past the Cape and up the Atlantic to Gibraltar, a long voyage................
    After a long trip of thirty days around the Cape from Melbourne we called in at Gibraltar to discharge two hundred tons of frozen beef.
    Tom and I were on the 4 to 8 watch. We topped the derricks and stripped the hatches for the Dockers and removed the plugs for the fridge hatches.
    Then we shaved showered and shampooed and leapt ashore to sample the delights of Gib after a long trip at sea. Tom was engaged to a young lady who was in the Signals Regiment and based here on the Rock so he was excited that he would meet up with his intended.
    We walked up Main Street and went into the Royal Oak for a couple of pints then to the Cha Cha Bar for a few more. Walking down the next road we found the NAAFI Club so we dived in there for some more grog.
    There were half a dozen National Servicemen in the bar so we were treating them to Rum and pints, as they didn’t get so much money.
    Then suddenly Tom remembered his girl was here, he had forgotten, so he went to phone her. He came back and was going berserk; she had kicked him into touch and was now going out with a sergeant in the Army.
    He came back into the bar and thumped one of the soldiers, he thumped Tom back and Tom fell on the floor so I thumped him knocking him over a table with all the glasses smashing on the floor. The others joined in; six to two wasn’t bad odds. Then an Army Officer and some more troops ran in and sorted us out and then escorted us to the gate and threw us out, well we had been thrown out of better places than that.
    The following year I went back there and there was a notice on the gate, ”No Dogs, Dagos or Merchant Seamen allowed in the Club”.
    The ship was sailing at 4pm so we staggered down the street and went past the Governor’s Palace; there was a soldier on guard with rifle and bayonet. Tom staggered across to him and crashed into him knocking him to the ground and dropping his rifle with a clatter. They were rolling over fighting so I had to separate them and got the soldier up and apologised for Tom’s behaviour, I explained that he had lost his girl to an Army fellow. I dragged Tom away and we staggered down the street to the dock. The crowd had just dropped the derricks and battened down and the ship was ready for sailing. Just made it. We sailed then for Dunkirk and into a cold weather and storms across the Bay of Biscay mooring in Dunkirk in a blizzard two days before Christmas Eve ………………….………………….....

    I forgot to mention of when we left Melbourne for homeward bound.
    A young Fireman, George Jones of Liverpool had a brother Jimmy living in Melbourne and on leaving he said he wanted to go back to Liverpool so George stowed him away.
    We found out a couple of days later when I went to Georges cabin and found Jimmy.
    At first it was OK then when it became time for the weekly accommodation inspections when the Captain, Chief Steward, Chief Engineer came around, it was a work of art shuffling Jimmy around so he wasn’t seen, from one cabin to another and in one locker to another.
    One night Jimmy had a seizure and collapsed on the deck in George`s cabin, he was shaking violently then fell quiet, we thought he had died.
    He eventually recovered and told George he was epileptic. George went mad over this, he said he would never have stowed him away if he had known. We even discussed what we would do if Jimmy died during one of these fits, we decided we wouldn’t call the Captain but just slide Jimmy over the wall into the sea and say nothing.
    Jimmy was beginning to be quite a nuisance and giving George a lot of stress, five or six weeks of this is a long time to hide someone.
    In Dunkirk on Christmas Eve, Jimmy borrowed money off George and went ashore, got quite legless, fell out of a bar and discovered a hole in the road with workmen’s` tools and a wheelbarrow, he got the wheelbarrow full of tools and was galloping all over Dunkirk with it before the Gendarmes lifted him and locked him up. George on hearing this had to hide for two days as he was supposed to be in gaol, so he had a lousy Christmas.
    The Police notified the Captain that one of his men, Jones, was in gaol and so on Boxing Day he went to the gaol and paid the fine and took Jimmy, the Stowaway, back to the ship. The Captain thinking Jimmy was George logged him two days pay for being adrift and then charged him the return taxi fare and the fine off the Police. It cost George half a month’s wages, George was going demented over his stupid brother.
    He was becoming ill over his behaviour.
    When the ship arrived in Hull just before New Year, George got a sub for Jimmy’s train fare to Liverpool and got rid of him. Then George who was really looking quite bad asked the Captain if he could see a doctor, the captain said `No, you just want to go home for the New Year instead of going to London, the final port of discharge as per articles`.
    On New Years Eve George collapsed in his cabin, we told the Captain and I went ashore to a phone box and called for an ambulance. They came and took him to hospital.
    Three weeks later I was in Liverpool and I bumped into Jimmy, “How’s your George” I asked. Jimmy replied, “He died on New Years day in the hospital”.
    George was 22 years old. If he had seen a doctor when he wanted one, would he have still been alive? Very sad, after five months George went home in a coffin.


    We went ashore in Dunkirk, two days before Christmas, it was freezing and deep in snow. We were drinking in Yvette’s bar and got friends with a couple of American seamen, one called Frisco who was a little guy and the other was a big fat slob called Boston.
    They were throwing their money around like confetti and as long as they kept on paying Tom and I kept on drinking, a very good arrangement we thought.
    We were drinking and dancing with Yvette’s` girls on Xmas Eve and Yvette said that if we brought a couple of turkeys on Xmas Day when the bar was closed we would have a big party there with free booze.
    We said we would bring Frisco and Boston, as they were the biggest turkeys that we knew.
    Later on as we were all getting bevied, Frisco was shouting that he wanted to go to midnight mass at Dunkirk Cathedral.
    So we carried on drinking and at 4 am on Christmas Day we all decided to go to midnight mass. Frisco got a very large sombrero off the wall in the bar, put it on his head and staggered out into the snow, he looked like a drunken mushroom. It was freezing and snowing and the four of us were staggering up the road and we had to call in a couple of bars to warm up and then we came to the Louis XIV Club and Boston went in and the doorman threw him out, he went in again shouting, "I am a United States Citizen ya gotta let me in, these other bums are Limies keep `em out". The doorman threw him out again.
    Boston screamed "I could have got in there but for you Limy bums" so with that I thumped him and we were rolling about in the snow and I was sat on his chest battering him when he shouted " I surrender". I let him get up and said " Us Limy bums don’t like being insulted, don’t do it again". We staggered on through the snow towards the cathedral.
    We got there for midnight mass at six a.m. just as the service was about to start.
    At the entrance was a font with the holy water in and another font with money in and Frisco grabbed a handful of money and blessed himself with it and Tom twisted his arm and made him put it back.
    We sat at the back of the cathedral, I whispered to Frisco, " Take that stupid sombrero off your head" " Hell no," he shouted, " Some one might steal it".
    The Bishop was speaking in Latin through a microphone. Frisco stood up and started walking down the aisle to the front, still wearing the big sombrero, " Hey shout up will ya, we can’t hear what you’re talking about at the back”.
    With that I said `come on Tom let’s get out of here`.
    We just got outside when we were followed by Frisco and Boston being thrown out by half a dozen Frenchmen. Frisco was shouting, " I’ve been thrown out of better places than this."
    We staggered on through the snow to the dock.
    We arrived at the American ship, the `HOWARD T ANDREWS` a Liberty ship and Frisco invited us on board for breakfast. In the mess room Boston introduced us to the American sailors as two Limy bums that they had found, I was going to thump him again when I could smell the breakfast in the galley.
    A big black mess man towered over me, " Wadda ya want, eggs, two, four, six? easy over, sunnyside up or what. ham ?, two, four, six, or what.?
    " Err six of everything please " Tom and I said.
    We got six eggs, six huge slices of ham with fries, tomatoes beans and toast. the biggest breakfast I had ever seen.
    After breakfast Tom and I left and said we would see them in Yvette’s bar later in the day with our turkeys.
    We got aboard the Dunedin Star and the sailors were just getting their breakfast of one egg and one thin slice of bacon, we gave ours to the lads.
    The Galley boy came into the mess room so Tom said to him “ Get us a couple of Turkeys this afternoon" the Boy replied there was only one turkey onboard and that was for the Officers Xmas dinner.
    " What no turkey for the sailors?" so he said there is a chicken for the sailors. " It must be a bloody big chicken to feed all the sailors,” I said. " Get us that one then "
    " I can’t " said the Galley boy. Tom said "Just leave it by the port in the galley and leave the rest to us. "
    We got our heads down until 1pm and got ready to go ashore, we walked past the galley port and there was a small chicken on a plate. I leaned through and passed the chicken to Tom who wrapped it in a paper and we ran down the gangway and up the road to Yvette’s bar.
    We were sat there with a drink when Boston and Frisco came in with two large cooked turkeys. Boston sat down with us and said " Where’s ya turkeys Limies"? I pointed to the newspaper with the chicken in. " Well goddamn, a few scraps for the dog " and then he threw it on the floor and Yvette’s Alsatian dog dived on it and scoffed the lot.
    I jumped up and said " You fat Yankee ba*tard" and was going to thump him again when Yvette jumped in between. It’s OK there is plenty of turkey for us all and the drinks are on the house, and all the girls are yours for free.
    Well we had a great party with the girls all night and two days later we got back to the ship.
    The Captain had Tom and I on the bridge to be logged for being adrift for two days. We were fined two days pay and forfeit two days pay, then we were questioned about a missing chicken, we said we had never tasted chicken for months, we hadn’t, but Yvette’s dog had.
    The bastards, the ship had 15,000 tons of meat from Australia on board and we were starving. they could have bought dozens of chickens with the four days wages each they had taken off us.
    The following day we sailed for Hull.
    We arrived in Hull on the 29th of December 1956.
    It was cold wet and windy, a typical winters day on the Humber.
    We had a few bevies that night and the following night then it was New Years Eve. The problem with having to go to all the discharge ports after a long trip meant that we were going to pay off with nothing, after all the subs and loggings.
    New Years Eve, we were sailing at 10pm. What a stupid time to sail.
    All hands went to a dance at the Baths at Beverley Road, the pool had been boarded over, and there was a band, a bar and lots of pretty girls.
    10pm came and went, Midnight we were kissing the New Year in and Tom and I copped for two young ladies to take home. Tom’s girl looked like Gene Autry and had legs to match, mine was quite pretty.
    We took them home and eventually made it back to the ship just after 1.30am, she was still there with tugs alongside and the Pilot on board, the Captain demented and screaming abuse as the crew were arriving back one by one.
    Next day we were all lined up on the bridge for logging, at this rate we’ll be paying Blue Star on pay off day. Another day at sea and then we arrived in Antwerp. We were only here for the day sailing sometime in the evening.
    I went ashore at 1pm and at the first bar stopped for a beer. Inside was a lad I had sailed with on the `Empress of Scotland` 18 months earlier.
    He was on a Ropner boat, the `Levenpool`, a Fort boat; they were trying to get paid off. They were on a two-year voyage, coal from the Continent to Buenos Aires and grain back to the Continent.
    They had all began to break out in scabs and boils with bad guts. They had complained about the water, which was pumped up from the after peak and told the tank was cleaned and cement washed in dry dock in Glasgow nine months earlier. They had the Union man over from London and eventually got the tank drained and then the manhole cover was unbolted. Inside they found the skeletal remains of a man and some empty whisky bottles. It was presumed that the man who cleaned it also had a few whiskies and flaked out inside. When the men shouted inside if anyone was there, no answer, then they battened down… When it was filled up he must have drowned and they had been drinking this contaminated water for nine months. So they were hoping to get paid off.
    My mate was gulping ale down as fast as he could, trying to wash the taste of the ships water away. I was keeping up with him and eventually Oblivion. I remember nothing until I woke up at sea bound for London. Don’t remember going back on board or anything.
    Next morning, Friday, 4th of January 1957, we berthed in London and paid off in the afternoon. We all got taxis to Euston Station and went into the bar for a few drinks then we caught the last train to Liverpool

    " Brief Encounter".

    Tom and I went into the bar on the train, which was full of business types. drinking Gin and Tonics, going home for the weekend. Whilst I was stood at the bar I saw a very attractive young lady trying unsuccessfully to order a drink. I asked her what she wanted, a G&T? right. “ A G&T and two rum and cokes Garcon.” “There you are, my treat”, I said. In those days I was lean, mean, and bronzed with sun bleached wavy hair and the girls could not resist me, TRUE!!
    I introduced myself and told her that we were homeward bound from Australia and were celebrating Christmas and New Year.
    She told me that her name was Magnolia and she lived in Birkdale near the golf course and she was a secretary to Sir Hartley Shawcross the famous legal eagle. After a couple more G&T s our hands touch and it was electrifying, our fingers entwined and soon we held each other in an embrace. I could feel the warmth and contours of her body as she pressed herself against me, we kissed gently and I could smell the perfume in her hair. I could see Tom over her shoulder and he was going around the coach talking to all the men there and pointing at me, but I took no notice I had a promising night ahead, soon we were planning to stay at the Adelphi Hotel on Lime Street. Magnolia was lovely, I was in love with her and she was with me.
    The Train stopped at Crewe Station, suddenly I saw Tom open the door and throw my case out on to the platform and a crowd of men came over to me and pulled me away from Magnolia. " Hey what’s going on?” I shouted.
    " Come along old chap" one fellow said to me, " your Mother is waiting for you"
    My Mother??? What’s she doing in Crewe? They dragged me away from Magnolia who was looking startled at what was happening, I was struggling to get free but there were to many of them and next I was out onto the platform and Tom slammed the door. I picked up my case and tried to get back on the train then the Porter grabbed me from behind and was pulling me back. Then the train moved off and was picking up speed as I ran alongside it. Magnolia opened the window and leaned out, she was weeping as the train accelerated out of reach Magnolia took a ring off her finger and our fingers touched for the last time as she passed the ring into my outstretched hand. I stood there stunned, I could not believe it, what was happening, one minute I am homeward bound with a beautiful lady and the next I am all alone on a cold dark platform as the train disappeared into the darkness.
    The ba*ta*d, that Tom will have a lot to answer for when I catch up with him. I walked back down the platform to where my case was, the Porter was there. " What the hells going on” I demanded. “why did you stop me from going on the train"
    He replied " Your mate said that you lived in Crewe and that you had been away from home for more than three years and seeing that you were drunk they had to force you off the train"
    The picture was getting clear now, that Tom, wanted to have a go at my Magnolia.
    " What time is the next train to Liverpool " " There is no more tonight, the next one is at 6.30 in the morning" he said. " Kinnell" I dragged my case into the cold dismal waiting room, I sat there stunned, looking at the ring that Magnolia had given me, This was the big one, the only woman I
    would ever love, now she was gone, I could have wept. I didn’t know her surname, or her address or phone number I would never see her again. I kept the ring for two years until I gave it to a young lady in South America when I was on the `Urmston Grange` in Patagonia
    I stretched out on the hard wooden bench in the cold waiting room and tried unsuccessfully to sleep. I could not believe it, I should have been in the Adelphi with Magnolia.
    I climbed aboard the train at 6.30 next morning, cold, stiff and hungry bound for Liverpool. In Lime Street I dumped my case in the Left Luggage Office and caught the bus to Knowlsley, to where Tom lived. I walked down the road to number 18 and hammered on the door, as soon as he opens it I will batter him.
    The door opened, it was his Mother, " Hello, are you Tom’s mate off the ship? Come in" I went in "Where is he"? " He’s upstairs, I’ll just go and get him, make him a cup of tea Luv" she said to Tom’s sister, she was attractive, I followed her into the kitchen and was chatting to her while she brewed up.
    Tom walked in laughing, " All right Scouse, how did you get on in Crewe"" You ba....” I said but I could get angry as his Mother was smiling and his sister was handing me a cup of tea." Why was I thrown off the train" "Well" he said as we all sat round the table " I fancied Magnolia and I knew I would have no chance while you where there so I told the men in the train that you had been in the French Foreign Legion and had been captured at the battle of Dien Bien Phu in Viet Nam, and when you were released you went to Sidde bel Abbes in Algeria then demobbed in Marseilles and now you were on your way home after being away for more than three years and I promised your Mother that I would see that you got off the train in Crewe where you lived. so all the fellows in the coach thought they doing you a favour." " How did you get on with Magnolia? " I asked. " I didn’t " he replied " she was weeping and when I went to her she slapped my face and then went down the coaches to her seat and I didn’t see her again. "
    " You sneaky ba*ta*d , and I was all fixed up there" " That wasn’t a very nice thing to do , our Tom " his Mother said.
    Ah well, `Cie la vie`, as we say in the French Foreign Legion. We walked down to Tom’s local alehouse, as they were open by now and had a few bevies before I got the train back to Bolton and home.
    It was the end of a very interesting voyage on the DUNEDIN STAR
    Last edited by Captain Kong; 25th March 2023 at 03:29 PM.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: A voyage on the dunedin star

    Always good to read your Stories of Past Capt. This one i somehow recall as well some time back, but as said good to Re Read.
    Thanks again
    Senior Site Moderator-Member and Friend of this Website


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