1941: West Africa & The Mediterranean
In London, in November 1941, the Suncrest loaded general cargo for West Africa and set off round the North of Scotland for Oban, where Capt. H. went on sick leave. Capt. McLaren took over command, a dour Scot from Ardnamurchan, but a great shipmate. I served with him until I was eventually given my own command. The only thing, he would never let me practise with those depth charges! Just as well, for when we returned to the U.K. they were removed. If we had fired them, we’d probably have blown off our stern, as we were too slow to get out of their way! With most of our equipment, we learnt by trial and error.
We had cargo for Bathurst and Freetown. Among the cargo for Bathurst, we carried a fire engine and an ambulance for the R.A.F. station there. With no quay, we had a terrible job unloading them onto a barge, but with great difficulty we managed. We had landed the fire engine first with a sergeant of the R.A.S.C. to drive it. This was followed by the ambulance, towed behind it with Second officer H. to steer it. I was on the fire engine, in charge of the bell and the searchlight. I made full use of my equipment. Unfortunately, no one had told us that there was a blackout exercise in progress!
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