There seemed to be a fair number of us in the water, but sound at sealevel is deceptive. Calls of men to their mates, and the shouts of others telling what wreckage they were hanging on to confused the air; it seemed that half a carley float was the best there was to offer. Then we were aware of the thud of approaching propellers, and pentup feelings gave way to rousing cheers it seemed as if half the ship's company had survived and were intent on making themselves heard. 'but then our shouts and cheers died away miserably as it slowly began to register on us that the approaching vessel, the Gloxinia, was not bent on rescue but at fullahead was, with regret carrying out the newest Admiralty Fleet Orders that the enemy must. We were now consumed by a slow buildup of hatred for the men in the fast coming corvette, who in seconds would be hurling depth charges among us; yet, bitter as we felt, we knew that this was a captain carrying out his instructions. 'Gloxinia came hounding on at a great pace, and as more men in the water realised what was about to happen great oaths were hurled at the ship which only half an hour before we had chatted with via the Aldis lamp. "Swim away get out!" cried my brain, and being naked except for my khaki shorts I struck out in the water as fast as I was able. And here, for me, fate took a hand.
Able seaman - maritime jobs
There was nothing else for it but to cut it off, which I did, blessing the fact that I had kept my knife on me and wondering oddly at the same time what my sister would have said at her knitted labour of love being. Then I swam like the as far as I could get from the ship's suction and the slowly sinking depthcharges. 'It was hardly minutes since the torpedo had struck, though it seemed a lifetime. In the darkness I could hear men talking in the sea quite close. I eased my swimming pace and looked back at the remains of the ship resume now bolt upright in the water, with the propeller still slapping round. She began to slide, accompanied by the nevertobeforgotten death noises of a ship broken and doomed. Bulkheads were crashing, great bubbles of air vomiting up to the surface the nudity of those parts of a ship normally seen only when she was in dry dock was as starkly shocking as one's first view of female nudity. Above all this I heard a voice nearby call out in agony, "I can't swim, i can't swim. " and a callously matteroffact voice from another direction answer "you've left it bloody late to learn, chum " 'cocker vanished in a welter of volcanic eruptions, leaving a sudden heavy silence, and those of us struggling in the sea began the souldestroying task. The fuel oil was warm and smooth to the touch, but tasted vile choking coughs in the darkness began to indicate the presence of survivors.
My racing thoughts were now playing me tricks, and I recalled in absolute detail the day when, as a boy, wilfully playing with a chaffcutting machine in a friend's farmyard, i accidentally cut off another boy's thumb. I thought, was I now to be chaff for these great revolving blades? 'Although I had seen similar disasters overtake a dozen other ships I still could not believe that it had actually happened. But the noise was real, and so was the flotsam now swirling past, and men in the water gasping with the shock and immersion in fuel oil. I had only seconds to get clear, not only of the revolving scythe but also from the ship's depth charges. We had forty charges in the racks and some of these were primed and at the ready, which meant that when the mangled ship had sunk to a certain depth they would. . 'In a frenzy i stripped off all my top gear, but a navy blue rollnecked sweater recently arrived from home defied all my efforts to get it over essay my head. Coolly now I selected a space among the floating debris and jackknifed into the hole, surfacing in thick oil, gasping and conscious of the sodden weight of the sweater. Try as I would while treading water, i still could not get the sweater over my head, nor could I swim a yard with.
'The stem half, still motivated by a revolving propeller, seemed now to be crushing forward and downward on to the rapidly sinking bow section. There was the noise of grinding metal, rushing water, steam gasping out of fractured pipes, bulkheads collapsing, the agonised cries of trapped shipmates. The stem began to rise clear of the water, the activating arm of the whistle on the funnel dropped forward and there began a long drawnout wail that lasted until she died. . 'i ran up the canting deck to the stem rail, climbing over the rail out on to what normally would have been the vertical plates of the stem. Now they were nearly horizontal, so steeply had she sunk by the head. There to my horror I saw the propeller still furiously turning at 'seveno' revolutions. So that's what 70 revolutions looked like.
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But at least with the watch now set and the comforting vibration of Cocker at her best 'seveno' revolutions they were pearl thankfully on their way. Among those on watch was Petty Officer Coxswain Bertie male. i was relieved at midnight, and savouring the now cool air I went aft, where, following instructions that all offwatch personnel must sleep on deck while n this danger area, i had brought my camp bed up from below. Having set up the bed I stood eating a doorstep of a thirdgrade salmon sandwich before getting my head down to the pure bliss of, at the most, three hours' undisturbed sleep. 'The jangling alarm bells jerked us into life for serie actionstations.
Then, as if driven by a monumental sledgehammer, an enemy torpedo rammed itself into the very vitals of Cocker. Instantly our ship and home was no longer either she seemed to disintegrate, almost dissolve into the sea. A second explosion followed, probably a boiler going. By the light of flickering flames it was obvious that the ship had been blown almost in two. This, and the effect of the engines being at fullahead, had collapsed her at about midship point into a mass of rending metal. .
In her brief year of war so far she had been a maid of all work, escorting, towing, 'arseend Charlieing and had earned several commendations escorting supply ships along the north African coast on the tobruk run. On this day, as on many previous occasions, cocker slipped out of Tobruk harbour just before dusk to carry out the necessary asdic sweep of the harbour approaches prior to the arrival of her charge, a singlefunnelled freighter. Once the freighter appeared, cocker and her infinitely more imposing companion ship, the naval corvette hms gloxinia nearly three times her size would take up escort stations, and as fast as Cocker's tired reciprocating engines would allow, they would steam down to Alexandria and the. On this night, however, there were snags. The wayward, freighter did not appear at the appointed time, so cocker swept and reswept, probing with her asdic for any sign of the underwater enemy, whose habit it was to sit quietly outside harbours for just such situations as this. Her crew, still at 'leaving harbour stations began to get irritable when the skipper showed no sign of setting the watch, which would have allowed most of the men to have gone below.
By now it was quite dark, and tiring of the constant pressure, with the added danger of crossing courses with her sister escort in the blackness, cocker hoveto and carried out a 36o deg. The air was like velvet, the ship blacked out, yet all men were aware of the intense urgency. Didn't the crazy, laggardly merchantman realise that by dawn they ought to be well beyond the german divebomber range? Apparently not, so they cursed her, the slabsided bastard, for the longer they waited for her to appear, the more certain they were to have stukas with their breakfast. Then, 'captain, sir vessel passing through the boom' reported Cocker's sharpeyed lookout. The whaler immediately stirred to life and, much to the surprise of her crew, took up station on the freighter's port quarter her seaward side. Cocker's more usual, and safer, billet was on the shoreside of the ship she was escorting, a position which took her comfortably along under the coastal cliffs. Now this station had been pinched by Gloxinia, pushing Cocker out to the fully exposed seaward side of the miniature convoy.
Able seamen Job Description, duties and Jobs - part
Starting with 6,ooo men and 6oo vessels, 'harry tate's navy' grew to 66,ooo men and 6,ooo vessels of all descriptions. One very green Ordinary seaman who joined it was a bank clerk named paul Lund, and it is from his experiences, together with those of more than a hundred officers and men who generously contributed their diaries, letters, papers, photographs and fresh personal testimony, that. It hopes to tell for the travel first time the eventful warming story of His Majesty's other navy, just how it was. The death of 'cocker' Anything less like a british warship it would have been hard to imagine. She lay in Tobruk harbour, hms cocker, an unlikely ship in unnatural waters, far, far from home. . even her saucy name was unreal. She had been launched in the 1930s, all 300 tons of her, as the more prosaic Kos 19; for she was a sturdy Antarctic whaler, and had served her peacetime masters well in the most relentless of oceans, doing one of the toughest and bloodiest. Now here she was, on a june day in 1942, lolling in warm waters renamed and fitted out with guns, asdic and depthcharges, all the paraphernalia of war. Requisitioned only the year before, cocker, like others of her kin had been brought up from the bottom of the world for service in the mediterranean as an antisubmarine vessel; but call her what you will, try to hide her under Admiralty grey paint, dress.
The crews were fishermen, tugmen and lightermen, and their officers were skippers from the fishing fleets, with a leavening of business senior ranks from the royal navy and rnr to ensure that a modicum of naval discipline was observed. . But as the war dragged on, the huge expansion in Patrol Service shipping had to he matched in its crews, and so there poured into Sparrow's Nest an everincreasing flood of ordinary civilians from all walks of life, many of whom had not been. As they went off to join their ships, their ignorance of nautical matters was a source of wonder to the fishermen, who also found it hard to understand what these men were doing in their navy, while the outlook, customs and language of the seamen. Yet somehow, with tolerance and good 'humour on both sides, the mixing process worked. However, in spite of all the efforts of the naval men in charge and the great influx of newcomers, including rnvr officers, the casual, haphazard atmosphere of the fishermen's navy persisted, as did its fiercely stubborn independence, if not downright cussedness. The fleet of ruststained, weatherbeaten fishing craft 'minor war vessels' in the official language of the Admiralty earned the nickname of 'harry tate's navy after the famous comedian of the 1920s and 30s who was eternally confounded by modern gadgets and contraptions, the embodiment. So the 'sparrows in the nest as Lord HawHaw called them, went forth from the efficient madhouse of their central depot to fight the war in many parts of the world, facing enemy planes and warships, Uboats, Eboats, mines and terrible weathers with a courage. Grim statistics tell the measure of the contribution by the patrol Service in World War ii, for at the final count it had lost more vessels than any other branch of the royal navy.
sea going officers and ratings. Its unlikely headquarters was a municipal pleasure gardens by the sea at Lowestoft with the odd name of Sparrow's Nest. Its fighting fleet consisted of hundreds of coalburning trawlers, drifters and whalers brought in from the fishing grounds and dressed for war with ancient guns, most of which had been used to fight World War i and some the war before that. Fish holds became mess decks, and trawls were swapped for minesweeping gear; asdic sounding equipment was fitted for antisubmarine patrol. Then off went the fishermen to the bitter waters of the northern Patrol, to the Channel and 'Eboat Alley to the Atlantic and Arctic convoys, to the Uboat ridden us cast coast, gibraltar and the mediterranean, Africa, the Indian Ocean and the far East. Vessels, many of them as old or older than their outdated guns, made astonishing journeys of thousands of miles, fighting in strange waters and braving heavy odds. Other Patrol Service men helped to crew the small nucleus of Admiraltybuilt trawlers which existed at the beginning of the war, and others as they left the shipyards, besides a variety of requisitioned craft including armed yachts, boarding vessels, and paddlesteamers converted for minesweeping. To start with, the ships of the patrol Service were manned almost exclusively by skippers, mates and men of the royal naval Reserve, except for communications ratings, who came from a whitecollar world.
The Triumph of story Lady Shirley. Dont hang your Bloody heads. From Tobruk to the. The Grim Run to russia. One of our ships is Missing. Sir, the wheels come Off. Take my u-boat, no Grave but the sea.
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Trawlers go to war, contents. The death of reviews Cocker. A nest of sailors. Thje fighting Fishermen. Gracie fields is making Water. The silver Badge Fleet 7, The nothern Patrol. The terror of Tobermory.