MV Juna – Christmas 1967

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There comes a time that when you are offered something and it sounds great, you should be careful – but I wasn’t careful and agreed.

As MV Juna reached Fremantle in Western Australia I agreed to supervise the loading of freezer and chiller cargo, on the understanding that once is had been completed I was free to do whatever I wanted while in port.

I felt in a good mood as it was late December, and Christmas was just around the corner, so I agreed to the 1st Mate’s offer.

We arrived on Sunday 17th December in the evening, and of course being Sunday, we had to wait until the morning before work could begin.

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I started at 7.00 am on Monday, just as the shore labour came on board. We were to load deep frozen meat, ice cream, vegetables, butter and yoghurt into freezers, as well as cheese in to the chiller. Most of these items were for the Persian Gulf.

The stowage plan had been created so I didn’t expect too much trouble, and I anticipated that the whole job would be about two working days.

The plans of mice and men – we had two freezer/ chiller holds and I was up and down the vertical ladders to the various decks all day to sort out problems, and to change the stowage plan, because not all of the cargo was available at the correct time, so I had to improvise taking in to account the ports of discharge. There was no point in stowing ice cream for Bahrain behind ice cream for Kuwait – if our first port of call was Bahrain.

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All through the first day nothing went right – cargo delayed, ringing suppliers & transport companies, making sure the freezer doors were closed as we waited for the next truck load. Making sure the cargo was frozen solid before it was loaded – I must admit I was not particularly polite to our agents who had arranged the cargo – I didn’t get to bed until 6.00 am Tuesday.

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The above diagram is not of the Juna, but hopefully will give you an idea of what I am mean.
Using No 1 or 2 as an examples the upper tween deck and the lower tween deck of both holds had large freezer chambers, and to get to each, one climbed down a vertical ladder attached to the inside of the hold.
You held on to the ladder with both hands as you climbed up and down. I was responsible for the freezer cargo in both ‘tween decks of No 1 & No 2, a total of four areas.

We worked both holds at the same time, and I was up and down the ladders several times an hour, so it didn’t take long to become tired, and I had to be careful not to make mistakes when climbing the vertical ladders.

After going to bed at 6.00 am I was woken at 8 am and again at 9 am with questions, and in the end  I left my comfortable bed at 11.00 am frustrated at the constant questions considering each gang had an experienced supervisor.
Of course the labour changed shifts every so many hours and went home, which required fresh instructions for the new supervisors.

The second day progressed, and I returned to my bed at 4.00 am on the third day – fully clothed and with my shoes on.

I passed out cold.

I was twenty three and reasonably fit, even though I smoked at that time – I considered it my duty to smoke, because cigarettes & alcohol were duty free.
A carton of 200 cigarettes was about 9/- (9 shillings or about 45 p – about £12.21 ($15.25 US) in today’s money.)

I was up and about at 10.00 am and worked through to midnight, by which time I didn’t know what day it was or what time it was . . .

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We finally finished loading the freezer / chiller cargo at 11.00 am on Thursday, it had taken us 75 hours to complete the loading, the original plan was 48 hours, and I’d been on duty for 60 of the 75 hours, and at the end I had a whole 24 hours to myself, before we were due to sail.

I slept most of my off-duty time, so next time I will consider any offers more carefully.

All the above pictures are from the internet to illustrate how we loaded freezer and chiller cargo in the mid 1960’s.

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Today the container is packed at the freezer works and is lifted in one piece on to the ship and plugged in to a power supply.

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To illustrate how far transport has come; the above container was created to carry sushi!   Both above pictures are off the internet.

I wasn’t the only one working long hours during our stay in Fremantle. The First Mate had suggested various cargo work for the other officers, and the cadets, everyone worked flat out for the entire period of loading. We loaded dry cargo as well as the freezer cargo.

We sailed for Bombay (now Mumbai) on the 22nd December, and once again I had the ‘graveyard watch’ midnight to 4.00 am and mid-day to 4.00 pm, my favourite watch.

It was going to be Christmas at sea, and New Year’s Eve at sea, before we would arrive in Bombay.

Each ship in which I’ve sailed, except for the LST, had a small bar where the officers would congregate when off duty.

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Obviously when the above was taken it must have been Christmas time, but I’ve blotted out their faces because I don’t know how to get in touch with the officers in the photograph. This was not the bar in the Juna, but another Company vessel.

Each bar had a unique name – Stagger Inn, (the bar of MV Carpentaria) is one that comes to mind, Coolumbooka Inn,  Coolumbooka River supplies water for the town of Bombala in NSW Australia, and the name of the ship in which this bar is located was MV Bombala.

You’d think I could remember more than two, but . . .  the one thing I can remember is that in every officers’ bar / saloon a portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth was prominent.

For other Christmas’ at sea I kept the Christmas Day menu of our main meal, but for some reason I can’t find Juna’s menu.
Watches still had to be kept and so those who worked day work (mainly the cadets and  the First Mate & Captain) could enjoy Christmas Day, but for those of us who stood watches, we had to be circumspect as to how many drinks we consumed.

At that time we didn’t have a breathalyser system on board, and this system of checking car drivers had only just been introduced in the UK, in October 1967.
It was up to the Captain or First Mate to decide if anyone was unfit for duty, and if they did decided that one was not fit to stand his Watch you were finished as a deck officer with British India Steam Nav. Co.

If you were an engineering officer, the final decision would be made by the Chief Engineer but logged by the Captain.

On New Year’s Eve all the deck and engineer officers were invited to the Captain’s cabin for drinks, and if you were on the 8 – 12 watch (i.e 8 pm to midnight & 8 am to noon) the party could  well be still going when you left the bridge.
Being on the midnight to 4.00 am watch, I left the celebrations about 9.00 pm to get a couple of hours sleep before taking over the Watch on the bridge, which was just before the New Year came in – and by ten minutes passed midnight I was sure to have a number of visitors to keep me company, other than the helmsman.

In the middle of the ocean one could be as noisy as one wanted to be and not upset the neighbours,

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and even in ‘a lonely sea and sky’ we would never use fireworks, because ‘fireworks’ (distress rockets) were only to be used at sea, when in distress.

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Sea Fever – by John Masefield
“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.”

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HMS Conway in the River Mersey, Trafalgar day, 1890

John Masefield, who, I am pleased to say, was also an old ‘Conway‘ and he was in the old ship from 1891 to 1894, and UK poet laureate 1930 to 1967. In addition to writing poetry he also wrote twenty-three novels.

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John Masefield 1878 – 1967

 

 

MV Juna née Cornwall

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My new ship MV Juna, launched in 1951, 7583 gt, and built for Federal Steam Navigation Co. under the name of MV Cornwall.
She was prone to engine trouble and had been in Sydney for extensive repairs after which she was transferred to British India Steam Navigation Co and renamed MV Juna in August of 1967. I joined her in November 1967.

Both companies were in the P & O Group at that time, so moving vessels between companies was nothing new.

I arrived in Perth W. Australia, at 4.00 am and took a taxi to the ship, which was in Fremantle, the seaport for Perth. When I boarded it was about 5.00 am and of course the ship was quiet and everyone was asleep. I found the cabin area that was used as a ‘hospital’, locked myself in and went to bed.

Less than three hours later I was awake and getting dressed because I had to ‘sign on’ because the ship was about to sail for Sydney. At least I was given the rest of the day off as it appeared that I was number one spare!

I had quiet a pleasant time during the ‘cruise’ to Sydney where the current third mate was leaving. I’d sailed with the 2nd Mate on the African coast a few years earlier when he was 3rd Mate, plus I knew the purser having sailed with him before on the Japanese coast.

‘Juna’  was clean and well built, but had a tendency to roll her way across the Great Australian Bight.
She had been built to have air-conditioning, but this vital (for us) piece of equipment was never installed, and I wasn’t looking forward to the Persian Gulf.
At least all the equipment on the bridge worked correctly, and we had a new radar set, that worked! The joy of it all . . .

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The reddish dot on the left is Fremantle and the blue dot on the right is Melbourne and the curved coastline between is the Great Australian Bight.

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Beautiful when calm, but a dangerous place in a storm.

Magnificent Great Australian Bight and Southern Ocean.

One can drive from Melbourne to Adelaide along a road called The Great Ocean Road – very dramatic, and very popular with overseas visitors as well as those of us who are lucky enough to live in Australia.

Ocean birdOut at sea, away from the land, I never tired of watching the albatross.

Loch Ard

In 1878 the iron clipper Loch Ard was sailing from London to Melbourne with luxury goods, as well as everyday items. There were fifty-four people on-board including seventeen passengers.
It was winter in Australia, on the 1st June 1878, with fog and sea mist all around, as they kept a look out for the Cape Otway light

The captain thought he was fifty miles to seaward, but instead he saw breakers dead ahead, he tried to alter course away from the danger and make his way out to sea, but the waves washed his ship on to the rocks of Mutton Island. She sank within fifteen minutes of striking the rocks.

Mutton Island is at the mouth of a gorge and only sixty meters off the shore.
Only two people survived, eighteen year old passenger Eva Carmichael, and crewman Tom Pearce, who was nineteen.
Pearce made it ashore and as he staggered up the beach he heard a woman cry out for help, so he went back in to the sea and managed to rescued Eva Carmichael.
The gorge was named after the ship in memory of those who died, and is now known as Loch Ard gorge.

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Tom Pearce
Tom Pearce returned to England, completed his apprenticeship to become a ship’s officer and eventually gained command of his own ship. He died at the age of forty nine and is buried in Southampton.

 

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Eva Carmichael
Eva Carmichael later married Captain Thomas Achilles Townsend, who had migrated to Australia. The couple later returned to live in Ireland.

Over the years there have been a number of novels linked to the Loch Ard tragedy, and one fictional account became a TV hit in the 1980’s as All The Rivers Run  starring Sigrid Madeline Thornton.

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I’ve seen the series and read the book, on which the series was based. I enjoyed both.

 

We arrived safely in Sydney –

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The opera house hadn’t yet been finished

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but they had fast ferries across the harbour.

Where docked in 1967 is now a very chic area that I think twice about if I was to visit one of the restaurants in this area. The finger wharf that we berthed alongside has been converted into very expensive apartments – how time have changed. In the 1960’s few would live anywhere near where deep seas ships docked.

Our next port was Melbourne, we are on our back to western Australia, before sailing for Bombay (now Mumbai).

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A touch of yesterday Bourke Street 1967 – Melbourne still have their trams.

Melbourne was where Maureen visited her aunt & uncle before flying to Auckland to see me in 1966. I couldn’t visit Melbourne without introducing myself to Maureen’s family.

I was given a very warm welcome and in the evening Robbie (Maureen’s uncle) took me to his local pub, and over a few beers we talked of life in Australia compared to life in the UK. Robbie and his wife had emigrated in 1951 out of pure frustration.

They were married, but due to the housing shortage, particularly in Liverpool after the bombing during the war, they were unable to find a house or flat where they could live together.

Robbie had been in the British army in north Africa and had joined the LRDG (Long Range Dessert Group), which was used to ferry the new regiment called the SAS, to within range of enemy airfields and fuel dumps.

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The above photograph is off the internet and not one of Robbie’s – it is to illustrate the LRDG.

Robbie spent four years in the desert, which was where he met Australians, and became interested in migrating.
The Australian attitude to life fitted well with Robbie’s, so after a few frustrating years of not being able to rent / buy a house he thought he’d be better off in Australia, so he and his wife became £10.00 Poms, his daughter was born in Australia.
He didn’t return to the UK until 1976, when he and his wife & daughter stayed with Maureen & I in Congleton, Cheshire, for three weeks.
It took quite a few beers to get just a brief outline of Robbie’s adventures during his years in the desert, and his time with the LRDG.

Phantom Major

If you are interested in the link  between the LRDG & the SAS, may I suggest this book. It took me many years to find this copy, because I’d given my original to Robbie.
The book was published in 1958, and I found this copy in 2015 in a small second hand book shop called ‘Chapter Two’ in Stirling, which is a small town in S. Australia.
Everything  comes to him who waits :- o)

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                 The above picture from Chapter Two book shop web site in Stirling.

After searching second hand book shops for many years looking for The Phantom Major which is about David Stirling and the beginning of the SAS. I found it in a book shop in Stirling!

Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”
so said by P.J. O’Rourke, who is an an American political satirist and journalist.

From Melbourne it was Adelaide, across the Great Australian Bite to Perth in Western Australia.

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MV Cornwall, during her time with Federal Steam Navigation Co.
before becoming MV Juna for British India Steam Navigation Co.

 

 

 

 

 

The last voyage of the Pundua – part three

We arrived safely in Moji, and when off duty, I was free to walk around the town.
It was 1967 and the lack of English language signs was noticeable, considering that all of the other Japanese ports (about five or six) that I’d visited, had some western symbols, even if it was only a neon Coca Cola sign.

The map below shows the Inland Sea of Japan – it stretches from the green circle on the left to the right-hand side of Shikoku. Each time that I’d sailed this sea it had always been calm.
When we left Moji we sailed between Honshu & Shikoku under the advice of a pilot.

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The green circle on the left is Moji and the larger of the two green circles on the right is Kobe, which was our destination, and across the bay from Kobe is Osaka.

I worked the night shift in Moji and we sailed for Kobe in the afternoon of the the next day. The transit time was about eight hours.

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Temples in the water of the Inland Sea.

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Calm and peaceful – the above two pictures are off the internet to illustrate the calmness of the Inland Sea.

I always liked Kobe, because it was an exciting town, with a good choice of bars and restaurants.
To order food in the restaurant we would take the waiter outside and point at the models of the dishes in the window. I’d never seen plastic models of food before, but it made life easy, because my Japanese was limited. I could get around via taxi, and use a bus and order a beer, but ordering a meal in a restaurant was beyond my ability.

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Even the lettuce was plastic

One of my favourite bars in Kobe was Clancy’s Bar.

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It was owned and run by Clancy (of course), who was an Australian and he’d remained in Japan after the war.
Clancy was a large man and wouldn’t put up with any troublemakers. Any problems and you were out on your ear.

We were in Kobe for a day and a night before moving across to Osaka, which is a short twelve miles (19 km) ‘voyage’.

Osaka was an eye opener for me, due to the large underground shopping centres, which contained restaurants, cinemas, cafes, car show rooms and thousands of people shopping or eating (but not when they walked – very bad manners), it was an underground city.
The neon lighting and flashing advertising wasn’t any different underground as it was ‘up top’.

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Underground shopping centres are common today, but in 1967 I’d never experienced this type of shopping in the UK or anywhere else.  The above pictures are off the internet and are much later than 1967.

A day or so later we were in Nagoya famed for the crockery industry – tea sets, dinner sets. We didn’t load cargo in any of the ports that we visited, but only discharged our cargo.
From Nagoya it was Yokohama for a couple of nights before sailing once again via the inland sea for Moji.

We were as empty as any ship can be, and we were high out of the water and the propeller thrashed the sea as it pushed us south. The problem being that only half of the propeller was in the water, which caused us to rattle and bang day after day, and the shuddering shook the whole ship so much, that to try and write the ship’s logbook during a watch was a challenge.
It did cross our minds that she might shake herself to bits before we reached Hong Kong.

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Found the above on the internet to give you an idea of a ship empty and her prop out of the water.

Our reason for visiting Moji again was to load 2500 tons of cement, in the hope that the propeller would be under water for the crossing to Hong Kong, where the ship was to be sold – the idea of Pundua being scrapped in Japan had changed  . . .again.

We reached Moji safely.

While we were loading the cement, I had a few hours off so decided to go to the cinema to see the Ten Commandments, because it was the only film I recognised.

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The above is the Japanese version of     Moses

I bought my ticket and entered the cinema and took a seat in the middle far enough back that I could easily see the screen. The shows were not continuous as they were in the UK at that time.

After a few minutes I was asked to move by a very polite Japanese man who kept bowing and showing me his ticket.  I presumed that he had booked the seat in which I was sitting.
During the next five or six minutes I had to move several times because I was always in the wrong seat, and none of the cinema staff or the patrons could speak English, so I kept moving.

I ended up joining a small group of people near the front who were standing up waiting for the picture to start. This was when I realised that I’d bought a ticket that entitled me to watch the film, but standing up, I was not entitled to a seat!

I was so close to the screen that I had to keep swiveling my head, if I wished to see where an arrow had gone once fired from one side of the screen. Plus looking up Mr Heston’s nose for 220 minutes was not my idea of a day out.

Obviously the soundtrack had sub-titles in Japanese – one set down the right hand side of the screen from top to bottom, and the other along the bottom of the screen. I assumed they were different languages, Japanese from top to bottom & Chinese along the bottom. Perhaps this was to save issuing a Japanese, and a separate Chinese version (for Taiwan & Hong Kong) of the film, so saving money. I doubted that it would have been released in the People’s Republic of China anyway.

Most of my ‘standing’ group did find seating on the steps at the side of the cinema, very close to the screen. This was my one and only visit to a Japanese cinema.

As soon as we were finished loading we sailed as quickly as we could and headed for Hong Kong – why the speed you may ask – another typhoon was on our tail Typhoon Gilda, and we had to try and out run it for the shelter of Hong Kong harbour.
Thinking back, it was odd that we had the confidence to try and out run a typhoon at our top speed of under 10 knots.
There is a web site that makes interesting reading about Gilda (click on the name) as to what happened to the people who were ashore during the storm.

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Picture of Gilda taken from the internet –

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The track of Typhoon Gilda – the islands on the left pf the picture are the Philippines, and where Gilda crosses land, it is the island of Taiwan – in the picture Hong Kong is to the left of Taiwan Island, and the larger green piece of land is China. Our course from Japan would take us down the Taiwan Strait, which is between Taiwan and China.

The sea was rough, but not as bad as on our voyage to Japan. We bounced around quite a lot which was also due to the lack of cargo, but we did manage to out run Typhoon Gilda and reached Hong Kong harbour and shelter before she struck Taiwan in force.

Once in Hong Kong we anchored off the island and began to strip the ship of equipment and stores – the ship had been sold, but the stores belonged to the Company.

We also helped out by having several parties so that we didn’t have to unload the champagne, wine, spirits and beer from the duty-free area. I must admit that we worked particularly hard with certain commodities to help out the Company.

The Pundua was sold to Jebshun Shipping of Hong Kong, and during one of the days that the new owners were checking over the ship I was approached and offered a job as 2nd Mate of the now Shun On, which was the new name of the Pundua.

My initial reaction was that I felt flattered, and then another thought passed through my mind. I had a 2nd Mates ticket and was sailing as 3rd Mate, and after I gained my 1st Mates ticket I’d be looking to sail as 2nd Mate – this was the norm for British registered ships & seamen.
So I asked which ‘trade’ did they anticipate using the Shun On, perhaps the Persian Gulf or the Japan to China trade.
I was told the salary which was VERY good, and then I was told that the Shun On would be running from China to Vietnam with ‘supplies’.

This is when I completely lost interest, particularly as the United States Seventh Fleet was operating in the Gulf of Tonkin, and would not take it kindly of anyone supplying the northern part of Vietnam.

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The red circle is Hong Kong & the green dot is approximately the location of Hanoi, so you can see why the US 7th Fleet considered the Gulf of Tonkin to be so important.

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The 7th Fleet was jokingly called the Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club . . . . .  I turned down their generous offer to become a 2nd Mate.

The following day the Pundua was no more, and I left Shun On in a motor launch, which took me to the airport. At that time Hong Kong airport’s runway ‘stuck out’ into the harbour.

I flew out of Hong Kong via MAS – Malaysian-Singapore Airlines, which, at that time, was a joint venture between the two countries.

Singapore Airlines, as we know it today, did not come about until 1972, when the MAS split due to conflict of direction for the future.

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Malaysian- Singapore Airline Comet Four at Hong Kong Kai Tak in 1966.

It was this type of Comet that I took from Hong Kong to Singapore the following year. I arrival in Singapore around 2.00 pm, and was met by our agent and taken to the Ambassador Hotel to await the BOAC flight BA 712 to Perth in Western Australia.

Oddly enough I’d flown BA 712 from London to Singapore a couple of years earlier to join LST Frederick Clover.

It was a night flight from Singapore to Perth and I had a very chatty Italian sitting next to me who wanted to tell me his life story in broken English. I was polite, but during one long story I fell asleep it had been a long day.

 

 

The last voyage of the Pundua- Part two

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Uniform button from a BISNC uniform – we still wore the Company’s uniform even though the ship was sailing to Japan to be scrapped.

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Of course, we wore our caps when required, mainly in port when we were duty officer. I did sail with captains that required the officer of the watch to wear his cap, even in the middle of the ocean.

After Penang our next port of call was to be Port Swettenham on the west coast of Malaysia. This port was the main port for the capital Kuala Lumpur, and the port’s name was changed in 1972, to Port Klang.
Today, Malaysia also has an administration and judicial centre called Putrajaya, which is also considered as a ‘capital’.
During the 1960’s we would contact Port Swettenham by radio via the code name ‘Klang Exchange’.

Before 1880 Klang was the capital of Selangor, but in 1880 the capital was moved to Kuala Lumpur, as a more strategic location.
Kuala Lumpur means “muddy confluence” as it is the location of where two rivers meet, and one of the rivers was named Klang River. During the opening of the tin mines near Kuala Lumpur in 1857, it was considered that KL was the furthest point up the Klang River that one could send supplies by boat.

In September 1882, Sir Frank Swettenham was appointed as the Resident of Selangor and he instigated a rail link from KL to Klang, because ships were becoming larger and they could not navigate the shallow waters of the Klang river, which caused problems for the export of tin.
Nineteen and a half miles of track was opened in 1886, and in 1890 the track was finally extended to Klang.
Sir Frank still had a problem, because as ships became larger the Klang river was now too shallow for these modern vessels to navigate up the river to even the town of Klang. It was decided that a new port was required at the mouth of the river, and when completed in 1901 the new port was called Port Swettenham.
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Sir Frank Swettenham – March 1850 – June 1946 –

He married Vera Guthrie in 1939, she was forty nine when they were married.
She died in 1970.

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Sir Frank in his younger days.

After a couple of days we sailed from Port Swettenham for Singapore – we sailed at 7.00 am, but we knew were were not due in Singapore until 6.00 am the following day – so we reduced speed and crept down the Malacca Straits.
The distance is about 225 nautical miles and we had 23 hours in which to make the journey, so even at our top speed of ten knots we’d be lucky to get there to meet our schedule. I think the Captain went at full speed and he allowed for the current slowing us down.
From Singapore we went sailed for – Port Swettenham – and arrived on a Saturday. Why does this stick in my mind you might ask – because I was roped in for a game of cricket.
If I was to write the sum of my football knowledge on the back of a stamp I’d have plenty of room for my knowledge of cricket. This game on Sunday went from 1030 am to 5.00 pm in the tropical heat of Malaysia.
We lost of course, and I cannot remember ever spending such a boring day. I’ve never liked ‘bat & ball’ even as a child.

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Port Swettenham in the 1960’s

It must have been a holiday weekend because the following day I was again shanghaied in to playing football this time against a Ben Line ship (Ben Line was another British shipping company, who operated at that time from the UK to the Far East. I’m not sure if they are still in business.) but this time we won 3 – 1.

There was talk of a return match the following day, but as luck would have it, I was working!

Eventually we sailed for Hong Kong, which was at least a week’s sailing for us. There is always a silver lining because during the several days at sea between Port Swettenham and Hong Kong I managed to finish

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in English of course.

We worked cargo in Hong Kong and made ready for our five-day run to Moji in southern Japan. We sailed at lunchtime on the 15th October 1967. A memorable day!

On the afternoon of the 16th October the weather had become quite wild because we were heading for the outer rim of typhoon Carla, which was later designated as Super Typhoon Carla, a category five typhoon, with wind speeds of 157 mph (252 km/h).

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I found this on the internet of Typhoon Carla

Later we heard that this typhoon dumped 47.8 inches of rain in 24 hours in the Philippines, and the following day 108.2 inches on Taiwan in 48 hours, Oct 17 – 19th, killing 250 people and leaving 30 missing.

Storm 2

I managed to get a few pictures before the light faded. At that time my camera was a pure point and click with little refinements. We were about to meet the typhoon.

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Pundua was old, and we could feel every shudder as she was struck by another wave.

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The light was fading

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The waves appeared to be getting larger . . .

By the evening the sea was very rough and we were shipping water over the fore deck and pitching and rolling at the same time. (known as corkscrewing).

The following day (17th October) I was on the 8 to 12 watch and so reported to the bridge.
I just wore uniform shorts and shirt, and flip flops, because wearing shoes seemed pointless with all the water around.
I entered the bridge via the inside staircase and stepped into ankle deep water on the deck of the enclosed part of the bridge. Visibility was down to less than three hundred yards, and the clouds seemed to blend with the ocean.

The wave height was estimated at about 30 feet (9 mtrs) and getting worse, and the wind about 45 mph (72 km / hr) whipped up spray from the crest of the waves, which didn’t help with visibility.
All we knew was that we were not making any headway through the water. We only had a vague idea of our location because we couldn’t see the sun and our ancient radar system had died, so we didn’t have any idea as to how close or how far we were from land

The waves and wind smashed our navigation lights, and the hatch cover on number one hatch was slowly being blown to pieces. We had heavy wire ropes on the forecastle, which were used as mooring lines, but these had been washed down on to the main fore deck so powerful were the waves.
Wooden covers of the aft hatch, near the crew’s quarters, had been smashed by the waves, but there wasn’t anything that we could do to secure the damage, it was too dangerous. I jammed myself in the corner of the bridge to stay upright.

Our captain sat in his tall chair looking out ahead – he’d been there all night.

I checked the chart and saw that there was a note attached giving our estimated position that was to be used if the radio operator had to send out an SOS due to our sinking and abandoning ship. A comforting thought as I added my comments of the weather in to the log book.

At 10.00 am on the 17th we had to turn out and secure the steering gear down aft. The strain on the steering gear, as we tried to keep the Pundua’s head in to the waves, caused a huge strain on the rudder (the system was manual steering, we didn’t have auto pilot), so we posted a man down in the steering area to warn us of any further problems with the system.
Every four hours we had to tighten very large nuts, which were part of the steering gear and due to the constant movement, started to come loose.

At noon I was relieved and went below – my cabin was a shamble, due to the constant violent movement of the ship everything was either broken or scattered, and of course everything was soaking wet. With the driving rain and the constant battering by the waves none of our cabins stood a chance of being waterproof. My cabin was one deck above the main deck.

There was little chance of sleep during off duty hours.

At 8.00 pm I was back on the bridge for my watch – the weather had got worse. The waves were estimated at 50 feet high (15.2 mtrs) & the wind was over 70 mph (113 km/h), in fact the wind was so strong we were unable to estimate the speed over 70 mph. Remember we were supposed to be on the rim of the typhoon.

Staggering down aft to check the steering gear was a life-threatening exercise.

The storm never let up for the next day and a half and during the night of the 18/19th October the storm began to ease.

We hadn’t hadn’t been able to fix our position in three days, because of the lack of sun & stars, and we only had an estimated position (more of a gut feel).

At 6.30 am on the 19th October we saw land about five miles away! The problem was that we couldn’t identify the land, but we managed to turn around and headed back out to sea as the land might be China, Formosa (now Taiwan), or anywhere, because getting too close to unknown land would be dangerous because we didn’t know which chart to use.

At 8.00 am when I took over the watch the waves had dropped to about 25 feet and the wind to about 30 mph, the movement felt quite ‘pleasant’, compared to the previous day.

Later we were able to identify the land that we’d seen and we worked it out that to be in the position we were to see the land, we’d crossed rocks and a reef and recrossed the same reef and rocks when we turned to steam away from the land. One might say that the devil takes care of his own . . .

Later in the day we managed to get a shot at the sun and to work out our position. We were only 200 miles away from our position of three days earlier. We should have been 700 miles closer to Japan, but we’d been blown (pushed?), and failed to make any headway. We were  500 miles from our scheduled position.
The voyage from Hong Kong to Moji, at our speed, would have taken us five days, it had already been six days since leaving Hong Kong, and we had an estimated further four days to go.
We joked about our report to head office, Pundua five days late on a five day voyage.

On the 26th October we arrived in Moji which is at the southern entrance to the Inland Sea of Japan, the entrance is via the Kanmon Straits. See the map below.

map

The pink do marks Moji, but today is appears that the town has been swallowed up by surrounding towns, and on later maps is hard to find.
Today you can cross the Straits via ferry, or drive across the bridge or use the tunnel, which can be via train, car or even walk at its narrowest point.
As soon as we docked the agent came aboard – our favourite person if he has mail, but the most hated if he is empty handed.
I received mail from Maureen & my parents, and while sitting quietly reading (we were waiting for the labour to arrive to unload the cargo) my cabin door burst open and my steward dashed in holding letter in his hand and said to me –
‘Sahib, Sahib, you have a letter from your Queen!’
A letter addressed to me had been mixed with the Captain’s official letters, and the steward had been told to take this letter to me. Being an official looking letter, it managed to confuse my Goanese steward.

stamp

I copied the above from the internet to give you an idea why my steward was confused.

The real letter was addressed to me c/o the Company, and it was from the British Admiralty.
When I left Conway to go to sea I joined the RNR (Royal Navy Reserves), but as most of my sea time had been out East and around Australia, I had not reported for any training in the UK. When I was on leave I was not keen to sacrifice my leave, not even for Queen and Country.
Little did I know that I could have had my leave and still attended training with the Royal Navy.
The Company would have released me for the required training time & I’d still be on full pay, that’s how ignorant I was at eighteen, because I was never told of the ‘system’.

People assumed that cadets would be aware of the system. Well I wasn’t aware, and they were now after me for not completing any training in the last five years.

After some thought I decided to resign from the RNR, my resignation was accepted, and the clerks in the Admiralty were very happy, because this helped to keep their files in order.

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         The Company flag & distinctive black funnel with two white bands.

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The above is a photograph of the first Pundua to join the fleet – launched in 1888 and broken up in 1920.
She was 3305 gt – besides being a passenger ship, operating between Colombo (Ceylon) to Tuticorin (southern India) she was used as a troop ship during various wars.
She carried troops during the Boer war, other troops to Shan-Hai-Khwan during the Boxer uprising in China, and from India, the Meeerut Regiment, which was an Indian regiment, to France in WW1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last voyage of the Pundua – part one

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MV Pundua – ordered by the M.O.W.T (Ministry of War for Transport) in 1945, but was delivered to British India Steam Navigation Co. when launched.
The Company had 105 ships at the outbreak of WW2, and during the war they lost 51 vessels due to enemy action.

They also managed 72 other vessels, and of these 16 were lost. In all 1083 lives were lost.

Oddly enough the town of Pundua is about 160 kms by road, from the town of Bankura, which was the name of my previous ship.

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The symbol of BI, which could be seen on the bow of the cargo ships and under the bridge on the passenger ships.

I signed on Pundua on Tuesday the 29th August. She was a joy of a ship – she didn’t have any air condition, and my cabin was a little bigger than a match box. The cabin contained a small washbasin, a bunk, a small wardrobe, a tiny desk & chair and a couch.
The temperature in the cabin never went below 32 c (90 F). I shared my domain with a few thousand insects – and just before going to sleep I’d spray the cockroaches favourite areas in the cabin, in the hope of getting to sleep before they found me, but I think they thrived on the insect repellent.

The news of the day was that we were to leave as much of our personal gear as possible in Bombay, as the ship was to be sold for scrap when we reached Japan, and everyone would be flown back to Bombay.

There were nine of us who were British, the captain first, second and third mate, chief engineer and three watch keeping engineers, and a radio operator. The deck and engine room crew and stewards were either from India, Pakistan or east Asia.

All of the officers had experienced various great plans of those who controlled our lives, but lived ashore, so I don’t think any of us left any of our gear in Bombay.

We worked cargo for the rest of the week, 6 on 6 off, (without overtime pay), and sailed on Monday 4th September for Cochin (now called Kochi) , which is south of Bombay, but on the same west coast of India.

The trip south was quiet pleasant, because our top speed was 10 kts (11.5 mph or 18.5 km/h), what ever speed you measure it in, we were SLOW.
She was a three cylinder, two stroke single acting 516 NHP , (normal horse power) and her top speed, when she was new, was 12 kts.

BI ships were known as ‘good feeders’ but Pundua fell short of this title – little things annoyed us such as the inability to toast bread, we were told not to drink the water from the tap, but only from a special water tank set aside for human consumption, the eggs tasted ‘odd’, regardless as to how they were cooked, and the potatoes also had a strange taste, and the tomatoes tasty ‘dusty’ – how can a tomato taste ‘dusty’, but they did.
Overall the food was nowhere near the normal BI high standard.

Pundua was a tramp ship of the ‘old school’and she knew it . . . .fortunately all of the officers got on well together, so she might have been a tramp, but she was a happy tramp.

We arrived off Cochin on the evening of the 6th September and anchored off and waited to go alongside
When we moved alongside the single pier on the 10 th September, we waited to work cargo.
We were told that it might be tomorrow – but the following day the whole of the State  Kerala went on strike (Cochin is in Kerala).
The strikers included all the dock workers, all the government staff, including the police & fire brigade. The political leader of the State was a communist, as were most of the union leaders. This is a fact, not my opinion.
We were advised not to go ashore, so we posted a gangway watch – and we raised our gangway just too high to reach without a ladder – we didn’t want any surprises.

180211-Goodbye-RMS-St-Helena-41-raising-the-gangway

Illustration of a gangway too high to reach from the wharf, this was not uncommon in certain ports, particularly at night when cargo work had stopped.

With all the on / off problems we were stuck in Cochin until the 14th September, but we did have a small ‘drama’.

The labour had returned to work and I was duty officer when I saw some thing in the water. At first I thought it was some of our cargo that had been mishandled and fallen in to the water, until I looked closer, only to see it was a dead body, which had been in the water for sometime as it was blotted.
The body had drifted between the ship and the shore, so I called to the police on the wharf to take the body away.
The policeman stood and watched the body as it bounced off the ship and then off the pier. Eventually the corpse was lassoed around its ankle and tied to the end of the wharf so that it couldn’t float away.

This incident happened around 10.00 am, but the body was not removed from the water until later afternoon.

While we were alongside the ship was invited to play soccer against a local team, and I was roped in as part of the ship’s team.
My sum knowledge of soccer can be written on the back of a stamp, so I don’t think I was very much help to the team. I did manage to run around a bit, enough that it took me about two days to stop aching, I didn’t realise that 90 minutes could be so long.
I cannot remember if I even managed to kick the ball!

On completion of the cargo work we sailed for Tuticorin, which is on the southern tip of India, the land just south of Tuticorin is Ceylon, (now Sri Lanka). Once again we anchored off and worked cargo in to barges.

We sailed south around Ceylon and then headed east for Penang. I was on the ‘graveyard watch’- noon to 4 pm, and midnight to 4.00 am.
There is something magical about being on watch at 2.00 am in the tropics. Everyone is asleep (except for the helmsman and the f’xle lookout) and the only noise is the distant thump, thump of the ship’s engine and the sound of water gurgling down the side of the ship as she pushed her way across the ocean.

After one watch I’d gone to bed around 5.00 am and all was well with the world, until I woke around 7.30 am to silence. We’d broken down in the Bay of Bengal.

We estimated that the island of Sumatra was on our starboard side about 500 miles away (800 km). At that time we didn’t have the benefit of satellite navigation, and the mobile phone hadn’t been invented.
We worked our position out in much the same way as the sailors in the early 1800’s, we took a sight of the sun at noon, and this gave us our latitude, and thanks to John Harrison  (1693 – 1776) we knew our longitude.

Fortunately the breakdown only lasted an hour, after which it was full steam to Penang, well full steam for us was still ten knots.

Two days of heavy rain, leaking windows, along with leaks in the deckhead (ceiling) of my cabin soaked my bunk, so I had to sleep on the couch, with my legs hanging over the end, which guaranteed morning cramps.
Once the sun came out the bedding , mattress etc soon ‘steamed’ off before drying completely. The joys of a tramp ship.

Arrival in Penang has always been a joy for me – there is a world famous bar there called the Hong Kong Bar and they do say that it you sit there long enough you’ll meet someone you know.

Bali 2014 468r

Chulia St (now known as Lebuh Chulia)

The main change in the above photograph, which I took in 2014, compared to my various visits in the 1960’s is the lack of rickshaws & tri-shaws – the cars are too modern, but the buildings are original. The Hong Kong Bar is down the road on the right.

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Old Penang

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All my yesterdays :- o)

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Plaques from various ship, army units, RAAF squadrons, lifebelts from various merchant ships, the place was a mecca for servicemen and sailors – it was purely a bar, not a pick up joint for girls.

The same Chinese family had owned the bar since the mid nineteen fifties and they used to collect photographs of their customers, sober or drunk.
When visiting this bar, if you were on your own, you would soon be in conversation with someone that knew someone that you knew – six degrees of separation well before it became popular.

Unfortunately the bar suffered a fire in the 1970’s, but they managed to save quite a few pieces of memorabilia – except for some of the photograph albums of the late fifties and through the sixties – my time.

I visited the bar in 2014 and asked if they still had the photographs – the owner was happy to drag out what he had, but unfortunately I was unable to find the 1960’s period due to the fire, nor did I recognise anyone in the hundreds of photographs that I scanned on the off chance.

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If you visit the bar today the rescued crests of the servicemen of yesterday, are still there, but damaged by fire.

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Before the fire the owner had a wall of money – currency notes from every corner of the world – all stuck on the wall by servicemen and merchant seamen, . . .he has started again, but the number of seamen is well down on what there used to be – containerisation does not require the same numbers of sailors or the same length of time in port. To be blunt, the romance of running a way to sea has faded in to history.

Bali 2014 462r

When I visited the Hong Kong Bar in 2014 I was not the only one on a memory trip.
An Australian ex-serviceman and his wife, were also there to do the same thing that I was about to do – lean on the bar and drink in the atmosphere over a glass of Tiger beer.

Bali 2014 467r

When I saw the gentleman in the yellow shirt I had the feeling of deja vue, because I thought I recognised him from the 60’s. After a short conversation I realised that this gentleman was the son of the man that I knew, who was the original owner.
                                                             Tempus fugit.

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When I was checking a few things on-line for this post, I came across the above, which is an advert to build a model tramp ship called Pundua, and the plans include all the pieces required to produce a radio controlled vessel.
They also have Blue Funnel ships, and other ‘old’ British cargo vessels, including  MV Uganda (another BI ship).

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The finished model  & the web link https://www.vintagemodelplans.com/

 

 

 

FI – FO

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I’d been out East for just over a year sailing in the waters of the Far East and down to Australia & New Zealand, and in the last month or so my sore throat had been getting worse.
Originally I thought it was a standard sore throat and that it would ‘go away’ in due course – it didn’t. Apparently I had a boil at the back of my throat, and I couldn’t swallow and the infection had spread to my teeth & ears

I saw a doctor in Singapore and he considered that I had a problem with my tonsils, and that I should have them out.
It seemed a good idea, until I asked a few more questions (Dr Google didn’t exist) and realised that I would be in hospital for a few days, as this type of operation for an adult is more serious than for a child.

I reported back on board as the mooring lines were singled up, and we were sailing, so the operation would not take place in Singapore.

Our next port of call was Calcutta, and through radio chatter I was offered hospitalisation in Calcutta to have the operation.
To be honest I didn’t fancy this at all, considering what I’d been told in Singapore about the seriousness of the operation, and having limited personal support if anything went wrong, so I refused, and the Company then offered to fly me to the UK!

I think it took me about a second and a half to think about this before I said YES!

I signed off the Bankura in Calcutta, in April 1967, and boarded BA 719 at Dum Dum Airport, which was the name of Calcutta’s air port at that time, now it is called Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport. The airport was renamed in 1995.

I am certain the aircraft was a B 707 (see the photograph at the top of the blog), rather than a VC 10, which were being phased out by BOAC around that time. Just on the off chance that I am wrong, the flight was BA 719, 20th April 1967, CCU to LHR, someone might have an old timetable. . .

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The above picture from British Airways web site, gives you an idea of the difference between yesterday and today.
In 1967 we didn’t have headphones, nor TV screens, and we used to speak to our neighbour, or read a book (which is an old fashioned iPad). The airline would supply various magazines. What we were allowed to do was smoke, if we wished.
Once again I regret not collecting any frequent flyer points . . .

A telegram was sent to Maureen, and because she worked for BOAC in ticketing in the Liverpool office she was able to’see’ me coming via BOAC’s in-house computer system.

Maureen flew down from Liverpool to meet me at Heathrow, and we both returned to Liverpool by train.

Silver Fox

It wasn’t the Silver Fox, unfortunately (excuse the pun).

The end of standard gauge schedule service for steam trains in the UK came about in August 1968. After that it was diesel or electric.
Today people speak of ‘high speed’ trains as if it is something new, but a ‘sister’ engine (the Mallard) of the above Silver Fox reached 126 miles (202 km) per hour in 1938 . . . .
The Mallard is now in the railway museum York.
If you are ‘in to’ steam trains click on this link to see what she looked like. Mallard was withdrawn from service in April 1963.

Of course once in Liverpool Maureen & I were keen to tell the family that it was now official, and that we were going to get married.
This required quite a number of trips to relatives on both sides to meet each others extended family.
I say ‘extended’ as if we had numerous brothers and sisters, but we are both only children, but there still appeared to be quite a few relatives and friends to visit and not just on Merseyside.

I also visited our family doctor to see how soon I could see a specialist, in the meantime I was on medication.

It was late April when I met with the doctor and the earliest appointment for the specialist was 06th June!
The Company was not happy, because I was due to return to the Far East in mid- May.

When I met with the specialist he told me that it would be three months before there would be an available bed in the local hospital. This would mean that I was unavailable until at least late September.

The Company were definitely not happy.

The specialist was aware of my circumstances, and suddenly a bed became available on the 13th June (lucky 13!).
I was admitted in to hospital as planned, and the operation was scheduled for the 15th June.

hospital

This is the hospital, Birkenhead General Hospital, which was built in 1862 . . perhaps Calcutta would have been better . . . the above hospital has since been demolished.

All went as planned, and I was in hospital for a week.

Early August and the expected telegram from the Company arrived. I was to fly to Bombay (more frequent flyer points missed), to join MV Pundua as third mate.

Pundua

MV Pundua, launched in 1945, 7295 gt,

This time I flew Alitalia (known in the industry as Always Late In Transit And Late In Arrival), why the Company picked Alitalia instead of BOAC I don’t have any idea, other than they must have been cheaper.

The aircraft was leaving London at 7.30 pm so Maureen & I took the morning train to London, arriving later morning. It was not going to be

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A Brief Encounter parting.

I was obliged to attend the Company’s head office to pick up my airline tickets. This visit at least gave Maureen and idea of the Company.

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 Lime Street station, Liverpool as it was in 1967 – the trip to London was just under three hours.

 

Caravelle

AZ 279 London to Rome – the aircraft is a Caravelle. The captain had two goes at taking off – first one aborted due to the radio failure, but after we returned to the bay it was fixed, and we took off an hour late.
The one thing that sticks in my mind during the transit time in Rome (late evening) was that all the shops were shut, as well as the bar . . . .

AZ

AZ 764 Rome to Bombay via Tehran – the aircraft was a DC8.

We arrived at in Santa Cruz airport, Bombay, at Noon the next day. The airport was originally RAF Santa Cruz, having been built in the 1930’s and was converted to civilian traffic after WW2 in 1946, and began to grow as such, after independence in 1947.

Once the aircraft door was opened the aroma of India flooded in, which brought back many memories. We climbed down the stairs and walked across to the terminal – this was before the aero-bridge with wheeled gangways, became common.

After immigration and customs I boarded the airport bus for the trip to the city terminus where I would be met by the agent.
The trip in to town was an experience, the whole area around the airport was what a westerner would call ‘slum like’, and the streets were packed with people and animals. It was a thirty minute sight seeing tour for me, because I was the only passenger. The driver only seemed to use the middle of the road so as to avoid the mass of people and animals.

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The above is a recent photograph of how people live close to a motorway in today’s Bombay (Mumbai)  – when I arrived 52 years ago I saw similar slums near the airport, but I don’t remember any motorway – is that the only difference?

Once in the terminal I was met by the agent and told that the Pundua was due in to port in a few days. A rush across the world for nothing. . . .

I was taken to the Seaman Mission, which was also known as the Prince of Wales Seamen’s Club, because they offered accommodation and the agent had booked me a room.

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Seamans club

The Seaman’s Club above – the photograph is off the internet

The problem was that I’d been booked in to a room that was already occupied by another British India officer – an engineer – it was sharing time.

A-Sharing

The layout of the room was something like the above picture, which is a recent photograph  – of course we didn’t have a TV in our room then, but they did have a good free library.
TV in India only began daily broadcasting in 1965, so I doubt that the Seamen’s building had a TV at all, never mind in a guest room.

The current occupant had already been in residence for five weeks waiting for a ship.

There were quite a few BI officers waiting for various ships and we soon got on well together. Bombay was the capital of Maharashtra State and that State was ‘dry’.

In the later afternoon I entered the bar of the Club to see people drinking beer, so I asked the barman for a cold beer.
‘Chitty, Sahib’
On the ship one didn’t use money, but signed a chit for a case of beer or a carton of cigarettes, the books were balanced at the end of the voyage.
‘Chitty?’ I asked.
‘From the police, Sahib’
At this point a fellow officer took pity on the new boy and explained the system. I had to report to the police and fill in a form stating that I was an alcoholic, and I would be given a chit allowing me to buy a limited number of beers at the Officers’ Club.

Maharashtra State, in which Bombay was located, was a ‘dry’ State! (It isn’t now). So it was pure panic to get to the police station before the senior officer went home for the night. I managed it! I wonder if I am still listed as an alcoholic in this part of India.
The cost of a large bottle of beer (bigger than the UK bottles at that time) was 5/6d (£4.95 in today’s money).

It was forbidden to take alcohol in to the Club. It was available if one knew where to go.

Club 2

As you can see breakfast was 2.5 rupees and at the exchange rate for 1967 = 2/6d which is about £2.16 in today’s money.

club

As you see the Club was quite close to the docks.

I’d arrived in Bombay on the 18th August and expected to be staying in the Club for a day or so, but it ended up as eleven days (my stay was much better then my room companion, who was in to his sixth week).

To help pass the time we visited ships of the Company that regularly called at Bombay, and surprisingly I met quite a few old friends with whom I’d sailed with over the years.

We also managed to obtain passes to Breach Candy Club.

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It hasn’t changed all that much since my last visit – a beautiful spot right on the ocean. I think it was opened to the locals in the 1960’s previously it had been Europeans only. It was built by the British in 1926.
During WW2 my father visited India (he was in the Royal Navy) and he used to tell me about Breach Candy, so it was a nice feeling for me to visit the same places as Dad.

I eventually joined the Pundua on the 29th August

By the way FI-FO = Fly in – fly out, it is not a modern system, it was around in the 1960’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just William

It is fifty years since Richmal Crompton died at the age of 78 in 1969. Her original idea was to write stories of children for adults, but they ended up becoming favourites of the children instead, and still are today.

Over 12 million copies of her books were sold in the UK, at the time only the Bible outsold this author. Her books were translated in to 17 languages.

Richmal Crompton wrote 39 ‘William’ books and the final one was published posthumously.

My first ‘William’ book was given to me as a present for Christmas when I was about nine or ten.

01The Fourth

Published 1924 – the 4th book in the series

Entertainment for children was not electronic (unless you had an electric train set), because children were expected to read and amuse themselves, unless they could persuade an adult to play snakes and ladders or some other boardgame. At least I managed to learn how to play Cribbage, because it was one of Dad’s favourite card games.

‘William’ our hero, was eleven when I first met him in the pages of William-The Fourth. He never grew a day older during all our time together. Each chapter of the book was a new adventure for William and his friends, known as the ‘Outlaws’.

William and his friends came from affluent families, I suppose one would say ‘upper middle class’, because the house in which he lived was detached, with a large garden and Mr Brown (William’s father) caught the train each day to go to ‘town’ i.e London. Mr Brown must have had a good job because the family employed a cook, a maid and part-time gardener.
His home couldn’t have further from my own home, which was a terraced house, without a bathroom, but with an outside toilet. Yet the idea of living in a home that was William’s, just fired one’s imagination.

Birkenhead

The house where I lived when I discovered the William books, was something like the photograph above – the whole neighbourhood was demolished in 1970, and redeveloped.

The cost of a new William book in the mid 1950’s was 7/6d (seven shillings and six pence), so with 6d (six pence) a week pocket money it would take me fifteen weeks to save enough for a new ‘William’ book. In today’s money the equivalent is £7.26 (about £7- 5- 3d in old money or AUD $12.88)

One might ask why I didn’t use a library. The problem with this idea was that the nearest library to where I lived was at least two bus rides away and the cost would have been more than 6d.
I suppose that I could have walked, but the distance would have taken me about an hour and a half each way, and I couldn’t be sure that the William books would not all be out on loan – we didn’t have a phone so that I could check.

02The Conqueror

Published 1926 – the 6th book in the series

At least my relatives (aunts & uncles) knew what they could buy me, or contribute 2/- towards for a birthday present, which shortened the required number of weeks after Christmas, because my birthday is in April.

03The Pirate

Published 1932 – the 14th book in the series

04The Rebel

Published in 1933 – the 15th book in the series.

05 Crowded hours

Published in 1931 – the 13th in the series

Every chapter in each book is a standalone story, and all the main characters are the same, so the reader doesn’t have a problem when buying a book that it might be out of  sync with the overall image of William.

Several films have been made from the books – the first being in 1940.

The BBC turned the stories in to a radio show in 1946 on the ‘Light’ program, which played weekly for two years.

A stage play of one of the stories was created in 1947 and the play toured the UK.

In the mid 50’s, as TV became popular in the UK, a series of thirteen episodes were broadcast.

In the early 1960’s a new series of William stories were broadcast on TV with Dennis Waterman playing the part of William.
For Dennis Waterman – think ‘Minder’ & ‘New Tricks’.

From the ‘William’ books I moved to Billy Bunter . . .

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As much as I enjoyed Billy Bunter it didn’t have the same ‘flair’ as the William books.

Tom

Tom Sawyer was in the mold of William.

Gilliver

Gulliver’s Travels – very different.

Without wishing to be judgemental, but I wonder if today’s nine, ten or twelve year old children receive  the same pleasure from their Ipad as I did from being transported through books to being a member of William’s gang ‘The Outlaws’, or as a pupil at Greyfriars school with Billy Bunter, perhaps chasing after Becky with Tom Sawyer, and not to mention the ‘little people’ of Lilliput – Gulliver’s Travels was a 1953 Christmas gift from my cousin – I still have the book, but have lost the dust jacket.

Overall meeting William, Billy, Tom and experiencing Gulliver’s experiences in my opinion wins hands down.

When we emigrated in 1980 all my old friends had to come with me . . . . .

At the beginning of this blog I mentioned that this year is the 50th anniversary of Richmal Crompton’s death – it is also the centenary of the first publication about the boy called William.

Richmal Crompton had her first story published, featuring William, which was called “Rice Mould Pudding”, and was published in Home Magazine in 1919.  It wasn’t until 1922 that the first book of William stories appeared.

I’ve read comments that J.K Rowland is the Richmel Crompton of today, perhaps they are correct.

1-Just William

The above is the first of the William books to be published in 1922, note the cost, by the 1950’s it was 7/6d. I’ve read this book, but never owned it.