First Ship - "FLAMENCO"
- which I left early May 1959 after making three voyages deep sea, plus coastal voyages too.
Captain Allanby, C/O Pringle, 2/O Ben Copack, 3/O Don Ellis.
Cadets :- John Taylor, Jim Cross, Phil Organ, Steve Roscoe.
ChEng. H.P.Currie, 2nd Eng & 3rd Eng both Scotsmen, 4th Eng. Ted from Chorley, 1/5 Emlyn, 2/5 Eric Croft, 1/6 Elvis, C/Elect MacWilliams, 2nd Elect Vic Spence - from Belfast,
Bosun Willy Gardener, Donkey Man Tommy McCabe, Chippy Hughes (makes a good ironing board!!)
Purser Trevor Johnson, A/P Allen ? worked in Cristobal Office later on.
Ch Stwd. Jimmy Green, 2nd Stwd. Joe Burns, Chief Cook George can't remember his name, but Capt Lang sailed with him on the "Pizarro" for a while, and told me some years later that he made a nice Xmas Cake. Indeed he did, and made my 21st Birthday cake aboard the "William Wheelwright", which I appreciated immensely. Back to the "Flamenco". The Galley Boy was Ted and the Pantry Boy George; Eddie Woo was the engineer's mess steward, his family had the Chinese Laundry in Orrell Park. I remember these guys because our paths crossed frequently.
The cadets' accommodation was situated nearly outside the galley door with the added occasional fringe benefits of left-overs before it was dumped.
The final port before Liverpool was "Caibarien" Cuba loading sugar it seemed to take ages. The Pope had died and the shore labour was waiting word on his successor. Doctor Castro was still in the mountains organising the destiny of Cuba with a revolution still to come. I had my Sixteenth Birthday homeward bound, which went unnoticed.
Coastal voyage was Captain Frank Leicester, and Chief Officer Francis Nutall.
Allanby, Pringle, Copack, 3rd Mate Chadwick
Cadets :- Cross, Organ, Roscoe, and Ronnie Jackson on first trip.
Ian Currie was 3rd Eng getting steam time for endorsement.
The Bosun and Donkeyman remained the same, this I remember because the Bosun saved me from being washed over the side, and I owe my life to Willy Gardener.
New Year 1958/59 spent alongside in Cristobal outbound.
Christmas had been spent in Havana and the Revolution not far away.
We had loaded all of the "Ivan Gorthon's" cargo in Bermuda having to re-stow our own. This exercise took about three weeks, mainly in St.George. We were alongside the wharf with a large flat lighter separating the two ships. Ahead of us was another ship with a writ on the mast namely the "Arosa Sun ," later better known in Nassau as the "Bahama Star".
The "Ivan Gorthon " was chartered to PSNC basically taking over from the previously chartered "Arbemarle" and "Walsingham"; she had been aground, and was eventually towed to New York for repairs.
The "Eleuthera" class (Submarine Service of PSNC) was about to come into service.
Coastal trip Allanby and George Gordon as Mate on the London - Liverpool leg, Roscoe and Jackson the cadets.
Allanby, Pringle, Davie, 3rd Mate Scot out of Denholms, only stayed with PSNC as long as the articles of agreement dictated.
Cadets :- Cross, Organ, Roscoe, Jackson.
Purser Johnny Knox, A/P ex male nurse, ex Navy too, can't remember his name. Chief Steward Joe Burns just married, everything in the garden rosy. We sailed from Liverpool about 9 pm. approx. The engineers messroom steward George, didn't front up, and the pool catering standby man named Nick was put onboard with his one bag, minutes before we left Sandon Basin. The reason I mention the time is that it was soon made evident that Nick's pier head jump resulted in him joining the ship with a bag of "empties", having told his wife he would only be away an hour, and be home with a couple of bottles of brown later (how true)! Three months later she no doubt enjoyed the beverage and some years later I was to come across Nick fully rigged this time.
The Bosun was known as "Shimoo", proper name Manchana, not sure of the spelling, sailed with his son George, bosun on the "Salaverry". Think the family came from Gibraltar.
Carpenter Hughes completed No 4 ironing board in the first three days of the voyage.
Don Good's future wife and in-laws were passengers homeward bound; Barbara later worked in the James Street Office, passenger department I think?
The Chief Engineer and others had changed from the previous two voyages, can't recall their names.
We arrived back in the Mersey on a beautiful summer's evening and I recall the "St.Tudno" and "Ben-My-Cree" making a pleasant spectacle as they passed us in the Crosby Channel at a rate of knots in bound to the Landing Stage.
Some of the following dates are approximations linked by other events from memory.
10/06/59 - 14/09/59
N.B. "Windsor Castle" launched from Cammel Lairds a day or two before we sailed.
Capt. R. Bryant, Ch.Eng Bertie Thomas, Ch.Stwd. Dicky Blackstock
C/O Jock Gordon, 2nd Eng. Ian Currie, Purser Basil Dillon
2/O Dicky Bird, 3/O Tim Hill, 3rd Eng. George Rimmer
Cadets :- J. Cross, M.A.R. Stuart (Tony), Pip Howes, Steve Roscoe
Bosun George Manchana
22/10/59 - 19/01/60
Capt R.Bryant, Ch Off Jock Gordon, 2nd Off J.E. Pepper (Jimmy, 3rd Off Tim Hill (with trumpet)
Cadets:- Tony Stuart, Pip Howes, Steve Roscoe, Chris Newton.
Purser Basil Dillon
Ch. Stwd. Dicky Blackstock
Ch Eng. Bertie Thomas, 2nd Eng ?, 3rd Eng. George Rimmer, 2/5 Eng. Charlie Platt
On way home we took maximum bunkers at St Thomas down to our tropical marks, then made an Easterly course staying in the seasonal tropical area, until reaching our summer marks, and heading in a more E.N.E. direction until picking up the Lisbon Pilot. We then anchored up stream in the river "Tagus" and discharged about 5000 tons of bagged nitrate, into sailing barges.
Next stop Liverpool via Douglas I.O.M to pick up Mr. Macintosh our pilot, we gave Point Lynas a go, but the weather wasn't the best
16/02/60 - 06/05/60
This trip we picked up lots of onions and melons a real good stay in "Valpo".
Arrived back in the Mersey on Princess Margaret's wedding day, anchoring off Sandon Entrance waiting for the tide.
Capt Ken Thomas, Ch Off Gordon Dewsnap, 2/O Jimmy Pepper, 3/O Charles Ralph.Cadets:- Howes, Roscoe, Newton, Ian Halsall.
Purser B. Dillon, Ch. Stwd. Perez; Chippy Geddes
Engineers as previous voyage
18//06/60 - 09/10/60
Capt Ken Thomas, C/O Dave Houghton, 2/O Stuart Ross, 3/O Charles Ralph.
Cadets:- Howes, Roscoe, Newton, Halsall
Engineers mostly the same as previous voyage. Changed a cracked piston frame anchored at Callao: we all turned into engineers assistants as I remember. The spare frame was stowed in No 4 shelter deck, which meant doubling up the cargo gear to lift it out; all very educational. Most present day seafarers would not understand the terminology, never mind how to get it into the engine room.
We put into Bermuda outward bound to land a Junior Engineer who had lost the tops off some of his fingers, in an accident. We returned to Bermuda again homeward bound to pick up passengers.
20/11/60 - 20/02/61
Capt Ken Thomas, C/O Dave Houghton, 2/O Wally Jenkins, 3/O Ian Wright.
Cadets:- Bob Haylet, Howes, Roscoe, Halsall. Haylet completed his indentured time during the voyage, and had his 21st Birthday passing through the Magellan Straits. The celebration was shared with the full compliment of passengers in their lounge, and enjoyed by all.
Christmas Day in Callao with "Kenuta", we were the only ship working cargo.
25/03/61 - 19/06/61
Capt Teddy Johnson , C/O Dave Houghton , 2/O Wally Jenkins , 3/0 Ian Wright.
Cadets :- Howes, Roscoe, Halsall, Dirk Harper. Dirk came from the "Pizarro"
Bosun Willie Hill.
We did another trip to "Punta Arenas" spending May Day there, alongside with a ship called "Montan" chartered to Hamburg America Line. The other vessel alongside was the "Paula Dan", from memory we seemed to have a longer stay than normal. Homeward bound called in at St.George, Bermuda for passengers, already having a retired Panama Canal Pilot as a passenger from Cristobal, quite an entertaining guy, as most Canal pilots seemed to be.
On a arrival Liverpool we berthed early hours at Brocklebank Dock, a bit out of the ordinary for those days, but with a spell of leave to look forward to who cared?! I had noticed "Santander" nearly loaded berthed at Southwest Canada One as we passed by.
On the 20th June, Pip Howes and I left the "Salaverry", which had been our home away from home for the past two years. On leaving the James St Office having seen Captain Duguid our new course in life's journey had been plotted.
The last of our Cadet Days had arrived sooner than we anticipated; I saw Pip off from Lime Street Station, and we wished each other well for the future.
I sailed deep sea 40 hours later as uncertificated 3rd Mate on "Santander".
Pip went uncertificated 4th Mate on the "George Peacock" some 8 days later (Maiden Voyage I think); our other two fellow cadets, Ian and Dirk, accompanied him, Derek Steel being the Mate.
During the time spent on "Salaverry" we took some part in all the intervening coastal voyages. On one I remember Charlie Thompson as 3rd Mate, prior to his car accident, the mate was R. C. Vaughn (Ray)
Some extra ones during the Unofficial Seamen's Strike of 1960.
Arriving from deep sea before breakfast, on "Salaverry", departing from Lime Street Station, with Pip Howes, Chris Newton by train to Bristol, which seemed to stop at every station on the way allowing us to buy a sandwich in Shrewsbury for late lunch. We arrived in Bristol to be met by the agent telling us to get a move on as "Santander" was departing at 2030. We asked the agent to stop at a café on the way to Avonmouth, as we had not had a meal for nearly twenty four hours.
We boarded "Santander " and sailed on time to Delfjil with a cargo of nitrate, the three of us doing the 4 - 8 watch, and looking forward to breakfast! The master was Geoff Turner, the Mate a tall fair complexion guy, good bloke too.
Second Mate was Bishop, 3rd Mate can't recall his name, but have a feeling he was only in the company during the strike. We had some office staff as passengers too, which included the Jones Family. The trip lasted about a fortnight. We arrived back at Birkenhead and dry-docked. Grabbed what little gear we had, were put in a taxi to Canada Dock and sailed in "Salaverry" for Greenock that evening. I can recall Captain Nutall as Master, and the bosun was Captain Hockey, whose ashes I witnessed scattered on the Equator some two years later. The three of us left "Salaverry, and proceeded to Liverpool. I joined "Cienfugos", for a week as the deck department standing by, had a few days leave, then joined the "Salaverry" for deep sea, the strike having ended.
21.06.61 - 03.10.61
Captain A. MacLean (Sandy), C/O Dickie Bird, 2/O M.Quirk, 3/O S. Roscoe. I took over from Gerry Scales, who later went to work in Bermuda for the Company.
Cadets :- C.Newton, Brian Brocklesby, Tony Hepburn, Garry Cooke ?
Purser Len Harrington, Chief Stwd. Brian --- ?, Radio Off Charles McCarthy, Stewardess Mary.
Chief Engineer Ron Carter, 2nd Eng. ? , 3rdEng. Jack Digman, 4th Eng Bert Campbell.
Chief Elect.Brian ? from Norris Green, 2nd .Elect Tom ---?
16.11.61 - 14.02.62
Capt A.MacLean, C/O Bishop, 2/0 Ian D Barr , 3/0 S. Roscoe
Cadets C.Newton , Brian Brocklesby, Tony Hepburn, Garry Cooke?
Purser Len Harrington, Chief Stwd. Brian ?
Radio/Off Alex Gordon (survivor from Harrison's "Geologist")
Electricians as previous voyage. Engineers same except for the 3rd
Bought a piano between us as one of the engineers (Geordie ) was very good indeed.
19.03.62 - 30.6.62
Captain James Edward Pepper (Jimmy), C/O Bishop, 2/O Ian Barr, 3/O S. Roscoe
Cadets :- Tom.Brazier, Brian Brocklesby, Tony Hepburn, Peter Keegan.
Ch.Eng. ? , 4th Bert Campbell; can't remember the names, but the piano player was still with us. Ch.Elect Dave Sinclair, 2nd Elect Tom ?
Purser Len Harrington, Chief Steward Brian ?
09.07.62 - 22.08.62
Round the Land trips on:
Capt. J.H Allenby , Ch.Off George Hunter, 2/0 Doug.Range, 3/0 S. Roscoe.
I handed over to Jim Buckett who had been cadet promoted 3rd Mate for the next deep-sea voyage.
Capt. D.W.Hutchison , Ch.Off. George Hunter, 2/O ?, 3/O S. Roscoe
Capt.R.D.S. Eckford, Ch.Off Ken Murray (ex MD&HB Dredgers),
2/O Ken Leadbetter (ex MD&HB Dredgers) , 3/O S.Roscoe.
I then left PSNC to take Second Mates', financing my own study leave, plus 10 weeks dole, which amounted to the sum of two pounds seventeen shillings and six pence, providing one signed on twice per week.
Stood by on the "Reina del Mar" with lots of other mates, caught up with Ian Halsall who was joining as Cadet, and is indeed on the group photo taken as displayed these pages with you Barry.
14.09.63 - 15.06.64
Captain and Mrs A.Lang, / Frank Leicester and wife Sophie.
Supernumerary Commodore DI. Jones and wife
C/O Derek Steele and wife Joan / Di Hughes and wife Tamara.
2/O Jake Radcliffe / Bully Bowes, 3/O Peter Creaber / Rodger Hill, 4/O Steve Roscoe.
Cadets three of them, B.Turvey, Mike Condon, Tom Brazier, others - can't recall their names.
Chief Cook George I knew from my first trip to sea he made me a nice 21st.Birthday cake
Radio Officers Don Duggan from Wexford, and Oliver Higgins from Cork
Chief Stewards Harry Bowers, Percy Parsons (ex Arlanza ) ,MacCabe.
Chief Engineers Nobby Clarke / Stan Reevley, ex Shell Tankers.
2nd.Eng. Micky Billington/Bilton ? George Jennings, and wife Sheila
3rd.Eng. Eric Croft / Ken from Barrow. 4th.Eng Bernie (the bolt)
Electrician Stan -- ? / Charlie Giles and wife Joan
08.09.64 - 23.11.64
Captain Gordon Dewsnap. C/O Peter Litherland. 2/O Ian Kelty. 3/O S.Roscoe.
Ch.Stwd. Harry Bates, married Wendy out of the James St. office.
03.12.64 - 11.12.64
Captain Frank Leicester . C/O John Hurley. 2/O Ian Kelty? 3/O S.Roscoe.
Ship went to Belfast completed discharge and dry-docked, returned to Liverpool.
16.12.64 - 02.01.65
"COTOPAXI" - Liverpool, London, Hull.
Captain Frank Leicester. C/O John Hurley. 2/O Ian Kelty ? 3/O S. Roscoe.
Radio Officer ? Kenny from the I.O.M.
This was to be the last time I would sail with PSNC after gaining my First Mates, I left for pastures new.
I wish you all a most enjoyable reunion, and many more to come. I shall raise a glass to the good health and good fortune of the survivors, and to the memories of our shipmates who have crossed the bar, and rung finished with engines for the last time.
There are those I didn't sail with, but met at various times, such as Kiddo Wilson, Joe Roe, Mike Child, Nev Lester, Don Munro, Lofty Cleife, Jock Guthrie, and many more.
However no matter what the occasion, there seems to exist a bond between all those who experienced time with PSNC, which is great. I'm not sure what it is, perhaps the taste of fish paste sandwiches in the early hours of the morning, presented in dried up bread? Together with the smell of fishmeal being extracted through the hold ventilators as an added flavour.
I met by chance Tony Halton ? (Out of the accounts department) in Liverpool July 1980; he had been made redundant and was working for Blue Star Line, also Joe Benton but he didn't have a job at the time. The James St. office was no longer PSNC, they had moved to "Wheelwright House". The ship's berths moved back to Birkenhead, "Corn Market" closed. It was all quite devastating to me.
I still keep in touch with Joe over Christmas; he is now the MP for Bootle.
Reggie Swan was Master in the Union Company of New Zealand; I piloted his ship into Mackay numerous times. He has retired in New Zealand and was thinking of buying a pub.
The old "Salaverry" and those who sailed on her during my time there, I feel were my salvation. In many ways helping me forge ahead with my career. I have the fondest of memories of that time. When Jock left another nice guy arrived in the shape of Dave Houghton - a nicer fellow you could never meet - and another one of nature's gentlemen. (I agree wholeheartedly and I do not think anyone who sailed with him, or even met him, would disagree - Barry).
I would not have minded having my old wardrobe door as it had every cadet's name carved on it since voyage one, and yes Jock Gordon's name was amongst them as a cadet. I would like to think it's a coffee table in some old ex-cadet's lounge. Failing that it went down with the ship off South Africa.
I have kept in contact with Mike Quirk over the years and I know he will be attending the reunion in March, look forward to seeing the photographs etc.
Barry I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for establishing this web site, not only does it give me great pleasure I am sure countless others appreciate it too.
So from Down Under, "Good on yer Bassa."
Footnote from Barry:-
Sincere thanks to Steve for this tremendous feat of memory. It certainly brought back long-forgotten memories of individuals and events for myself and probably for anyone else who sailed in the "Birkenhead Navy".