couldn’t get on her because she was only a small raft. I held fast that raft for two hours and I lost one of my shoes kicking off the sharks.
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When I arrived in Liverpool, I got to me first ship, the SS Corinthic. And she sailed from Liverpool to New York and back. But on the last ship coming back, we were not that lucky. Second night out from New York, we came up on enemy action. We were losing a lot of ships and sailors in the water everywhere, crying out for help. The following night was even worse and then it got that bad that we were ordered to leave the convoy and try to make Liverpool, England, on our own. And this we did.
Now, after leaving the convoy, a storm came up and all our cargo on deck shifted. And we had very important cargo we were carrying. So we were ordered by the heads to try and save the cargo by tying it down. And this is where I strained myself. Because when the ship arrived back in Liverpool, England, I had to go to see a doctor right away. He would not even let me go back to the ship. He put me in the hospital where I spent just about one month, in the hospital. And then he said, where are you going from here? I said, I’m going back to sea. You’re not able to go back to sea. So he made arrangements for me to go to a convalescent home and I did that for two weeks. And the two weeks is up, I came back and joined me second ship, [the SS] Llandaff Castle.
I spent just about two years running from Durban, in and out different ports, up the Red Sea, Suez Canal; as far as Suez Canal, up to Red Sea. And on one of the last trip coming back, we were ordered to go and pick up troops in Mombasa [Kenya]. We sailed at night and arrived there early in the morning to take over a little small place. We didn’t know what was ahead of us, didn’t know what to expect. But I must say, it turned out to be alright. The troops went ashore and in a very short time, it was ours.
And then on the return trip [November 30, 1942], we brought back probably the troops we’d took up and we landed in, landed in Mombasa and sailed again. I was lying in my top bunk, waiting to go on watch and we got the first torpedo followed by the second one. I was thrown from the bunk, landed on the floor. I got up and I put my lifejacket on, made for the boats and we got what boats we could off her. In a very short time, she took a very heavy list, so we could get no more boats off her. We had practically all the passengers and troops we were carrying - men and women - in the boats. I was still onboard with a few of the crew and I went on the after part of the ship. I had a choice to make: go down with the ship or jump over. I couldn’t swim so I had my lifejacket on, I pedaled to a small raft, there was two more men on the raft; couldn’t get on her because she was only a small raft. I held fast that raft for two hours and I lost one of my shoes kicking off the sharks. And finally, a boat came along and picked us up, one of our own boats. And I spent three nights, three days in the lifeboat. We had two women in the lifeboat with us. And the third day, the convoy came along and picked us up and brought us back to Durban, South Africa.