Veteran Stories:
Gordon Mumford

Merchant Navy

  • Gordon Mumford in his British Merchant Navy uniform in Bombay, 1945.

  • Mr. Mumford in his Britsh Navy Cadet uniform in 1939, at his home in England.

  • A Merchant Navy ship heading into a storm at sea.

  • Gordon Mumford and his mother at home in England in 1942.

Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"We managed to escape, and we rejoined the ship after a night and a day in lifeboats."

Transcript

I'm Gordon Mumford and I was in the Merchant Navy – the British Merchant Navy – and so my story starts really in 1942, at the death of my father in that year. And I was seventeen years old when I joined the Merchant Navy. I had done my training as a radio officer in 1941. On the death of my father, I assumed of course the duties of provider for the family. As I was in Britain, you had the air raids and the thousand-plane night raids on London. Perhaps at this stage I will just give you a general war areas I served in. I served in the Battle of the Atlantic in 1942. My ship was in convoy, ONS 154, one of the worst hit convoys in the war. We lost fifteen ships by torpedo, including my own. We managed to escape, and we rejoined the ship after a night and a day in lifeboats. And we had sailed on our own to the Clyde in the UK, so that was the first trip across the Atlantic, and I didn't really get across it. We were bound for New York, and on to Curacao, where we were to load aviation fuel… we were a tanker assigned to refuel the convoy at sea. From the Atlantic, we went into the Mediterranean – Operation Torch at Malta – and eventually Naples in Italy. So service there – and that was eighteen months – and then transferred to the European front, which was the North Sea for us. And my ship there was blown in half by a ratchet mine, sewn by a German aircraft in the Scheldt Estuary, southern Holland, after we'd gone into Antwerp and unloaded. That was in November of 1944 – we were the second convoy in, the day after the first convoy. From there (that would be 1944), Christmas was an unlucky time for me, for most of these things occurred… the Atlantic was on December the 27th, 1942, and my ship was sunk Christmas Eve, 1944, two years later.
Follow us