I was thoroughly miserable with life on a respectable estate with respectable neighbours and yearned to return to Ireland to my friends and a carefree way of life, but of course, that was impossible. Eventually, I commenced work as an apprentice engineer with the intention of following my father’s footsteps and loathed every minute of it, but could not find an alternative. There were, of course, the three services I could join when I became eligible but I couldn’t visualise a career in any of them. Having said that, a school chum of mine joined the RAF and, long after the war, I saw him on the television. He had worked his way up through the ranks, to become an Air Vice Marshal!
The solution came with my brother’s return from his first trip. He painted a glowing picture of life at sea; well, not so much at sea, but his adventures ashore in places with exotic names like Kingston, Jamaica, New Orleans, Galveston and Batten Rouge, and that to me was like a door with a large ‘EXIT’ sign over it so I went for it. The next day I applied to one of the most distinguished shipping companies in the UK; Cunard Brocklebanks. I am happy to say that I was successful and after a short while I found myself as a cadet in the merchant navy.
In the meantime, my brother left home to re-join his ship, the SS Designer, and sadly it was the last time I saw him. He did come home again on leave after his ship had been bombed and sunk just off the North West coast of Ireland but I was away from home. He was lost, aged 18, when his next ship was torpedoed in the Atlantic. There were no survivors from a crew of sixty eight. It was just one of 30 Harrison ships that were lost during WW2.
My twin brother Eric as a cadet