It was on one return trip to Sydney that we ran into the severest weather I had ever encountered. Off the East coast of Australia the winds got up to 120 mph and the seas were huge, reaching mast height. For four days we lay hove to with the engines on half ahead.
Numerous ships sent out distress calls but we were unable to offer assistance. One was a Liberty boat that had shed his propeller and another was an American destroyer which had gone over on his beam ends but had righted herself.
We learnt later that she had turned turtle with the loss of all hands. When we eventually fixed our position, we discovered that we had been blown astern more than over 100 miles. During the hurricane, which is what it was, a 500lb anti-personnel bomb broke adrift and the Mate offered two shillings and sixpence (12p) an hour to anyone who would go below and stow it. Needless to say, there were no takers! Eventually, and much to our relief, it chocked itself off. We eventually arrived in Sydney with a twenty degree list and a lifeboat hanging over the side.
We made one final trip to the Phillipines but by that time the two wars, mercifully, were coming to an end and my one desireAll alone, lying at anchor in the Philippines. We assembled on the bridge deck and the Captain said a few words and we remembered those who hadn’t survived.
Not long after that, the Pacific war ended and where were we then? At anchor behind a small, but extremely beautiful island. Once again we were unable to celebrate in the way we would have wanted to. But I was thankful to have survived five years of war at sea. I mourned the loss of my twin, and others I had sailed with, but the thought of returning home after a two year voyage cheered us up.
In Sydney we loaded a full cargo of explosives and started the long but enjoyable voyage home - south about Australia, across the Indian Ocean to Colombo for bunkers, across the Arabian Sea, through the Suez Canal, Gibraltar to Milford Haven. We made the passage with all the deck lights on and navigation lights burning. A different story to the outward trip! And guess what happened to all the explosives we brought half way round the world? They were taken out to sea and dumped overboard!
In Sydney. Look carefully, you can see the hand of a girl I was taking out ... the rest of her was cut out by my wife!