1939: The Clouds Begin To Gather
In April 1939, I was Second officer of Hall Bros’ SS ambassador under Captain Newman. We arrived at the North island, New Zealand, with a cargo of basic slag from Immingham and we discharged cargo at Auckland and New Plymouth.
While in port at New Plymouth our agent, who was a member of the Taranake alpine Club, persuaded me to join them while they climbed Mount Egmont. Without proper gear I was petrified at times, but achieved the snow line and, for my efforts, was made an honorary member of the club.
our next port was to be Newcastle, New South Wales, and we sailed there in ballast. Unfortunately, whilst there, I was taken into hospital with suspected peritonitis and the SS ambassador had to sail without me. She dipped her ensign as she passed the hospital and the nurses had me propped up in bed and waved a sheet in reply. Fortunately the problem turned out to be kidney stones. When I recovered and was discharged from hospital, I was to be sent home as a D.B.S. (Distressed British Seaman). That sounded terrible and I asked the agent to find me another way home!
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