The Mate's Report
(Courtesy of Captain John Bax)


Torpedoed 3rd February 1943 in approx. Lat 25.00 N. Long. 43.30 W. Weather Wind ESE 4, cloudy and clear with moderate Easterly swell. Visibility good. Lookout Anderson. No glasses. 0645 A.T.S. vessel was struck by a torpedo on Port bow and settled down by head with list to Port. No. 1 hatch boards and beams blown off . No.2 boat blown away and davits bent. Port accommodation ladder wrecked. Joined No. 4 boat and left ship 0710. Submarine circled ship presumably to see boats clear then sank vessel with about 20 - 30 rounds. Vessel sank at about 0800. Submarine then approached boats and asked for Captain and Chief Engineer and was told they had been lost with vessel. He then tried to get boats to come alongside but only the 4thMate in No. 5 boat was unlucky enough to be met; he was taken on board and made prisoner. The submarine then steamed round the rest of the boats and the 4th Mate said 'Cheerio'. The submarine then made off in an Easterly direction and was later seen to submerge. The boats then gathered and the Master transferred 3 men to the No.5 boat and I sent the 3rd Mate, so all boats now had a navigator. The Master suggested that we all try and keep together and to steer S. W. for the West Indies, but I found it hopeless to keep contact and at dusk that night the Master & 2nd Mate were at least three miles astern. The 3rd and myself were sailing very well and we arranged to signal every hour during darkness but after eleven p.m. we failed to see any signals and the next morning found ourselves alone. Course was set S. W. (T). Stores were checked as follows:-

Water 46 gallons, 50 14 oz. Cartons ration 'C' type biscuits, 197 3.5 oz. Tins Pemmican, 27 lbs. Horlicks Malted Milk tablets, 24 14 oz. Cartons Beechnut milk tablets, 14 lbs. Dried raisins, 14 lbs. Prunes, 40 lbs. Cooking chocolate ,13.5 Lbs. Blanched peanuts, 43 tins condensed milk plus 12 brought by Steward. Gunner Tool box, First aid box, 12 blankets, Paraffin, Lamp Oil, Massage Oil.

Protective clothing had not been put on board. The chocolate was found to be too bitter to eat, but mixed 7oz. with one tin of milk and eaten with biscuit was very good. No food was eaten the first day till evening when 2 oz. Water each, 1 tin pemmican between 17, one biscuit each were issued.

4th February. Light breeze slight sea; mod swell to S. W. Wind E. Breakfast 1 biscuit with milk, 2 oz. Water. Picked watches and arranged sleeping quarters.
8 - 12 a.m. & p.m. 2nd Operator in charge with four others.
12 - 4 a.m. & p.m. Leading Seaman and four others.
4 - 8 a.m. & p.m. Myself and four others.
D.B.S. and galley boy not included in watches.
Position approx. 24.24 N. 43 .50 W. 34 miles run. Altered course S. W. by W. (T). Midday meal - 1 biscuit with milk, 6 raisins, 2 oz. Water with milk.
Evening meal - 1 tin Pemmican with 6 raisins, 2 oz. water with milk.

5th February. Light E. x S. breeze, slight sea. Moderate Easterly swell. Clear and fine.

Breakfast - 1 biscuit with milk and teaspoon peanuts with 3 raisins, 2 oz. water with milk.
Noon. 24.00 N. 44.10 W. 25 miles.
6 raisins with nuts 2oz. water and milk. P.M. rain - replenished water tanks, everyone wet and miserable - extended boat cover from spray hood to half way aft - better protection for all hands.
Leading seaman's rubber coat very useful for helmsman.
Evening meal. 1 biscuit with chocolate, I pemmican, 3 raisins and nuts, 2 oz. water with milk.

6th February. Light airs, smooth sea, E.S.E. swell. Meals issued as previous. 1100 wind increased and veering to S.E.
Noon. Overcast 34 miles run, altered course West (T) 1600 Reefed mainsail. Fresh breeze, rough sea with occasional rain squalls.

7th February. Strong S. E. breeze rough sea, overcast and clear.
Similar meals.
Noon. Overcast D. R. run 64 miles altered course W.S.W. 1600 Hove to with sea anchor and jib; oil bag out. 1900 boat very difficult to manage, could not get head to sea, transferred sea anchor aft - rode better. Wind now S. E. 7 with high sea and swell. 2100 sea anchor carried away, boat fell off in trough, lashed oars together to act as drogue with new oil bag and sent down jib, boat rode well throughout night.

8th February. Wind decreased towards morning but with heavy swell and rough sea. During previous night rudder became unshipped and top gudgeon pin was broken off flush, made repairs by boring three holes in stern port and rudder and torn off lashing which lasted for the rest of the voyage.
0800 wind decreased considerably out reefed mainsail and jib although swell was running fairly heavy.
Noon. 23.24 N. 45.40 W. 30 miles. Wind continuing fresh with rough seas, occasional squalls. 2200 squalls becoming more frequent, lowered main sail. Heavy squalls through night, wind S.E.

9th February. 0445 Very heavy rain storm, filled every available tin and all breakers full, water situation now better than leaving the ship. Everybody wet and cold, all lifejackets and blankets wet through, issued table spoon brandy to all hands. 0800 wind S. E. 4. Set main sail and weather cleared, all wet clothing, blankets etc. out to dry. Massage oil passed round.
Noon. 23.27 N. 47.00 W. 30 miles run. 3 oz. water issued at evening meal.

10th February. Light airs and calms - progress slow. Issued 1 tin Pemmican each meal.
Noon 23.36 47.25 W. run 25 miles Co. W.S.W. (T) Vitamin C issued. Wind steady at East later part of day. All meals similar to previous issue.

11th February. Light N.E. breeze. Moderate swell. Fine and clear.
Noon. 23.15 N. 43.10 W. 40' Co; W.S.W. (T) 1300 Breeze freshened. 1500 loosened mainsail. Wind continued strong throughout night with heavy swell.

12th February. Strong ESE wind rough sea and heavy swell. Cloudy and clear. Sailing under jib. Noon 22.34 N. 48.45 W. run 40'.Altered course S.W. x W. (T) 2 tins of Pemmican issued at tea.

13th February. Mod. N.E. Wind, sea and swell. 0745 reefed mainsail checked provisions and water one breaker leaking transferred water to spare bread tank and empty jar.
Noon 22. 11 N. 49.10 W. 40' Co W.S.W. (T) Shook out reef. Breeze continues steady.

14th February. Light. Moderate breeze sea and swell. Fine and clear.
Noon. 21.24 N. 50.20 W. 73' 2 tins of Pemmican issued at tea for the rest of voyage. Thirst beginning to make itself known. Breeze continues light to moderate. Spirits high and everyone confident.

15th February. Light moderate breeze, sea and swell, fine and clear.
Noon. 20.29 N. 51.00 W. run 72' Co W.S.W. (T). Fishing tackle would be useful to help relieve monotony.

16th February. Mod. E. x N. breeze. Sea and swell. Fine and clear.
Noon. 19.27 N. 51. 55 W. 78' run Co. W.S.W. All meals similar to previous issue. Breeze continues steady with a few bosun birds flying round us.

17th February. Mod. ENE breeze, sea and swell, clear and fine.
0800 Altered course West. Main halyards carried away, replaced same with keel lines. Water issue increased to 3 oz. per meal.
Noon 18.36 N. 52.45 W. 70' run. 2 prunes or 9 raisins issued at evening meal. All hands cheerful and keeping lookout for aircraft.

18th February. N.E. trade wind continues moderate for which we are all thankful. Sun becoming hot and crew feeling the effects, but not serious, made awning with blanket and oars.
Noon. 18.36 N. 52.45 W. 68' run. Co West. 1600 Rigged mainsail as square sail, dispensed with jib owing to constant gybing, no loss in speed. Breeze continues steady.

19th February. Mod. ENE breeze, sea and swell, clear and fine - 6 tins of Pemmican issued per day.
Noon. 18.23 N. 55.20 W. 72' run. Co. west. Spirits high and no complaints. No sight of anything since leaving - only a few bosun birds who have been with us off and on since leaving. Breeze continues steady a few rain squalls around but none for us though we are prepared.

20th February. Breeze continues from ENE clear and fine. 'Booby' birds round us this a.m. maybe land is nearer than we think.
Noon. 17.57 N. 56.30 W. run 70'.
1600 land sighted right ahead could not believe my eyes but there it was. The thing now was where were we, I was hoping it was Antigua where we were making for, but could not think my reckoning was so accurate. Too late for anything this p.m. so stood away to N.W. and at 1800 hours to await daylight.
2200 wore round so as not to get too far away. Plenty of rain now that land was in sight but nobody cared about getting wet. Extra issue of water in fact we finished the bucket we were using, leaving us 19 galls. in case land should be French. When darkness fell took sight of Pole Star to check latitude but could not say it was very reliable; it was something to do to pass the long hours away.

21st February. 0200 set mainsail and stood towards land which was just visible ahead. 0330 Burnt red lights which I lashed to the boat hook every half hour, but could not see any reply from shore which by now was plainly visible. When daylight broke sighted small lighthouse ahead and burnt the smoke candles with which the boat was supplied, but they were no use making practically no smoke at all. 0630 Hauled away to the S.W. to close land and to contact any fishermen as we could see plenty of them nearer to the land. 0900 made a contact and enquired as to where we were and the reply was Antigua, for which we were all thankful. We gave them a tow rope and were towed to St. John's where we landed at about 10.30 a.m. On the way in the fishermen cooked us some fish which was appreciated very much. On landing we were met by the S.N.O. Commissioner of Police and the Administrator, also U.S. Army Officers who had supplied the cars to take us to the Clinic. We were supplied with necessary clothing by the Military and thence to the Police Station for baths and a meal, after which we were all taken to Fort James House. Two members of my crew were rather weak on landing and after medical examination were sent to the hospital, otherwise everyone was in good health except a bit groggy on the legs.

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Suggestions.

Saltwater soap
Compass lighting could be improved
Canvas rain catchers with hose
Milk tablets were not appreciated but condensed milk was very good
Wooden breakers were not satisfactory when low
Metal tanks with small tap would be much better
Fishing tackle could be supplied
Second weather cloth would be useful
Spray hood could be led further aft. gives more protection at night and heavy rain.

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No. 4 BOAT.

In Charge M. J. Case (4-8)
2nd Wireless Op. C. A. Shiel (8-12)
3rd " P. K. Griffiths (8-12)
3rd Engineer F. Milsom (8-12)
Leading Seaman T. P. O'Connor (12-4)
Midshipman J. G. Beck (4-8)
Greaser F. Blackham (4-8)
Fireman A. J. Roussian (4-8)
Asst. Steward A.K. Smith )12-4 Gunners
" " V. Harcastle )8-12
" " S. J. McQuire (12-4)
Galley Boy H. Davey
Army Gunner S. Clark (12-4)
" " J. Holdcroft (4-8)
Sailor J. H. Tuttle (12-4)
D.B.S. J.Johnson (Canadian)

(sgd) M.J.Case

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