CHAPTER 6 TRACKER TRIBUNE
It was decided that the Group should run to the West in search of good weather. Our
opposite numbers in the grim, lonely three cornered fight- man versus man versus
nature- also had the same idea. We found the fine weather, and the U Boats. E.G.2
promptly sank a couple. Now another gale sprang up, this time from the S.E., and it was
decided to run before the wind to Argentia. Turning about was unthinkable- the sloops
were standing on their noses as it was. This was decided on the night of 8th November.
At 19.45 that night there was a
loud explosion at 1000yds on our port quarter, followed
by near wireless transmissions. A U-Boat had had the effrontery to fire a torpedo at
H.M.S. Tracker. To maintain the fun, there was a fire in the hanger, two lots of action
stations, and a wind of 80 knots. All that night and the following day the group was hove
to in the storm. H.M.S. Woodcock and H.M.S. Wildgoose had become separated from
the rest. All communications between even the close escort, was by wireless, as the
constant engulfing of the valiant boats by the deep Atlantictroughs, rendered the more
usual visual signalling impossible.
None the less after three weeks
at sea, and 6,570 miles steamed, we all sailed merrily
into harbour on November 12th. The U.S. Navy as usual greeted us with musical
As Tracker came in, they appropriately
played Roll out the Barrel, but discovering the we
were not Senior officers, they doubled off to meet the Starling with For he's a Jolly Good
Already the commodores of American
convoys had brought home the fame of The man
who could smell U Boats, the doughty Captain F.J.Walker, C.B.,D.S.O.,R,N. His death
in a naval hospital at Liverpool on July 9th of the following year revealed the extent to
which he exposed himself and spent his health on holding Britain's lifeline.
Argentia next, the revelation plus technical requirements that involved a visit to Norfolk,
Virginia, and we steamed into the glare and clatter of the night shift on Sunday Nov 28th. We
bought our Christmas presents; we reclined in the sunshine of the flight deck while the
"indomitable's" Royal Marine Band gave us a concert. S/Lt William McBurnie of Glasgow was
well pleased-at last- with the spectacular catapult tests. Finally, the Dock Yard painted the ship,
spraying everything from life rafts to liberty men. After a work up in Chesapeake Bay, we
dashed north to Argentia again. Here we held our first ship's concert on Dec11th.
With the temperature at 27 degrees
and thick driving snow blackening sea, shore and
ship, we hit the high seas on Dec15th. But our spirits were also high. Home for
Christmas was the objective. So we joined a convoy, Looked for U Boats, had one day
that was good for flying, flew on four others, suffered five prangs but no casualties, and
achieved one first class manoeuvre. H.M.S.Assiniboine reported an enemy aircraft. To fly
off, we had to turn 180 degrees into the wind from the centre of the convoy, and yet the
seafire was airborne within four minutes, despite the heavy rolling caused by the turn- so
violent that the second seafire, waiting its turn, rolled over and broke its back. The
enemy aircraft turned out to be a Liberator.
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