NATURE VERSUS MAN
There were two "Star Trips", and No 2 was one of them.
It was the epic of the Gale. When
we weighed anchor at Meville, Northern Ireland, on the
night of October 18th, we did so, because, with a S.W. gale and a strong ebb, it was too
dangerous to lie there, and when we reached Argentia, Newfoundland,on the morning of
Nov 12th. we did so because, with another S.E.gale howling astern, we could not put
about. As for the intervening three weeks... We covered a convoy, again with E.G.2 and
carried out the usual Anti- submarine patrols. After ten days of this, we were ordered to
the west, where U Boats were said to be lurking. The change of course in a full S.W.
gale caused a tremendous roll- the angle was officially 52 degrees- and we had to heave
to. Turmoil had broken out in the hanger. A swordfish, giving chase to Chief engineer
Ferguson, ploughed through neighbouring aircraft. Another charged the ship's side, burst
a hydrant, gave a nasty impression of the sea sweeping in board, and aroused the valour
of the commander, who nobly sat on the hydrant. Valiant work was done in the hanger
by Lt " Bats" Urwin and the Squadron, but at the end of the roll only three aircraft were fit
for flying. Not many will forget Nov 1st. 1943. Quartermaster of the watch was "Ginger"
Walker, then A.B. He kept his head as well as the ship's, but was of the opion that one
more heavy sea at that precise moment, and... However, the next [pipe did not indicate
panic. It was "one hand from each mess muster at the galley with tea urn...stand easy!
This S.W.gale blew on the 1st.
A N.E. gale howled on the third. So the Swordfish took
off on the 2nd. The courage of each trio was all the finer for its being mere routine.
As they clambered into their flapping roaring "Kite" they knew perfectly well that, even if
the weather allowed them to take off, it might have changed for the worse by the time
they wanted to land on. and the take off was no picnic.
Crowds lined the catwalk to see the show, very much in the spirit of dirt track crowds. It
is in fact that everyone of those spectators made sure he had somewhere to dive to if the
ship or the plane should stage a surprise move. Here she comes. Commander Flying
has given the affirmative. Ships steady into the wind and the sea. Louder roar. Past the
bridge. up up ...yes she's airbourne... Did you see that dip? Just missed by 40
Millimeters. Watch out. C for Charlies landing on. Bats is doing his stuff. Down port
Steady now. Down starboard. Ship's pretty quiet, Lower now. Here she comes, down,
down. This is going to be a lovely threepoint. Right out. The dirty ... Ship suddenly
dropped her stern then. Twenty five feet. Poor old Stringbag dropped like a stone, and
spreadeagled her undercarriage. Prang No. 3. Fall in maintenance. Another nights work.
She must be up tomorrow.
Tomorrow's another day.
To Next Chapter
Back to Life of the Tracker Contents Page
This Story is published online by Fleet Air Arm Archive.
© 2002 All rights reserved for all information created for or on behalf of the Fleet Air Arm Archive