SS Matra

japottinger
16th September 2007, 20:27
Last trip on SS Matra started on joining December 1960, Liverpool to New York and hence to southern states, (I recall Michael James as deck app.), on Cunard charter waiting on delivery of their Aulania etc.
Absolute hurricane all the way across which took ten days to cross, Ch. Mate (cannot remember his name) had his wife on their honeymoon, never out of her bed until we entered New York, he was not complaining!
All the way across we found that the fore peak fw tank always seemed full on a dip, only when drydocked at Middlesborough on return that we found that the plate under the forefoot had sprung rivets and was hanging off and leaking and so had pressed up the tank with salt water.
Ch Eng Jimmy Grant
2nd ? Duncan from Aberdeen
5th End Dave Ruddick
2nd Elec Cliff (?)Watson

Derek Roger
16th September 2007, 22:22
Ciff was known as " Batman " quite a character . He could not sleep at night which rumor had it was the effect of being in a Japanese prisoner of war camp . Perhaps some of the other Brock lads can throw a bit more information on the subject .
Derek

Nick Jones
16th September 2007, 22:31
Did one coastal voyage in 1968, followed by 2 deep sea trips. First trip crew,Captain George Sinclair, (The first and only old man I sailed with who drank only in the bar) Mate Tony Bassi, 2/M Martin Cadman, 3/M Barry Miller, Chief/E John Hoy (We called him the pope, must have had hollow feet because we couln't drink him under) 2/E Newrick, jr 3/E Hawkins 2nd steward Paul Deary, 1st Electrician me, 2nd Electrician Dereck (Yemeni) Yates, Sparkie Phil Chesters.
A pretty good bunch of guys who survived a 7 month run out to India.

Cheers,
Nick Jones.

japottinger
17th September 2007, 14:58
Not sure if I have got the correct Cliff, pretty sure it was Cliff Watson Chief RO on Maihar, he came from Arbroath, short lad.
Did not appear much out of his cabin when in port, but lots of liquid sustenance was passed in!
The Cliff on Matra was 2nd Elec, not sure now of his surname, he was a Scouser.

mikeg
17th September 2007, 16:10
Did one coastal voyage in 1968, followed by 2 deep sea trips..

Hi Nick,

I did a short coastal stand-in trip as sparkie on the Matra in 1968 from 11th Nov. to 6th Dec. Joined and left in Tilbury. I really enjoyed that trip, good friendly people and a very nice ship, what more could one want.

Mike

Nick Jones
17th September 2007, 22:13
Mikeg,

We must have been there together, but unfortunately 39 years has dimmed some of the memory cells. Couldn't have been the beer or whisky.

cheers,

nick.

Don A.Macleod
19th September 2007, 11:57
Jim,I was 2nd elect. on Matra for three trips 63/64 and the 2nd Eng. for the first two was Duncan Watson from Aberdeen.Cliff was probably Cliff Humphreys,never met him but apparently he was a character!And as Derek states he was aka Batman.

mikeg
19th September 2007, 22:23
Mikeg,

We must have been there together, but unfortunately 39 years has dimmed some of the memory cells. Couldn't have been the beer or whisky.

cheers,

nick.

My memory cells also.. I do remember testing the lifeboat transmitter and being told absolutely not to turn the handles myself but to get a crewmember to do it. I also recall going ashore with a few of the officers including the master and having a really great pi** up, on our return and though I can't recall now who was driving the car but nearing the ship the car wouldn't go any further inspite of high engine reving.... as it was pushing hard onto a mooring rope :~)
A very happy ship, I just wished I could have stayed longer.

Cheers,

Mike

R798780
19th September 2007, 23:04
Wasn't Cliff Humphreys known as Rubberlegs ?

Derek Roger
20th September 2007, 02:29
Wasn't Cliff Humphreys known as Rubberlegs ?

Defiinatly " Bat Man " Rubber Legs may have been an add on ; but not the original;
Cheers Derek

R798780
20th September 2007, 09:51
Derek, Tony Selman has it that: '"Batman" was Cliff Watson a Chief R/O who was (in)famous in Brock's for his drinking habits.'

As I recall, Batman was a Radio Officer who would call for a drink and stand for the duration through several drinks, holding onto the top of the doorway.

gwzm
20th September 2007, 23:22
Hi Guys,

I can confirm: Hugh is correct - Cliff Watson was the Batman. I sailed with Cliff on the Mahronda in 1964 and some of the details of that voyage are forever indelibly etched in my memory - Cliff's drinking habits and him smoking the most noxious Burmah cheroots in the radio room, deck cargo of stinking dried fish, the ships "band" playing a gig at the Colombo swimming club, Mahronda Officer's Club run by the P/CS Arthur Moules (?), race meeting in Calcutta with lots of burrah sahibs on board, etc... etc....
Cliff, I believe, had digs in Dundee from whence came the 2/E Tommy Lyons. Cliff's cabin was immediately adjacent to the smokeroom and Tommy took great delight in playing Andy Stewart singing Campbelltown Loch I wish You Were Whisky at full volume on the record player when Cliff was conducting a deckhead survey. Unfortunately, the volume wasn't much reduced when it reached my cabin next door to Cliff's.

Happy days indeed,

John

japottinger
21st September 2007, 00:32
Yes Donald, Duncan watson was 2nd Eng on the trip I did as 3rd Eng Nov 1960-Jan 1961.
Cliff Humphrey could be the name as 2nd Elec., he went completely mental after drinking whisky on arrival at London at end of that trip, I awoke with the sound of banging next door in his cabin, and found that he was banging his head on his wardrobe door as he could see the light beam coming out through the small holes drilled in the top to ensure circulation, took him back to some unfortunate experience at home apparently when he imagined being locked in and the light appeared to him as an escape to the street outside.Nice chap though. Ch Elec was also a Scouser, cannot recall his name, straight black hair and pale face.
My wife was pregnant at the time expecting twins and I told Ch Eng. Jimmy Grant I wanted relieved as soon as we reached London, which incidentally coincided with the end of the call up, a lot of lads just up and went without even waiting on their relief. I recall a Ch. Eng from Ben Line down the dock coming to plead if we had any engs. to spare! Anyway I was persuaded to take the Matra up to Middlesborough where she was due for a major engine room Lloyds survey as I was the only one who had made the trip on her and familiar with the job.
I was then called to meet the Marine and Eng. Supt. who put a proposal to me, that is they would fetch my wife down and put her up in a private hospital in Middlesborough for the confinement If I would stay on the ship!
In was then was agreed that I would go home for a weekend in the interim to see what the situation was re pregnancy , unfortunately I was struck down with the flu which started on travelling home to Greenock, and was not able to return to the ship.
I deeply regretted not being able to help out, and it will not surprise anyone that I will never hear a bad word about Brocklebank.

Don A.Macleod
21st September 2007, 00:38
Wasn't Cliff Humphreys known as Rubberlegs ?

You've got it Hugh he was "rubber legs" now that the grey cells are temporarily activated! Never met him or Cliff Watson but think Tony has got it right.,

japottinger
21st September 2007, 00:38
I recall a bunch of us from Maihar went ashore in Calcutta and took a horse drawn garry up Chowringhee, as there were a few of us aboard Cliff Watson opted to sit at the front of the garry, however he slipped down and ended up between the shaft of the garry with his face up against the a--- of the horse and his poor very short legs pedalling rapidly on the street to maintain his balance, much to the amusement of all and sundry spectators on both sides of the street!
Ron MacMurtrie from Stranraer was 2nd RO on that trip.

japottinger
21st September 2007, 00:46
Cliff Watson Ch RO on Maihar used to stand outside his cabin in the alleyway of the accommodation on starboard side and slowly rotate his palm around his stomach, possibly just scratching, but the legend was that it was his radar searching out where the beer was! Reputed to be a case a day man.
Nothwithstanding all the comments, great shipmates one and all.

Derek Roger
21st September 2007, 02:02
I only sailed with Cliff on one trip which I think was the Maidan on the Coast ( Tommy Lyon from Dundee was the second Eng . or it may have been on Mahseer on a trip between Trincomalee and Colombo .
Either way it was an experience ! Bat Man was a good man and despite his odd behavior
held down his job .
The story was that he had spent time in a Japanese prisinor of war camp and that was why he couldnt sleep at night ( Hence Bat Man )
Any comments ?????. Irrespective he was a good ship mate .
Regards Derek

Philthechill
21st September 2007, 06:22
Cliff Watson Ch RO on Maihar used to stand outside his cabin in the alleyway of the accommodation on starboard side and slowly rotate his palm around his stomach, possibly just scratching, but the legend was that it was his radar searching out where the beer was! Reputed to be a case a day man.
Nothwithstanding all the comments, great shipmates one and all.
Seeing mention of Cliff Watson's apparent reputation of being a case-a-day-man does anyone remember Ch. Elect. "Case-a-day-Kelly"? Despite his prodigious consumption of Tennents he had the build of a racing snake. Talking of snakes he was reputed to be rather well-equipped in the "bedroom snake" department too with his nudger being likened to "a childs arm with an apple in its hand"!!
On the eccentric R/O theme.Wasn't there a Ch. R/O called Davey Johnson who used to exist on sarnies and Tennents? Smallish bloke with, I seem to recall, one leg slightly shorter than the other which he was, apparently, very self-conscious about. Salaams Phil(Pint)

Don A.Macleod
22nd September 2007, 00:58
Seeing mention of Cliff Watson's apparent reputation of being a case-a-day-man does anyone remember Ch. Elect. "Case-a-day-Kelly"? Despite his prodigious consumption of Tennents he had the build of a racing snake. Talking of snakes he was reputed to be rather well-equipped in the "bedroom snake" department too with his nudger being likened to "a childs arm with an apple in its hand"!!
On the eccentric R/O theme.Wasn't there a Ch. R/O called Davey Johnson who used to exist on sarnies and Tennents? Smallish bloke with, I seem to recall, one leg slightly shorter than the other which he was, apparently, very self-conscious about. Salaams Phil(Pint)

Now Phil you are getting out of hand! Can't place this guy Kelly nor Davey Johnson . Could they possibly have been PORT LINE guys!? Salaams
Don.

Roger Bentley
22nd September 2007, 11:30
Davey Johnson was a very well known RO in Brockklebanks, He was a Scotsman and without prejudice he himself would describe himself as a wee humpty backed chap. He had a wonderful sense of humour and I recall when an edict came from the office that if traffic lists were missed a full entry must be made in the log. He decided that a good one would be D A Johnson on Watch, List Missed , Pissed, D A Johnson off watch. On another occasion he was telling us of how he came to be a RO and go to sea. "The war had started and somehow I could'na see myself bayoneting a big Jerry so here I am" Regards, Roger

Philthechill
22nd September 2007, 15:43
Now Phil you are getting out of hand! Can't place this guy Kelly nor Davey Johnson . Could they possibly have been PORT LINE guys!? Salaams
Don. Don! You're quite right about my getting out-of-hand! I tend to forget that there are quite a number of lady-members, who could read my comments, so my descent into the slightly off-colour is quite inexcusable. My apologies! Roger Bentley has confirmed the existence of Davey Johnson and he WAS Brock's. Salaams Phil

Jim S
22nd September 2007, 18:44
I can confirm "Case a Day" Kelly. He was 1st Electrician on Maidan in 1963. It seemed he seldom ate but despite his nickname I never saw him the worse for wear. - Fred McKay was 2nd Electrician now there was a combination.

Derek Roger
23rd September 2007, 00:18
Don! You're quite right about my getting out-of-hand! I tend to forget that there are quite a number of lady-members, who could read my comments, so my descent into the slightly off-colour is quite inexcusable. My apologies! Roger Bentley has confirmed the existence of Davey Johnson and he WAS Brock's. Salaams Phil

Thanks for that Phil ; You are a gentleman . Derek

Derek Roger
23rd September 2007, 00:20
Thanks for that Phil ; You are a gentleman . Derek

PS We love the detail of your stories : keep them coming . Derek

Danny Simpson
17th May 2008, 16:38
Last trip on SS Matra started on joining December 1960, Liverpool to New York and hence to southern states, (I recall Michael James as deck app.), on Cunard charter waiting on delivery of their Aulania etc.
Absolute hurricane all the way across which took ten days to cross, Ch. Mate (cannot remember his name) had his wife on their honeymoon, never out of her bed until we entered New York, he was not complaining!
All the way across we found that the fore peak fw tank always seemed full on a dip, only when drydocked at Middlesborough on return that we found that the plate under the forefoot had sprung rivets and was hanging off and leaking and so had pressed up the tank with salt water.
Ch Eng Jimmy Grant
2nd ? Duncan from Aberdeen
5th End Dave Ruddick
2nd Elec Cliff (?)Watson

I see from your post that your last trip on Matra commenced in December 1960. I don't know when you first joined Matra, but I have correspondence between my grandfather, Harold Simpson, and father relating to analysis undertaken by my father (an organic chemist) of a fibrous contaminant obtained from Matra's fuel oil in late 1959.
I believe from this, and a couple of photos dated 1960, that appear to have been taken on board Matra, that my grandfather was her captain.
I wonder whether you could confirm this, as I have no other documents that show which ship he was on at the time.
Also, as a marine engineer, perhaps you remember the contamination itself.
Kind regards
Danny

japottinger
19th May 2008, 23:42
Hello Danny, as I said it was a quick trip to northern USA on Cunard charter. Signed on at Liverpool on 15/11/1960 and off at London on 9/1/1961. Never heard anything about possible fuel contamination, must have been bad as imagine the Scotch boilers were pretty tolerant. cannot recall the captain's name, and his signature on my discharge book is the usual scribble, I could scan it and email to you to see idf you can decipher.
regards,
Jim

R396040
30th October 2008, 22:28
Was interested to read the entries on Matra. I see from my Dis.bk that I joined her in Oct 1970 and did a voyage out to India as P/CS. I had at that time been with Cunard for thirteen years and that trip was very different to the usual US/Canadian voyages I was used to. Also my first experience of Indian crews. The Master was Clifford Hicks who I got on well with,cant remember any other officers Im afraid. After the one trip I was ready to resign,India not being my thing, however then did a couple of trips on Atlantic Conveyor,which had tanker like turnrounds. After resigning actually did a couple of tankers trips,CP and Panocean before the ferries. Times were changing even then....... cest la vie !