Death Of A Middie

Phil Saul
29th December 2007, 00:00
I was first trip catering boy in the Blue Flue Peleus outward bound in the Med August '64 when we went to the assistance of a homeward bound Ben boat which had suffered the loss of a midshipman in an accident.
As I recall the incident, from a distance of 43 years, he was hit in the head by a crowbar when a Mcgregor hatch was being opened or closed.
As the Peleus carried an Irish female doctor at that time, who'se name I can't recall, she was ferried over to the Ben boat in the motor life-boat to certify the death.
This incident has always stayed in my mind as I was pretty homesick at the time and the thought of this poor guy copping it like that, only four days from home, I thought was quite tragic.
Can anyone shed any light on this and confirm that I have got my facts right and also confirm the name of the Ben boat.

Regards Phil

sparkie2182
29th December 2007, 01:12
a sad story ...............i hope someone can render more information.

Bill Davies
9th January 2008, 08:38
Not wishing to detract from the main thrust of your post I would re-check your dates.
The 'Peleus' was known as the 'Christmas Ship' and as such would have been 'homeward bound' in August and 'outward bound' in September.
Berthing 9 August, 9 December, 9 April
Sailed 8 September, 8 January, 8 May

tacho
9th January 2008, 19:30
The 'Peleus' was known as the 'Christmas Ship' and as such would have been 'homeward bound' in August and 'outward bound' in September.

Lucky Blue Flue people. I never worked for a company ashore or afloat where you could rely on anything particularly Xmas. To return to the point of this thread - it's always tragic to hear of incidents like this particularly amongst younger crew members who are just starting out on a career.

I remembers as a cadet on an ore carrier raising the macgregor hatches on the eccentrics prior to arrival. There was supposed to be a small hydraulic jack that you used to raise the section before turning the wheel - naturally these jacks were broken or lost so we were raising the hatches with a 6 ft long podger. We were just about strong enough to turn the wheels over and put the pins back. On one section we lost it and the section went back with a thump and threw the podger cartwheeling way up in the air and over the side.

I always though it was dangerous, but in those days we did as we were told - well most of the time.

Bill Davies
9th January 2008, 19:54
The task you have described has seen it's fair share of fatalities.

Bill

Santos
9th January 2008, 21:22
I have raised and lowered wheels on macgregor hatch covers as you described with a 3 foot metal bar many more times than I care to remember, and I lost a few bars too when they flew off. Yes it was dangerous and Yes we had to do as we were told. I can also remember having to climb out onto the hatch covers to hook the strop on for lowering them one at a time. We never had the luxery of ours being chained together. Sometime we had to climb up their underside when they were in the raised position, which meant if you had fallen off you would have gone straight down the hold backwards.

A fellow Cadet of mine, climbed out once and got bitten on the hand as he was climbing up the underside of the hatch cover by a rat that was inside the frame. Fortunately the tweendeck was full to the hatch coaming with bales of tobacco and he had a bruising but fairly soft landing. I dont know what hurt the most, his bruising or his bum where numerous injections of antibiotics etc were jabbed in to fight any infection the rat bite may have brought. He did survive thank goodness but had the hatch been empty, he would have been another sad statistic of the 60s at sea.

Chris.

tacho
10th January 2008, 01:21
Here's a good one. Nothing to do with hatches. I was cadet on a ship where the mate got us to make gantlines for the paint stages out of worn out derrick guys. We were all daft enough to comply.

The guy ropes on this ship had a relatively short life as we beat the s**t out of the gear working union purchased dump grabs discharging phosphate in Oz. I reckon the runners lasted about one discharge maybe two on occasion but not more.

oceangoer
10th January 2008, 01:43
I have raised and lowered wheels on macgregor hatch covers as you described with a 3 foot metal bar many more times than

This, and the succeeding story on gantlines, were accepted practices when we "old farts" were at first at sea.

I remember as a Cadet being up the topmast of an Ellerman vessel gripping the mast between my sweaty bare knees while I used both hands to set up the self lowering hitch on the bosuns chair so I could paint the thing.

Where H&S are concerned there's none so brazen as a 17 year old.

Several years later as Choff in another company I tried to get a Chinese crew to use 'lowering hitches' when painting masts. They refused point blank. They may be inscrutable, but they're not daft.

tacho
10th January 2008, 14:23
When I "self lowered" (no one else was going to do it) in a bosun's chair I did a sheet bend with the gantline thro the eye in the chair lanyards. When wishing to lower i took my weight on the gantline loosened off the bend lowered away on the slack. It wasn't fast but quite safe - you couldn't fall any further than the amount of slack. On all the ships I was on that's how it seemed to be done.
I remembers as a cadet on one ship we made our own light weight stage which we used exclusively for painting the ship's name, registry, bow crest and all draught marks - this seemed to be our job about every other port. The paint stage was a good place to skive.

Phil Saul
13th January 2008, 23:40
Not wishing to detract from the main thrust of your post I would re-check your dates.
The 'Peleus' was known as the 'Christmas Ship' and as such would have been 'homeward bound' in August and 'outward bound' in September.
Berthing 9 August, 9 December, 9 April
Sailed 8 September, 8 January, 8 May

You are quite correct Bill, it would have been September.
I joined her in August but had overlooked the fact that I had coasted her prior to going deep sea so would not have departed Birkenhead until September.
Too many years and too many beers have affected the memory.

Regards Phil (Thumb)