Red Sea horrors,Massawa Assab,Djibouti

japottinger
19th July 2008, 21:48
SS Maihar (I) Voyage 94

Arr. Massawa, 7/7/57 Stand By 0202 hours, at anchor 02.49 ;
To berth, 8/7/57, Stand By 09.22; FWE 10.38
Depart Massawa 9/7/57 Stand By 13.42 Full Away 14.15
Hottest and most uncomfortable place I have ever been.
We were overhauling bottom end bearings on the triple exp. recip. engine, sliding all over the crankpit wielding sledge hammers and taking leads.
I spent the night sleeping in the handling room

Arr. Assab. 10/7/57 Stand By 13.57 FWE 15.52
Depart Assab 13/7/57 Stand By 06.15; Full Away 1900 hrs.

5th Eng.Bob Stoddard had bought a couple of goldfish at Eastham at beginning of the voyage and when anyone came of watch always looked to his cabin to checked they were OK, he decided to change the sand in the bowl from the beach beside the quay at Assab, lo and behold after a couple of hours they all died belly up!

Arr. Djibouti 13/7/47 Stand By 18.28 FWE 20.00
Depart Djibouti 14/7/57 Stand By 17.50 Full Away 1900
I used to enter the times from the movement book at the end of a watch in my diary !
Sad is it not!

japottinger
19th July 2008, 22:48
Deliberate mistake, on caller has noticed it who did not embarrass me by correcting in print!
We were not there for a year, should be Arr. Djibouti 13/4/1957!

tell
20th July 2008, 01:40
did you ever go to the Lido in Massawa, it was great and helped to make life bearable in that awful heat

japottinger
20th July 2008, 20:18
I think we went to a pool at Djibouti, or was it Ports Sudan.
At Massawa it was work and crash!

Cunarder
21st July 2008, 01:53
I always thought Massawa was a bit of a trip highlight. Had some really memorable nights ashore there. Including getting rolled in a back alley when walking back to the ship after too many local brews! Lost my watch and wallet but thankfully that was all... Oh happy days - when can I go back?

Derek Roger
21st July 2008, 02:00
Happy Days !! Massawa was " Roof Top Gardens I think ? " Derek

Ron Stringer
21st July 2008, 09:53
At one of those Red Sea ports was a Mission (I think it was a Mission) with a small swimming pool. The water in it was a most unnattractive shade of green, mainly because of the thick coating of algae on the walls and bottom of the pool. The heat (and absence of any aircon or the like) aboard ship made this pool seem tempting to several of our crew. I stuck to the beer and was glad that I did when several of the swimmers came down with painful ear infections later on down the East African coast.

Pilot mac
21st July 2008, 10:52
Port Sudan defintely had a pool with green water!

Dave

Brian Locking
21st July 2008, 13:42
The stevedores in Port Sudan and probablt other Red Sea Ports were known as Fuzzy Wuzzies in my day.

benjidog
22nd July 2008, 00:15
OK - I think we have got the message about what you think regarding Port Sudan stevedores but they are not really appropriate in this day and age so are being deleted.

Brian

Philthechill
22nd July 2008, 08:57
In actual fact, Benjidog, the "Fuzzy-Wuzzy" name isn't as derogatory as it may seem and really doesn't need to be removed, even in this horrible PC world we have to inhabit these days.

"Fuzzy-Wuzzy" was a name given to the superb fighting warriors of The Sudan by the British Army who, to a man, respected their bravery and skill in battle.

In fact Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem ("Fuzzy-Wuzzy") in praise of these men the first verse beginning:-
"We've fought with many men acrost (sic) the seas,
An' some would say of 'em was brave an' some was not:
The Paythan and the Zulu an' Burmese;
But the Fuzzy was the finest of the lot."

As anyone who has been to Port Sudan will tell you the "Fuzzy-Wuzzy" epithet refers to their extraordinary hair-style which would put any "Afro" hair-do (literally) in the shade. The fact that their "hair-lacqueur", of choice, was camel-crap added a certain je ne sais quoi to the image (especially if you got downwind of them!).

Extremely strong and very fit, with incredible stamina, these very tall, very thin, men were a sight to behold when they came aboard to work cargo and could work all day long, without any problems, in the searing heat of Port Sudan.

Some of them would have old Sam Browne belts on which (or so we were told!) had been taken off British soldiers bodies during long ago battles.

Here endeth the first lesson in British Colonial History!!!!

Seriously though Benji, "Fuzzy-Wuzzy" isn't an insulting term for these people more an affectionate nickname. Salaams Phil(Hippy)

Pilot mac
22nd July 2008, 09:19
Well said Phil, completely innocent reminiscence from the Red Sea Tigers in the group. Saddened to see my post and at least one other deleted.

regards
Dave

Brian Locking
22nd July 2008, 11:06
Brian,
As I was responsible for the, to my mind, innocent post #9 I am heartened to read the subsequent posts. I might add that moderation is fine as long as it does not stifle the debate of members. I am personally horrified at the various posts which reminisce about the tawdry goings on in Bars around the world which seems to go unchecked. If for no other reason, we have quite a few lady members who I am sure do not find the 'carryings on' in any way interesting. I certainly do not. On a lighter note, for those who have never seen a Fuzzy Wuzzy, think of Jimmy Hendrix or Doctor Brian May (Queen)

K urgess
22nd July 2008, 12:28
You will notice that the original post at #9 was not removed.
There is a basic rule of most web sites that if you don't like the subject don't read it.
Besides most of the "stories" in such threads are self-deprecatory and for the most part don't bring into question the personal habits or slang names of other races.
It's all very well for us to refer to these people by affectionate sobriquets where we know that the term is a colloquial expression for a Sudanese soldier but the world at large associates the term with the slang term meaning "a coloured native of other countries" (Concise Oxford Dictionary) and in today's world it is considered definitely non-PC.
And besides it's referred to in a thread about the horrors of the Red Sea which hardly puts it in the category of a compliment, does it.

Philthechill
22nd July 2008, 13:40
Marconi-sahib. I'm afraid I've got to disagree with The Oxford Concise Dictionary's definition of "Fuzzy-Wuzzy"!

The term is most definitely historical and, equally, is most definitely NOT critical as the word "fuzzy" referred to, as I pointed-out in my earlier message, their incredible hair-styles and if The Oxford Dictionary choose to use the term "Fuzzy-Wuzzy" in a one-size-fits-all category then I feel they are wrong and I still maintain that nobody has used the term, in this thread, in a nasty way.

"Fuzzy-Wuzzy" is what they were known as in the same way a red-head would be called "Carrot-top" or "Ginger-nut" and is not being insulting! Bot Atcha? Salaams, Phil(Hippy)

Ron Stringer
22nd July 2008, 13:40
As anyone who has been to Port Sudan will tell you the "Fuzzy-Wuzzy" epithet refers to their extraordinary hair-style which would put any "Afro" hair-do (literally) in the shade. The fact that their "hair-lacqueur", of choice, was camel-crap added a certain je ne sais quoi to the image (especially if you got downwind of them!).

Equally memorable were the long wooden 'combs' (rather like forks) that were thrust into the hair and occasionally agitated or re-adjusted, possibly to move on some irritating inhabitant. That and the fact that they often carried aboard long staves or spears when turning up for work.


Extremely strong and very fit, with incredible stamina, these very tall, very thin, men were a sight to behold when they came aboard to work cargo and could work all day long, without any problems, in the searing heat of Port Sudan.



Not only that but also extremely stoic. They worked in either bare feet or sandals and I saw one that had stood too close to a bale or something and had the nail of one of his big toes pulled back to the vertical position. The ship's doctor was called and decided to remove the nail and went for scissors, forceps etc. When he returned with his bag of kit, the man realised what was being done and simply reached down and plucked off the offending nail. The doctor then treated the open wound with iodine and the guy just smiled and said 'Good-good,' while a bandage was applied. Then he went back to work.

Brian Locking
22nd July 2008, 14:02
Ron.

Just as I remember it.

Brian

Allan Wareing
22nd July 2008, 14:12
Ron,I can 'attest' to them being stoic. Remember discharging coils of barbed fencing wire there from a tramp in 1939 and seeing them walking barefoot all over it with no problems at all. Cheers,Allan

K urgess
22nd July 2008, 14:17
Can't see how you can disagree with the dictionary, Phil.
It agrees that the name exists and applies historically to Sudanese soldiers. What it doesn't apply to is stevedores. It may have done at the time we were at sea and in that area but that sort of reference these days in that area will probably familiarise you with the working end of an AK47. As I said the thread title is "Red Sea horrors,Massawa Assab,Djibouti" so any reference in the thread is automatically associated with the horrors of the area.
As to the "Carrot-top" or "Ginger-nut" reference I always found it extremely insulting from my contemporaries and only tolerated it from my elders who I expected not to know better.[=P]

Salaams
Kris

Fergus 62
22nd July 2008, 15:13
I seem to remember the the "referred to gentlemen" had a strong dislike to having their photograph taken. I recall a passenger attempting to take a photo and an altercation developing which was tackfully handled by the local agent and the Mate. I think the problem was that they believed the photograph took their spirit from their body, perhaps someone could confirm.
All the other posts on this subject bring back memories of the area and I have to agree with Phil on the origins of "Fuzzy Wuzzy", it addition to the origin I think we all would agree that a more discriptive name could not be used with no offence intended.

Fergus62

Pilot mac
22nd July 2008, 15:36
Seem to remember Clive Dunne in 'Dads Army' refering to the' refered to gentlemen' on more than one occasion.

Dave

Roger Bentley
22nd July 2008, 19:50
I bought the post card shown as I am sure lots of other people did when visiting Port Sudan. We all used the term that the PC police now deem inappropriate, but I am sure we did not intend it to have any detrimental effect, and I used to admire the way they would tackle loading and unloading in a heroic manner with their special chant. Re the Sam Browne belts some of them wore, I was told by an agent when there with the Bibby Line that these were relics of the making of the famous film Four Feathers when much of the props were left behind.
Finally re the green swimming pool - I remember this as being at the Red Sea Hotel. Cheers

Philthechill
22nd July 2008, 20:21
I bought the post card shown as I am sure lots of other people did when visiting Port Sudan. We all used the term that the PC police now deem inappropriate, but I am sure we did not intend it to have any detrimental effect, and I used to admire the way they would tackle loading and unloading in a heroic manner with their special chant. Re the Sam Browne belts some of them wore, I was told by an agent when there with the Bibby Line that these were relics of the making of the famous film Four Feathers when much of the props were left behind.
Finally re the green swimming pool - I remember this as being at the Red Sea Hotel. Cheers Roger! I'm quite sure your explanation re. the Sam Browne belts is 100% correct as common sense would say that Sam Browne belts from around the Boer War time, still being around in Sudanese heat, in the 1960's, would be a complete nonsense but MY story about them is much, much better! Yours is too prosaic by far!!!! See!! Salaams, Phil(Hippy) P.S. I'm not talking to YOU Marconi-sahib ever again! You're far too sensible!!!(H)

surfaceblow
22nd July 2008, 21:19
Until now I always thought of the children's song "Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear. Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair." I always thought the song was about a well worn teddy bear. The other was a Kipling Poem that praised the Sudanese warrior.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuzzy_Wuzzy

Derek Roger
23rd July 2008, 02:14
Gentlemen ; Been there and seen it all . While some members might think the comments are not PC I have to agree with the facts . The statements made are factual and reflect the situation at that time .
I find the comments to be of a very commendable nature of the workers of that time .
Kind Regards Derek

Bill Davies
23rd July 2008, 08:44
Marconi Sahib,

Quote:There is a basic rule of most web sites that if you don't like the subject don't read it:Unquote
I think that statement was a long time coming and should have been applied to one or two other posts which have caused far more problems than post #9.

Bill

Roger Bentley
23rd July 2008, 19:03
Roger! I'm quite sure your explanation re. the Sam Browne belts is 100% correct as common sense would say that Sam Browne belts from around the Boer War time, still being around in Sudanese heat, in the 1960's, would be a complete nonsense but MY story about them is much, much better! Yours is too prosaic by far!!!! See!! Salaams, Phil(Hippy) P.S. I'm not talking to YOU Marconi-sahib ever again! You're far too sensible!!!(H)

Still got to be a bit more prosaic Phil! The gentlemen were active during the Mahdi rebellion around the time of General Gordon and I think it was Omdurman where they featured. Supposedly the only irregulars to break a British square although they suffered terrible casualties. Good Lads All! Raising a sturdy glass of Greenalls as tribute. Burra Salaams, Roger

Chouan
23rd July 2008, 22:37
Not Omdurman, wrong area, and at Omdurman they didn't make contact, and we didn't fight in square. Using thorn zeribas, enfield magazine rifles, breech loading artillery, oh, and maxim guns, made them obscelete.
The battles of McNeill's Zeriba and Abu Klea is where they broke into British squares, but Tamai is where the British square was actually broken. The Hadendowah, as the "fuzzy-wuzzies" as called by our forfathers, and us, were really called were led by one Osman Digna. Their square hilted supposed "crusader swords", were mostly imported 19th century fairly cheap and of german make.

What the Fug
24th July 2008, 10:35
Michael Asher book Khartoum: The Ultimate Imperial Adventure is a good book to get the complete background on this, and some of the characters that show up in it are straight out a Flashman novel

ken carr
24th July 2008, 14:31
Gentlemen,Try typing in the word's ( Fuzzy Wuzzy ) into your Google Search Engine, you may be surprised at the results
Regards Ken Carr

Roger Bentley
24th July 2008, 15:33
Not Omdurman, wrong area, and at Omdurman they didn't make contact, and we didn't fight in square. Using thorn zeribas, enfield magazine rifles, breech loading artillery, oh, and maxim guns, made them obscelete.
The battles of McNeill's Zeriba and Abu Klea is where they broke into British squares, but Tamai is where the British square was actually broken. The Hadendowah, as the "fuzzy-wuzzies" as called by our forfathers, and us, were really called were led by one Osman Digna. Their square hilted supposed "crusader swords", were mostly imported 19th century fairly cheap and of german make.

Ouch! Thanks for the history lesson.

ken carr
28th July 2008, 16:08
During the course of one of many cruise's through the Red Sea aboard the cargo Liner Mahanada111, I recall a frightening personnel horripilation, which still leaves me with nightmare's to this present day. I was indeed struck down with the curse of mankind,none other than toothache, the only relief I could find was (Lambs) or (Single Malt).On arrival at Port Sudan the purser Bubbles Lawrence arranged through the agent a visit to the local Hospital which fortunatly had a Dental Dept. On arrival at the Hospital I had to see a Docter first who had a good look in my mouth uttered some sympathetic words wrote a note for the Dentist and gave me a guide who took me to the Dentist Dept about 200m from the main Hospital, on entering the dental rooms I was impressed, all brand new gear and spotlessly clean a perfect torture chamber,next two gentlemen in white coats greeted me , they did not speak English and I did not understand their Language, the first spasm's of fear started. By sign language I ended up in the dental chair complete with a white robe, both these guy's had a good look and probe into my mouth, they indicated that a tooth was to be removed,to which I nodded OK, next thing they are into my mouth with the pliers a twitch and twist and a dam great heave and out with a tooth, no anaesthetic no nothing, I sat there like a stunned mullet, the two dentists smiling at each other whilst cleaning up all the blood and congratulating each other on another successfull operation , it was at this point in time that onother orifice in another part of my body was about to function. Don't remembergetting back to the ship??. Did not speak to Bubbles for two weeks,the toothache however was cured
Terror Horror Fear Do any of you gentlemen have NIGHTMARES ????
Ken Carr

Lksimcoe
28th July 2008, 19:52
Ken

It doesn't change much. In 2000, after a vacation in the UK, I came home with a tremendous toothache. My dentist decide that I needed 4 root canals, and proceeded to freeze the teeth. The problem was that 1 of the teeth wouldn't freeze, and he doesn't beleive in using gas, so the 4th root canal was done with no freezing. Needless to say, I've since changed dentists.

japottinger
28th July 2008, 20:53
I racall we loaded dates on the Maihar (I) at Port Sudan, the aforementioned gentlemen were working in the hold with bare feet, many of the dates were sqeeezing up between their toes as they stowed the cargo.
We arrived at Port Sudan once the with a French passenger ship moored alongside. Imagine the amazement when they observed us, on a ship 1917 vintage, with straight bow and enormous tall funnel, running along the boat deck and diving into our swimming pool which was let flush into the deck just aft of the funnel!

john dunn
25th August 2008, 11:31
There are two swimming pools in Port Sudan, the Red Sea Hotel and at the former Mission to Seamen now the compound of the security police. I don't know how long the Mission kept going but up until 1993 the changing huts were still standing by the empty pool and the wallof the huts completely covered by signatures, ships names and messages!

Strangely enough I knew most of the Brocks people 1950/56 when serving my time and many of the names I recognised. Unfortunately the Securiy police would not let me take picture during the 3 years I was enjoying myself in The Sudan, Port Sudan mainly.