Missing/Presumed Drowned - City of Toronto

DCR
16th December 2008, 15:30
Hi all,
I was a nav cadet on the Ellerman City Liner, City of Toronto, June/July 1975 when the Purser (Willie, I have forgotten his surname unfortunately) was lost at sea. I do remember he had married shortly before the trip and had also survived being torpedoed twice on the Murmansk run. Any thoughts/memories?

Thanks,
Dave Reynolds

Chouan
16th December 2008, 17:39
I can remember the story. I was a Cadet on the Lichfield when I heard it, if I remember rightly. There were several versions; some not so pleasant.

AlexBooth
17th December 2008, 01:37
I was on that voyage, Willie Ferguson was the purser's name, just dissapeared one night in Mid-Atlantic.
I had been with him that. night after I came off watch had a couple of drinks & a chat, seemed fine to me. I don't believe he 'jumped', not only for the fact I left him in fine spirits, but also Wiliie was as blind as. a bat and his glasses where lleft on his bureau, He would have not been alble to manoevour/cross the stoop out of his cabin nor the outboard stoop either without them.

I never heard what the. Official version after the investigation at Freetown. Anyone of you hear what the virdict was?

Cheers

Alex

AlexBooth
17th December 2008, 01:58
Hi all,
I was a nav cadet on the Ellerman City Liner, City of Toronto, June/July 1975 when the Purser (Willie, I have forgotten his surname unfortunately) was lost at sea. I do remember he had married shortly before the trip and had also survived being torpedoed twice on the Murmansk run. Any thoughts/memories?

Thanks,
Dave Reynolds

Hey Dave,
So I guess we were on at the same time - I was the 3/M,

I'm curious, the. Toronto was on the CCL service how come you were only onboard for about a month? I hope & guess that's why your name doesn't ring with me - or I'm going senile!

Cheers
Alex

DCR
17th December 2008, 12:21
Hi Alex,
Like yourself I also hope I'm not senile yet. Having said that I'm sorry your name does not ring any bells. Probably because I spent just 19 days aboard before I was 'put' ashore into a hospital in Freetown. I spent a week in the hospital before being flown home and out of the Merchant Navy for good.

After our 2/3 day search for Willie I was quite annoyed that the 'old man' did not hold any sort of service or minutes silence in Willie's memory. Suffice to say what happened in the smokeroom that night I'm not proud of. I think a mixture of tiredness,alcohol and being too emotional ended with me wanting to start a fight with the wrong man. I ended up in handcuffs in the sickbay for a couple of days before we put into Freetown for bunkers. I never did hear the outcome of the investigation but the death was suspicious to say the least.

On a lighter note it is nice to hear from someone who was there.

Regards,
Dave

AlexBooth
17th December 2008, 18:12
Holy bad memory batman ! - I am totally blank about what are saying, now I am getting worried !

I have absolutely no recollection of the incident. I do, however, recall an impromptu 'service' on the foredeck just for'd of the accompdation, if fact in front of Willie's cabin. Where the old man read some bible and a few words were said.
But honestly I have NO recollection anyone being in jankers and to me the call at Freetown was to investigate & give our testimonies, I was apparantly the last to see him. (I. should still have a copy in my old trunk.) Again here I don't recall anyone being shipped out. I should though coz with a cadet less would have made extra work around the Sth/East African & Indian coasts !

Cheers
"Worried"

Chouan
18th December 2008, 10:01
It was certainly an incident that was much talked about at the time. Sometimes with a certain amount of confusion with the approximately contemporaneous death through malaria of another Ellermans Purser, Harry Crompton.

DCR
18th December 2008, 13:21
Hi Alex,
No worries, my memory is not the greatest either and we talking about 33 years ago. I think we are entitled to forget things. Anyway I don't recall any service probably because it was held whilst I was locked up. I would like to think it was subsequently held because I had complained about the lack of it (in a rather unfortunate way it must be said). I am interested in the fact that you were asked for a statement. I was never asked by anyone for a statement.
Regards,
Dave

Fergus 62
18th December 2008, 14:09
Alex/DCR

I am fascinated by the ongoing story re City of Toronto as I left Ellermans only a few years before the incident and some of the names ring a bell somewhere.
Who was the Master at the time ?

Regards

Fergus 62

AlexBooth
30th December 2008, 03:01
If I am not mistaken it was 'Slash' Hartley- anyone emember how he got that Handle?

I've asked Ian if he can confirm from his Disposition of Sea-going Personnel listings
Cheers & Happy new year
Alex

malcommon
11th February 2009, 16:30
Hi there, although I never went to sea, I served my apprenticeship as an electrician at the National Coal Board and one of my fellow apprentices at the same time was a Guy called Michael (Mick) Rogan from longbenton near Newcastle upon Tyne.
I left the coal board in 1969 and I heard that Mick had joined the merchant navy, with Ellerman Lines as an electrician. I then heard that he had been lost overboard or had jumped overboard from a ship that was halfway back from South Africa I believe, somebody told me he was depressed after recieving a dear john letter.
does anybody remember Mick or can you throw any light on what happened as we were good friends.

regards Malcommon.

Paul Winstanley
23rd February 2009, 07:16
Willy had not been married long to Margaret, from the City Line office in Glasgow I beleive, when he dissapeared. There were, as people said, some not so pleasant rumours regarding the incident. I had sailed with him shortly before he dissapeared.

daven1948
20th October 2009, 17:01
I was flown to Toronto in a hurry by Ellermans and when checking out of the hotel I met this fellow "Dave" the A/Purser who was going to the "Toronto" so we both went down to the Ship and it was decided we both join her with the existing Purser, He and other David plus myself did Toronto and Montreal and the Deep Sea Purser left with Willie taking over - I left her in Montreal and was given the option of Flying home or waiting for the next vessel - she was still in Bangladesh so I waited on her being paid for my Hotel and subsistence allowance plus expenses it was like Christmas [=P] - came to an arrangement and went touring - Joined the City of Forgot and did the Canadian and American Coast for both discharge and loading and went Deep Sea after some 3 months - Glad to get away if only for the rest - all sorts of rumours about Willie about staying in his cabin etc., and as someone said, some not very nice
Dave N The Purser who nearly sailed on the Toronto
Edited due too memory fade but does anyone remember a Shippers Party with a salmon which had a Snappers Head sewn on as a Centre Piece of the Buffet!!!!!

daven1948
22nd October 2009, 12:37
Just remembered it was the "City of Delhi" pronounced "Dell-High" throughout Canada and the States - great ship same class as the Newcastle. Can't remember the name of the Skipper but was a gentleman elderly, grey hair, ruddy featured and about 6ft 1" cracking bloke.
Dave Newington

taxi-man
27th October 2009, 22:30
Hi there, the old man was Capt. D.B.Williams, from Caernarfon, he always used to be on the "Capetown", but did the one trip on the "Dell-High". Do you still have the bushy moustache ???

daven1948
28th October 2009, 16:13
Hi there, the old man was Capt. D.B.Williams, from Caernarfon, he always used to be on the "Capetown", but did the one trip on the "Dell-High". Do you still have the bushy moustache ???
I do but whiter - I obviously know you but can I ask who you are and a rank might give a greater hint - DB Williams a Gentleman...
Dave N(Thumb)

taxi-man
29th October 2009, 23:15
Hi there, my name is Evan Griffith,from Holyhead in Welsh Wales, and I was the third mate on that trip, I also have a moustache and mine is also a lot whiter now!!

daven1948
31st October 2009, 15:41
Fair Hair and quite tall - great to hear from you Evan it was some trip what with parties on the coast all the way thru and if my memory serves me right we dry docked at St.Cath's who had never seen a Deep Sea Vessel - took over the town etc and they really looked after us, my relations in Niagara Falls took us away for the day. It was just the best voyage ever all the way round and back again and even found time for work, great times and even greater memories (Hopefully I have the right trip)
Dave N(Jester)

taxi-man
1st November 2009, 00:59
Aye Dave that's the right trip, dry docked on the Welland Canal, we had a fantastic time on the Canadian coast - partying, ice skating, Niagara Falls etc.etc. and indeed the whole trip was a good 'un, and was by far the best trip, that I did "deep sea".
I had forgotten about meeting your relatives, that really was a great day out - they very kind to us and really looked after us, very fond memories. I especially remember the damn we visited, although the name of it escapes me.
Glad to see you're still going strong, great to hear from you, best regards Evan.

daven1948
5th November 2009, 17:30
Ah those were the days I nearly married a girl from Toronto that trip but saw the error of my ways by the time we got to the "Sunshine Club" in Mombasa that was the only trouble "Tiger Beer" they all looked gorgeous, bald wigs and all - still settled down now - I think - but still have the wanderlust.
Dave N

gary lowes
16th July 2016, 10:28
my first trip to sea and it's a day I'll never forget. It made the headlines at home but gave no details of the missing person and my future wife was worried sick. The 3 first trip junior engs were asked to search the ship for Wullie and it was a dreadful ordeal for everyone on board. Can't remember all the names of shipmates but I remember the Scottish cadet going to hospital in Freetown as he was close to the missing purser and deeply disturbed by the tragedy

saudisid
18th July 2016, 10:18
my first trip to sea and it's a day I'll never forget. It made the headlines at home but gave no details of the missing person and my future wife was worried sick. The 3 first trip junior engs were asked to search the ship for Wullie and it was a dreadful ordeal for everyone on board. Can't remember all the names of shipmates but I remember the Scottish cadet going to hospital in Freetown as he was close to the missing purser and deeply disturbed by the tragedy

I sailed with Willy in the City of Ottawa in 71/72. He relieved Kerr Steele in Montreal Nov 71 and was in turn relieved by Peter Corbett in Sr. John NB in April 72. One memory of Willly was on Christmas Day about 1700. He arrived in the smoke room with Matt de Sliva [ Third Mate ] asleep in his arms. Willy had gone up to the next deck, picked Matt out of his pit and carried him down to the smoke room.

Others that voyage :

Master : Harry Whorton relieved by George Salter in Calcutta
Mate : Duncan Turner
2nd Mate : me Alan Suddaby
3rd Mate : Matt de Silva
Ch Eng : Sam Gililgan relieved by Bobby Cranne in Mombasa
2nd Eng : Tommy Ellison
3rd Eng :" Spud Murphy"
X 3rd Eng : Jim Morrison
4th Eng : Mike OConner
J/Eng : Maggot McEwan and George ?
Elect : Bob Utterson

2nd Stwd : Pete Smith

Chippy : Pervey Pete Copping from Sheerness

The R/O who I forget went to the states and shot himself a few years latter Remembered the R/O Clive Henty

Alan

gary lowes
18th July 2016, 13:07
Hi Davey, you probably won't remember me, I was one of 3 first trip juniors on that voyage and still vividly remember that awful time.Wullie was a nice guy who wouldn't hurt a fly but rumours flew around about being thrown overboard for withholding Indian crews daily alchohol allowance. A bit far fetched but nothing was ever proven. I'm due to meet up with a fellow junior from that trip in the next couple of weeks. I ain't seen him in 41 yrs. should have plenty to talk about 👍

saudisid
18th July 2016, 13:41
Hi Davey, you probably won't remember me, I was one of 3 first trip juniors on that voyage and still vividly remember that awful time.Wullie was a nice guy who wouldn't hurt a fly but rumours flew around about being thrown overboard for withholding Indian crews daily alchohol allowance. A bit far fetched but nothing was ever proven. I'm due to meet up with a fellow junior from that trip in the next couple of weeks. I ain't seen him in 41 yrs. should have plenty to talk about ��

Gary

The story was [ as I was told ] that it was to do with forged us dollars. Seems the Calcutta crew wanted to change us dollars and Willie did then worked out they were dud. Guess was that he went aft to raise the question and then he went missing. When I was Mate in the Dundee in 77 the Purser [ Dave Thompson ] told me he had been AP in the Toronto when it happened . The guy they flew out to take over sent him up to a bank in SA to change all the dollars in the safe to Rand.The bank called the boys in blue and it took a long time to get Dave out of the Nick.

As to the crew getting a booze ration never new of it in 13 years with Ellermans. I fact when in the St Albans on the coast in 70. The Customs told Andy Cusins [ who was mate and covering for Purser as he had gone home for family death ] when he was drawing a Hooch issue you take one for every one on board not just the officers. They are on the crew list so you can take a bottle out for them. They dont have to get it. Thats how we could always get a bottle !

Alan

saudisid
18th July 2016, 13:45
Ah those were the days I nearly married a girl from Toronto that trip but saw the error of my ways by the time we got to the "Sunshine Club" in Mombasa that was the only trouble "Tiger Beer" they all looked gorgeous, bald wigs and all - still settled down now - I think - but still have the wanderlust.
Dave N

Try " Tusker " in Mombassa. Tiger is from Singapore.

Alan