Vale Peter Jackson -- the best Captain we ever had.

28th January 2009, 15:06
"Captain Peter Jackson

Last Updated: 7:25PM GMT 19 Jan 2009

Captain Peter Jackson, who has died aged 86, was master of the Cunard steamship Queen Elizabeth 2 during the Falklands War.
Jackson was on leave when he heard that his ship had been requisitioned to carry troops to the South Atlantic. He returned on board to find his cabin full of generals and admirals, but he soon took charge with the same tact and skill which he deployed on his wealthy, and sometimes difficult, peacetime passengers.
Over the next eight days Jackson oversaw QE2's conversion in Southampton from transatlantic liner to troop carrier. The soft furnishings and her five grand pianos were landed; the panelled bulkheads and miles of carpets were covered with plywood; and 90 days' worth of food embarked. The cabins (for 604 first-class passengers and 1,223 tourist) were turned into barracks for 3,500 Gurkhas and Welsh and Scots Guards. Flight decks were fitted over the swimming pool and on the forecastle to take helicopters, and the skeet shooting stand was used by the soldiers for training.
Jackson chose 640 Merchant Navy volunteers to man QE2 and she steamed unescorted, via Freetown and Ascension Island, to Cumberland Sound in South Georgia, 800 hundred miles east of the Falklands.
QE2's speed enabled her to reach the South Atlantic in only 12 days, but once there Jackson reverted to age-old measures to protect his ship. Slowing to nine knots, he hid from aircraft under the overcast skies, and, switching off his radar and radio, he navigated by eye among the icebergs, zigzagging to avoid detection by submarines.
As so often in war at sea, the weather was a greater threat than the enemy. In the fog and snow he was mindful of the fate of the Titanic. The largest iceberg Jackson saw was 300ft high and a mile long. Three days later, on a black, moonless night, he crept into his anchorage and began at once to transfer his troops and 2,000 tons of stores and ammunition to waiting ships.
Jackson embarked 650 survivors from the warships Antelope, Ardent and Coventry and in less than two days QE2 was on her way back to Southampton.
There it took 60 days to turn her back into her normal guise as a luxury vessel. Cunard used the opportunity to give QE2 a 10 million refit and a new colour scheme, including a pearl-grey hull.
Peter Jackson was born July 6 1922 at Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, and educated at St James's choir school, Grimsby, until he went to sea as a 16-year-old midshipman with Alfred Holt's Blue Funnel line. His first ship was Helenus, trading to China, Japan and Australia.
As a junior officer Jackson helped ferry the British Expeditionary Force to Cherbourg. He also took part in the Norwegian campaign, and, in the chartered Glen Affric, made repeated crossings in June 1940 to bring back troops from Dunkirk, Brest and St Jean de Luz.
Sailing from New Orleans, Jackson's ship Mentor was torpedoed north of Cuba on May 28 1942 by the U-boat ace Hermann Rasch. Rasch surfaced in U-106 to question Jackson in his lifeboat, and though Jackson tried to give false information, it was evident that Rasch, who had sunk three ships in as many days, was working from intelligence he had received from agents in the United States. Jackson was adrift for five days before being rescued by another Blue Funnel ship, Antilochus, one of whose midshipmen was Robert Arnott, who would eventually relieve Jackson as master of the QE2.
Jackson obtained his master's certificate in 1948, and his first command was the liner Franconia, in 1968. When he retired in 1983 Jackson had spent 36 years under the Cunard house flag, all but two of them at sea. He hated his one shore job, which was as marine superintendent. In 14 years as master Jackson had commanded all but one of the Cunard passenger liners. His favourite ship was the Coronia (nicknamed "The Green Goddess" for her hull colour), in which he met his second wife, who was serving on board as a nurse.
Jackson loved music and played the piano to a high standard. He was pleased to meet and befriend many of the great entertainers of the age on Atlantic crossings. Once, after meeting Jackson going into a concert hall in Southampton, Mstislav Rostropovich altered the music programme to include a selection of nautical music "to honour my friend Captain Peter".
A warm and modest man with a quiet sense of humour, Jackson also had a phenomenal memory for the names of the hundreds of passengers who had been in his care. He always left and entered Southampton with three long blasts on the ship's whistle, not a signal from the Rule of the Road, but a cryptic, romantic message to his wife.
Peter Jackson died on Christmas Eve 2008. He married first, in 1949, Barbara Manders Priestley, who died in 1953. His second wife, Pamela, whom he married in 1957, survives him with their daughter".
The Daily Telegraph

Sister Eleff
29th January 2009, 00:02
Thank you Tanuki, for the posting above. He sounds like a great man.

30th January 2009, 19:22
That's sad to hear. I sailed with PJ on the Cunard Princess and thought him a true gentleman, He will undoubtedly be sadly missed by many.

Alan Marsden

Malcolm S
4th February 2009, 07:39
Indeed a sad loss. I sailed with him on that voyage on the QE2 and on the Princess. I also knew him ashore. A real Captain. His wife Pam has my condolances.