Onitsha

Bob S
8th October 2005, 19:40
Sister ship to the OBUASI (see earlier thread), the ONITSHA is seen passing Tilbury on the River Thames.
Built 1952
5802 grt

Allan James
21st October 2005, 12:40
Onitsha had a 150 ton derrick at number two, she was built to replace an earlier heavy lift ship (Mary Kingsley I think) and was used to move railway locomotives to West Africa. I think number two hatch was a fair bit larger than those of her sisters. She was sold in 1972 to a Greek shipping company and in 1975 she caught fire in Canada. If my memory serves me right it was an engine fire and she was abandoned by her crew. She was broken up that year.
I have some very happy memories of her, she had been one of my fathers ships and I can remember being very upset when he left her. I think he moved to the Tarkwa, one of the express ships.

les trow
7th February 2006, 15:13
........I have some very happy memories of her, she had been one of my fathers ships and I can remember being very upset when he left her. I think he moved to the Tarkwa, one of the express ships.

If your father was Capt.L.L.James,I sailed as Writer with him on the Onitsha (Tilbury-West Africa-Hull )29/6/61-15/9/61. A true Gent.

Les Trow

Julian Calvin
6th September 2011, 11:54
Interesting that most hits on a thread in the EDL section is when a ship's name is the subject heading. Obviously many ex EDL guys out there but not may contributing.
Was on the Onitsha in 1970 after she replaced the Fourah Bay as cadet ship. She was a yacht. Full Liverpool crew, fourteen cadets plus kroo boys down the coast, she gleamed John Higgins was Bosun (still see John regularly) and Bert Campbell was Lampy. Amongst officers were Jones, Jones & Jones (2nd Mate, Lecky and ?)
Remember well all the dockies down the coast watching in amazement as the cadets were put through their exercise routine each morning before starting work.
These were the days when Angola was a great run ashore. The trip down to Benguala was memorable.

Peter Martin
6th September 2011, 16:44
Yes Julian, I was beginning to despair, it's months since there was a post on the ED's section. I know we're all getting older but there still must be plenty of 'Coast' men about!?! Personally, at 60 I'm not yet ready to fall off the perch!
Also remember well, Lobito & Luanda with not a little fondness.

stan mayes
6th September 2011, 18:05
Hi Julian,
I worked on Onitsha many times as a rigger but I am surprised that she became
ED's cadet ship,and that John Higgins was her Bosun.
End 1950's early 1960's Obuasi was cadet ship and the Bosun was George ..
I knew John Higgins well and he was Bosun of Falaba for a long time.
The last I heard of him was that he was Shore Bosun in Lagos for ED's and
he had married and lived there..
Of Onitsha,the jumbo derrick was an abortion...when she lifted anything over
100 tons we had to rig 7 extra stays - they were stowed in No1 tween decks.
Also the four steam guys were attached to the lower purchase block - not to
the derrick head.
To prepare it for a lift was an all day job for 6 riggers..
The two heavy lift ships of ED's earlier - were Mary Kingsley and Mary Slessor.

Allan Pugh
26th January 2012, 00:30
Hello there. I was R/O on Onitsha during her cadet ship period. Ron Wild was Master and Mick Johnson and Ted Madison were there as C/O. WRP Magee (Rick) was Training Officer and Bill Shearman was Chief Engineer. 2nd was Bob Cornelius and little Bobby Moore was 3rd. Chief Steward
was John Maher, Purser Dave D'Arcy. Gerry Jones was Lecky. Broken Nose Jones (Frank) was 2nd Steward and Chippy was Eddy Murray. ASs mentioned Bosun was John Higgins. Various Mates I can remember - Ian Valentine, Alistair Faulds, Glenn Livingstone. Cadets - Rod Pace. Keith Nix, Bill Williams. 42 years ago!!!

Allan Pugh

Correction - Purser during Cadet Ship time was Keith Laws, further Cadets Lee Williams and John Walker. 3rd Engineer was Bobby Hood

Rogerfrench
27th May 2012, 05:17
I have some very happy memories of her, she had been one of my fathers ships and I can remember being very upset when he left her. I think he moved to the Tarkwa, one of the express ships.

I sailed as Third Mate on the Onitsha in 1963 (I think) when your father was in command. A fine ship!

slick
27th May 2012, 08:00
All,
In my Palm Line days I seem to recall her nickname was "The Big Stick"?

Yours aye,

slick

Billhobbs
27th May 2012, 22:08
My first trip as cadet was on Onitsha from what was once South Huskisson dock in early November 1970. Remember Ron Wild as Captain and the Training Mate was Brian Jones. He was assisted by two officer cadets keeping the other 12 cadets on the straight and narrow. We spent Xmas anchored off Boma and until a recent house move I still had the menu signed by most of the crew. A happy coincidence 25 years later I met up with Brian Jones in Tema when he was master of a RoRo vessel "Kumasi" - we both worked for the same company OT Africa Line. One of the Cadet Officers Pete Underwood on that voyage was also a master with OTAL. Always found that mentioning Elder Dempster opened many doors in West Africa.
Bill Hobbs

bev summerill
27th May 2012, 22:51
I met John Higgins in one of the Saudi ports working as a boss stevedore I think I was on the Corato so that would be about Sept 1985 I knew him when he was in Lagos and he was married there at the time
Bev Summerill

Frank Lawlor
1st July 2012, 01:12
Interesting that most hits on a thread in the EDL section is when a ship's name is the subject heading. Obviously many ex EDL guys out there but not may contributing.
Was on the Onitsha in 1970 after she replaced the Fourah Bay as cadet ship. She was a yacht. Full Liverpool crew, fourteen cadets plus kroo boys down the coast, she gleamed John Higgins was Bosun (still see John regularly) and Bert Campbell was Lampy. Amongst officers were Jones, Jones & Jones (2nd Mate, Lecky and ?)
Remember well all the dockies down the coast watching in amazement as the cadets were put through their exercise routine each morning before starting work.
These were the days when Angola was a great run ashore. The trip down to Benguala was memorable.

I sailed on the Obuasi in 66 as an O/S. John Higins was bosun and Bert was the Lampy. I have a photo of some of the crew which includes Bert. Trying to get hold of another one of the whole deck crew at the moment. We were on the West Coast at Christmas 66, and there was an American naval ship tied up ahead of us. Being dry ships a lot of their guys ended up drinking on board with us. The session ended up in a fight between us and the Yanks. No winners because they scarpered. Enduring memory is of Bert trying to beat one of the Yanks up by hitting him with the Christmas tree. So much for the spirit of Christmas.

Essjay
17th December 2012, 18:02
Hi Julian,
I worked on Onitsha many times as a rigger but I am surprised that she became
ED's cadet ship,and that John Higgins was her Bosun.
End 1950's early 1960's Obuasi was cadet ship and the Bosun was George ..
I knew John Higgins well and he was Bosun of Falaba for a long time.
The last I heard of him was that he was Shore Bosun in Lagos for ED's and
he had married and lived there..
Of Onitsha,the jumbo derrick was an abortion...when she lifted anything over
100 tons we had to rig 7 extra stays - they were stowed in No1 tween decks.
Also the four steam guys were attached to the lower purchase block - not to
the derrick head.
To prepare it for a lift was an all day job for 6 riggers..
The two heavy lift ships of ED's earlier - were Mary Kingsley and Mary Slessor.

When you say riggers! Do you not mean seamen?

tony poutch
7th March 2013, 16:53
I did a couple of trips on Onitsha in 71 .With a couple of Paddies and a couple of Scoucers and the rest cadets we had a handy football team .Had to pay off in Dakar with Malaria on 2nd trip .

duquesa
7th March 2013, 21:13
Just for my own enlightenment - what was the difference between an Officer Cadet and an ordinary cadet as per quote:-

"first trip as cadet was on Onitsha from what was once South Huskisson dock in early November 1970. Remember Ron Wild as Captain and the Training Mate was Brian Jones. He was assisted by two officer cadets keeping the other 12 cadets ........."

purserjuk
8th March 2013, 10:14
Elder Dempster officially had Apprentices (but often referred to as Cadets) in the Deck Department. They also had Engineer, Purser and (I think) Catering Cadets in their respective departments who would not have been apprenticed. All would have been "Officer" cadets and I presume the reference in the thread refers to the Deck Department.

woodend
8th March 2013, 11:07
Hi Purserjuk, we signed indentures with the heading 'APPRENTICE'S INDENTURES'. Basil Millard, who was in charge of the then known as 'STEAMSHIP / MIDSHIPMEN' department was in charge of us. We were commonly known as 'CADETS' (the lowest form of animal life on any E.D. ship) so what were we? We were happy, well trained and anything that wasn't well tied down was ours!
On the Cadet ship there were always two Cadets who fulfilled Cadets normal duties while the others worked as 'sailors'.

Billhobbs
8th March 2013, 22:57
From what I remember the first 2 years we were "deck cadets" and spent the majority of our time on deck becoming experts at chipping, greasing and the efficient use of a holystone etc.

There came a point after half way through our required sea time when we spent all our time on bridge and cargo watches. My discharge book has me as "cadet officer" on these voyages. I have a very vague memory of also having a thin braid on the jacket instead of the lapel insignia but it was a long time ago.

Maybe others own the site can correct or confirm.

Rogerfrench
9th March 2013, 16:52
When I was an ED's apprentice, we didn't sign articles and my Discharge Book is virtually blank until I got my Second Mate's ticket and signed on the Accra.
I say virtually because there is a stamp, but no details, from the Sobo, my first ship.
My sea-time as Apprentice is typed on the back of my indentures, and signed by the same Basil Millard referred to by Woodend.

red lead
7th April 2013, 21:02
Tony Pouch.Was you from Bray think i sailed with you on an a Blueie .

DENIS.WILSON
12th November 2013, 13:57
I did a couple of trips on Onitsha in 71 .With a couple of Paddies and a couple of Scoucers and the rest cadets we had a handy football team .Had to pay off in Dakar with Malaria on 2nd trip .

Tony I must of sailed with you As I did afew trips on her then went to the falaba after she got sold

Rogerfrench
12th November 2013, 20:24
Having recently been made aware of some mid-60s and later ED instructions regarding Apprentices, I now know that there were "Officer Cadets" - after my time as Cadet and after that of others posting on this topic.
They were some species of Senior Cadet, it seems.

Julian Calvin
13th November 2013, 12:39
Whilst doing final studies at Byron St ('70/71) before second mate's remember that cadets were asked to 'entertain' a group of visiting American girls at River House.
For this posh do we were required to wear uniform. As the seniors, we were allowed to remove the collar insignia and wear the sleeve stripe. Cannot remember whether or not it was simple stripe or a half diamond fourth mate stripe. We all thought this would impress the girls but certainly didn't work for me.
We were paired off with the girls with rumours that Jim Turner had sat with the leader of the group watching us go past his lodge and had arranged the pairing according to his likes/dislikes.

makko
13th November 2013, 15:49
When I joined, it was Deck Officer Cadet and Engineering Officer Cadet per indentures. Deckside, they wer "middies" and engine side, we were just cadets and used thelapel insignia. We would sign the E/R movement book "E/C". I did see the half stripe used but it was generally a jump up to 4/E or 3/O so there was no point in using an intermediate braid (You always carried the next rank braid just in case!). If you sailed as J/E, you were ticketed OOW (unlimited) and were able to use the 1 stripe as extra, assistant or junior 4/E. However, this was usually for familiarization trips.
Rgds.
Dave

woodend
14th November 2013, 08:45
It would appear that some decision was taken in E.D.'s in 1956 as I had discharges stamped in my book up until then and then they suddenly stop from my signing on the TAMELE on the 12.04.56. They only start again when I have my Second Mates 'ticket' in 1959. As Roger says my sea time is neatly typed on the back of my indentures signed by Basil Millward whose title was Manager, Steamship / Midshipmen.

Roger Turner
14th November 2013, 12:51
woodend


It would appear that some decision was taken in E.D.'s in 1956 as I had discharges stamped in my book up until then and then they suddenly stop from my signing on the TAMELE on the 12.04.56. They only start again when I have my Second Mates 'ticket' in 1959. As Roger says my sea time is neatly typed on the back of my indentures signed by Basil Millward whose title was Manager, Steamship / Midshipmen..

Interesting comment, I have puzzled for a long time taking part in this forum, whether there were Apprentices or Cadets in my days with EDs 1953/62, but your mention of some sort of change in 1956, cleared/contributed to another puzzle.
Up until I joined the Obuasi in May 1956, I had always been signed on as Clerk (Claaarky to Capt Creswell) or Supernumary on Paddys, but on the Obuasi I suddenly became a "Writer"

I cannot remember collecting Apprentices/Cadets discharge books for stamping at any time - did anyone ever get less than VG VG?

makko
14th November 2013, 17:18
During my cadetship, on one vessel, the WHOLE engineering team had a problem with the C/E - He was going to give a bad report for everyone. However, all was resolved by a private visit from the 2/E and gentle discussion of some of the C/E's own issues.

All cadets got Dis. Books, Seaman's Card, Med. Docs. etc. prior to first trip.

There was a separate voyage report written & signed for each cadet which went to India Buildings and could severely influence your onward prospects.
Rgds.
Dave

purserjuk
16th November 2013, 09:30
Re- Clerk v Writer.
My first trip commencing Nov 55 was on "Cargill" as Clerk. On return to India Buildings Feb 56 I was told I was now a Writer. (No increase in pay though!). I was told by Elsie Bray that there had been moans about being mis-identified as Tally Clerks so the change of title was brought in. Whether this was the real reason or not I don't know.

Bob Wilcox
5th December 2013, 22:04
My first ever ship was Onitsha. Deck Apprentice (but within ED's - Midshipman). Captain Smallwood (ex RN) was keen on the midshipman tag and constantly strove to guide us into being proper officers - even gentlemen - in his role at River House and India Buildings. August 1964 when I joined. I, and every Deck Apprentice/Midshipman/Deck Cadet I knew at the time, respected him and his efforts to keep us on the straight and narrow. If he had not, we would have been well off beam instead of slightly.
I also have no ship entries in Discharge Book during apprenticeship. We had to attend the signing on queue and an entry put in the Articles. One written entry in the Discharge Book covering 4 years said Deck Apprentice with Elder Dempster Lines.
I did three consecutive trips to WA on Onitsha (with about 10 days leave in between coupled with a week or so coasting Antwerp/Hamburg on Owerri and Freetown before joining Onitsha each time). That took care of the rest of 1964 and most of 1965 - then it was MAR the Aigburth Arms and bright lights of Liverpool while staying at River House.

Roger Turner
6th December 2013, 21:08
My one voyage on the "Onitsha"

Sailed Liverpool 30/12/61
Paid Off Tilbury 1/1/62

Paid New Year cruise - no dancing

I tell a lie, just had another look in the VGVG book
Signedon Hull 24/12/59
Signed Off Tilbury 28/12/59
Master "Black" Jack Bentley - I think this was his first "go" as Master, sailed with hime as Mate earlier on I think the "Cambray" will Willy "puff puff"Farquhar. Jack was another "good un"