Great Bitter Lake Association - Ships Nostalgia
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  #1  
Old 23rd April 2007, 08:56
Cap'n Pete Cap'n Pete is offline  
Capt. Peter J Newton
 
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Great Bitter Lake Association

During the 1967 Arab-Israeli Yon Kippur War, a number of ships were trapped in the Suez Canal. They remained at anchor in the Great Bitter Lake for many years before they were finally released and towed out.
During this period, the crews on these ships formed themselves into the “Great Bitter Lake Association”, which organised sporting events and other social occasions and even operated their own post office, issuing their own stamps.
I’m hoping to write an article on this association for “Fairplay”. If any SN members have any recollections on this period, I’d love to hear them.

Calm seas and blue sky to all.
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  #2  
Old 23rd April 2007, 13:34
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gdynia gdynia is offline   SN Supporter
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Peter

Please Find

http://www.shipsonstamps.org/Topics/html/gbla.htm
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  #3  
Old 23rd April 2007, 14:40
Cap'n Pete Cap'n Pete is offline  
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Absolutely brilliant! Many thanks indeed.
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  #4  
Old 24th April 2007, 00:13
Phil Saul Phil Saul is offline  
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Hi Peter,
I was trapped in the Bitter Lakes aboard the Blue Funnel ship Melampus and then transferred to the other 'Bluey' Agapenor in '67.
The '67 war was known as the 'six day war' while the Yom Kippur War was '73.
Just being a tad pedantic there.!!!
I was in the lakes for three months before being relieved and did not go back out at the completion of my leave as I found it too ruddy boring.
The Bitter Lakes Assoc. was founded by the relieving crowd so I was never a member and to date have never come across anyone who was.
I was in the UK recently for my mothers funeral and while there met up with two members of this site who were in the Melampus with me, Graham Mcmorine, 4th Engineer and John Hughes, Junior 'Lecky.
I was Engineers Asst steward at the time.
We met in a pub in Nantwich and spent a very pleasant couple of hours going over old times.
Graham and John are in touch with other ex-members of the crew of Melampus being the 6th Engineer (I think) and the Chief Electrician.
I don't think any of us were members of the Assoc but if you require any information about the 'Six Day War' from our perspective I would be only too happy to assist, as I'm quite sure would Graham and John.
I have a few photos and letters from that period which I can make available to you if you wish.
Good luck with your article.
Regards Phil Saul
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  #5  
Old 24th April 2007, 12:27
Cap'n Pete Cap'n Pete is offline  
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Hi Phil,
Yes, I would be very interested to hear of your experiences in the Great Bitter Lake. While I was in Blue Star at the time, I escaped being appointed to Scottish Star. You might be interested to read of the experiences of a Blue Star engineer who was there at the time, which I've downloaded from the web: -

I decided to return to Blue Star line and commenced 10 years of sailing to Australia, New Zealand and South America. I was homeward bound from Australia when the 1967 Arab-lsraeli war started and two of our ships got trapped in be Suez Canal. We were diverted away from the Canal and I never thought that it would affect me; however after being trapped for over two years it became the company's policy to relieve the crews every four months, paying everyone a bonus because of the conditions on the ships, so I was sent out as relief 2nd Engineer on Scottish Star and transferred to the Port of lnvercargill. We had a peculiar existence on the Canal. Two warring armies who regularly fired on each other surrounded us. One night the Egyptians tried to cross the Canal and were beaten off with many casualties, the bodies drifting around the ships for several days before they were retrieved.
Despite the odd existence, we had a great social life. There were 14 ships trapped together in the Great Bitter Lake and we were out in the middle of it. The ships tied up in pairs in a circle, like a wild west wagon train, with the exception of the Bulgarian ship, Vassis Levsky, who would have nothing to do with the rest of us and was anchored well away from us. The other ships were Agapenor and Melampus (British), African Glen (USA), Sindh (French), Munsterland and Nordwind (German), Boleslaw Bierut and Jakarta (Polish), Nippon and Kilara (Swedish), and Lednice (Czechoslovakian). We worked from 6 a.m.. until noon Monday to Saturday and had a sailing regatta each Saturday afternoon.
It was decidedly dangerous to go anywhere near the Polish ships as they would not let you leave until you had at least one drink, no matter what time of day it was nor your reason for boarding. I fell into my lifeboat engine one evening and had a suspected broken wrist. The Polish ships were the only ones with a doctor and at 9 am. the next morning I was taken over to see the doctor, but only after I had a drink. I ended up spending a week in Cairo having x-rays and other good things until finally it was decided that my wrist was only sprained. On the way back in the Agent's car we were bombed by the Israeli air force. The road ran down parallel to the Canal with minefields each side of the road. The driver and Agent jumped out of the car and ran across the minefields leaving me in the car with the doors open and a jet strafing the road towards me. I sat there sucking my thumb, wondering what the heck I could do, when the plane stopped firing and zoomed away.
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  #6  
Old 29th April 2007, 21:44
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Graham McMorine Graham McMorine is offline  
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Great bitter lake assoc.

Hi Capt. Pete,
As Phil has already informed you, both John Hughes and myself were trapped in the"lake", on Mv Melampus , with Phil, during the "six day war " and I was indeed a member of the G.B.L.A., altho` I only had the members neck tie and never realized that such social events ever happened.
It is great to hear from someone else who had similar times to those we had and should you need any further help in your mission , might I suggest that we correspond more easily thro` a private message.
May I also suggest that you look up Ian Russel`s web site BLUE FUNNEL LINE on www.lairig.freeserve.co.uk/bluefunnel where you would find articles written by John Hughes and myself , on the subject.

Best regards,
Graham.
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  #7  
Old 31st January 2008, 23:16
Vaclav Vaclav is offline  
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I send greetings for all crew member, who were on Great Bitter Lake in the years 1967 - 1969, in this time I was on the board of M/S Lednice. Vaclav
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  #8  
Old 1st February 2008, 01:33
Phil Saul Phil Saul is offline  
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Greetings Vaclav from a fellow member who was trapped in the Bitter Lakes in '67.
Hope you get as much enjoyment from this site as I do.
All the best.
Regards Phil
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  #9  
Old 27th February 2008, 22:44
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DICK SLOAN DICK SLOAN is offline  
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Trapped in the bitter lakes for nearly eight years, till June 1975, the Port Invercargill 10,463 gross tons, and the Scottish Star 10,174 gross tons, both of which had been abandoned to the underwriters and were placed in the ownership of seperate companies the Invercargill Shipping Co Ltd, and the Scottish Star Ltd respectively, Both were bought by a Greek shipping group and were towed to Piraeus where they arrived on September 6th 1975 for general refit, The Invercargill a Harland and Wolff-built ship, dates from 1958, and was renamed Kavo Kolones, and the Scottish Star completed at Fairfield, Glasgow end of 1950, became the Kavo Verakas,
The name Kavo Kolones was also used on the Ellermans City of Karachi (1951)
the name Kavo Verakas was the City of Manchester (1950)
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  #10  
Old 16th March 2008, 14:33
Sigi Sigi is offline  
 
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Hi Vaclav, I am filmmaker (documentarys) and I think, this is an very interesting story. Can you please tell me more about your ship?
Thanks, greetings, Sigi
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  #11  
Old 16th March 2008, 19:11
JimC JimC is offline  
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I surveyed the canal after that fiasco but I had two pals who were trapped with their ships at the time. Don't know the names of the ships but think they were 'Blue Flue'. Capt. Hector Thomson from Tarbert was arrested as an Israeli spy and taken from the ship. he was released later in Gaza. Harris Henderson was also on one of the ships. He was 3rd mate but left after that and never went back to sea.
Anyone rememebr them?
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  #12  
Old 16th March 2008, 19:14
JimC JimC is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
I surveyed the canal after that fiasco but I had two pals who were trapped with their ships at the time. Don't know the names of the ships but think they were 'Blue Flue'. Capt. Hector Thomson from Tarbert was arrested as an Israeli spy and taken from the ship. he was released later in Gaza. Harris Henderson was also on one of the ships. He was 3rd mate but left after that and never went back to sea.
Anyone rememebr them?
Hector was not Captain at that time, he would probably be 3rd mate o something.
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  #13  
Old 20th May 2008, 17:00
Alfredo Alfredo is offline  
 
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Does anyone remember anything about the swedish ship NIPPON who was stucked there with you...
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  #14  
Old 20th May 2008, 17:13
gbcolbri gbcolbri is offline  
 
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I was never there bu I recall sailing with a third engineer called Dave Currie who told me there was also a special blazer badge, but you only got it if you actually fell in the water. Or at least that's what I thought he said, (It was a long time ago).
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  #15  
Old 4th November 2008, 20:17
Gerald Sewell Gerald Sewell is offline  
 
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Grand Order of Water Babies

This is the name of the club which was formed (I Believe) by the originators of the GBLA. The club tie has as its emblem a pair of naked buttocks and two feat sticking out of the water. This was awarded only to those who fell into the lake completely inebriated, falling in or being pushed in did not qualify.
I still have my tie; it was awarded when I fell down the gangway of the American ship. The ship was in ballast with a steeply angled gangway!! That was in 1968, I was a relieving Third Engineer on the mv Scottish Star.
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  #16  
Old 4th November 2008, 20:31
sidsal sidsal is offline  
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I have a very good friend Capt Brian McManus who was on the Bitter Lakes ships and has written about his experiences> He lives in Kinmel Bay Rhyl and was on HMS Conway with me during the war. He is active as a Normandy Veteran at present having been there on his first ship - a lIberty ship.
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  #17  
Old 4th November 2008, 22:21
TonyAllen TonyAllen is offline  
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Hi guys must read up on your experiences,bet it was quite hairy at times but tell me what happened to the cargoes,did you have to broach them for want of a better word I was on the pyrrhus in 56 when diverted around the cape nothing compared to yourselves I like to think you were heroes to stick it out Regards to you all Tony Allen
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  #18  
Old 5th November 2008, 21:24
Phil Saul Phil Saul is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyAllen View Post
Hi guys must read up on your experiences,bet it was quite hairy at times but tell me what happened to the cargoes,did you have to broach them for want of a better word I was on the pyrrhus in 56 when diverted around the cape nothing compared to yourselves I like to think you were heroes to stick it out Regards to you all Tony Allen
Hi Tony,

I can't recall cargo being broached, not on the Blue Flue boats anyway, as we weren't carrying anything edible.
I think the Star boat and the Port boat were carrying eggs and apples but don't remember getting any of those either, but at that stage no one realised they were going to be there for eight years.
I wasn't one of the heroes who stuck it out, I'm afraid, as I refused to go back after being relieved after three months, as once the fighting died down it was just too boring and I still had too much of the rest of the world to see.

Regards

Phil
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  #19  
Old 6th November 2008, 15:24
TonyAllen TonyAllen is offline  
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Thanks phil so what did happen to the cargoes I know that blue funnel carried there own insurance, was anything of any value and did the shippers receive any compo Regards Tony
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  #20  
Old 6th November 2008, 15:53
Terry Willcox Terry Willcox is offline  
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G.b.l.a.

Hi you all. I was on the Port Invercargill twice in the Great Bitter Lakes, the first being 6th April - 14th July 1968, and 21st January - 26th April 1969. These times were a great experience, and I look back with good memories. I was a Asst/Stewd the first time, and Second Steward the second time, the first time was more dodgy with shells being shot over the ships and battles going on, but camaraderie was great, and we all were one family, very fond memories, and I would love to hear from any of the crews that were out there with me. Take care.....Terry.
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  #21  
Old 7th November 2008, 03:15
Phil Saul Phil Saul is offline  
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Originally Posted by TonyAllen View Post
Thanks phil so what did happen to the cargoes I know that blue funnel carried there own insurance, was anything of any value and did the shippers receive any compo Regards Tony
Hi Tony,
I believe that the ships and cargoes were written off and the shipping companies received the insurance, although if I'm wrong on this then someone will let us know.
Melampus was carrying the usual general cargo homeward bound from the far east, including the big Japanese reel to reel tape recorders, and a small amount of British Army equipment from Aden.
Agapenor was fairly light, as most of her boot-topping was exposed but I never did know what she was carrying. (well I probably did, but have forgotten)
I hate to think what happened to the perishable cargo the other ships were carrying as it doesn't bear thinking about after eight years.
It would be interesting to find out what did happen to the cargo and whether any of it was salvageable after all that time.

Regards Phil
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  #22  
Old 7th November 2008, 15:19
chadburn chadburn is offline  
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Phil, as you say the cargo on these ships was written off and the Insurance paid. My understanding was that the recoverable cargo including Private belongings being shipped home was auctioned off by the Insurance Companies or the Company/s who bought the ship/s as a "job" lot, I have a feeling that some Auction/s took place in Greece.
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  #23  
Old 11th November 2008, 22:40
Vaclav Vaclav is offline  
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New Message - Meeting in Slovakia

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaclav View Post
I send greetings for all crew member, who were on Great Bitter Lake in the years 1967 - 1969, in this time I was on the board of M/S Lednice. Vaclav
On September was a meeting of seamen from Czechoslovak Danube Ship - M/S Lednice - from in this time non existing company of Slovakia Bratislava. The meeting was a nice country side about 50 km from Bratislava. The participants were about 50 members. There were old seamen and younger generation, who working on various ships company on the hole world.

The meeting was very friendly with tipical Slovak open athmosfere and hospitable.The participant make a decisiom about annualy meeting each second weekend of September. Each of seamen can visit the meeting, who wants to recognize an old friends and new friends.
Please contact me by PM

Last edited by K urgess; 11th November 2008 at 22:43.. Reason: Email address removed as per site policy
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  #24  
Old 22nd November 2008, 14:47
Chrisskye Chrisskye is offline  
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Originally Posted by sidsal View Post
I have a very good friend Capt Brian McManus who was on the Bitter Lakes ships and has written about his experiences> He lives in Kinmel Bay Rhyl and was on HMS Conway with me during the war. He is active as a Normandy Veteran at present having been there on his first ship - a lIberty ship.
Hi,
I am very interested to read about these experiences.
Can you tell me where I acn read his writings?
Look forward to your reply.
All the best,
Chris
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  #25  
Old 22nd November 2008, 14:50
Chrisskye Chrisskye is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry Willcox View Post
Hi you all. I was on the Port Invercargill twice in the Great Bitter Lakes, the first being 6th April - 14th July 1968, and 21st January - 26th April 1969. These times were a great experience, and I look back with good memories. I was a Asst/Stewd the first time, and Second Steward the second time, the first time was more dodgy with shells being shot over the ships and battles going on, but camaraderie was great, and we all were one family, very fond memories, and I would love to hear from any of the crews that were out there with me. Take care.....Terry.
Hi Terry,
I have a very great collecting interest in the GBLA ships. I have many envelopes posted from and to the ships. Many have some of the special stamps on them.
I would be very interested to know of any recollections you may have of the production and use of the specail GBLA stamps.
Very much look forward to your reply,Chris
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