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My first Bluey

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  #1  
Old 18th September 2014, 20:16
DURANGO DURANGO is offline  
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My first Bluey

My first encounter with the Blue Funnel line was back in 1959 when I was in Liverpool as a boy rating in the Wellington Star I was very impressed by there lines powerful majestic ships , the next time that I can remember was in 1962 when I was put ashore sick in Shanghai and from my hospital window on the first floor I could see the ships I could be wrong but I seem to remember seeing AH on one of the shed roofs there are those on this site who will know and who will be able to put me right I,m sure .
The one thing I know is that I had a taste of the far east and I wanted to get back but being from London it was difficult to pick up a ship trading out east ,so when I got back to the UK I contacted the Blue Funnel line it took me a couple of letters to Mr Greenwood have I got the right name again I reckon I,ll be put right there if I,m wrong but then again we are talking 52 years ago so I reckon I,m allowed to forget a few names on my first attempt I got a letter back telling me that there where no position's available for an AB so back to the pool next leave I wrote to Liverpool again this time a letter back telling me to come to Birkenhead to join Agapenor I well remember walking aboard with my gear and standing on deck looking up at that Blue funnel I still remember saying to myself I,m on a Blue Funnel ship off to Java great voyage and a great crew little Edgar Owen my cabin mate a wonderful tough little welsh man I was in 4 blueys all good trips but I have to say the Agapenor was my favourite how wonderful to have experienced those long gone times best regards to all hands .
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Old 19th September 2014, 07:57
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Hugh Ferguson Hugh Ferguson is offline  
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Here's a photo of a maiden voyage Agapenor-Aug.1947-sailing from Birkenhead. I was on the bridge, a brand new 4th mate with a brand new 2nd mate's certificate.
Captain Longair and Mr Punchard C/O. We were off to Japan.
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Old 19th September 2014, 09:05
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Originally Posted by DURANGO View Post
My first encounter with the Blue Funnel line was back in 1959 when I was in Liverpool as a boy rating in the Wellington Star I was very impressed by there lines powerful majestic ships , the next time that I can remember was in 1962 when I was put ashore sick in Shanghai and from my hospital window on the first floor I could see the ships I could be wrong but I seem to remember seeing AH on one of the shed roofs there are those on this site who will know and who will be able to put me right I,m sure .
The one thing I know is that I had a taste of the far east and I wanted to get back but being from London it was difficult to pick up a ship trading out east ,so when I got back to the UK I contacted the Blue Funnel line it took me a couple of letters to Mr Greenwood have I got the right name again I reckon I,ll be put right there if I,m wrong but then again we are talking 52 years ago so I reckon I,m allowed to forget a few names on my first attempt I got a letter back telling me that there where no position's available for an AB so back to the pool next leave I wrote to Liverpool again this time a letter back telling me to come to Birkenhead to join Agapenor I well remember walking aboard with my gear and standing on deck looking up at that Blue funnel I still remember saying to myself I,m on a Blue Funnel ship off to Java great voyage and a great crew little Edgar Owen my cabin mate a wonderful tough little welsh man I was in 4 blueys all good trips but I have to say the Agapenor was my favourite how wonderful to have experienced those long gone times best regards to all hands .
Your memory is spot on, there was a AH on the shed roof in Shanghai, Holts had their little empire there for many years.
As for Mr Greenwood, yes he was the main man in Odyssey Works in Birkenhead, responsible for selecting and allocating the deck crews.
He was an ex radio officer who hailed from Garstang in Lancashire, perhaps you can remember his strong Lancashire accent.
He was a kindly man who would do his best to accomodate your wishes in regard to which run you preferred and so on, he once allowed me to sail home trade for a year while my father was ill, and even got me into the shore gang for a few months for the same reason. There were not many like him around.
As for the Agapenor, I was coasting in her 25/5/62 until 26/6/62, as AB. Joined in London and took her to Hamburg, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Avonmouth, Glasgow, Birkenhead.
Edgar Owen I remember, but he was on the Memnon when I sailed with him, in 1960. As you say, a tough little character, and a true Blue Funnel 'stanchion'.
Best Regards,
Pat
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Old 19th September 2014, 17:25
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We finished discharging our outward cargo in Shanghai and I vividly remember a very long steel girder coming out of No.5 lower hold.
It was so long that I still have the impression that it extended into No.4 lower hold but surely that cannot be possible! Please enlighten.

Whatever, out it came and was landed on the wharf with, apparently, no means of shifting it-probably weighed about ten tons.
We didn't have long to wait, for 'round the go-down trotted about a hundred coolies each carrying a bamboo rod and a coil of rope.
They quickly aligned all hands on either side of the girder, passing the end of their rope under the girder to their opposite number and, taking a turn around their respective bambee rods, did a test lift with the accompaniment of much vocalising.
Having got an equal load on each and every shoulder up came the girder as if it weighed a feather and, with much more vocalising, they gathered speed, to such an extent, that by the time they were disappearing around the side of the go-down I swear they were going at a slow trot.

Those were the days to be going to sea: I'd get bored stiff nowadays in a container ship-no colour, no romance.
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Old 19th September 2014, 19:00
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Ah Hugh, the way you describe it, I can almost see it in front of me. Thanks a lot.
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Old 19th September 2014, 20:26
DURANGO DURANGO is offline  
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Yes Pat a very nice man as you say not to many Mr Greenwoods about now days, regarding Edgar a lovely man great ship mate I heard he crossed the bar some years ago a Blue funnel stanchion I reckon that just about describes him one of the toughest men I have ever met with a real nice nature he was always up for a laugh , you describe Shanghai wonderfully Hugh as they used to say give a China man a bamboo.pole and he could carry the world think about it they where always rushing about carrying heavy loads on there shoulders such wonderful times thanks for the great photo of the old girl Hugh, oh to just do one more trick on the wheel through those Indonesian islands regards Dave .
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Old 20th September 2014, 06:52
DURANGO DURANGO is offline  
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I must have joined her for the deep sea voyage as you paid off from the home trade Pat regards Dave .
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Old 20th September 2014, 08:27
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Lovely to have a bit of nostalgia shining through after all this natonalistic stuff that I don't much care for!
m.v. Agapenor was a Clyde built ship with a Scots captain, a Scots 2nd mate a half Scots 4th mate and a Liverpool 3rd mate, and without question some more Scots in the engine room.

We never gave a thought to where we happened to have been born-in my case Winchester-and it never, that I recall, was ever an issue in any of our ship-board dealings.
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Old 20th September 2014, 11:29
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After that dream voyage in the maiden voyage Agapenor as a 4th mate watch keeper I went 3rd mate of the 1917 year built s.s. Elpenor for no less than three voyages; the first of which took us to Shanghai.
You younger fellows could not begin to imagine how different life was aboard an old, slow, coal-burner compared to that aboard a modern motor ship.
Steam reciprocating winches that vibrated through the whole ship and if you had one near your cabin-as most did-you sure knew it!
And as for taking bunkers in a place like Aden the less remembered the better.

See HERE
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Old 20th September 2014, 14:12
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Your memory is spot on, there was a AH on the shed roof in Shanghai, Holts had their little empire there for many years.
As for Mr Greenwood, yes he was the main man in Odyssey Works in Birkenhead, responsible for selecting and allocating the deck crews.
He was an ex radio officer who hailed from Garstang in Lancashire, perhaps you can remember his strong Lancashire accent.
He was a kindly man who would do his best to accomodate your wishes in regard to which run you preferred and so on, he once allowed me to sail home trade for a year while my father was ill, and even got me into the shore gang for a few months for the same reason. There were not many like him around.
As for the Agapenor, I was coasting in her 25/5/62 until 26/6/62, as AB. Joined in London and took her to Hamburg, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Avonmouth, Glasgow, Birkenhead.
Edgar Owen I remember, but he was on the Memnon when I sailed with him, in 1960. As you say, a tough little character, and a true Blue Funnel 'stanchion'.
Best Regards,
Pat
In the late 1950's I remember visiting the Mariners' Club in Shanghai, formerly the famous expat "Shanghai Club", where the carpets had the Ocean Steamships Co logo woven into the design. Apparently it had been liberated from AH warehouse. RGDS TABNAB
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  #11  
Old 20th September 2014, 20:26
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We finished discharging our outward cargo in Shanghai and I vividly remember a very long steel girder coming out of No.5 lower hold.
It was so long that I still have the impression that it extended into No.4 lower hold but surely that cannot be possible! Please enlighten.

Whatever, out it came and was landed on the wharf with, apparently, no means of shifting it-probably weighed about ten tons.
We didn't have long to wait, for 'round the go-down trotted about a hundred coolies each carrying a bamboo rod and a coil of rope.
They quickly aligned all hands on either side of the girder, passing the end of their rope under the girder to their opposite number and, taking a turn around their respective bambee rods, did a test lift with the accompaniment of much vocalising.
Having got an equal load on each and every shoulder up came the girder as if it weighed a feather and, with much more vocalising, they gathered speed, to such an extent, that by the time they were disappearing around the side of the go-down I swear they were going at a slow trot.

Those were the days to be going to sea: I'd get bored stiff nowadays in a container ship-no colour, no romance.
Hugh,
Birkenhead stevedores could do some wonderful things with stowage. I have often seen hundreds of long steel girders loaded into the lower hold and be finished off as a perfectly smooth and level 'dance floor' with no gaps.
One 'H' class loaded in Liverpool, a very large launch was stowed in #2 upper tween deck per floating crane and a couple of bull wires with strategically placed snatch blocks.
It sat snug in the tween deck all the way to Sydney.
When the Aussie wharfies came to discharge it, they couldnt figure out how the hell the poms had got it int the tween deck and eventually had to get a burner with a gas axe to remove a steel column so they could get it out.

As to a steel girder longer than the lower hold, maybe it was stowed on a port to starboard angle and posibly canted upward as well.

Here is a photo from the SN gallery courtesy of Plainsman, of long steel being loaded by quayside crane into #4 hatch on Harrison's Administrator in Birkenhead
Its possible I was actually driving the crane in this picture, as it was my regular crane for a while
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  #12  
Old 20th September 2014, 20:50
DURANGO DURANGO is offline  
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I to had very few problems at sea and I sailed with lads from all corners of the UK and in many ships I was the only Londoner on deck in fact when I was with Blue Funnel from what I remember when I was in the Pyrrhus apart from me and a pal who joined her with me there was the bosun known as the Gaul I think he may have been also from London , Antilochus ,Agapenor , Perseus , I was the only one although I did have a run in with my watch mate aboard Perseus he was a big lump. who wanted to give me a hard time through out the voyage but I wasn't having it I always thought he was gutless and put him straight a few times lucky for me he never got round to clumping me there was no way I would have been able to handle him mind you come to think of it I bought a cockatoo parrot in Singapore (somewhere I have some photos I will try to dig them out and post them ) I was walking through the working alleyway with 2 thick glasses that I put it,s food and water in I had just cleaned them in our bathroom as I,m walking back to my cabin who comes walking towards me but none other than the lump as we all know we had to give way to each other as we passed or we would collided anyhow I had had a dose of him before and this time I thought he never gives way so I won't well of course we collides this really made him angry so he grabs me round the neck all I could think of was that apart from throttling me he was going to break my 2 glasses so I well remember shouting out to him mind me glasses which straight away took me back in my mind to when I was at school when we where kids and the one who wore glasses took them off before they got into a punch up so when that thought came to my mind I started to laugh which really gave him the hump but lucky for me he left it at that and after that we just tolerated each other but to be fair I spent 12 years at sea and only 1 run in I don't think that was to bad and if he read this he will know who he is but I have no hard feelings in fact I wish him well ,blimey I went on there but it happened ,Tab Nab you mention the seamen's club in Shanghai I spent best part of a week there back in 1962 waiting to be sent to Hong Kong they eventually put me on a train in fact I still have those train tickets I often look at them they take me back to when I was no more than a boy I was only just 19 in fact I spent Chinese new year in hospital there is a story about that but that is for another time regards to all hands .

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Old 20th September 2014, 21:10
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[quote=DURANGO;1062417]I to had very few problems at sea and I sailed with lads from all corners of the UK and in many ships I was the only Londoner on deck in fact when I was with Blue Funnel from what I remember when I was in the Pyrrhus apart from me and a pal who joined her with me there was the bosun known as the Gaul I think he may have been also from London ,

I believe the bosun you mention was 'The Ghoul' whose real name, if I ever knew it, I have forgotten. He always wore black leather gloves, and would prowl the decks during the night. A strange man, he once had a small part in a film which featured a Blue Funnel ship, I think it was the Bellerophon, whose name was shortened to 'Belle' for the filming. The Ghoul played the gangwayman in one short sequence. The film was called, 'The Sailor who fell from Grace with the Sea, and starred Kris Kristofferson and Sarah Miles.
Best Regards,
Pat
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Old 21st September 2014, 10:22
DURANGO DURANGO is offline  
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Thanks for that Pat I always found the bosun to be a decent man who was a very competant seaman I will try to find a copy of that film best regards
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Old 21st September 2014, 11:24
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richardwakeley richardwakeley is offline  
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Hugh,
From my dim distant memory of making cargo plans, I think the upper tween deck in no.4 or No.5 in A-boats extended under the mast house. I will look it up on the drawing in 'Voyage East' next time I'm home.
Brgds,
Richard
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Old 22nd September 2014, 14:00
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Here's a bit of pure nostalgia to tweak the equivalent of taste buds but relating to smell: no that doesn't sound right, maybe "aroma", "odour", "fragrance". No, none of those sounds right: where's my Roget's Thesaurus ?www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=15759#9
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Old 22nd September 2014, 16:06
DURANGO DURANGO is offline  
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The smells aboard where truly wonderful out east as you well know Hugh the thought takes me back to having to batten down and secure ship especially when we had hatchboards and tarps and what a mess the decks where wires all over the place clusters to be stowed derricks and guys in all sorts of positions that had to be sorted lowered and secured, this always went down well if we had just got back aboard from a run ashore from what I can remember the saying used to be iv,e got a head like birkenhead, us lot laying about waiting for the bosun to call us to get it sorted as we where getting ready to put to sea mind you once we got stuck in it all soon started to come together then it was the call for stations and if you where really unlucky you copped the leaving wheel as I did on many occasions ,I well remember on a Royal Mail ship down the west coast of South America we where leaving Callao and my cabin mate was adrift the bosun sent me ashore to find him I goes into a bar and there he is as drunk as a skunk mopping out the bar in bare feet so i drags him back to the ship he missed battening down and stations which really cheered the rest of the lads up I had missed battening down looking for him , then to top it off he was my watch mate as well ,I was first wheel leaving he was farmer it ended up our other watch mate doing 4 hours on look out and me doing 4 hours on the wheel and then I had to ask the mate of the watch if I could slip down to the loo he took the wheel while I shot down and called the next watch or else I might still have been there when I finally got releived and got back to my cabin he was sleeping like as baby and the lucky git got away with it .

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Old 22nd September 2014, 16:53
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The smells aboard where truly wonderful out east as you well know Hugh the thought takes me back to having to batten down and secure ship especially when we had hatchboards and tarps and what a mess the decks where wires all over the place clusters to be stowed derricks and guys in all sorts of positions that had to be sorted lowered and secured, this always went down well if we had just got back aboard from a run ashore from what I can remember the saying used to be iv,e got a head like birkenhead, us lot laying about waiting for the bosun to call us to get it sorted as we where getting ready to put to sea mind you once we got stuck in it all soon started to come together then it was the call for stations and if you where really unlucky you copped the leaving wheel as I did on many occasions ,I well remember on a Royal Mail ship down the west coast of South America we where leaving Callao and my cabin mate was adrift the bosun sent me ashore to find him I goes into a bar and there he is as drunk as a skunk mopping out the bar in bare feet so i drags him back to the ship he missed battening down and stations which really cheered the rest of the lads up I had missed battening down looking for him , then to top it off he was my watch mate as well ,I was first wheel leaving he was farmer it ended up our other watch mate doing 4 hours on look out and me doing 4 hours on the wheel and then I had to ask the mate of the watch if I could slip down to the loo he took the wheel while I shot down and called the next watch or else I might still have been there when I finally got relieved and got back to my cabin he was sleeping like as baby and the lucky git got away with it .
Reminds me of a pretty tough character, Bill Brabner?, who didn't get his fingers out quick enough as a derrick dropped into its crutch.
He was so determined not to miss sailing from Singapore that he jumped hospital, leaving one of his fingers behind! He was a typical Liverpool/Birkenhead seaman.
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Old 22nd September 2014, 18:12
DURANGO DURANGO is offline  
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Oh yes Hugh it was very strict health and safety in those long gone days in fact could you imagine a health and safety chap walking around with derricks flying all over the place and us lot in boots and shorts and if we were lucky we might have a pair of gloves he would have had a heart attack just a thought I remember again this was when I was in Agapenor some of the lads had clusters over the side when we where working cargo at anchor in Java and they where catching sea snakes , I well remember the male nurse saying " I don't know if those snakes are poisonous because if they are and someone gets bitten I won't be able to do anything golden days indeed regards to all hands
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Old 22nd September 2014, 18:41
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Reminds me of a pretty tough character, Bill Brabner?, who didn't get his fingers out quick enough as a derrick dropped into its crutch.
He was so determined not to miss sailing from Singapore that he jumped hospital, leaving one of his fingers behind! He was a typical Liverpool/Birkenhead seaman.
That would be Mick Brabander, Hugh
He was a good bosun.
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Old 22nd September 2014, 19:34
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He was an A.B., Pat, when I knew him and I can remember him well having gone several voyages, one as a middy and then as a 3rd mate in the old coal-burning Elpenor previously Glenfinlas c.1946 and again in 1949 (yes, a white crowd in a Glen boat!).
Jimmy Newall was another name I remember.
I've got some copies of old Articles stashed away some-place, I'll see if I can come up with some more names which maybe familiar to you.
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Old 22nd September 2014, 21:20
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He was an A.B., Pat, when I knew him and I can remember him well having gone several voyages, one as a middy and then as a 3rd mate in the old coal-burning Elpenor previously Glenfinlas c.1946 and again in 1949 (yes, a white crowd in a Glen boat!).
Jimmy Newall was another name I remember.
I've got some copies of old Articles stashed away some-place, I'll see if I can come up with some more names which maybe familiar to you.
Hugh,
Mick Brabander was very highly thought of in Blue Funnel.
When the company opened the deck boy training school at Odyssey Works, around 1957, Mick became the first bosun instructer.
However, the call of the sea was too strong and he shipped out again in mid 1958 and the bosun instructer's post was taken over by the legendary Denis O'Brien.
I sailed with Mick on a couple of ships coasting and he was, as I said a good bosun.
I also sailed with his nephew Peter Brabander who was AB in the company and who was cut out of the same cloth.

There is an extremely interesting and informative sarticle about the training school at this link;

http://www.rhiw.com/y_mor/blue_funne...ing_school.htm

Regards,
Pat
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Old 22nd September 2014, 22:26
DURANGO DURANGO is offline  
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Pat the Mr Greenwood in the article would that be the same man who I wrote to applying for a position as AB within the company when I was on the pool regards ,Dave
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Old 23rd September 2014, 06:34
Mickdunn Mickdunn is offline  
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Originally Posted by DURANGO View Post
My first encounter with the Blue Funnel line was back in 1959 when I was in Liverpool as a boy rating in the Wellington Star I was very impressed by there lines powerful majestic ships , the next time that I can remember was in 1962 when I was put ashore sick in Shanghai and from my hospital window on the first floor I could see the ships I could be wrong but I seem to remember seeing AH on one of the shed roofs there are those on this site who will know and who will be able to put me right I,m sure .
The one thing I know is that I had a taste of the far east and I wanted to get back but being from London it was difficult to pick up a ship trading out east ,so when I got back to the UK I contacted the Blue Funnel line it took me a couple of letters to Mr Greenwood have I got the right name again I reckon I,ll be put right there if I,m wrong but then again we are talking 52 years ago so I reckon I,m allowed to forget a few names on my first attempt I got a letter back telling me that there where no position's available for an AB so back to the pool next leave I wrote to Liverpool again this time a letter back telling me to come to Birkenhead to join Agapenor I well remember walking aboard with my gear and standing on deck looking up at that Blue funnel I still remember saying to myself I,m on a Blue Funnel ship off to Java great voyage and a great crew little Edgar Owen my cabin mate a wonderful tough little welsh man I was in 4 blueys all good trips but I have to say the Agapenor was my favourite how wonderful to have experienced those long gone times best regards to all hands .
G'day boys couple of bosuns you mention I knew but didn't sail with.
Except one M brabander i am sure wasn't it his stepson or relative who dropped the Derrick on his fingers? We heard the hard sod chased him around the deck before he went to the doc.
When I joined blueys deck school Denis O'Brien was the bosun instructor for the six weeks I was there a great man.when he took us for lifeboat drill in the dock he told us we were going to the other side of a bridge no way we could get under,so he told us pull the drain plug from the boat we got under with half a boat full of water!!!! And soaking legs. Mr Greenwood did me a favour by getting me a berth on the Neleus bound for Aussie so I could bring two tea chests out for my brother who had just emigrated plus saving him a fortune in shipping cost another good man.
Cheers DUNNY .
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Old 23rd September 2014, 09:05
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Pat the Mr Greenwood in the article would that be the same man who I wrote to applying for a position as AB within the company when I was on the pool regards ,Dave
Yes Dave, it was the same Mr Greenwood, a heavily built chap with silvery hair, he had a stern look about him, but was a really kind hearted bloke.
I once had a fall on the Automedon in Hamburg and was landed into the Hafenkrankenhause in St Pauli. Mr Greenwood called at my home in Wallasey that same evening to reassure my parents that I was ok and would be home in a few days.
He was a genuinely good sort.
Regards,
Pat
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