DEMS gunners Sabotage watch & other work
My father was a DEMS gunner, Maritime Regiment Royal Artillery. I’ve been looking at his 1944 diary and some other notes he left. At the time he was a Bombardier on a Dutch tanker called “Backhuysen”. There’s a couple of things I hope someone might be able to cast some light on.
He says in the diary that in 1944 he was on “sabotage watch”, first of all in New York and then in Philadelphia. What did that involve ? It seems only to be in US ports. Was there a threat of sabotage in the US and nowhere else ?
In some notes he left he says, “I was bombardier in charge of 4 or 5 gunners. There was also Naval Petty Officer and three Naval ratings. The men worked and the PO, a naval rating and I kept watch and we all shared the earnings. The men were quite happy because they always got a good night’s sleep, the other three of us did four on and eight hours off watch.” What “work” would he be referring to and who would be paying them the “earnings” - the Army or the ship owner/operator ?
While in mid-Atlantic in August 1944 (in convoy GUS47) his diary says “5 men started work”. Later, in Newport News (USA) he says in his diary, “Signed work sheets – each man earned £5.9.6d”. He doesn’t say what for. Any ideas or assistance would be much appreciated.