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Spared by the Admiral von Scheer

Heroes Remember

Spared by the Admiral von Scheer

I was, I was a sailor then and I was in the crow's nest of the Northern Prince and we were about probably ten days out of New York going at high speed. She was, whatever she could suffer. She was, she was suffering. And on the starboard bow just before dark, while it was still good light, I saw something on the starboard but most unusual. But I saw something and it was, it was a ship and I reported to the bridge on the telephone. Ship on the starboard bow, 3 points or 4 points, “What does it look like?” I said, “Warship.” That's all I could tell. It looked like a warship. And shortly after, a knock came on the bottom of the crow's nest trap door. I opened it and up came the fourth officer. A Mr. Andrews, and with him he had a pair of binoculars and a book and he looked carefully. He looked carefully at whatever this object was. It was smooth, no wind, no swells, unusually smooth. And he said, “Good Christ, it's a pocket battleship!” And he shouted, literally shouted down into the telephone. We did a 90 degree turn to port, and somewhere the engineers must have found a few more revs somewhere because the ship started to, ship started to, she'd wag. Not, not shutter. She'd wag like this and the crow's nest bells started to ring in sympathy with this... ding, ding, ding. Anyhow, we went off at high speed, at 90 degrees from where we had been going. The Admiral Von Scheer, one of the German, one of the three German pocket battleships were out hunting for the Jervis Bay convoy. They knew she'd left Halifax and she had been reported on different times and they knew that, that the, the Admiral Von Scheer knew that the Jervis Bay convoy was nearby. This brings me to November the 5th when I saw the warship on the starboard bow. She didn't bother us at all. We, we were gone. Within two hours she found the convoy and the Jervis Bay told the convoy to scatter and she faced the Admiral Von Scheer, which had eleven inch guns and a range of probably 20 miles and the Jervis Bay had six inch guns, a far shorter range, but the Jervis Bay faced the Admiral Von Scheer and they pounded her and they pounded her and they pounded her until she sank. And it clicked in my mind about the encounter that we had with this warship and it turned out, we were the one, only of the ones that she sighted but she chose not to create a disturbance because they knew the convoy was near and they didn't want to raise the alarm.

Mr. Goodyear describes sighting the German pocket battle ship, Admiral von Scheer, during an Atlantic crossing and speculates about why it failed to attack his vessel.

Thomas Goodyear

Thomas Goodyear was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland on March 17, 1920. He was the eldest of four children. His father had served in the First World war, and later became operating engineer in the local butter company. Mr. Goodyear left school at age 13 to learn the dry fish business, and in 1936 ran away to work at sea with provisioning coastal communities in Newfoundland, Labrador and Quebec. The outbreak of the Second World saw Mr. Goodyear join the transatlantic merchant fleet as a quartermaster. In addition to the North Atlantic, he saw service in the Indian Ocean, where he survived the torpedoing of his ship. Mr. Goodyear offers some unique experiences from his perspective as a Merchant Mariner.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Thomas Goodyear
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Battle of the North Atlantic
Merchant Navy

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