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Troop Ship Turned Prisoner Ship

Heroes Remember

Troop Ship Turned Prisoner Ship

Anyway eventually we went into Freetown on the west African coast and from there to Cape Town for fuel and from there to Durban on the east coast and from there up to Egypt. We arrived with some of the first reinforcements for the British troops that were going to face Rommel and we made a number of trips, in fact, we stayed out there for almost two years running troops up from Durban. Big ships that bring the troops to Durban, we'd pick them and take them up to Egypt or Persian Gulf or wherever they were needed. On the way back, prisoners, our troop ship became a prison ship. So you'd bring the prisoners back to Durban where they'd be landed and you'd reload with a, with fresh troops. I enjoyed it at no end. Safe as could be out there and you had, there'd be a troop convoy. We were one of the smaller ships and, there'd be a fleet of in the middle there'd be a battle ship always, in the middle. Around the convoy, a fleet of destroyers. Sunday, in particular, a great day, the battle ship would, now we're in the Indian Ocean now, weather is generally good, warm and beautiful. The battle ship would generally move up between the ranks and they'd bring the marine band on deck. Now they had a marine band, I suspect there was a hundred, a hundred bandsmen. I'm not sure, could be fifty, but there was a hell of a lot and they'd play all these marching tunes and they'd drop back slowly between the columns and the troops would be singing. When you got ten thousand troops singing on a day like that, boy with this band it was something to behold.

Mr. Goodyear discusses the role of the SS Nova Scotia in transporting troops to, and prisoners back from North Africa to Durban. He also describes a musical diversion provided by the admiralty.

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 Atlantic
Merchant Navy

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