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Heroes Remember

We went down to Abyssinia and we loaded prisoners, Italian prisoners. No escort. We set sail for Durban and at a point about a day's steam from Durban, clear morning, scattered rain shower but clear, our ship took two torpedoes. Now outside my door, at that time I was a gunner, a seaman gunner and our room was in what used to be the hospital which is in the after end of the ship about two decks above the main deck and this is where the gun, the big anti-submarine gun is. And outside my cabin, cabin has a step so high, door step, was a fellow named Roy Hill. Member of the Grand Falls Scottish Regiment and we were, we were friends. His station was right outside my door on this hospital thing. So eventually the ship, she was torpedoed, two torpedoes, rolled over and sank in less than five minutes. Now at the time the prisoners were all on deck. They just had breakfast and they were milling around the deck and the ship rolled over, went down by the head and sank. But before she sank I went and I loaded a gun, the shell, that shell was about I think it was a 47 pound shell and put the cordite in and there was only two of us there, Roy Hill and myself. Before we had time to do anything the ship had rolled over and I said, “The hell, Roy we got to go!” And by this time the deck was in the water and the ship was still steaming. She wasn't steaming, but she was enough momentum, she was still continuing. So Hill and myself found ourselves in the water. Now I knew there were sharks around there because we'd been up and down there for last couple of years and the water was covered with bunker sea oil which is like tar, black, thick and I said, “Roy,” I said, “I'm covering myself in this tar,” and I did. All over, everything, and I suggest you do the same and he did. There were no sharks around then, but I knew they were there and I was hoping that would discourage them.

Mr. Goodyear describes the events surrounding the sinking of his ship as the result of two torpedo hits.

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
Merchant Navy

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