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They called that the coffin side.

Heroes Remember

They called that the coffin side.

We knew then, that we were going to Russia, when we were off Norway, you know, and heading out that way from Norway. And some of the ships in the previous convoy got stuck in ice and some had to come back, got damaged, and some got sunk. But it was perpetual daylight, no dark at all. And of course we kept on going. And when we got to Murmansk, we were out two days, we were out of ammunition. So we flashed to a G-44 British corvette destroyer and they told our captain, “Don’t worry, we’ll look after you.” So, up and down the starboard side - they called that the coffin side, because that’s where the German planes used to come. And they come behind you with the sun in their back, you know, and you couldn’t see them. I was a part-time gunner. When I do my four hours down below, I’ll have eight hours off, and I’d be on the guns or passing ammunition, one or the other. And they’d come down, you’d sit down in the saloon somewhere and there you’d be cramped up there with a bunch of others, you know, waiting for doomsday. Interviewer: Were you aware at that time that it was termed the coffin side? Oh yes. I heard it from other ships, you know, that they were talking about it, the coffin side. Interviewer: So, a sense of fear? Was that going around you at the time, and your fellow men? Well, there was ... some refused to go down below, some of the firemen. And the captain come out on the boat deck when they wouldn’t go down and said, “If you don’t go down,” he said, “I’ll have to shoot you.” That’s the gospel truth, he could. He was judge and jury for the safety of the ship, and the cargo, and the rest of the crew. If you didn’t obey orders … you had to do it. No ifs and buts.

Mr. Evans tells of his ship running out of ammunition on a voyage to Russia in a convoy, and how some men refused to go down into the hold because they feared they’d be trapped if the ship was bombed by German planes.

George Harold Evans

George Harold Evans was born March 17, 1926 in St. John’s, Newfoundland. He was one of thirteen children. His father, a First World War Veteran, worked in the Newfoundland fishery and Mr. Evans fished with his father.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
George Harold Evans
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Merchant Navy
SS Envige
Messboy, Fireman/Stoker

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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