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The Bell Strikes Eight!


Squeaker flies down to Water Street. He's always wanted to nose around in the antique shop near the harbour. As someone opens the shop door, he swoops inside and finds a perch in the rafters. There's a lot to see. Shelves and tables are filled with... stuff. Squeaker doesn't even know what some of the things are!

In a back room, he finds a table of things that have all come from a ship. There is a colourful ship's crest, a life-buoy with the ship's name on it, some framed photographs and best of all, a brass bell. It needs a good polishing but Squeaker thinks that the bell is beautiful. No one is near so Squeaker settles on the table for a closer look.

Ship's bell captured in Holland, Second World War

A card attached to the bell says that it came from a Second World War ship of the Canadian Merchant Navy that sailed many times across the ocean during the Battle of the Atlantic. Although these ships were in constant danger of an enemy attack, they made many successful crossings carrying food and equipment to the soldiers in Europe and around the world. This bell has seen a lot of the world, Squeaker thinks. More than I have!

A ship's bell was used to count down the hours of a sailor's watch (lookout duty). The first half hour was marked by one stroke of the bell, the first hour with two strokes of the bell, and the first hour and a half meant three strokes of the bell were heard. And so it continued until the bell rung out eight times to show the end of one sailor's four-hour watch and the beginning of another's. Squeaker ruffles his feathers just thinking about the staying-power needed to complete a watch. Would he have been able to stay awake and on watch for danger for four hours in the dark?

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