Suspicions of Conspiracy (part 1 of 2)

Heroes Remember

Suspicions of Conspiracy (part 1 of 2)

Oh yes, I'd had, had lots of experience when I was in Duranda, I was Third Officer. We were coming from Trinidad and on our way to . . . We, we weren't in convoy at that time, we were, we were running on our own and off, I think, Puerto Rico, the American naval vessel told us that, to go to Manzanola Bay. There's, that's in Cape Haiti there, and he said there'd be an escort waiting for us to take us across the Windward Passage to Guantanamo Bay. And, of course, ‘course, we were steaming along, and he also told us there was gonna be another merchant ship there but, anyhow, that night we had . . . I was on the starboard wing of the bridge and look out man was on the port wing of the bridge, and he discovered an object on the port bow, close on the port bow, so he dashed over and told me. He said he saw an object, so when I got over there, this object was about 25 to 50 feet right abeam of us, and I looked down and I could see the outline of a submarine and, and he was going the opposite direction at a, at a good clip, you know, quite a speed. Interviewer: You think it was a U-boat? Oh, it was a U-boat, definitely, and, so, anyhow, we, we carried on, anyhow, up the bay, hauled in the bay, so, anyhow, Manzanola Bay. And after a little while, don't just suppose we, we saw a shape and we thought it was a ship, so we tried to contact it, and it wouldn't answer, so anyhow we kept on, we kept on going towards Cape Haiti there and . . . to pick up the escort. So, anyhow, at daylight, we were just hanging around there in daylight . . . anyhow, there, one of the blimps come over, you know, American, and he advised us, he said, "You proceed across Windward Passage at your outmost speed, and we'll keep an eye on you." And he also told us then that the merchant ship that, that night and the escort was sunk by a submarine. So, we after . . . She's after doing her dirty work and then proceeding away from it, see, when we saw her. Interviewer: And for some reason, she didn't attack you. And for some reason, he didn't attack us, no. So we got in Guantanamo Bay and, and the FBI and the commander of the base, you know, they questioned us separately, and they, they asked us, "Do you think . . . Was you sure it was a submarine?" And we said, "Yeah." And there was only two officers, Canadian officers, the wireless operator and myself and, of course, the master was a Dane. And, so, anyhow, he said, "Did you see anything wrong or what action did the master take?" And, you know, you... course. And he said, "Did he say anything to you?" And, of course, then you, you start thinking, you know. Well, he did say to me, I said. I said, "It was a funny thing I said they never sunk us." And he said, "He knows me." he said. That's what the skipper said. Interviewer: Is that right? So I told the FBI about it.

Mr. Batt recalls being questioned about his captain and chief engineer by the FBI, after a German U-boat passed up an opportunity to sink the Duranda.

Jim Batt

Mr. Batt was born on July 12, 1918, in Benwas Cove, Newfoundland. He attended school there until grade 9, at which point he left school to work. At the age of 17 and in need of work, Mr. Batt joined his first ship - the Ambraham - ferrying cargo across the Atlantic. Sailing into Germany in 1938 with a load of aluminum, the buildup of troops and equipment made war seem imminent. During the war years, Mr. Batt served as 3rd officer on several Merchant Navy ships ferrying troops and cargo - including high explosives - south, and to Europe. Following the war, Mr. Batt remained with the Merchant Navy for a few years, then sailed with the Canadian Navy and Coast Guard before sailing with more Department of Transport Ships.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Jim Batt
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
United States
Merchant Navy
Third Officer

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: