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Manoeuvres at Sea

Heroes Remember

No, no. And then there's quite possible that, let's say we're sailing from Halifax, and we would have to be in a geographical position, at 10 o'clock tomorrow night. The Master sailed under sealed orders. When he left Halifax, I guess they knew where they were going, but they knew that they had to be in that geographical position, at 10 o'clock tomorrow night. And when they got in that geographical position, then he had another big envelope that he opened up and got his orders from there. Then, we would have probably other ships join the convoy like that. And all we would have . . . yeah go ahead . . . Interviewer: So say you went in a zig-zag? No, not . . . no, not with a, not with a big convoy like that. I never, I never went in a zig-zag, but when we were trooping, and we went in zig-zag courses, sometimes then. But it would be very, very difficult and dangerous for a whole convoy, to get on a zig-zag course. But very often, we would get one short blast, and if you're the commodore ship, you know what you're doing and you give one short blast. And the fellow next to you, he would give a short blast. And that meant 45 degrees to starboard and then if you go to port, certainly it would be two, two short blasts. And you would have to alter course like that sometimes. And when we were travelling in on the convoy, in bad weather, foggy we'll say you were travelling 500 yards apart. Each ship was 500 yards, from port and starboard, the head and the stern. So we'd, we'd pull, we'd tow a fog buoy. It was like a sleeve towing from that vessel ahead and when I would be getting up close to him, I'd see the water shooting up. You couldn't see the ship, but you'd see the water shooting up. You'd know that you were approaching close. He was either slacking off, or you were gaining a little. So then the officer to watch, he would go to the phone and call to the engine room and say "Down one" that's a rev., or "Down two", or "Up one, "or "Up two," whatever it might be. And then certainly when you go to make a 45 degree turn, with a whole convoy, that's very tricky, you have to know what to do. Because if I turn my ship the same time that you turn, I'd be here and you'd be over there. I have to watch you.

Mr. Pike explains some details as to how ships would travel and manoeuver. He describes a Master's sealed orders, dragging fog buoys, and turning as a part of a tight convoy.

Ernest Pike

Mr. Ernest Pike was born in Newfoundland on September 17, 1921. With both parents being dead by 1934, Mr. Pike began to work at sea, sailing for seven months of the year and attending school in between. Wanting to fight for Canada, Mr. Pike immigrated from Newfoundland in 1941. Already sailing with Canadian National Steamship Lines, he signed up for the Merchant Navy. Mr. Pike remained with the Merchant Navy for the course of the war, sailing with numerous ships including the Chomedy, Lady Rodney, and Lady Nelson. Fracturing his skull in heavy action, Mr. Pike was laid up for three months but recovered and quickly returned to active service. Mr. Pike remained at sea after the war, eventually becoming master of the Abegweit, a P.E.I.- N.B. ferry and settling in Summerside, P.E.I., In 1966, he retired in 1978 after 35 years of service.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Ernest Pike
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Merchant Navy
Able Seaman

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