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One Overboard and One Burial Per Day

Heroes Remember

One Overboard and One Burial Per Day

Interviewer: Tell us about the Lady Nelson. She was a special ship wasn't she? She was a special ship, very special, yeah. She was a hospital ship and we averaged one burial and one fellow to jump over, each trip that I was on her. Because we took the fellows right from the front in Naples. And then Algiers was the Englishman's halfway mark and the Canadian's was in England, whatever port we went into there. And, but they had ward ten on the ship. That was for fellows who had, had shell-shock or something like that. And some of them would manage to get out and they'd jump overboard. And there was only one, that we never got. And it was a bad day, but when the siren, we had the steam whistle and we had the siren. And when the siren was blowing, even the first . . . we knew what it was. There'd be six blasts and that was to go to the after life boat on the windward side, and when they would swing the ship around that become the leeward boat and we'd have, and there'd be someone up in the crows nest, keeping their eye on the fellow and we would, we would drop a stern. And I was in that emergency boat. And we would drop a stern and pick the fellow up. But there was once, off of the west coast of Ireland, there was a heavy Nor-West gale, but we went astern. We couldn't have seen him anywhere. He must have drowned and went down before we got to him. Others we were lucky and got them, you know.

Mr. Pike recalls events from his service aboard the hospital ship Lady Nelson. He first describes how shell-shocked patients regularly escaped their ward and jumped overboard. He then explains how a body was prepared for burial at sea, and a quick service was performed.

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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