World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

Kathleen M Moysey 

Voyage To New York In Time Of War

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Catherine Flannery, A.B. Murphy, Kathleen Flannery, Arez and Ursula Rudolph, Louis Flannery, Mrs. O'Brien Geraldine and Brian.
Location of story: Atlantic
Background to story: Civilian

 

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Julie Turner of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Kathleen M. Moysey.


In January 1941, my mother and I arrived in Lime Street Station, Liverpool. Our trunk and a couple of suitcases were put on board a liner. We were instructed to board the next morning and were advised to book into a hotel over night. However, the commissionaire refused us entry, as we carried no luggage. A kindly passing policeman escorted us into a guest house in Lord Nelson Street where we were free of air raids, the night sky being cloudy – bomber's moon being absent.

The next day we made our way to the docks. Once aboard we discovered that the ship was the M.V. Georgic, a White Star liner. A few civilian passengers joined us – we were assigned to lifeboat 12 for a daily drill. Around 200 seamen (R.N.) were also with us bound for Trinidad, in a barred off section. It transpired that they disembarked at Bermuda to transfer to another ship.

During the night, we left port, escorted by a large convoy. However, 3 days out we were alone on the high seas, zigzagging always in order to avoid any torpedoes. The weather was rough – in our favour!

Our shipboard companions were Mrs. O’Brien with 2 children, Geraldine and Brian, 5yrs and 3yrs, Mr. & Mrs. Arez with their children, Ursula 12yrs and Rudolph 13yrs who were German Jewish escapees.

Each breakfast, we enjoyed grapefruit which we hadn’t seen for a long time, after which we went up on deck for boat drill. There we encountered a hysterical Italian Mother with her terrified daughter aged 3yrs. Apparently, her husband, a P.O.W., en route to Canada, had recently gone down on the “Andorra Star”. The deck officer restrained her, but after a few days we never saw them again.

Mrs. Arez was severely seasick and stayed in their cabin for the whole voyage. Able Seaman Murphy heard us one day, reassured Mrs. O’Brien that in the event of ‘abandon ship’, that if she held up one child’s head above water we would take turns with the other one. Rudi, who had celebrated his bar Mitzvah, was very keen to do this. However A. B. Murphy said that he would do his duty by us. He would cross the barrier as soon as the alarm sounded, to help us.

One day, explosions were heard. We came up on deck and apparently, depth charges were being dropped as a ‘U’-boat was tailing us. Eventually, the noise ceased and after a while, a great deal of oil appeared on the surface. Everyone concluded that the’U’ –boat sank but we were sad at the thought of the complement of 70 men being drowned.

After a few days we reached Bermuda. The sea was a clear blue and there was tranquillity as the seamen disembarked. The Georgic continued her voyage, her captain deciding to head for Halifax, Nova Scotia due to ‘U’ –boat activity. Everyday on the Atlantic we saw empty lifeboats – basket chairs, spars and flotsam and jetsam floating by. Towards the end of the month, I celebrated my 12th birthday. Mother bought me a sailor doll from the shop on board. He wears a cap ribbon printed M.V. Georgic. I have the doll still. Ussie, Rudi and myself played German bridge.

A few days later, the Captain announced that we were now heading for New York. When she was almost in port we were allowed to cable relatives and friends. My Aunt met us outside the dock and took us by car to Boston where we joined my Uncle and cousins.

Addendum:

My father R.N. retired, Louis Flannery taught us to be fearless, which was the name of his first ship.

In God we trust.


Pr-BR