Of the convoy below!

A Bird's Eye View

By Ex Bombardier J Elliott 1684162

It was in the month of May 1942 that I had one of the strangest and most frightening happenings of my army life. I was a ship's gunner in a unit called D.E.M.S. (Defensively equipped merchant ships) which later became Royal Maritime Regiment RA. I was serving on a Norwegian ship called the M.V.NORMA with a cargo from Grangemouth in Scotland to Beruit in Syria. We had to go the long way round the Cape of Good Hope as the Germans and Italians were very active in the Med.

We got safely round and gathered in convoy at Aden. By the way, we had a deck cargo of "boom defense" which meant we had to have the derricks at half mast. Before we left Aden in convoy, we were given a small barrage balloon which we were to hoist at a certain time to combat dive bombing attacks. when we reached this position, the weather was very bad and blowing half a gale. The Commodore ordered us to hoist our balloon but the wind battered it against the half mast derricks and deflated it. We signaled the Commodore and he ordered us to hoist a very large box-kite which we carried for emergency. We assembled it and attached it to the winch. We had six men on the trailing ropes to guide it up past the mast and derricks. When we got it clear, the Bosun shouted for us to let go and we all let go.. I was the last man on the rope when he shouted and I let go, but the wind took the rope around my left wrist and upper arm and I went up with the kite!

I was buffeted against the mast and derricks because I could not let go. The rope dug into my wrist and upper arm down to the bone. I was worried about dropping into the shark infested sea but the crew managed to winch me back on to the deck. I lost most of the skin off my hands and my upper left arm was in a mess. I bear the scars to this day. I was tended by the Second Mate who looked after me like a mother. Because of him that I did not lose my arm. I continued to stand my watches and declined the opportunity to go ashore. I am very pleased to say that my hands and arm healed up perfectly. Two years afterwards I volunteered for the Airborne Forces and became a paratrooper seeing service in Malaya, Java and Norway. The photograph is all I have left and was taken in Java. After my ordeal, we came back to the United States and were treated like lords! The hospitality was amazing.

Read Joe's War Memories of a Bombadier

WWII Kilroy Was Here Joe Elliot A Birds Eye View

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