It may be of interest to some readers to know that a gentleman by the name of Ken W Smith passed away on 31 July 2014 in Liverpool.
He contacted me regarding his father, Frederick George Smith, who was born in New Zealand in 1895. Fred was a marine engineer who served with various shipping companies and he died at sea when the ship, SS Boston, was torpedoed on 25 September 1942 by U-216 whilst on passage from USA / Canada to Londonderry as part of the land-lease programme.
She sank in seven minutes but there were 49 survivors who were eventually picked up by HMS Veteran, a destroyer. However, HMS Veteran, herself, was torpedoed and sunk with all hands by U-404 (including survivors from the Boston).
Latterly, Ken Smith had been attending the excellent library at the Liverpool Maritime Museum at Albert Dock. Evidently, in his possession was his father’s discharge book and the curator kindly gave me a copy which I’ve included with this letter.
I was surprised to see the dramatic statement at the end; Died in the Service of his Country. I must say I’ve never come across a discharge book with this statement in before. What surprised me was how the discharge book survived. Evidently it had been left ashore somewhere and perhaps that was the system in war time with so many vessels being lost. However, it must have been a rather complicated system with seafarers signing on / paying off various ships and at different ports around the world.
I wonder if any readers know how it actually worked. I’d be interested to hear.
12 Ta’ Monita, M’Scala
Malta, MSK 1132,