Recent letters about the carriage of dogs at sea brought back a few memories.
In addition to the usual racehorses, hens and dogs, on one occasion we shipped 67 camels on deck from Massawa, the southern end of the Red Sea, to Suez. But the animal that made a big and lasting impression was a large black gorilla being transferred between zoos.
He was housed at the back of the bridge and spent his time constantly rattling the cage bars and grunting or growling at anybody that approached. One very dark night, in the middle of the twelve to four watch, I was aroused from my thoughts on the wing of the bridge by a sharp jerk on my sleeve. The gorilla had been particularly quiet that night and turning round I was confronted by a dark apparition and two large eyes. My heart missed a beat and was about to leap over the dodger or barricade myself in the wheel house when the Sukunni (Quartermaster) reported the vessel’s course, having completed his trick at the wheel. The power of imagination!
Gothic Cottage, School Road
Bishops Cleeve, Cheltenham, GL52 8BA