THE ARTICLE ON the Brocklebank run to India during 1970 in the February 2012 issue of Sea Breezes was most interesting to me.
In 1946 I was studying for 2nd Mate whilst sailing as AB. I thought that a job in “The Wheelhouse” would give me more time to study and also observe what was going on, on the bridge. I went to Brocklebank’s office in Liverpool and asked if they had any vacancies as quartermaster. They had a look at my discharge book and there and then offered me a job. I had to clear the seamen’s pool. They were not at all happy with me getting my own job. It seemed that this was something not done. However, having appeased the pool officials, I was cleared.
Early in 1946 I joined the ss Maihar in Birkenhead. I reported myself to the Mate who sent me along for’d to see the other QM’s and find out about gangway watches. Maihar was an old ship being built in 1917. The four QM’s lived in a cabin on the port side under the fo’c’sle head. I noted that there was no messroom or bathroom. Our duties were gangway watches in port and steering the ship at sea with some canvas sewing. Also hoisting and lowering the ensign and house flag at the proper times. Most ships fly their house flag from the mainmast, but Brocklebank’s had the unusual privilege of flying the house flag from the foremast. I was told that the privilege came about during the very early days of the company. We had our house flag secured to an eight foot pole (bamboo), so that when hoisted on the truck halyard, the flag was well clear and above the truck. The bridge was kept clean and the brass polished by two Indian ratings who also kept our quarters clean and brought our food from the galley.
We made voyages much as described by Mr Scarrott in his article. However I do remember a call at Pondicherry in SE India.
(see the rest of this letter in the print edition)
W A SPARKS
10 Cromwell Avenue
Thame, Oxon, OX9 3TD