The Ships


S.S. Salvestria

16th October 1939 - 5th December 1939

The Salvestria was one of Christian Salvesen's (of Leith) whaling factory ships. It was this vessel that the author took on the outbound leg of his first sea voyage as 3rd R/O to the Antarctic, for the 'New Sevilla Whaling Expedition, 1939-40 Season'. Their first stop ashore was Aruba in the West Indies, before reaching Leith Harbour, South Georgia.

Salvestria was subsequently lost to enemy action on 27 July 1940.

Author's R/O Contract


Aruba Shore Pass

South Georgia

Leaving for the whaling grounds

M.V. Sirra

5th December 1939 - 5 March 1940

The 'catcher' Sirra, one of the many smaller vessels that seek out whales and return them to the 'factory' ship. The author's 'home' aboard was the small cabin at the stern, atop of which was the 'birdcage' radio aerial. It would regularly become encased in ice requiring the author to clamber up in freezing gales to break off the ice by hand. It was the first time acting alone as R/O.

Later in 1940 she was requisitioned as HMT Sirra, and converted to a minesweeper for the remainder of WWII.

'Gunner' & Ship's Master

Iced-up Gunner's walkway 

Floe's & bergs

Ice floe penguins

S.S. New Sevilla

16th March 1940 - 2nd May 1940

Whaling 'Factory Ship' that gave its name to the 1939-40 Antarctic Whaling Expedition, on which the author served as R/O on the return journey. This was his first exposure to the now prolific threat from the U-boat Wolf Packs operating in the North Atlantic.

The New Sevilla was sunk by enemy action on 20th September 1940.

Factory Stern Slipway

Front Page News

S.S. Peder Bogen

23rd May 1940 - 28 October 1941

The author's first ship on the North Atlantic convoys, and first as 2nd R/O. Visits to the West Indies and West Africa were contrasted against sustained submarine and aerial attacks on both westbound and eastbound convoys. 

The Peder Bogen was sunk by enemy action on 23rd March 1942, just five months after the author left. 

Curacao Shore Pass

Onboard Canvas Pool

Liverpool Shore Pass

USS Kearny Attack

Radio Room

Survivor Awards

S.S. Sourabaya

10th November 1941 - 31st August 1942

The Sourabaya (or 'Soura') plied the Caribbean, Mexican Gulf, US and Canadian coasts, picking up oil, army jeeps and invasion barges. New York shore leave led to an invite to the Waldorf Astoria and the author being unexpectedly reunited with a few Peder Bogen survivors.

The Sourabaya was sunk on 27th October 1942 whilst the author was on shore leave.

US CG 'Alien' ID

US CG ID (Reverse)

See 'N Atlantic Convoys' page for  story of 3rd R/O George Plante aboard Sourabaya

Nova Scotia Shore Pass

Tin Hat on the bridge

Author on board the 'Soura'

S.S. Saluta

20th November 1942 - 15th October 1943

The Saluta was fitted with some basic anti-aircraft defences resulting in a two-day gunnery course for crew members. A death on board meant stopping engines to conduct a burial at sea, whilst risking exposure to attack. The ship occasionally had some strange 'cargo', including a US gangster being rerpatriated home from the UK.

Saluta was the second of only three ships the author served on that survived WWII.

Port of NY Shore Pass

A/A Gunnery Certificate

Loss of S.S. Sourabaya

S.S. Winsum

10th December 1943 - 8th October 1945

The Winsum, a Dutch ship, was a break from Salvesen who suffered the loss of several ships, whereby positions were less available. It would be the author's final ship and the third of seven he served on that survived WWII. Just short of two years, it was also the longest period spent on the same vessel. As well as the North Atlantic he also sailed to the Moroccan coast, Gibraltar and Huelva, Spain where, in May 1943, Operation Mincemeat (a highly secret and bold ruse by MI5) was successfully executed. At war end, the Winsum visited Holland, Sweden and Germany. However, the author's only contraband fine during that time was in the UK!

Despite being asked to stay on, the author left Winsum as Chief R/O and was formally discharged from war service on 28th November 1945, after six years at sea.

S.S. Winsum

Huelva Shore Pass

Swedish Ration Coupons



Mont Louis, Canada

S S Winsum

Gibralter Shore Pass

Dutch Barge Kids in clogs

War Discharge Certificate

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