Red Duster Recollections – A Merchant Seaman's Life in the 1930s and 40s

The Merchant Navy
ISBN 1-903953-62-6
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by Ron Tubb
A former Merchant Seaman recalls his experiences before and during World War Two in the 1930s and 1940s

Illustrated with historic photographs this book about life in the British Merchant Navy before and during the Second World War is a valuable resource for historians and researchers but is also an enjoyable read for anyone with a nautical background.

Born in Bridgend, in 1916, Ron Tubb enrolled at Smith’s Nautical Training School, Cardiff, when he was twelve years of age, subsequently obtaining an Apprenticeship with the Foster, Hain & Read Shipping Company.  His first seagoing assignment was to the SS Nohata, carrying cargo to ports in Europe, Canada, Australia and the Argentine in the early 1930s.

After sitting his Second Officer examination at the age of twenty, Ron joined the SS West Wales, undertaking five voyages.  In 1938 he gained his First Officer’s Certificate, serving on the SS Algol, and subsequently the MS Glengarry.   His wedding in Bridgend, to his sweetheart Gwynneth, took place during a brief leave, immediately after which he was summoned by urgent telegram to return to the ‘Glengarry’ --World War II had begun.

In 1940 Ron joined the TSS Nestor, a coal-burning passenger liner, carrying evacuee children and their escorts to Australia.  Later he was assigned to the Euryades on which, in 1941, he was involved in a hazardous rescue at sea.  He gained his Master Mariner’s Certificate in 1942, subsequently serving on the Antenor, a troop ship bound for the Far East.

Ron then transferred to tankers, serving on the MV Cymbula, a key player in keeping Britain supplied with lubricating oils for aircraft, tanks and lorries during this crucial period of the War.

His seagoing career ended suddenly in 1944 when, whilst serving on the MV Amastra, Ron became unwell.  This was a bitter blow that he was to meet with courage, fully determined to make a successful future for himself and his wife ashore.

In this informative and entertaining memoir Ron communicates his passion for all aspects of seamanship, giving details of the ships, their ports of call, crews and varied cargoes.  He describes the perilous conditions encountered – such as the Liverpool Blitz, the U-boat menace and attacks at sea by enemy aircraft – but his story is also punctuated with plenty of amusing anecdotes.