As the days went by the weather was getting warmer and then after all the westerly sailing we turned east.
Here we had more lectures on behaviour of Troops in North Africa.
The nurses were picked up by another ship and as they scrambled up the nets lowered for them they came aboard so I am told swinging their watches and rings in condoms borrowed from the troops.
Orme saw all the action from start to finish and he said it was some display of firing guns, planes being downed, and ships being torpedoed.A torpedo was coming toward the John Ericsson and all held their breath waiting to get blown up.A lot of escort vessels and every now and then we had some aircraft patrolling above us. Probably about the 4 of November we sailed past Gibraltar. We now knew we were Italy bound to join up with the First Canadian Division.As darkness fell we could see the lighted cities on the North African coast all lighted up. Lectures were given to let you know how powerful the Italian Vino was compared to beer and other liquor.This gun was a naval type gun mounted on the stern of the John Ericsson. It was silence except for the intense battle raging topside and all throughout the convoy.
When the all clear sounded we were still confined to our compartments on the ship, but Orme Payne, who was a signal Sgt., and able to read and send Morse code was on the bridge of the ship, as the ships crew were short an operator.
Orme stated that the Captain of the John Ericsson was one cool chap and seemed unfazed by all this and continued to give his crew orders in a quiet voice.
Someone had given the Captain a steel helmet, which the Captain wore backwards throughout the attack.
We marched on board carrying all our personal kit no trucks and guns all left behind.
What a shame the loving care we gave those guns and to leave them behind was worse than leaving family. That may sound strange to most, but that is how gunners are.
On the evening of November 6 just after our fighter plane escort departed for their base we were hit by torpedo carrying Junker 88s. The card game and the dice game went on at the start of the attack and there was a joker or two that imitated bombs dropping giving the long whistle followed with a resulting boom.