Re: JONATHAN HOLT
Posted by: Alan
Date: August 20, 2004 09:30AM
To whom it may concern, I have just picked up the queries you ask re information S S Jonathan Holt sailing from Liverpool to the West African coast ,she was torpedoed as described by others . I now wish to add the information I have regarding the sinking. It was a sad time for my family,my brother James Ashton who was just 18 years of age was one of the two cadets, Aprentice deck officers, on board at the time,also at that time prior to sailng on the Sunday evening my brother James had been asked to recruit two men to sail as seamen .He found two local lads who were not keen to be called into the army.both sailed on the ship and were on board when the ship was torpedoed one of the two lads named Candlish ,was a survivor and I will give an account of his version of the sinking as reported in the local press.
LYTHAM SAILOR'S RESCUE IN MID ATLANTIC.
Graphic Account Of His Adventure.
The story can now be told of the adventure of a
LYTHAM sailor when his ship was torpedoed in a convoy in Mid-Atlantic. Stanley Candlish , of Westby Street Lytham has arrived home from America and has narrated his experience as follows. Two other Lytham boys were on my ship Fred Cookson and Jimmy Ashton who had been on board for three years ,a St a Annes boy was also on board ,Fred and I were making our first trip on the ship.We had got well out into the Atlantic and were in convoy;already reported in the papers four ships were sunk that night,I think we were the first to go,it was early morning and dark, I was in my bunk when I was awakened by the explosionand I new we had been hit for the ship shivered. I tumbled out and got my trousers and jersey on .went out and returned for my lifebelt but could not find it because all the lights had gone out. I went to my station on the boat deck where other members of the crew were assembling and I got into my lifeboat to put the plug in, for which job I had previously been detailed .I heard one of the officers say" no panic boys, take it easy".I stood up after putting in the plug and was immediately hit by a wall of water which took me out of the ship and overboard. How deep I went I do not Know but I was constantly mixed up with spars and pieces of timber untill I came to the surface. I thought the ship was sinking rapidly before I was washed away so as soon as I surfaced I swam away.Shortly I came across a locker on which I climbed and rested I turned and looked for the ship but she had gone.Sounds and shouts seemed to come across to me from somewhere and occasionally I could see the lights from their lifeboats ,but they seemed to be going further and further away .The locker on which I was eventually sank and I began to swim again and so far as I could guess, about one hour afterwards I saw a ship coming towards me and I shouted . they saw me and put down a lifebouyand put down a ladder but I was too cold to grip it, the mate came down and and fastened a line around me and I was hauled aboard, taken below bathed and cleaned of oil with which I was covered from head to foot.after a sleep between warm blankets I was soon no worse for my experience.
I was landed at Philadelphia 14 days later, without a cent,but the British Consul and the American people took care of me indeed I had a really good time there ,untill I could get a ship back to England I eventually did and worked my passage on a Swedish ship as a trimmer.and I am very glad to be home again in Lytham.
A passenger who was also saved must have come on deck later than I did for he sank with the ship and was then blown to the surface. It seems strange that the three of us should be picked up by different vessels and so far ,no further news has been heard of any other member of the crew or passengers ,among whom was the wife of a Free French officer.There were 47 persons on board ,and so far only three have been acconted for.
As I relate this report in the local paper it takes me back to the time my parents suffered for at that time my eldest brother was serving on aircraft carriers the next brother was serving as an officer in the R N had been torpedoed and a ship mined and then he was to die from wounds on D Day. the next brother was James then George who served in the Merchant Navy ,and my self with the 6 Airborn Division as a paratrooper' of the six boys my younger brother was too young to serve
Alan Ashton M B E