Posted by: Ash
Hi, I'm Ash from the UK, now living in Bangkok Thailand. A couple of years ago I met an old guy called Ted (Edward Jones Whitehead) from Wales, UK. He's 95 in July and in good health. I look after him with my wife, he lives in the room next door to me.
When I got to know Ted, he told me he had written a manuscript for a book about his life in the merchant navy during WW11 and after. I managed to get hold of his original manuscript to take a look. I then realised that it was very well written and decided to take on the task of writing it from his original type written project onto a word document. The whole process took me about a year and a half. After completing the process an American lady called Anita who lives here took on the job of proof reading and editing his work. Recently I have self published Ted's memoirs on amazon. As far as I figure from what he tells me he wrote his book after he retired when he was living in Australia, which would have been sometime in the eighties.
Ted was torpedoed of the coast of Canada on his first Trans Atlantic crossing on a Greek ship called the S/S Lilly. The crew were rescued by The Canadian navy. He and the survivors spent 3 nights at sea on a life boat before the lucky rescue.
After recovering in a hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia he signed on the D/S Ingerfem for a passage to Liverpool. In his book he describes his cabin mate (Ole) Who I believe to be Ole Johan Naess, the sole survivor of the D/S Ingerfem as stated in the records on this website.
In his book, sometime after Ted was in New York City where he briefly bumped into Ole again, by this time Ole, as described by Ted was mentally worse for ware.
Here is a short extract from Ted's story where he tells of meeting Ole on boarding the D/S Ingerfem:
The sea breeze was somewhat strong as I passed a half mile down Barrington Street, and as I turned down the small hill towards the jetty, I looked out on a squally sea beyond the row of launches. Spits of brine wetted me as I drew towards another young sailor who was obviously waiting for a passage as well.
He took the same launch as myself, and we hopped aboard as it drew alongside. Along the quayside, a row of white-capped U.S. Navy sailors stood around awaiting their own particular ferry. They stood back so that spray would not gust over their uniforms. It so heartened me to think that the great might of the U.S. Navy was now joined on the side of Britain.
My companion was also joining a new ship’s crew, and as our small launch chopped its way through the ruffled waters, his body signals let me know that he didn't want to talk much – his brain was probably going through something like my own. Butterflies always made their presence in my stomach on entering into the life of strangers.
The coxswain of the boat asked me to unlace the top of my kitbag so he could put the ship's mail inside, and when we moored on the lee side of the Ingerfem, he manoeuvred his craft so it hugged the hull of the ship. A heaving line was lowered from above, and the bag made fast to it and was hauled aloft. A rope ladder followed.
Ascending those steps seemed like a small ordeal. However, willing hands were there to assist me over the gunwale, and with a final effort, I threw my legs over onto a capstan. I was immediately introduced to my new cabin mate, Ole, who was about my own size, barring the fact he was broader of shoulder. I let him guide me aft to quarters below the poop deck.
I took a liking to my two berth cabin right away and stashed my gear on the top bunk, claiming ownership after I had untied the bag and passed the mail to my new cabin mate. Steam pipes from the engine room ensured that a large radiator kept the cabin warm and cosy. He suggested that he take me to the skipper to sign on, since he was waiting for me in the saloon, where I went through the procedure of signing on just about last.
The next person I was introduced to was the second engineer, who informed me that on the first day when joining a Norwegian ship, time would be spent attending to your cabin, seeing that it was clean and tidy. He stressed that Norwegians always treated their living quarters not in the ordinary way but as a ‘Home’.
He then ordered Ole to show me the duties of a coal trimmer. We returned to the mess room on the poop deck. There were half a dozen or more sitting around speaking in English, although most were Norskes, and later I was to learn that English truly was the language of the sea, bridging different nationals on board a ship.
It would be wonderful if somebody from Ole's family could see this post.
Ted also sailed on another Norwegian ship called The Loke where he spent most of his time in WW11, he still tells me now how he loved sailing on Norwegian Ships.
He is with me now telling me stories about the past times.
His book is called 'Down Below' Reminiscenses of a world war 11 merchant seaman. Available on Amazon. [www.amazon.co.uk
Best Wishes from me Ash and Ted. Thank you.