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Tales of a "Vindi Boy", Part Three:
Memories of the MV Pontfield


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Continued from Part 2

INTRODUCTION

In spite of his scary time aboard the 'Ghost Ship' SS Hazelbank, Dennis Crosby remained in the British Merchant Navy. In this story, he tells about two more frightening episodes which occurred aboard his next ship, an ocean-going tanker, the MV Pontfield.



MV Pontfield
MV Pontfield Royal Fleet Auxiliary site
Thank you very much to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Historical Society website for this lovely photo of the MV Pontfield. The RFA Historical Society is a tremendous resource providing detailed information about the history of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and its vital role in wartime. MV Pontfield was one of the merchant ships requisitioned by the Admiralty to serve in World War Two. To read about the tanker's service and important contributions to the war effort, please visit the RFA Historical Society's Requisitioned Auxiliary Pontfield.





Memories of the MV Pontfield

by Dennis M. Crosby

After the ghost ship incident, I was sent on a course to Liverpool to become an EDH (Efficient Deck Hand). After completing the course, I was dispatched to Immingham, near Grimsby, and
Map UK to Bahrain
signed on a tanker, the MV Pontfield. We sailed to Bahrain to load aviation spirit for Melbourne, Australia. While on passage through the Red Sea, one night prior to going on watch 8-12, several of the guys were sat yarning in the messroom. One fellow spoke of being on a tanker in which one of the crew who had gone mad due to the terrible heat in the Persian Gulf and had roamed the ship with a fire axe threatening to kill someone.

Later, during my watch at 11 pm I went forward to relieve the lookout man on the forecastle and discovered that he was missing! I thought that perhaps
MV Pontfield
MV Pontfield
we had shipped some water over the bow and maybe he had been called by the officer of the watch to stand his lookout on the wing of the bridge. I went to check, but there was no sign of him at all. I did not report it to the officer of the watch, not wishing to cause any trouble for him. So I returned to the forecastle to keep my lookout. While doing so, I began to think about the tale of the crazy man with the fire axe. Suddenly, I was aware of a crackling sound and something black arising from under the windlass which lowers or raises the anchor. At first, it scared the hell out of me! Then someone asked,"What time is it?" It was the fellow whom I was to relieve. He had settled down under the windlass and fallen asleep. The crackling sound was from the oilskin which he had wrapped around himself.

Map India to Australia
Later in the voyage as we travelled through the Indian Ocean to Australia, each afternoon around about 2 pm, the ship used to come to a stop for about two hours. We were told that there was a problem in the Engine Room. Upon our arrival in Melbourne the newspapers carried a story reporting that there was great consternation amongst the crew of the tanker Pontfield, when for several afternoons a fire would begin in the number two cylinder. It stated that had the fire been in the number one cylinder, the ship would have blown sky high due to us carrying over four million gallons of aviation spirit. But none of us sailors was aware of this fact at the time.

THE END





Tales of a "Vindi Boy" is continued in Part 4


Return to Tales of a "Vindi Boy" Part 2 or Part 1


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Dennis' pages are maintained by Maureen Venzi and are part of The Allied Merchant Navy of WWII.