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lest we forget

GlescaPals tribute to 'oor forces'


    The Royal & Merchant Navy 

... .




Merchant Navy

Govan man 'uncle' David Dick 89yrs old

Auld Davie wis some character - ah first met him through the bowling when he lived in East Kilbride and we became firm friends... and kept in touch when he and his wife May flitted doon tae Sunderland to be near their son and his family.

He was torpedoed during the war and spent 14 days in a lifeboat! A founder member of  Lodge Douglas 1557 in East Kilbride, a great family man and his grandchildren, Laura & Stuart, both spoke very tenderly of their love for their Grandad at his funeral.

A great wee Govan man was Davie, rip pal.

David served on the 'ss CITY OF CAIRO' as assistant engineer, aged 23.

Built by Earle's Shipbuilding and Engineering Co. Ltd, Hull, England in 1915 the CITY OF CAIRO had two decks two masts and a burden of 8,034 tons, and was 450 feet long. She was sailing under the management and colours of the Hall Line under requisition.

The ss CITY OF CAIRO had sailed independently on 1st Oct 1942 on a voyage from Bombay, Durban and Cape Town to the UK via Pernambuco (now called Recife) in Brazil, with a cargo of pig iron, timber and wool. Just before sailing, a consignment of silver bullion was also placed on board. The complement of 299 included 101 fare-paying passengers, of which 28 were women and 19 were children. Also onboard were 10 D.E.M.S. (Defence Equipped Merchant Ships) gunners from the Army and Royal Navy. Among the total compliment were two spare Lascar crews recruited in India for service on UK ships.

She sailed from Cape Town at 06:00 on Sunday 1st November 1942. The Master, Captain William Rogerson a 46-year-old Liverpudlian was ordered to steer a mean northerly course parallel with the African coast for 800 miles, zig-zagging during the day and keeping about 45 miles out. At latitude 23.30 South, he was to turn due West, straight out into the South Atlantic. Not until he was in mid Atlantic would he turn northwest for Recife.

On Friday 6th November 1942 at 20:26 the ship, in position 2330S 0530W, was struck by a torpedo abreast of the after-mast. The torpedo was fired by U-68, Karl-Friedrich Merten. Passengers and crew alike made for their boat stations, momentarily losing their bearings as the lights dipped, flickered and went out. The ship, still underway, had stabilised but she was slowly settling by the stern. Captain Rogerson issued the following order: "Prepare to abandon ship! Lower the boats!" 
They were 500miles from the nearest land, St.Helena.

David Dick was on lifeboat No7 for 14 days read the log of that epic voyage
from the excellent 'ss City Of Cairo' website designed by Hugh A MacLean

The Story of the S.S.City of Cairo.
Collins, London, 1984. ISBN 0 00 216464 7. 
Hardcover, dustjacket, 250 pages, mono prints, index. 

      On 6th November 1942 the S.S.City of Cairo, alone in the middle of the South Atlantic making for Recife in Brazil, was torpedoed by the German V-boat V-68. She had nearly 300 passengers and crew aboard, who moved quickly to the lifeboats. Twenty minutes after the first torpedo, KarI-Freidrich Merten sent another to scuttle the ship; in passing it sank one of the lifeboats and damaged another.
As those in the water fought to clamber into the remaining boats, most of them already overloaded, he surfaced to identify his kill, to criticise the captain of the Cairo for his lack of organisation, to tell him how far he was from land, and to wish him 'Goodnight. Sorry for sinking you'.

What follows forms one of the greatest tales of survival and endurance. The Cairo's captain decided that their only hope was to sail for St Helena, despite the considerable chance of overshooting and being lost in the ocean beyond. Three boats did become. detached from the main group, and their story is the most extraordinary of all. In the weeks that followed, the survivors, growing steadily fewer and weaker, found and knew the extremes of selfishness and depravity of which human beings are capable. But they also discovered in some-of their number a nobility and heroism that defies easy description. It is this latter which is the lasting impression of this book.



Seventeen survivors of the wartime shipwreck will meet the German submarine commander who torpedoed them and left them to sail 500 miles to the nearest land in six small boats saying "Goodnight, sorry for sinking you".

The re-union will take place on HMS Belfast on Friday 14th September 1984 when crew and passengers from the Ellerman Lines vessel "City of Cairo", torpedoed in November 1942, will gather to commemorate the publication of a book on the affair "Goodnight, Sorry for Sinking You" by Ralph Barker (Collins) and to see a preview of the TVS documentary of the same name, which will be networked on Sunday 16th September 1984.
Captain Karl-Friedrich Merten, commander of U-68, is making the special journey from his home in Waldshut near the Swiss/German border to meet the survivors, many of whom were small children at the time. This will be the first occasion that the survivors have met as a group since the incident.
See SS Cairo website


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