Thursday 11th March 1943

7.30. I do not know how to start mentally and physically. I am nearly buggered up. We have had a terrible night of hell, I hate to say it, I am ashamed of myself for letting it even enter my mind, but it makes one wonder, Is there a God?, yet, we know, I know, there is, His power showed up even greater than the terrible evil we saw all through last night, I shudder now, yet at the time, one just sees, hears, wondering awhile, are we next, can this destruction reach us, will the good old ' Opal  get through it, it did, and will again if needs be, I hope, for I have a mission in life now, a wrong to right. Yes that sub. did collect his pack, there was no dropping off to sleep, for shortly after I put this down last night, it started. Six ships, over 60,000 tonnes, 7,000,000 pounds cash, how many in lives? They sank and burned in all points of the convoy can you imagine the tension, the nervous strain, not of death but of something unseen, who's next, will there be a next, have they gone, if it does happen shall we burn, whereabouts will it hit the ship, how long will she take to go down, Oh! everything, yet as I sit here, in this steel framed cabin I say to myself, it is impossible. Iron could not crumble and burn like that, one has a feeling of comparative safety, shall we have time to get to the boats and away, in time, well I need say, "in time" after what we all saw. As you know, I have a job now in action, I have a gun a beauty for destroying evil, and out there I had to go or rather up there and from my position one can see

everywhere, in daytime, and clear weather over ten miles and I was there all night, except for an occasional break, for tea and a warm up, for truly I perished with the cold, making me sympathise with those few, who I knew must be in this cold water, or open boats. And so I went, to my position, the worst sinking of all (we only had three escorts) came when we all thought the sub was astern, as two of the escorts were there signalling sub and looking for it there, but it happened on the side, I saw it strike, next column but one, to us, just an explosion, and a small flame at first, the bridge was all in fire, the wireless operator sent out an SOS (the only one to do so) they must have been cool headed, he also said "All in order" knowing it was a TNT ship, he was a brave man, he sent his number and everything, also rockets, suddenly the fire spread, growing fiercer, horrible to watch, the seas were beginning to get lit up, others ships visible, men on those ships like us, all watching, unable to help, assist, save life, there is no stopping our thoughts, full of awe, pity, sorry for those poor chaps.

The American Carrier had gone back, with her went four escorts, leaving us only three, which meant one side open all the while. For three or four minutes she just blazed amid ships, forard and stern could be easily seen, in the glare, I looked through my glasses for life, but could see nothing, the blaze grew fiercer every feature of the ship could be seen now, the water and other ship, it was like the firey sunset, it grew to a blue blaze, I knew she was going up.

Which she did at once,  My God, what an explosion, what a light, I said to the other gunner"Duck!" but he only turned his back on the horrible sight, the Atlantic was like day only a fiercer light, but there was no ship, the air was rent with concussion, it literally lifted our boat, it blew men off their feet, it blew doors in, did damage, sheet metal came through the air like birds passing over the ship, and splashing into the sea the other side. The air was full of debris, flying fragments of what was once, a ship, bits of clothing were blown down the engine room vents, bits picked up on deck even a big jelly fish was blown up forward, thought to be drop torch alight, the sea was bubbling with falling pieces, and so passed another fine ship, two funnels, perhaps 60 men, for who could have got away from an inferno like that, even if the men were in boats, they would have been blown out again, for they could only have got away a few yards in the time, no one on this ship has ever seen anything like it, veterans alike, some have been done before - three or four times. It was awful. It is believed the explosion must have either crippled or destroyed the sub that did it. This ship had been with us all the trip, we shall miss it, she was a good 1,000 yards away but the flames could be heard crackling. And there I stood, perished to the bone, for in our hurry, I could not put much on. In the afternoon I had had a bath, my pants fell in the bucket I did not put more on, so even that bit of warmth has denied me, it was cold up there, I had to go midships to help load the guns up there, my fingers would hardly work, but I have realised my ambition. I am a gunner.

And so dawn came, everyone dead beat, but no rest, a new day was born, it was a beautiful dawn, clear, calm, and the sun shining fine, was it all a dream. At noon today we got it again, most ships firing at an unseen foe, an hour after all clear, this was just after dinner, some believe now, it was a whale that was seen. Our ship did not fire, but everyone was at their post. This morning Chippy went round repairing damage.

Now instead of undressing, we dress to go to bed. Every bump, every noise, makes us jump up alert, I had to put more clothes on now in readiness.

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