Some people reckon it’s the Yanks’ fault but I think it’s a communications mess up.
A lot of people didn’t like the Yanks but I got on well with them. Used to boost themselves up and that. On the side of their ship they’d painted: through these portholes live the best god darn soldiers in the world.
I got back to Manchester and in the meantime my family had moved. Two and a half years out there and they’d moved. They sent me a message saying our new address is The Brown Cow Hotel, Butler Street, Ancoats.
They’d moved into a pub.
So I go out looking for it, hammock on one arm and kitbag on the other, and I see this copper stopped at the traffic lights.
I ask if he can tell me where the Brown Cow is. Goodness gracious he says. I was going there later. This is half ten at night, you see, when it would’ve been closed. So he takes me to it and he says: this is what you do after time. He knocks on the window. The door opens a bit. I’ve got someone to see you Kitty he says. The door opens fully and there they are, my family. You usually get a fortnight of leave but I had two months. You can imagine what a time I had.
We were more like policemen in the Mediterranean, policing the waters. There were pirates and that and we were stopping the gun runners.
If you were a signalman, or bunting tossers as we were known, you were sent to all sorts of places.
And they always sent you where there was trouble.
A LAST SHOW OF THE LIGHTS
We lost a couple of trawlers in the Cod War.
Two ships got caught up in the ice. They couldn’t move – got all iced up. It was weighing down the ships, sinking them. Big seas there, big seas.
I got this call sign and he says: Can you take a message for me. To me wife and daughter, tell them I love them. We’re going now.
My mate’s next. And the other boat says to him: Right Bill. I’ll see you. That was it, no messing about. I pass on the message. A last show of the lights in the distance – and that’s it. Then I get a message from the second one. Oh right, my turn now. Take my details. Dead calm. And that was it.