Vancouver City (2)

Comments from the forum - 1

I have an interesting story relating to Oliver Lindsay's photo of Vancouver City in Auckland, 1946.

My Dad, Terry Hooker, stowed away aboard her for that trip from New Zealand to Australia.
He'd been a signalman - on Corvette HMS Lotus - doing Atlantic and Arctic convoys until she was decommissioned in June 1945.
Then for 6 months he'd been shunted through transit camps, and aboard various homeward bound ships until he reached New Zealand and was discharged in December '45.
Because of reasons he was very eager to get back out of NZ, but the Travel Bureau told him there was a huge backlog & without a Government issued priority chit it might be a year or more before he could book passage - even to Australia.

The following month, January '46 he started hanging out at the docks in Auckland to see if he could work his way on board a Merchant ship.
On the 25th the 2nd ship he went aboard was the MV Vancouver City, where the first Officer told him they couldn't take him - no discharge book, Reardon Smith would be liable if he had to be repatriated etc..
He'd retired to the pub across the road to have a beer and consider his next move, when a sailor with a scouse accent walked up to him.
"Seen you aboard my ship" he said, "what did you want"
Dad explained, and the sailor said "I'll see you to Australia for a small fee"

The payment was sorted, he took Dad aboard, and when 'all visitors ashore' called hid Dad in his cabin.
After dark he took Dad to the stern of the ship, and put him in a paint locker.
She sailed later that night, in the early hours the sailor came back and took Dad to the steel tower at the rear mast where the gun had been mounted during the war.
Canvas hatch covers and timber were being stored in there, he gave Dad a bucket for a latrine, a block of cheese and a lettuce from the Galley and said that's where he'd stay.
A couple of days later Dad heard a huge crash below in the engine room, lots of yelling, hammering and running around.
The ship had lost power, after many hours of wallowing around when the engine room noises stopped, and he began to hear noises outside he had the thought they might be going to abandon ship, but they got her going again and she reached Sydney on the 31st.

He stayed hidden all day until he heard the 5 o-clock whistle, then joined the dock workers heading for the Pyrmont wharf gates.
After a nervous moment or two at the gates, where police were searching dock workers bags, he was in Sydney.

(In 1949 he joined the MV Roslin Castle finally worked his way to the UK by 1950, decided he liked life on board and re-signed for her next trip). John Hooker. Posted on forum 03 February 2018.

Disclaimer: The statements on this page are the views of the person who posted them on the forum. The events took place many years ago and in most cases rely on those people's memories, and so we cannot guarantee the accuracy although every effort is made to check it.

Vancouver City. Page [1] [2]
Memories from RSL staff. Page No. [1] [2]