‘I’ve had one ambition from the line this war began: to find a German soldier, surrender to him, and spend the rest of the time in a POW camp.
I said this to Joe Beck on the deck of the SS Ashby, outward bound for West Africa to pick up iron ore. The sun was shining, the sea blue and apparently benevolent.
‘That’s a worthy want,’ he agreed, ‘I might join you. They’re out there under the water looking for us. When they find us they’ll blow us up and if we’re lucky we’ll be able to swim like the clappers and surrender.’
He was absolutely right. They were out there in their little sub and within the next hour they torpedoed our ship. They didn’t wait for me to surrender; they buggered off. Joe couldn’t have joined me, he was dead.
Twenty-eight of us who survived in the lifeboat saw torsos, limbs and heads floating in red water. The sharks came soon but the Germans had long gone.
The bodies disapeared too quickly