SS America

1942

by Hugh Gibson

 

At the end of August 1942 our family (I was a 7 year old) sailed from Gourock on the Monterey in a convoy with three other troopships, the Thomas H. Barry/Oriente, Manhattan/Wakefield and the America/Westpoint en route for New York. The voyage took 10 days during which we encountered a U boat alarm and the destroyer escorts dropped many depthcharges.
One day out of New York smoke was noticed coming from the Wakefield and she pulled out of the convoy to starboard and, as we found out later was beached at Halifax or some say Boston. On arival in New York we had a tremendous reception, which meant nothing to a 7 year old but in an article entitled The S.S.Lurline on your web site a photo of the Monterey's arrival in New York is shown and no doubt our family is somewhere aboard and I now know why we only had two meals a day and there were so many troops on board. An article in Ships Monthly Sept 1986 refers to this convoy which was described as virtually empty but as far as the Monterey was concerned this was not the case. It is sad to think that two of the ships in that convoy met a similar fate. The America went aground on Fuertaventura while under tow to a breakers yard and the Monterey/Britanis/Belofin recently sunk 50 miles off Cape Town while under tow to a breaker's yard in Pakistan. As one of your articles said "Was this an insurance job" Who knows? The Oriente was scrapped in 1957 and the Wakefield in 1965 so all have now gone. I had hoped that the Monterey (Which had a better record than the Queen Mary but unfortunately not the profile) may have been kept as a museum piece, as she was nearly 60 years old and in good condition, but as usual finance dictates all and we have lost a very fine ship which was a credit to the Bethlehem Steel Yard in Massachusetts. Hugh Gibson Beith KA15 2HD Scotland

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