Part 1 of 3.
New Zealand Broadcasting Service Mobile Unit commentator Doug Laurenson [Military Service no. 34957] introduces a recording of a talk by Chief Officer Mr L.M. Goddard. He talks about his life as a sailor from when he joined a sailing ship at the age of 13, some 50 years prior. (Recorded by the on board an unidentified New Zealand troop ship in September 1940. The ship was probably the Canadian-Pacific line's "RMS Empress of Japan.")
"I first went at the age of 13 on a sea voyage round Cape Horn to Valparaiso in Chile in the winter.
We are four boys in a room 8 by 10, no table and your seat is your sea chest, your knees your table. One tin plate, knife and fork with a spoon and a mug.
When you get into a storm your room is flooded with no means for keeping it dry and all your bedding is wet. Once I was like that for six weeks with no kind of heat and bitterly cold. Our watches were four hours on and four hours off and how much sleep could you get with everything wet. In those days we had to buy our own straw bedding with a couple of blankets. You got up at midnight putting on wet clothes and climbed onto the freezing deck to furl cold wet sails in squalls of hail.
Being soaked for so long in salt water you got "Sea Cuts" on your hands and feet right to the bone. The only remedy was to fill the cuts with wool from your socks soaked in Stockholm tar.
It was pea soup that kept body and soul together. You pounded biscuits to dust in a canvas bag and put in the soup. That made a decent filling except when the biscuits were old they got full of maggots and weevils.
Our single passage took between 70 to 150 days and one I know of was 210 days.
This item is part of a collection of recordings made by the Mobile Broadcasting Units, which travelled overseas with New Zealand forces between 1940-1945. They recorded New Zealanders' experiences of war and messages to their families and friends, which were sent back home to be played on a weekly radio programme.