48. Under Fire
My recollection of the events that followed has likely dimmed since that time, almost sixty years ago, as I sit at the computer. I do not hear the rattle of cannon and machine gun fire or the explosions that we did not know what they were. My heart is not pounding or the adrenaline flowing through my body like it did that evening so long ago.The card game and the dice game went on at the start of the attack and there was a joker or two that imitated bombs dropping giving the long whistle followed with a resulting boom. All this stopped when the large gun manned by Royal marine gunners fired.
This gun was a naval type gun mounted on the stern of the John Ericcson. When it fired the whole ship seemed to lift! That stopped all card games and all whistling and in our compartment locked in as we were it was silence except for the intense battle raging topside and all throughout the convoy.
Here I will have to use other chaps memories of what happened. When the all clear sounded we were still confined to our compartmants on the ship, but Orme Payne, who was a signal Sgt., and able to read and send Morse code was on the bridge of the ship, as the ships crew were short an operator. So Orme saw all the action from start to finish and he said it was some display of firing guns, planes being downed, and ships being torpedoed.
Orme relates that a torpedo was coming toward the John Erickson and as he related all held their breath waiting to get blown up. By a miracle the torpedo passed across our bow and continued on through the convoy missing all ships
An American destroyer was hit with a torpedo amidships and looked to go down with all hands.