Following is a story from Tom Geraghty 1st Parachute Brigade
We were on board in G deck going out to join our Battalion the 1st Parachute Batallion, already a few weeks in North Africa. We had been prevented from going with them because we had been injured in an exercise jump a few weeks prior to their departure.
The crossing was very rough, I can remember seeing the smashed tables and chairs in the NAAFI,however as we approached the straits of Gibraltar the weather calmed down and we were greatly cheered up as we listened on the top deck to a Sister from the Queen Alexandria’s Imperial Nurses sing in a beautifully clear voice “The Rose of Tralee”.
We passed the Rock of Gibraltar about mid afternoon and about 2AM on the following morning the torpedo struck.
We were well down the ship on G deck ,hammocks touching one another in complete darkness,as the electric lights had all been put out of action .However there were flash lamps at the head of each mess table so we quickly adjusted.Their was no panic on G deck.We dressed and got ready for what was to come and as we did so we were ordered to stay put until we were ordered to move.We chatted to one another and waited to hear the order from the Officer Commanding us on G deck.I should say that most of us on the surrounding mess tables were like ourselves parachutists going to join the three battalions of the First Parachute Brigade.
We must have been waiting a couple of hours when the order came to move in an orderly fashion up to the top deck. There was by this time a considerable list on the ship but we made it up O. K. A couple of destroyers came alongside and we lowered ourselves down to them on ropes.Some hours later we were put on board the “Duchess of Richmond” and headed for Algiers.
On 3rd Feb. 1943 I was wounded in a place called Jebel Mansour and moved back to a military Hospital in Mason Carric outside Algiers.Two of the nursing sisters were like myself Strathallan survivors.One was Sister Ryan from my own County of Tipperary in Ireland ,the other Sister Waters from Edinburgh,both beautiful people—“Tis a small world”