Marjorie Ayres (nee Beck)

Marjorie Ayers (nee Beck) - Transcript of video

Transcript of Video

Marge/Marj: had to get the lifeboats down, but only half the Lifeboats were available ‘cause it was laying on it’s side so our side could let them down but the other side couldn’t.
~and there were a lot of people in the water of course  and they were supposed to have their life vests on, well they did and a lot of them were on life rafts, but there were an awful lot of people who died of course.

Sharron: How long…(Marge/Marj interjected)

Marge/Marj: We were picked up by a corvette-but there was a plane that went over, ummmm, of course this was about one o’clock in the morning that we were torpedoed, but ummmm, but a plane went over with a loud speaker saying “hold on, you’ll be picked-up later”, so after a few hours, about two o’clock in the afternoon, we were picked-up by a Navy boat called __________

Sharron: Oh my goodness.

Marge/Marj: and after being in that boat all that time, and we were so packed that we had to stand, only the ones who couldn’t stand were sitting down, and then we had to climb up this rope ladder up the side of this boat.

Sharron: Oh crikey, I’d have been terrified. Was the boat moving?

Carole: So climbing up that ladder into (grandchildren’s) treehouse-then was no problem there?

Sharron: So how many of you were there Auntie Marge/Marj, How many on the boat do you think-altogether that set out?

Marge/Marj: Do you mean on the lifeboat?

Sharron: No, on the original boat that set out?

Marge/Marj: Oh-it was a troop ship-there were several units of soldiers, and ummm, and I think there were two units of ummmm-well-they were separated into numbers. We were number 12, General Hospital, but there was another whole compliment for a hospital. So there was us as well as all the troops. Must have been thousands on that boat.

Sharron: Oh my goodness. So the Navy came and picked up those of (Marge/Marj interjected)

Marge/Marj: It was the Strathallan, a luxury liner.

Carole: and it was turned into a hospital sort of ship.

Marge/Marj: it was lovely because we had a swimming pool and great facilities and what-not whilst we were-well it was alright for us to use because we were officers. But I mean the other ranks would be down below.

Sharron: So how long had you actually been on the boat before it got torpedoed?
How many days were you on the boat before you were torpedoed?

Marge/Marj: About ten. It had been very rough because it was in December and we had to go right out into the Atlantic to fox the enemy before we turned around to come into The Bay of Bisque.

Carole: Oh The Bay of Bisque is really rough as well.

Marge/Marj: Yea

Carole: One of the worst places.

Sharron: and so when you got picked-up by the Navy ship-they took you to Africa or Iran? Where did they take you?

Marge/Marj: Well it was into Iran and put us on a boat that had just been emptied and then after that we were all given separate places to go and I had to go down to near Algiers. Well then I got onto an Ambulance train and we used to get right up to the coast to pick-up the injured and bring them back to base hospital. So I was on an Ambulance train.
There were only two of us on it, myself and another girl and a surgical officer and then all the rest were the other troops. And the train was only cattle trucks with four stretchers in each cattle truck.
We had to climb along-and that’s what makes me laugh about all the safety things we have now-a-days-we used to have to climb along the footboard of those trailers/wagons if we had to give an injection to anybody. You had to walk and hop from one to another and if you went through a tunnel while you were there, you came out all covered in soot.