"LAST OF THE BOOM SHIPS"
Jim Whalen contacted us and told us about a book he wrote entitled, "Last of the Boom Ships," and that we might be interested in reading it. The book contains colorful and in some cases, humorous, oral
histories by 14 men and 1 woman of the U.S. Merchant Marine during the period from 1927 to 2000.
With Jim’s permission, we are inserting a few excerpts from two of many stories from Mooremack’s own George E. McCarthy, Jr., who kept a log of every day while he was at sea:
The following is a small section from George McCarthy’s story in the Chapter entitled, "Wartime":
* * *
The Sun Never Sets on the Mormacmoon [sic]
We sailed for Suez on December 7, 1942. What a difference in my life in one year!
"Bound for Suez with a smaller escort fleet, the convoy was attacked the first day out by torpedo-carrying planes. One officer and two ratings were killed ... on the naval escort ....
Next day, just as the flags were being lowered for funeral exercises for these men, five Junkers 88s attacked again, dropping three bombs ... five more attacked ... a single escorting Spitfire engaged a whole squadron of
Junkers, bringing down two ... the trip back from Malta was even rougher than the trip out.
... at 5:40 P.M. ... attacked by a squadron of the same planes. Bombs dropped in the near vicinity of the vessel ... a lone Junker came in close overhead ... dropped his
bombs which fell about 150 feet astern ... shaking the vessel extremely heavy.
A destroyer escort made contact with an enemy submarine and dropped depth charges less than a half mile from the ship ... December 11 ... reached Port Said ... all happy to be there
and without damage to the vessel or her personnel .... Every officer and man did his duty in a manner commensurate with the traditions of the sea.
From Port Said the Mormacmoon sailed for Mombasa, Kenya ...."
* * *
My log for December 25, 1942 reads, "At sea. Merry Christmas! Like hell!"
I went ashore with a Gunner’s Mate in Mombasa. The buses wouldn’t stop, and we couldn’t find a ricksha. We ran back to the ship for a midnight sailing. Only her bowline was still
ashore, and they brought us aboard in the eye of it.
* * *
The following is George McCarthy’s entire story in the chapter entitled, "Heavy Weather."
I joined the SS Mormacdale [sic] as Chief Mate on August 25, 1948, sailed from New York for Brazil on August 30th, and met a hurricane on August 31st. The
tarpaulins covering Number 3 hatch blew away. In heavy rollers I went out with the Deck Crew to put two tarps on. To put the wind on the stern, the Captain ordered full ahead and hard left, then stopped engines, to get through
the troughs in the seas and get a lee. The wind blew the dirt in the tarps all over us and ripped my shirt off. We secured the first tarp on the hatch and then the second one over it.
The Captain gave the crew and the officers bottles of whiskey to celebrate completing the difficult job. The twelve passengers, including some missionaries, looked at me, no shirt and
covered with dirt, like I was a pirate.