Danny's Story


Arriving at King George V docks in London, the ship began the process of unloading their cargo of wheat and loading the new cargo of English cars. They stayed on the ship working eight-hour days with only a few hours in the evening to go ashore.  John couldn’t face the return trip and wanted to jump ship. Of course they couldn’t just walk off with their bags in hand without being stopped (they were hired to work the round trip), so they had to come up with a plan. There was a fence on the dock alongside the boat that was patrolled. The plan was that after their shift ended, one would walk off the boat without the bags, go alongside the fence and whistle when it was clear, the other would then throw the bags over the fence and walk off the ship empty-handed. It worked! They were footloose and fancy free in London, but with a limited amount of money, they had to think of something. They had eight cartons of cigarettes between them that they were issued once a week on board. The price for cigarettes in London at that time was two shillings, so selling them on the street for one shilling gave them some extra needed cash. Laying low for three days gave the boat time to sail without them and then they paid a visit to the Canadian High Commission in Trafalgar Square. They needed papers and asked the lady that interviewed them if she could help. She was skeptical, but having lived in Vancouver herself she proceeded to grill them about the city to prove their story. Of course they knew all the answers and within three hours after providing the required photos and five dollars they were issued temporary passports! Now they were off to see the world.


Deciding to go to France first, they bought train tickets to Dover. Hitchhiking from the Dover train station to the ferry they got a ride from a man named Cecil Fox. After hearing their story he offered to take them to his house for dinner, stopping on the way to pick up his wife Beril and their two kids, John (13) and Hillary (11), and all squeezing into his little Austin A30. After dinner Cecil decided to take them on a pub crawl and introduced them to his friends as ‘his boys’. ‘The boys’ didn’t drink so they drank bitter lemon all night. Cecil then took them to the ferry that was departing for Dunkirk. It turned out that Cecil was a buyer for the Dover co-op and had many friends that he had done favours for over the years, especially during the severe rationing that was in place right after the war.  These friends did not forget his kindness and repaid him in many ways.  One of those repayments was a free cabin for the boys so they could sleep on the ferry as they crossed the channel.



2 comments on “England

  1. That is so interesting!!!! Why were they not allowed off the boat? Was it a military ship?


    • Maybe I need to make that more clear – they were allowed off the boat, but they were hired to work the round trip and they were quitting – jumping ship. That is why they had to sneak their bags off.


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