Merchant Navy (R232867). British
|Born||12 Apr 1922||Liverpool|
|Died||2 May 2013||(91)|
Roster information listed for John Hickey
|Ship||Type||Rank / role||Attacked on||Boat|
|Stentor||Motor merchant||Assistant Butcher||27 Oct 1942||U-509|
John Hickey survived the sinking of Stentor in October 1942. His memories are as follows:
He had just completed his meal in the galley when the explosion occurred. He ran aft and on seeing the fires on board he returned to his cabin to get his life jacket. On pulling it out from beneath his bunk the jacket jammed and only half of it was extracted. On reaching the deck, he saw another crew member climbing up a metal ladder and followed him up where an Army Colonel was saying "This is my boat" indicating that there wasn't any room in the lifeboat. He was ignored, we got into the boat and one other seaman (I think it was the bosun) lowered the lifeboat using only one rope and the boat came down at an angle. The seaman in the boat with his knife, cut the rope as the boat reached the water and said get away from the boat as quickly as possible as the Stentor is sinking. The person that had lowered the boat for us on the deck, jumped in to the water and drowned a few feet away, we couldn't reach him. A person on the ship was lighting his last cigarette, jumped into the water and drowned. Just as we got clear of the boat, she went down. We then heard a voice saying "help, help, I can't hang on much longer" We shouted to him to hang on, but he had disappeared when we got to the spot. Another chap with his lifejacket on was found and we pulled him into the boat with us. There was about a dozen of us in the boat. One chap between my legs had been badly burned, I only had a vest and a pair of dungarees on and carrying my half a lifejacket and was beginning to feel the cold. We were in the middle of the convoy and nearly got run down by another ship. The corvette had picked up the engine noise of the other lifeboat, came back to investigate and picked us up. We had to climb the scramble net, one guy nearly got left as he was frightened to jump onto the scramble net. The skipper couldn't wait any longer and started to move off, so he made a desparate leap onto the scramble net and when he reached the deck I hauled him aboard. Then we were chasing the U-boats on the corvette firing star shells at night and we thought we had sunk a U-boat with depth charges, cheering when we saw traces of oil in the water. We were on the overcrowded corvette for 2 or 3 days, eventually got transferred onto a four stacker and taken back to Liverpool. On our return to Liverpool we were issued with a suit.
People I remember on board the Stentor are Tommy Shannon, who lived in Liverpool in Norris Green, and Joe Binns also from Liverpool. I lived in Fazakerley in Liverpool. My first ship was the Orduna which was a troop ship, where I was also a butcher for 5 months. After the Stentor I was working on the Empress of Scotland, Queen Mary, Scythia, Media, Samaria and the Franconia, where I was also a butcher. I left the sea in 1956 and spent a couple of years working in Liverpool docks, before moving to Yorkshire.