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Ekphrasis: What I see in this painting. 03/13/23


“At D1”

 

 


 

“Well, what do you think?” Smiley asked, looking straight ahead, his eyes never deviating from the port side red light on the ship in front of them. He slapped his gloved hands and arms around his body several times and stamped his feet, his heavy fleece lined boots making a thudding sound on the steel deck. It was a bitterly cold November night.

“Think of what?” Lockhurst replied.

“Of this convoy.”

“Well, what about it?”

“Will this be our last one?”

At that moment, the ship lurched forward then bucked upwards as a huge wave hit them, and yet they were only just approaching the long breakwater. Fine spray covered each of them on the open bridge. God help us when we get out to sea, Lockurst thought to himself.

“Hold her steady there sailor,” he shouted to the helmsman. The barometer had been falling like a rock for the past hour and they were heading into what the crew called ‘dirty weather.’ In fact the twenty-two hundred hours weather forecast indicated gale force winds, and they had a ten or twelve-hour sail until they reached the Russian port of Murmansk. They were also guarding the starboard side of the convoy, which would total twenty-five ships once they reached the assembly point, which was still three hours away. Even now, as they slid in the darkness out of Hvalfjorour harbor in Iceland, they had to be extremely careful they didn’t collide with one of the lumbering oil tankers they were chaperoning.

All three sailors instinctively braced themselves against the heavy pitch and roll. That action alone showed they were not rookies as the rest of this crew were. And even though the oldest was Smiley at twenty-eight, they were battle hardened and experienced seamen.

            HMS Compass Rose was a brand-new Flower Class Corvette, built on the River Clyde in Scotland. It had been crewed and taken on trials for only three weeks before being sent into action. It had the newly installed Type 271 radar equipment and the very latest anti-submarine detection equipment (ASDIC). Both men hoped they would not have to use it.

“Watch what you’re saying,” Lockhurst said. “Do you want to jinx this convoy? I’m just glad the old man didn’t hear you say that. He’s trying to get some sleep below.” That was a term of affection reserved only for those who had sailed with and knew just how great a skipper Captain Erickson was. “If he heard a remark like that, he would have something to say you might not like to hear.”

“You are right,” he replied regretfully. “Foolish of me. We are the only four survivors. We’re the lucky ones. Even though it was not his fault, the skipper still can’t forgive himself that he lost his ship and so many men. Let’s hope we all make it back in one piece this time.” 

“Well, what do you think?” Smiley asked, looking straight ahead, his eyes never deviating from the port side red light on the ship in front of them. He slapped his gloved hands and arms around his body several times and stamped his feet, his heavy fleece lined boots making a thudding sound on the steel deck. It was a bitterly cold November night.

“Think of what?” Lockhurst replied.

“Of this convoy.”

“Well, what about it?”

“Will this be our last one?”

At that moment, the ship lurched forward then bucked upwards as a huge wave hit them, and yet they were only just approaching the long breakwater. Fine spray covered each of them on the open bridge. God help us when we get out to sea, Lockurst thought to himself.

“Hold her steady there sailor,” he shouted to the helmsman. The barometer had been falling like a rock for the past hour and they were heading into what the crew called ‘dirty weather.’ In fact the twenty-two hundred hours weather forecast indicated gale force winds, and they had a ten or twelve-hour sail until they reached the Russian port of Murmansk. They were also guarding the starboard side of the convoy, which would total twenty-five ships once they reached the assembly point, which was still three hours away. Even now, as they slid in the darkness out of Hvalfjorour harbor in Iceland, they had to be extremely careful they didn’t collide with one of the lumbering oil tankers they were chaperoning.

All three sailors instinctively braced themselves against the heavy pitch and roll. That action alone showed they were not rookies as the rest of this crew were. And even though the oldest was Smiley at twenty-eight, they were battle hardened and experienced seamen.

            HMS Compass Rose was a brand-new Flower Class Corvette, built on the River Clyde in Scotland. It had been crewed and taken on trials for only three weeks before being sent into action. It had the newly installed Type 271 radar equipment and the very latest anti-submarine detection equipment (ASDIC). Both men hoped they would not have to use it.

“Watch what you’re saying,” Lockhurst said. “Do you want to jinx this convoy? I’m just glad the old man didn’t hear you say that. He’s trying to get some sleep below.” That was a term of affection reserved only for those who had sailed with and knew just how great a skipper Captain Erickson was. “If he heard a remark like that, he would have something to say you might not like to hear.”

“You are right,” he replied regretfully. “Foolish of me. We are the only four survivors. We’re the lucky ones. Even though it was not his fault, the skipper still can’t forgive himself that he lost his ship and so many men. Let’s hope we all make it back in one piece this time.”

 

 

 

 

 

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