Superintendent’s Luck - By Commodore Oliver Lindsay

It was the summer of 1952, the S.S. Tacoma City, Master Captain R.E. Shilstone, was in Barry loading a cargo of coal for Buenos Aires. It was a Saturday and pleasant apart from clouds of coal dust from the three tips working the vessel. However, the crew could look forward to a peaceful afternoon as it was traditional for all loading to cease at 1200 hours on a Saturday in South Wales ports so that the coal trimmers and those working on the coal tips could if they so wished enjoy the national game of rugby union.

That morning the attending Marine Superintendent instructed one of the apprentices to go into the pantry where the Chief Steward was waiting with a carton (rationing was still on) and place the carton in the unlocked boot of his car, a black Austin which was parked on the far side of the quayside rail tracks and safely clear of any rail track operations. The apprentice did exactly as instructed. After lunch the lad was approached by an Irate Superintendent who on checking the boot of his car found no carton. The lad insisted that he had taken the carton ashore and stowed it in the boot of a black Austin car. They both went to the gangway and looked across at the car, the lad looked at the Superintendent and said “ Sir you have shifted your car a little, When I placed the carton in the boot it was parked abreast of the gangway” Christmas arrived early in 1952 for the unknown owner of a black Austin car whose boot also happened to be unlocked.

Later in the afternoon, the superintendent having past the risk of apoplexy but now with greasy hands, sought out the same apprentice again, whose day aboard it happened to be, to obtain some paraffin from the lamp locker. Whilst they were in the locker getting the paraffin the superintendent noticed there were a surprising number of full two gallon cans of Esso. Petrol being rationed and his car petrol tank low he told the apprentice to take one of the cans and pour it into his car’s tank and he would inform the Mate so he will be aware of the matter, and then added “make sure you get the right car this time. The apprentice said “aye aye Sir”.

About an hour later the superintendent disembarked to motor home - you may have guessed it - the car would not start. The can contained paraffin. The air became blue but not by car exhaust smoke. The ship having stored in Barry the paraffin tanks had been filled and the surplus placed in the empty Esso petrol cans.

I will leave it to your imagination what was said to the humble apprentice. It was just not the superintendent’s day.

Commodore Oliver Lindsay
Mem No. 4