Merchant Navy man tells of survival adrift in lifeboat on Atlantic

Long trips - President of Sawley WI Mrs Alison Blakemore welcomed members and guests to the meeting and introduced speaker Mr Brian Clarke, who gave a fascinating talk entitled “Long Trips in Short Boats”, about his time as a radio officer in the Merchant Navy in the Second World War, having joined the service at 19.

His first voyage was on the SS Sithonia, which was torpedoed by a German U-Boat. He recalled the traumatic events of survival in a lifeboat, adrift in the Atlantic Ocean for days with limited rations and water, before ending on the shores of the Sahara Desert. Despie his ingenuity in desalinating seawater, using parts from the lifeboat engine, several of the crew died through thirst and starvation.

Members were fascinated with this story, which he illustrated with slides. He was thanked by Mrs Blakemore.

A competition for a seascape was won by Pat Mahlich, Rita Webb and Pam Lloyd.

Mrs Joan Cradock was presented with a certificate for her 25 years of membership. Members were reminded of the joint meeting with other WIs on May 19th at Sawley, when Alan Blackburn, an expert on antiques, will talk about antique collecting and those attending are invited to bring an item for him to appraise. Tickets are £8 and will include refreshments.

At the next meeting on March 17th Mr Ken Briggs will talk on “Confessions of a Lunatic”. New members and guests are welcome.