A Survivor Remembers
By David Bond

My father in law, Mr. Ron Parrish had sometimes mentioned being torpedoed, whilst on a troopship. I recently asked him whether he remembers the name of the ship and after being informed that it was the Windsor Castle, I located the MaritimeQuest site. I downloaded the information and he was absolutely delighted to see the photographs and hear the accounts which I read to him. The following are his recollections of this event.

Ron was a 23 year old warrant officer, traveling on board the troopship Windsor Castle when she was struck by the torpedo. He remembers being asleep at the time and in the confusion, somehow acquired two left boots! He recalls that a number of men, sleeping on the hatch covers, as well as some in the holds, were blown up as the missile exploded.

He had to keep his group of men together until they could be taken off the stricken vessel, but he recalls that a number of other men, he thinks about 40, decided to jump off the ship, which was about 60 feet above the water, and on to lifeboats which were afloat. Many of these men were drowned as a destroyer which had come to the aid of the Windsor Castle, was circling the ship and not daring to stop in case it was targeted by a lurking

Ron and his men had to make their way down ropes into waiting lifeboats. Some men suffered very bad rope burns as they decided to slide down the ropes, rather than climb down them. They were taken aboard one of the destroyers, but he does not know which one. He does remember seeing body bags or wraps covering men who had lost their lives.

Ron is also a musician and remembers losing his piano accordion, which went down with the ship. One of his men was unaccounted for when he held a roll call. He turned up some time later and when quizzed about where he had been, replied quite candidly that he stayed on the ship to see if he could locate the Company funds! (He wasn't able to, but did produce two Smith and Wesson pistols he had acquired!)

The destroyer had about 1,000 rescued men aboard and her captain had to ask them to spread themselves evenly, as the ship was unstable with the majority of them on one side. When they arrived in Algiers, (Ron wearing one left boot only), they were greeted by Black American guys from the Pioneer Corps, who showered the alighting troops with sweets and chocolates, for which they were extremely grateful.

Ron is a sprightly 89 year old and lives in Essex. He would be delighted to hear from anyone else who has recollections of the sinking of the Windsor Castle.
-David Bond
Suffolk, England
© 2008 David Bond all rights reserved

Page published Aug. 25, 2008