an extraordinary three days in Portsmouth, Nishmaha found Dunedin again. Sixty-four years after third mate Roy Murray, on watch in SS Nishmaha, spotted a raft bobbing up and down the South Atlantic swell, Roy came back to the men of HMS Dunedin.
At the Royal Sailors Home Club in Portsmouth, Roy strode up to our last known remaining survivors, one of whom – Andrew (Boy) McCall- had only found us a few days earlier. Andrew and the others – Les Barter, Jim Davis and William Gill – shook Roy’s hand and thanked him for his actions that led to the miracle of their rescue in the dimming light of the evening of 27th November 1941, Thanksgiving day in America. Roy’s ship had come across them purely by chance after an engine failure had allowed her to drift off her course and into the path of the tiny the flotilla of Carley floats carrying the last of the men of HMS Dunedin.
Now, in the full glare of TV cameras, the watching relatives of the five men and members of the Dunedin Society, an emotional reunion unfolded. Roy had brought with him from Houston, Texas, his wife, son and three daughters to witness this unique event and as the weekend unrolled, new bonds were forged between the Dunedin Society and the marvellous Murray family.
The gratitude of the four survivors was summed up in a letter to Roy, signed by each of them, and read out in front of the gathered members of the Society by my father, William Gill. In the letter, the four men expressed their deep gratitude on behalf of all the survivors, for what Roy and his Nishmaha comrades had done.
And to mark Roy’s actions still further, Ian Greig, Vice President Operations, CP Ships (the company that owns Lykes Lines, the owners of Nishmaha) presented all five men with engraved glass plaques and made Roy an official “Company Hero”.
The weekend was rounded off with a short service at the Portsmouth Naval Memorial on Southsea Common, in memory of the men of HMS Dunedin who were lost.
I should like to place on record now my thanks to everyone who came, especially our new friends the Murrays and our four survivors. The weekend could not have happened without the great efforts of everyone who participated to make it such a success.
I must, however, especially thank Anne Randall, without whose immense contribution and energy in the three months since Roy Murray first found us, this event would not have taken place; but also my brother Michael for joining Anne in getting the show on the road and for pulling together the media coverage. Well done everyone.
Below is a gallery of photos from the day’s events :-