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Harrowing Adventures - Merchant Marines At the age of nine Ernest Cleveland Forbes had the misfortune of a painful accident, which at that time badly crippled his hand. His endeavours to enlist in the army at the outbreak of war were unsuccessful. He was not discouraged by an army rejection. His desire to serve his country were realized when he was able to enter the services of the Merchant Marine. From the start his adventures commenced. His first experience was in a Canadian ship bound for Newfoundland and from there he signed on a Norwegian vessel sailing for England. From there, his ship was part of a convoy sailing for Murmansk, Russia and his first baptism of fire. The convoy was attacked by Stuka dive-bombers and for seven days and nights was the target of a furious battle. Escaping the ‘rain of fire’ from guns and bombs his ship managed to arrive safely at the Russian port. There he was friendly treated. He related that the Russian people seemed extraordinarily anxious to be chummy with anyone who spoke English. Returning to England, Ernest next sailed to Gibraltar and from there to Casablanca. Unloading their cargo, his ship returned to Gibraltar and took on freight for Oran a coastal city located in the north-west of Algeria. While in the Mediterranean there was much excitement and many escapes from disaster until his ship finally was torpedoed and sank within a few minutes of being hit. Of a crew of 48 only nine crew members survived. Ernest after an hour struggling in the water was picked by by a British destroyer and taken to a hospital in Newfoundland. After two months of hospitalization he was permitted to sail in a former Greek cargo ship as a passenger for England. There, he signed on again with another Norwegian ship for passage to Montreal. From there he returned home to Yarmouth in October 1943 for a short visit. During his time in Yarmouth he related his harrowing adventures in the Merchant Navy. Ernest was born in 1919, the son of Andrew F. and Seretha Forbes of Yarmouth, NS. [Source: Newspaper clipping published in the Yarmouth Light, October 21, 1943]
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Harrowing Adventures - Merchant Marines