Ted’s decision to join the Merchant Navy instead of the Royal Navy came down to impatience — he was only 17 at the time and would have had to wait until he turned 18 to join the Royal Navy.
His three-month preparation course in Bristol was part training, part selection process.
“During the three months they decided whether you worked on deck or down below in the engine room,” Ted said.
“I was a deck boy, often known as a ‘Peggy’. The nickname had something to do with having to get the meals and things like that.”
Ted’s first job was on the Fort Poplar, which departed for South America on October 14 1946.
It was the first time he had left the U.K. and he was away for four months, stopping at ports in exotic cities such as Rio, Buenos Ares, and Montevideo. Ted said travelling to the continent was an eye opening experience.
“We had very good history and geography classes when we were at school, so I knew a bit about it before I went,” he said.
“But I was surprised how most people were very very poor”.
Ted remembers a particular trip to the continent on the Hornby Grange in 1947. The boat carried chilled beef back from the Argentine, which they hung on big meat hooks in the hull.
“Going into Bremerhaven, which is in the eastern part of Germany of the English channel, we hit a magnetic mine,” he said.
“they checked all the possible areas in case there was a hole in the bottom, but all it did was crack both the propeller shafts, which means we couldn’t steer the bloody thing.
“By that time they had a couple of tugs there and they pulled us to where we were going.
“So instead of twelve hours there we were in Bremerhaven for three weeks, which, at the time, was under the care of the America occupation forces.”