San Demetrio London (1943) - full transcript

The San Demetrio of the title is a British merchant ship in an Atlantic convoy in 1940. Disabled and left to the mercy of patrolling U-boats the crew must keep her afloat and out of harms way. - stop by if you're interested in the nutritional composition of food
Nice drop of gun, this.

All right to look at, but guns are like women -

you can't tell until you're in action.

Then it's too late.


- Stooping ain't much in my line today.
- Too much wallop last night.

You never know when you're going to sail.

I've been having goodbye booze-ups all this week, just in case.

Look out, here's the old man.

Are you two of the men who've been to gunnery school?

- Yes, sir.

Well, I hope you remember what they taught you.

If we run into any trouble it will be up to you to save the ship and crew...and me.

- That's the lot, boss.
- Righto, Mack. Lace her down.

Let's hope she stays like that till we're home again.

- That the last one, boatswain?
- Yes, sir. We've got everything we should have.

- Right.
- Oh, there's a Mr Dodds from the office come aboard.

He's in your room.

- Right, see if you can find the chief and ask him to look in.
- Yes, sir.



- Noisy up in London last night, sir?
- I'll say it was.

Pretty lively down here too, sir.

Hello, Mr Dodds. Good of you to spare the time.

- Afternoon, George, had a good eve?
- Oh, same old story.

You called me back just when I was beginning to enjoy it.

You mean just when she was beginning to enjoy it!

- Oh, well, easy come, easy go. How about a peg?
- Not much time left, eh?

Well, you know me, dry as a dog's dinner from shore to shore.

Not that you give us much time ashore!

Well, George, a cargo of petrol is worth all the tea in China these days.

- So, growl you may...
- But go I must.

Well...I looks towards you.

I catches your eye!

- I bows according.
- Down the hatch.

- Come in.

- Oh, sit down, Chief.
- Hello, Mr Dodds.
- Afternoon, Pollard.

- How's the Mrs and Kathleen?
- Oh, they're fine.

- Kath will be sitting for her scholarship while we're away.
- Good luck to her!

Well, I've told her no scholarship no presents this trip.

- Help yourself, Chiefie.
- At this time of day? Thanks.

- Well, Mr Dodds, what are we fetching this time?
- Pool of petrol.

- It looks like a two-months job.
- America, eh?

- Commodore of the convoy will tell you that.
- All right.

Back for Christmas, anyhow.

- Come in.

- That's the allotment note, sir.
- Thank you, Mr Hawkins.

How many men still to come?

- The cadet, sir, and a couple of deckhands.
- Uh-huh.

- We're sailing in the morning.
- Right, sir.

Nice young chap.

Pretty wife...kid on the way too.

- Oh, sailors ought to be bachelors.
- Mighty long ship, this.
- Eh?

Oh, sorry!

- Are you the cadet?
- Yes, sir. Housden.

Save your "sirs" for the officers, I'm only the apprentice.

Come on, we'll get your gear stowed.


John, you'd better hurry. The pilot's just leaving.

Here, write the envelope, to save time.

Jeannie would never forgive us if we sailed without sending her a line.

- Here we are.
- Aye.

- Will you drop this in the post for me, sir?
- Pleasure.

- Well, pleasant voyage.
- Thank you.

- Excuse me, sir. Would you post this for me, please?
- Righto, boy.

- For the stamp.
- Oh, don't worry about that.
- Thank you, sir.

- Half ahead.
- Half ahead.



So, on the compression stroke, the air in the cylinder gets very hot.

If the cover wasn't on, you could see the piston moving up and down

and just before it reaches the top of the stroke, we pump the oil in.

Up here. But, of course, you can't see that either.

Now, this is one cylinder and there are seven others just like it

all working on the same shaft.

- Thought I didn't recognise the face. Who are you?
- Jamieson, sir.

- Mess room steward.
- Then you've no business down here.

- Can't they give you enough work topsides?
- Yes, sir.

- Friend of yours?
- My wife's young brother, sir.

A good kid and he'd give anything to work down here.

- Promised I'd keep an eye on him.
- I see.

Well, if you quite finished your lecture on engines,

- perhaps you'd go and keep an eye on them?
- Yes, sir.

- That's 180 you want.
- 180?
- Yeah.


- And another!
- One more for game.

I'll give you the game and the ship too!

- Shot!
- Blimey, it's there!

OK, write to the News Of The World and tell them to send me a badge!

- Hello, who are you?
- Came aboard yesterday, off Southend.

- Evacuee, eh? Don't like air raids.
- Come along, my likely lads.

Your last chance to buy a ticket for my Leger sweep.

- Put you all in? Tenner a go.
- OK, put me down for one.

- How about you?
- Not me. I never won one in my life.
- I'll have that one.

- When's the draw?
- Straightaway. Before the six o'clock news.

'This is the BBC Home And Forces Programme. Here is the news...'

Mr Sadler, would you get the St Leger result for me, please?

Sh, later.

'Last night the Luftwaffe's main target was, again, London.

'Considerable damage was done to residential and industrial...'

- What's doing at home, Sparks?
- Still copping it in London.

- London again.
- Oh. They won't stop it just to please you.
- I know.

I hope to goodness the wife's gone down to the country.

Made her promise she would if things got bad.

Don't worry, she'll be all right.

- Well, sir, we're blank. All finished now, sir.
- OK.

- She's all open below, Mr Wilson.
- Open up pumps.

- All open!

There's only one sight I like better -

that's it coming out again when we get home.

Hope you live to see it, Chief.

- Everything under control, Mr Wilson?
- Yes, sir.
- Right.

- I'm going to the ship broker's to rustle up some hands.
- Fine.

Two deckhands wanted. Tanker, for England.

- Name?
- Danes, sir.
- Nationality?
- British.
- Been to sea before?

No, sir, but I'd like to get back, the way things are.

- All right, I'll take you back.
- Thank you, sir.

Tynesider, eh?

No, sir, captain, Japanese.

Sorry, brother, we're going the wrong way for you.

- Name?
- Preston.

I'm looking for a one-way passage so I can join the RAF.

Sorry, but we can't take Americans. Rule about non-belligerents.

- Do you take Canadians?
- Surely.

- OK, I'm a Canadian.
- Hmm.

- Sea time?
- Plenty.
- Tankers?

No, but I guess they'll suit me as well as any other ship.

The point is whether you'll suit the ship.


..two. OK.

- Sign them on right now?
- Yes.

Pardon me, Captain. There's just one little thing.

I'm a bit short on dough and I'd like to get some gear before I leave.

Yes, I know that kind of gear.

I'll give you an advanced note on the onus for 20,

payable in this office three days after the ship sails with you on board.

- I think I'll get her one of these.
- Get who?
- My granny.

A fine sight the old lady would look sitting in her doorway

in Helensburgh with one of those round her shoulders!

Wouldn't even keep the draught out.

You'd better stay outside and keep your money in your pocket.

- What are you after, then?
- I want a Christmas present for Jeannie.

- Large beer, please.
- Coming up.

Same again, Joe.

- Hiya.
- Evening.

- Bit of a collar on it, isn't there?
- Sure is.



..let me tell you that you'll find the best beer in Texas in Galveston,

and the best beer in Galveston, right here in this saloon.

- Isn't that right, Joe?
- Sure is.

Moreover, Texan beer is the best beer in the United States...

and American beer is the best beer in the world.

Listen, if ever you come to England or take you to The Ship

at Faversham, stand you a pint of 4X. You don't know what beer is.

As a matter of fact, I'm sailing for England at any moment.

Seems you need somebody's help to win this war

- so I'm coming over to give it to you.
- Hmph. Much obliged.

Yeah, and this will show you how set I am in getting there.

I'm even sailing on an English ship.

A lousy old tankard called the San Demetrio.

Let me give you a tip, mate.

There's a British Board of Trade regulation which says that

no man may board a tanker when he's drunk

and the boatswain's there to see no-one breaks that rule.


I eat 'em raw.

- Five foot ullage here.
- She's got her guts full, all right.

- What does that make it altogether?
- A bit over 11,000 tonnes.

About three million gallons.

Ha, that'll take a few people to Newmarket!

# She'll be coming around the mountain when she comes

# She'll be coming around the mountain when she comes

# She'll be coming round the mount... #

Oh, now, listen, Stetzy, I told you before,

I decided I don't want to sail. I like this town of yours.

I guess I'll just stick around a day or so longer

and take another ship, hm?

OK, just give me back my 15 and we'll turn right around

and have another drink.

Yeah, you know where that 15 bucks is - in your own cash register.

So, what? You've got 15 bucks' worth of liquor in your belly, haven't you?

Listen, pal, we've signed the ship's articles

and it's my duty, as a citizen, to see you don't break your contract.

- Better be on the safe side, boss.
- Oh!

- Hey, buddy, where do I find deckhands' quarters?
- Port side aft.


- No, can't be.
- Oh, can't it?


- Guy Fawkes night, sir. No fireworks this year.
- Let's hope not!

You aren't on the way yet, Yank.

Now, listen, I've told you before, on this ship I'm a Canadian!

You're still Yank to us, chum. Come on, here's something to aim at.


- Hey, got a cigarette, chum?
- Try one of your own, chum.

- What do I want?
- 111.
- Nelson, eh?

- Nelson?
- One, one, one - one eye, one arm, one ambition.

- Let's see, that's treble 19, 14, double top.
- Easier said than got.

- Got it!
- That's what we call a whitewash.

Kid's game.

- Hey, where do you think you're going?
- On deck.
- Can you read?

- Sure, I can read.
- Well, read that.

There's enough risks attached to this game

without you adding to them.

Come on, I've got a job for you.

All right, make fast there.

- And get a move on, Yank, I want that finished by sunset!
- By sunset?!

- What do you think I am?
- Lazy.

- What you think you're signed on for?
- Why did the chicken cross the road?

- To get to the other side.
- Well, we signed you on to work.

Haven't noticed any other passengers on board, have you?

Well, I'll do my best but the smell of paint always makes me sick.

That's too bad because if you are sick you can clean that up too.

Well, it's nearly tea time. I'm going to change.

And like to see anything stop the chief changing for tea!



Sounded like depth charges.

Can't be. No destroyers to drop them. Certainly wasn't the Jervis Bay.

- Action stations!
- Aye-aye, sir.


They're still hull down but I know that top -

it's either the Deutschland or the Scheer.

- Sir.
- Let's scatter the convoy.


- Right, I'll take over. I'm going to close.
- Right, sir.

- What's that at?
- Port 30, sir.

Ring up the engine room, tell Chief from me he can bust the engines.

Aye-aye, sir.

If we can draw her fire long enough, the convoy may get away.

- Might even get a shot at her ourselves.
- I'll do my best, sir.

Be some time yet, I'm afraid.

- Signal from escort, sir. Scatter, maximum speed.
- Right.

- Hard to starboard.

Life jackets on, all of you. Battleship shelling the convoy.

Trust Jerry to pick on tea time!


- 'Chief there?'
- Captain!

- I can use everything you've got now, Chief.
- I'll give you all I can.



- All right, here?
- All right, so far.

- Ever seen him smile?
- I did once.

- Of course, it might have been a touch of wind.
- Touch of wind?

Need half a gale, I should think! EXPLOSIONS

Can't we have a go at her, Bos?

- Get away, she's miles out of our range.
- We're not miles out of hers.


Jeez, getting close.

Here, why doesn't she fire back?

She's only got 6-inch guns. Jerry's got 11-inch.

What's going on?

She's walking right into it.

I've seen some wonderful things done at sea in my time but...

She hasn't a hope, has she, sir?

Not a hope in hell. She's just committing suicide.


She's going, sir.

God bless, her.

- Hello?
- 'Chief, Jervis Bay has gone. Stand by for anything now.'

Right, Captain.

We're on the limit down here.

Not a degree over 400, mind.

It's pretty dark now, sir. With any luck, we'll still give him the slip.

- Flares!
- That's torn it!

Make you feel stark naked, don't they?



- Can't see him!
- Get along and see what the damage is.

- No water yet, sir.
- Good, must have been well forward.


- That one wasn't, though.
- Where was it?

- Aft side!
- Hole in the port bow, sir.

- No sign of Danes. Must have burst right below him.
- Fire?
- No, sir.

Fire, aft! Forward side of engineers' quarters.

- Oil?
- Yes, sir. Spouting out. Deck's punctured.

Abandon ship.


Topsides, all of you, quick as you can!

Come on, my girl. You got to find another ship!


The boat! Get moving!

Hey, Sparks, get out of it. You can't help us any longer.

- Out you get, boys.
- Right, sir. One more for luck?
- OK.



- Are you all right?
- I'm all right.


Sparks! Sparks!

Let go!


- Can you take us, sir? That last one carried our boat away.
- Down you come!

Look sharp!

- Who's that fell?
- Davies. I think he's all right.

Think you'll be warm enough(?)

Let go! Send her off forward. Pull like hell round to wind.

We're floating on petrol.

- That you, Mr Hawkins?
- Yes, sir.

- Got the boatswain's lot as well.
- Good luck! Any more for the skylark?

I wish they'd leave off sending those up.

It's by the light enough to read by

or else it's as black as the inside of a cow!

Can't see a sign of the other boats. Hope the old man got away all right.

He was cutting it pretty fine. How about the mate's boat?

Anyone see Mr Wilson get away?

Well, boys, we ought to be picked up pretty soon.

Bound to be ships about.

Nothing more from the convoy, sir.

- Keep listening just the same.
- Very good, sir.

Well, we better go and have a look for them.

That was their position, as near as I can make it.

We'll sweep a 15-mile radius and see what we can find.

- Let's hope we don't find the raider.
- You mean hope she doesn't find us!

# She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes

# She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes

# She'll be coming round the mountain

# She'll be coming round the mountain... #

Can't you keep her head on? I'm tasting the soles of me boots!

I can keep her head on to one sea but not two to once.

# Oh, she'll be coming round the mountain when she comes... #

That's 20 times she's been round the bloody mountain!

Why can't you be sick like everybody else?

You know me, Bos, I'm only sick when I smell paint.


All right, sir?

Morning, Captain. Welcome aboard. Smith.

Morning, Captain. I'm Waite. San Demetrio.

Have you seen anything of my other boat?

I've got your chief's mate and his party aboard.

- They're down below having some grub.
- Fine.

- Doing a brisk trade this morning, eh?
- 90-odd up till now.

I'm crowded out below.

Anyone's watch still going?

Well, it must be breakfast time, anyway.

- What do you think, Chief? Shall I issue some more grub?
- By all means.

Not for me, though.

- How about a nice juicy steak?
- Oh.

How about a nice juicy biscuit?

Hey, you better turn it in, hadn't you?

It's all right, Bos, I'd rather finish my spell.

- What's the matter, chum? Ain't you hungry?
- I left me teeth on board!

Never mind. I'll lend you mine when I finished!

Shall I split them up into proper watches

when they finished eating, Chief?

I think you should. We may be rowing for a long time.

Mr Hawkins, as senior deck officer, you're in charge of this boat.

If you want advice about anything you're welcome,

but don't think you have to ask me.

I can take orders as well as give them.

Thank you, Chief. I'm glad you're here, all the same.

More than I am.

A ship!

Double banker.

She's a long way off. We'll have to pull like hell.

- How about rigging the sail?
- How about it?

In this weather, you'd lose the canvas before you'd set it.

They'll never see that in this weather.

What we need is a pillar of smoke by day, like those blokes in the Bible.

No good! She's almost hull-down.

They must keep their eyes in the backs of their heads.

In the backs of their trousers, if you ask me.

What's the matter, Yank? Run out of songs?

Saving my breath, pal.

If I were you, I'd save that too - you might be needing it.

I'd give a lot for a fag. Anybody got one?

That's the best I can do.

Half a minute, chum.

My feet still hurt.

Men who are off watch eat first.

Right, change over.

Quick as you can, boys.

Try and keep an even stroke, son. It's easier for all hands.

Here, lean your head against this.

- How's that?
- Fine.

I think I'll have a nap.

- It's cold enough for a top hat, isn't it?
- Ah.

What wouldn't I give to be kipped down snuggled alongside

the old woman?

- Here, what's today?
- Wednesday.

Wednesday? Early closing.

Wednesdays when I'm home, the missus shuts up shop.

We've got a little newsagents and tobacconists.

And off we go to the pictures.

When we come out, we go and have one.

- What wouldn't I give to be having a pint in the Old Elephant now?
- Yeah.

- If it's still there.
- Course it's still there.

- Oh, jeez, it's cold!
- Cold? This is only November.

What'll he do when the winter comes?


I was dreaming I was at home. What a place to wake up in.

Sorry I woke you, but I was getting the cramps.

I dreamt Jeanie was trying on those stockings and they were too big.

Don't worry about them. You'll never see them again.

- How you feeling now?
- Not so bad. I've still got a pain in my belly.


- What's biting you, son?
- I thought I saw something.

- Where?
- Up there.

- Look! It's a plane come to look for us!
- Where?
- There!

- Bos, get the flare out!
- Where is the flare?

That's no plane, that's bloody Jupiter!

I'm afraid he's right.

Hey, Chief! Do you see what I see?



Wake up, chum. Ship!

Mack, what about a sail?

I think maybe we can manage.

She hasn't altered course yet.

- Hey!
- Hi there!

Making a lot of smoke, isn't she? Almost looks as if she's on fire.

She's on fire, right enough.

A tanker on fire...

with a half-painted funnel.

You never did finish painting that funnel, did you, Yank?

- Yes, it's her all right.
- Good for her.

Though why she's not at the bottom of the sea, I can't imagine.

I never thought we'd see her again.

I say, Chief...

Well, what do you know?

Two days freezing to death on this boat

and we're right back where we started from.

Listen, boys.

Lord knows why she hasn't gone sky-high,

but the fact remains she hasn't.

Now, the Chief and I think we might manage to reboard her.

If we can, we've a sporting chance of being spotted

and taken off before she either blows up or goes to the bottom.

Well, she hasn't gone up yet. Perhaps she won't go up at all.

No, there's no use pretending it's not risky.

But it's a risk either way.

You may get blown sky-high there, or you can freeze to death here.

It's just a matter of taste.

- Well, I'd sooner fry than freeze any day.
- Me too.
- So would I.

I don't see we're so badly off here now we're under sail.

It seems to me that...

Aye, it's all right now, but if it comes on to blow again

and we have to take down the sail, then you'll have to row again

and how will you like that?


I doubt if we can last much longer in this boat.

We've got three sick men already and we've got to think of them.

Another night like last night would put paid to them,

and damn near finish the rest of us.


What about it?

Well, if you ask me, she's come along and found us.

- She's a good ship.
- Hear, hear!

- That's right.
- Me too.


Mack, bring us round under her stern,

it'll be more sheltered in her lee.

Down mainsail!

Down foresail!

Chief, you follow me, then get the sick men up.

Below there! Make this first!

- Will I go up behind him and take his weight?
- Up you go.

All right, son, take it easy. I've got you.

- Bos, get the rest up. Going to have a look round.
- Aye-aye.

- Look at that!
- I can see, sir.

More like a volcano than a ship!

Why in the world hasn't she gone up?

Lord knows. Unless there's so much pressure inside the tanks

because of the heat that the flames can't flash back.

Like a gas jet, eh?

What do you think, Chief?

Well, she hasn't gone up yet.

I should say there's a good even chance

- we can get the fires out before she does.
- Right.

- Better get the boat up, then. We may need her.
- Oh, I hope not.

- That's the lot, sir.
- Good. Now here's what we'll do.

- Rum, sir!
- What?
- Left over from Saturday's issue.

Nearly full. Well done, youngster.

Now listen, everyone. We've got to get the boat up.

Bos, Jones and two men, get the davit squared up.

The remainder, as soon as you've had your rum, find some buckets

and get started on the fires on the well deck.

Stay up there, you two.

Get into chains.


If you don't hurry up, I'm going to bash my brains out

in my own engine room!

The swine's stuck.

That's got her!

Davit's all squared up, Mr Hawkins.

Have to drop this for a bit. Man the poles.

Heave when she gets to the top of a wave.





No use! All hands on the forward end.




That's torn it!

Told you we should've stayed in the boat!

Why the hell did we come back on board?!

If you want the boat, you'd better swim for her.

Housden, nip below. Tell the chief the bad news.

Well, we're stuck here now till someone spots us.

Better get back on the fires before she blows us all to glory.

- Bad enough losing the boat, we've lost the stores in her as well.
- Yes.

Jamieson! See if you can find anything in the way of grub.

- Very good, sir.
- Have a look at the water tanks while you're at it.

Chief, this is hopeless!

- Might as well try to put it out by spitting on it.
- Don't worry.

- I may be able to raise enough steam for the hoses.
- You can, eh?

- What's it like below, then?
- Like a sewer,

- but if I can take my men off you, I think we can fix something up.
- Fine.

- Davies, Boyle.
- Come along with me.
- How long will it take you?

- About four hours.
- We'll try to hold our own here till you're ready.

Just in time. Give her a kick.

You would have a belly-ache at a time like this.

Come on, let me have a go.


So far, so good. Now for the fuel pump.

Food's ready, sir.

You two! Break off and eat.

- This the best you can do?
- A bit burnt, I'm afraid.

They were in the fridge.

The fridge is on fire, you see.

What a ship.

The water's all right.

- What's this?
- That's a steak.

Better try and find my teeth.

That ought to do the trick. Get your hose couple onto the pump.

That's more like it, Chief.

Bos, you can take half the men and start on the fires amidships.

Very good, sir. Come on, Yank.

We'll split up into watches and carry on through the night.

Let's hope there's no U-boats around.

Our blackout's none too good.

OK. That seems to have done it.

- Hello, Jock.
- Morning, sir.

What have you found?

Six tins of condensed milk, sir.

And this. I bought it in Galveston, sir, to take back to my granny

in Helensburgh. The old lady feels the tea rationing pretty badly.

And how are you going to make tea?

I was just going to light the range when you came in.

And blow yourself to blazes!

Don't you realise the ship's full of petrol fumes?

Never heard about the man who looked for a gas leak with a lighted match?

Never mind, son. It was a good idea all the same.

- Morning, Mr Hawkins.
- Morning, Chief.
- I see you've got the fires out.

Yes, thanks to your hoses. The next job's to keep them out.

- Ow!
- That was a good 'un!

Ah, it doesn't matter.

I'm so cold I can't feel it.

I've set lookouts.

All we can do now is to hope she keeps afloat till somebody spots us.

I sounded the double-bottom tank. She's not making any water.

That's a comfort.

- How's Boyle?
- Not too good. But we are at least out of the weather.

Yes, you've got something there, Chief.

- It's the cold that gets you down more than anything.
- Breakfast, sir.

- Breakfast!
- Such as it is.

Bos! Grab yourself a carrot! I'll take over your job.

- What you got there, Jock?
- Cold water. Want some?
- No, thank you.

I don't want to rust me guts.

Oh! What wouldn't I give for a cup of tea?

Not a hope.

Did you never hear of the man who looked for a gas leak

with a lighted match?


- Morning, Bos.
- Hi, Yank.

You're the very man for this job.

Boatswains never forget.

- Mr Hawkins, sir.
- Yes!

Chief sends his compliments. All hands to tea.


- Tea out!
- Hey, boys. Only four mugs.

- You'll have to take it in turns.
- Not much in your line, yeah.

What is this? Magic?

Well, we were all so damn cold I thought I'd chance my arm for once.

Talk about a watched pot.

I never knew a kettle take so long to boil.

Make the most of it, boys. Can't take a risk like that again.

- Hey, leave some for my lads down below.
- Yes, sir.

That's fine, boys. You've done a good job.

Glad you like it, Chief.

- Took plenty of bilge-diving to get it clear.
- I'll bet.

Here, drink it while it's hot.

You look like death.

Your pal's right. You better have a rest.

It's only the cold got into my inside.

I'll be all right when I've had this tea.

- Can't leave the deck in a mess like this.
- Well, take it easy.

I don't want any of you crocking up.

What, with you and Davies having pains in your guts.

And Mr Willey not being sure whether his feet still belong to him or not.

The place is more like a sick bay than an engine room.

But there's plenty of work still ahead.

How's things up here?

Well, I've checked the lube oil system - OK.

Water jackets and piston cooling, likewise OK.

I've been through all the accommodation, sir.

A cockroach couldn't live below here.

The only cabins fit to use are starboard aft.

- Any of the old gear left?
- Not a sausage, sir.

- Mr Hawkins inside?
- Yes, Chief.

- I've got some news for you.
- Not bad, I hope.

No, I don't think so. Just that I can get her underway.

- Get her underway?
- Why not? The main engines are undamaged.

Wait a minute. No bridge,

no charts,

no wireless,

no signal flags,

no compass,

and even if we had a compass, no steering gear.

What about the auxiliary steering gear?

What's got into them?

Running races to keep themselves warm!

Well, there's half a wheel.

More than you can say for this.

It doesn't matter much. This is jammed anyway.

- I should say the bulkhead below is buckled.
- Think you can free it?

I can have a try. In any case, we can always steer by the winch.

Chief, if we can steer her, we might get the old girl home.

No charts, no compass.

You get the engines going, I'll fetch you up somewhere,

if it's only the North Pole.

That's the idea. Don't want anyone breaking his neck.

We're shorthanded enough as it is.

You can have any tune your like for a penny.

Now try.

No good.

- Still stuck, sir.
- No use in fiddling with that.

We should be some time yet.

Here, son.

Make this fast to the binnacle.

What are you up to, Chief?

Oh, just a little idea of mine while we're waiting.

See you later!

One for room service, two for valet

and three for the chambermaid.


Hey! What's the big idea? Want to electrocute me?!

Yank, take that compass away. He's got a face like a funeral.

It's OK for dead reckoning.

Mr Hawkins, come and have a look at this.

- Fairy lights?
- Fairy lights, my foot. It's your engine room telegraph.

Taff, switch on the top one!

Ahead. And if you flicker it, it means full speed.

Middle one!


Now the bottom one.


Neat but not gaudy, eh?

- Jones? Mast to hands aft.
- Right, sir.

While we're waiting for Willey,

- I'll see if the men agree with us about the course.
- Fine.

Listen to me, all of you.

- Thanks to the chief, we're almost ready to get underway.
- Good for him.

- Some say good old chief.
- Bring-'em-back Pollard, huh?

We're not back yet.

I'll do my best to steer her in the right direction,

but it'll be by guess and by God.

Now, what I wanted to talk to you about is this -

we've got to decide which is the right direction.

If we hold on our original course for the Clyde,

we're heading for U-boats, mines, bombers and all that.

If we turn round and head west,

we'll probably be safe from them,

but we'll be steaming into the weather instead of running before it.

And we've got a hole in the bows, remember.

Well, what about it?

Home sweet home for me.

Not me. Had enough trouble for one trip.

I signed on to get to England, not for an ocean cruise.


I look at it this way - we set out to take her home

and we've got it halfway already.

Doesn't seem much sense turning round and taking it back again.

- Bos is right.
- Hear! Hear!

- Right, east it is.
- Mr Hawkins?

- We've freed the steering gear.
- Fine.

- Set lookout, Bos.
- Aye-aye.

Housden, Jones, up here.

- The next question is, which is east?
- Too true.

Chief! What's the time by your clock down there?

- It says half past two.
- Thanks.

Half past two.

Looks about right.

- Let's see... 2.30.
- November.

Latitude, say...52.

Sun's about south, south-west.

- That makes our head more or less due south.
- That's it.

- Here you are. Tap on the skylight when I give you the signal.
- OK.

- Well, Taff, here we go.
- We hope.


Slow ahead.

As you were.

She would.

Give her a shot astern.

Blimey, Chief! Are we going home stern first?


Well, if she'll go one way, she ought to go the other.


Phew! Just as well. I'd never have heard the last of it.

- She's answering, all right.
- Good!

Full speed ahead.


- First stop England.
- First stop Wales!
- First stop Scotland.

It's the Clyde we're bound for!

You're all getting mighty particular.

There's one hell of a lump of land ahead of us there somewhere.

- Good job, too. If we fetch up anywhere between Narvik and Gibraltar, we'll be lucky.
- Not half!


Well, even if we could get one glimpse of the North Star,

we'd know if we were on our course.

She'll not clear much tonight.

I'm afraid this nor'westerly will be setting us off to the south more than we've reckoned.

The engines have made 116 miles.

So, allowing for the weather, I should reckon somewhere about 80.


How are you managing down below, Chief?

Willey and Davies in one watch, Boyle with me.

In total, myself and three crocks.

It'll be four crocks if you don't do something about that.

Wish I could, but what? How are things topsides?

Might be worse. Six of us can take a turn at the wheel.

Young Jones is a godsend.

I've made him a watchkeeping officer.

Well, if you trust him so much, why don't you turn in for a bit?

Yeah, not a bad idea.

Do you ever sleep, by the way?

Oh, yes, I've had a mattress put in the engine room so I can be handy if I'm wanted.

Righto. You turn in and rest your feet.

Do 'em good to take your shoes off.

I daren't do that, I'd never get them on again.

Will I give him a drop of this, sir?

Yes. Good job we left some.

- Where am I?
- Where I should've sent you two days ago.

Just you lie quiet now.

- How do you feel now, pal?
- Cold.

We'll soon have you warm. Central heating, just like the Ritz.

Come on, Yank.

- How is he?
- He'll do no more work this trip.

- Pretty bad, eh?
- Pretty bad.

I blame myself for letting him go on so long. Tried to make him pack it up, but he wouldn't.

I never knew a little scruff of a man like that could have so much guts.

You never know a lot of things about people till something like this comes along.

He's asleep already, sir.

I'm going to be a bit short-handed down below.

- I'll have to take one of your lads off you.
- Who would you like?

- Oh, he'll do.
- Righto.

Get yourself below and ask Davies to take you on the oiling round.

Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.

- Any luck?
- Sighted the North Star a few minutes ago.
- Where about?

- Just above the beam. So I brought her round to head due east.
- Good.

- If you watch your wake, it'll help your steering.
- OK.

- Steady as she goes, Yank!
- Steady as she goes.

- This was your idea, wasn't it?
- Yes, but the weather wasn't.

Haven't you blokes finished that job yet?

We thought we had till this lark started.

Fast as we knock 'em in, the sea knocks 'em out again.

Well, don't let it get you down. Just keep plugging away.

- Morning, Chief.
- Hello, Mack. Expecting a heatwave?

Oh, I found it in one of the wrecked cabins.

No, we're in for a blow, right enough.

- Seems to suit you cold-blooded islanders.
- Chief?

Have you noticed she's a bit more down by the head this morning?

It's that hole in her bowels.

She's shipping water into the fore hold every time she bellies her nose. I don't like it at all.

Well, how's the patient this morning?

I've been trying to make him take some of this, but he can't keep it down.

Are you warm enough, son?

You all right below? Must be short-handed without me.

Don't you worry, your pal here is doing your job. Doing it well too.

That's good.

Come on, Jock. Time we went to work.

- You look like a couple of brass monkeys.
- And feel like them too.

Well, what's on the menu this morning?

Can't digest new bread.

Ain't half going to cop it when I get home.

No present for the missus and me breath ponging of onions.

Nothing for my mum and dad either.

I bought some scent for my mother.

That's gone too.

Aye. All that was left was the tea that Jamieson got for his poor old granny.

And we've drunk that.

Well, this won't buy the baby a new pair of shoes.

This is like trying to steer an old cow by the tail.

She's as buoyant as a waterlogged sponge. Hold on!

That's what we call pooping, son.

You hang on here. I'm going topsides.

- Take over, Willey.
- Right, Chief.

Come on out of it, you two! Let someone else have a turn.

Chief, she'll break her back if this keeps up.

- Isn't there any way of bumping out the fore hold?
- Not a hope.

Steam-line's all shot to blazes.

- Any bones broken?
- Don't think so.

No, not so you'd notice it.

At this rate, the fore hold bulkhead's bound to go.

- Then we'll be for it.
- You're telling me!

Wait a minute - haven't you got an empty tank amidships?

Yes, number six.

And number nine is full.

If we run the petrol out from nine into six,

- it should alter her trim and bring her bowels up.
- Sounds fine.

- Can you do it?
- I think so.

It means going down into the forward pump room and opening the block valves.

I'll need someone to help me.

Better be a volunteer. Room's sure to be full of gas, maybe flooded as well.

If you could ease her off, she'll ride better while I'm working.

Right, Chief!

None of your granny knots now or I'll never see Barra again.

Nip below. Tell him to ease the engines down.

Bring her up into the wind.

Chief's going down into the pump room.

- Hello. Where have you sprung from?
- I heard you say you need some help.

Good lad.

Argh! Would be my right hand.

- Like me to fix that finger for you?
- Wish you could.
- Sure, I can fix it.

- Huh?
- Come on over here.

Well, it won't do any harm to air that for a minute.

Let's have a look at it.

- It's not going to be a very elegant piece of surgery.
- Hey, you're not going to cut it off, are you?
- No!

I'm just going to pierce the nail and let some of that pus out.

- Ever tried it before?
- Sure. Did it to a horse that had a bad hoof.

- Feels better already.
- That's what the horse said!

Here, use this. It's cleaner.

She's riding as easy as I can make her, Chief.

- Look at this. Surgeon as well.
- Right, let's get started.

- I'm helping the Chief.
- OK, kid.

Better put these on, hadn't you?

No rope. Only follow the ladders. Head on straight down.

- One, two...

Well, there's something there.

All right. Play them down.

Carry on with that. Quick as you can.

- Start that one.


All right. You go on up. I'll finish it.


Hang on!


You all right?

All you've got to do now...

open your deck valves, wait for it to run through.


- How do you find her?
- Quite a bit livelier.

- I think we've saved the bulkhead.
- Not falling into it like she was.

Good. Can I have a word with you?

Take over for a minute, Bos.

That's about all we can do. She'll weather it now, with luck.

Yes, it's about all we can do for the ship.

What's on your mind, Chief?

I've just been along to see Boyle.

How's he getting on?

I've made him is warm and comfortable as I can,

but cold condensed milk for a man in that state...

And he's only the first.

Any one of us might crack up at any minute.

Cold, wet, underfed, tired out.

And a long way to go.

I suppose we couldn't light another fire? A hot meal would make all the difference.

In this weather, she's spilling petrol all over the place.

The poop's chock-full of vapour. It was a risk before. It would be suicide now.

How's your poor feet?

They haven't dropped off yet, but I sometimes wish they would!

- Jamieson? All right, you shove off.
- Sir?
- Come here.

You should never see that in a well-run engine room. Turn it off.

Jamieson, I've got a job for you.

Go and find a nice clean bucket,

fill it with those vegetables of yours and bring it down here.

Yes, sir.

If you hadn't scolded your hand, I might never have thought of this.

When I was a lad, I used to wash my boilersuits this way.

- All we've got to do is to leave out the soap.
- That's great!


Steady! Hello, Chief.

- Present for you.
- Ow!

- One for you too.
- Oh, thanks.

How on earth did you manage it?

Plenty more when you come off watch.

Never new chief engineer turned chief cook before!



What a turn-up for the book, eh?

Where did you never learn not to speak with your mouth full?

Wait till you see what I've brought you.

The chief's managed to boil some spuds, so I've mashed them up with condensed milk for you.

- I'm not hungry.
- But this is hot food.

The very thing you need to make you nice and warm. Hot!


- What's the matter?
- Jeannie's stockings.

You're not still worried about them, are you?

Had them here just now.

Och, they've fallen onto the floor.

They'll only fall down again.

I think I'd better put them up here on the shelf.

I hope they're the right colour.


- The hot grub seems to have cheered them all up.
- Aye.

Sounds like quite a concert.

# ..Could I only take your hand

# As I did when you took my name

# Well, it's only a beautiful picture

# In a beautiful golden frame. #

# With all his great power and riches

# He knows he can never replace

# One thing in the mansion that's absent

# His wife's tender smiling face

# And each time he sees her picture

# The same words he always says... #

There you are, pal.

How's things?

- Somebody's singing.
- Yeah.

Yeah, they're singing, all right.

Here we are rolling about in a gale in the middle of the Atlantic,

U-boats all around, no escort...

..but as far as the British are concerned, it still seems to be Saturday night.

Saturday night.

Oh, to see Glasgow on a Saturday night.


We'll have a look at it together, huh?

Right now, you've got to take things easy.

# ..In a beautiful golden frame. #

- Bowes, you ought to sing in the choir.
- Believe it or not, Chief, when I was a nipper, I did.

- The boy wonder of Faversham!


Hey, fellas. Boyle can hear you singing in there.

How about giving him something he'd like? You know, a kind of request.

How about it, Jonjo?

- Loch Lomond?
- Annie Laurie.
- Och, Boyle's no Scot.

- Well, he lives there, that's near enough.
- Yeah.

I've got it.

# I belong to Glasgow

# Dear old Glasgow town

# But what's the matter with Glasgow

# For it's going round and round?

# I'm only a common old working chap

# As anyone here can see

# But when I get a couple of drinks on a Saturday

# Glasgow belongs to me

# Oh, I belong to Glasgow

# Dear old Glasgow town

# But what's the matter with Glasgow

# For it's going round and round?

# I'm only a common old working chap

# As any one here can see... #

- It really ought to be a Union Jack.
- It's all we've got, sir.

Anyway, I reckon the Red Duster is good enough for anyone.

- Ready, sir.
- Right. I wish I had a prayer book for him.

- Pardon me, Mr Hawkins.
- Yes, Yank?

I haven't got a prayer book, but, well I...I don't know

whether it's much use or not, but I have got a Bible.

Well, you see, it was a kind of, present.

- My kids gave it to me when I left.
- Kids?

Sure. There's no law against a man having a family, is there?

- Thank you very much, Yank. I'll be glad of it.
- Yes, sir.

The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures

He leadeth me beside the still waters

He restoreth my soul

He leadeth me in the powers of righteousness for his name's sake

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death

I will fear no evil

For thou art with me

Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies

Thou annointest my head with oil

My cup runneth over

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

- Amen. ALL:
- Amen.

Therefore we, his shipmates,

commit the body of John Boyle to the deep.


Very well, boys. that's all.

Yank, what do you make of that?


Land ahead!

- Land!
- Whither way?

Fine on the starboard bow.

- No place like home.
- Don't you count your chickens, mate.

We don't know what country it is yet.

Keep your fingers crossed it isn't a German-occupied one.

Nice thing if we've brought the petrol all this way

- just for Jerry to get it.
- Yeah.

Come along, my lucky lads.

Tenner a go, pay when you get there.

Here, I'll have a basin full of this.

What is it this time?

What country it is. Come on.



- Scotland.
- England.

- Ireland.
- Norway...

I hope I don't win this one!

Wherever it is, they're not taking any notice of us.

Fine thing - come all this way

and we get a welcome like we had halitosis.


We'll stand off till morning.

- Slow ahead, starboard.
- Starboard it is.

- Morning, Nelson.
- Good morning, Mr Dodds.

- Any news?
- Not a thing.


What have you got there?

- Tender for repairs to the Delfino.

Dodds, here.


Late yesterday, Lloyds, Queenstown, reported your San Demetrio

- off the West Coast of Ireland.
- It's the Demetrio, off Ireland.

- Yes?
- We've just heard

from the destroyer that went to her assistance.

They report her badly damaged but still seaworthy.

Did they say who's manning her?

Her own crew!

Second officer, chief engineer...13 others.

- We're sending a tug to meet her.
- Grand. Thanks very much.

She's on her way to the Clyde.

Ah, look me up a train to Glasgow.

- Well, what do you think of that?
- I was thinking this...

if a crew from another ship had brought her home,

they'd stand to get a packet of salvage money.

But as it's our own chaps, the poor devils won't be entitled to a penny.

Trust you to think of the main chance!

- But it doesn't seem fair, does it?
- It does not.

Wait a pip, I've a hazy idea

there was a case where the crew reboarded...

And got salvage money for bringing their own ship home?

I've never heard of that.

Well, this fella has.

- One o'clock from Euston, Mr Dodds.
- Thanks. Ah, here we are.

Dr Lushington ruled in the case of the Florence

that a crew can reboard its own ship as salvers provided that -

one, the abandonment must be in consequence of danger

by reason of damage to ship and state of the elements.

I imagine that's putting it mildly.

Two, the abandonment must be bona fide

and carried out under the orders of the master.

We know George Waite well enough to be certain about that.

Three, the master must not be among those who reboard the ship.

He wasn't because he's in Newfoundland.

- There you are! They get it.
- Oh, here's a bit more.

Should the crew accept the assistance of any other vessel,

the claim for salvage would lie in favour of this vessel

- and not of the original crew.
- The tug. The tug!
- What tug?

They said they're sending a tug.

You can bet your boots our lads don't know they're entitled to salvage.

And if they take a tow,

the poor fools won't get a brass farthing.

San Demetrio!

Hello, what's this fellow after?


Orders from the Admiralty to tow you into Rothesay.

Well, son, that's the end of your first voyage.

It looks as if I've got to stand you that pint of 4X after all, Yank.


Make it a barrel.

Boy, am I going to get stinkin'!

I'd like to know how they expect me to tow a ship your size.

Who the hell's asking you to?

We can manage all right as we are.

Spoken like a sailor. But it'll take you a long time.

- How many knots can you make?
- 9!

I can make 12.

It is right and proper

and a part of my duty which I shall gladly discharge

to recognise to the full the courage, devotion and sacrifice

of each of these men.

I have decided that there should be shared among them,

in proportion to the services rendered,

salvage money totalling £14,700.


And there is another matter that I should like to mention.

The crew have unanimously asked that the ship's Red Ensign

should be presented to Preston, known to them as Yank.

- Stuff to give him, mate.
- Oh, Yank.

He will remember, as we in England will remember,

that except when it was lowered for the burial of John Boyle,

this ensign flew at the mainmast of the San Demetrio

throughout her misfortunes.

And that it still flew

when at last she came steaming up the sheltered waters of the Clyde.

I should not like to leave this case without thanking everybody concerned

for having given me the best working day of my life,

in listening to the very modest recital of some gallant gentlemen

concerning a memorable achievement.