Trials of the S.S. William S. Halsted, Part III

After enduring storms at sea, the William S. Halsted delivers its goods to Poland and faces yet more trials, as Robert Ebey reports:

December 10 – – – [This morning] we visited Danzig which is about 90% destroyed….

Ruins of Danzig

Peggy Reiff Miller collection, courtesy of Ray Zook

The Polish Department of Agriculture sent a truck at 1:00 p.m. to take us on a tour of Danzig, Gydinia and Sopot where we were guests for a fine banquet. Even a band was there and played many selections including Yankee Doodle.

Tugs rescue William S. Halsted

It took two tugboats to dislodge the William S. Halsted after running aground in the channel outside of Novy Port. Photo credit: Robert Ebey

December 11 – – – We weighed anchor and headed for Copenhagen, Denmark. As we were leaving the Polish ship channel leading to the Bay of Danzig, the Halsted ran aground. Two powerful tugboats were sent for and an hour later our ship was freed.

December 19 – – – ….our last day in Copenhagen and six of us took a train ride to a small town outside the big city. We visited a grade school and a cooperative farm. Now that the 6000 tons of coal are unloaded, we are heading for Sweden to take on a cargo of 4000 tons of paper pulp to be taken to Boston, Massachusetts.

Icebreaker leads the way.

An icebreaker leads the way for the William S. Halsted into the Angerman River in Sweden. A ferry had just crossed the river creating another path across. Photo credit: Robert Ebey

December 23 – – – Arrived in Harnosand, Sweden, at the mouth of the Angerman River. We are about 300 miles south of the Arctic Circle. It is WINTER! As soon as an icebreaker arrived, we started up the Angerman River….About twenty miles upriver we reached the town of Waija. The paper pulp was brought to our ship on barges towed by tugboats….

December 24 – – – By noon the last of the 700 tons of paper pulp is in the holds and again the icebreaker leads us, this time down the river.

December 27-28 – – – We are at Iggesund and take on 1200 tons of paper pulp. Shore looks so inviting, but we have no way of getting there.

December 29-January 4 – – – Our final stop in Sweden. 2100 tons of paper pulp are loaded. Luckily, we are at a regular dock so we can come and go as we wish.

January 1 [1947] – – – We attend a New Year’s evening service in the Swedish Lutheran Church in Ljusne, a town about three miles from our ship….

January 3 – – – The ladies of the Ljusne Lutheran Church in our honor prepared a truly delicious evening meal. The children sang several carols in Swedish and we did so in English….

January 4 – – – At 8:30 a.m. our anchor is raised and we are on our way home.

January 6 – – – Copenhagen Harbor again. We anchored for just a few hours to take on water, vegetables, fresh meat and milk.

January 7 – – – We are in the North Sea and are experiencing a very severe blizzard. Visibility is nearly zero. Our fog horn blows constantly at regular intervals. We just missed another tanker. We don’t need another experience like that. This is by far the roughest water of the trip. In spite of the one inch ledge all around our table the dishes crash to the floor time and time again. Ray Zook and Bob Ebey are again the only ones to escape seasickness. The ship rocks over so far we cannot sleep. We need to hang on to keep from rolling off our bunks.

Ice on William S. Halsted

Ice coats the William S. Halsted after sailing through two snow storms. Photo credit: Robert Ebey

January 17 – – – Another severe snow storm has made walking on deck very difficult and hazardous. Our captain has ordered us to walk back and forth only for meals.

January 19 – – – At last the ocean has calmed down. We can now be out on deck at any time. The bow is covered with thick ice.

January 23 – – – Docked in Boston at 10:00 a.m….

January 24 – – – HOME AT LAST! Three and a half months away from home on a six weeks leave of absence.

 

Next post: The vessels used: Liberty and Victory ships converted into livestock carriers

 

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Trials of the S.S. William S. Halsted, Part II

We resume Robert Ebey’s account of the 1946 voyage of the SS. William S. Halsted, repaired and reloaded after its collision with the Esso Camden.

November 19 – – – At last we again get underway at 12:40 p.m. The day is bright and sunny. Beautiful!

Sunshine in the Gulf Stream.

Cowboys soak up the sun. Photo credit: Robert Ebey.

November 21-22 – – – The Gulf Stream brings warm summerlike weather.

Storm on the Atlantic

Waves toss the William S. Halsted around on the Atlantic Ocean. Photo credit: Robert Ebey

November 23 – – – Storm at sea! Our neat piles of hay and straw topple over creating a grand mess. No cattle are injured, but two are perched on top of the toppled bales and are about eight feet above the floor. They had no other place they could go and their stalls were full of the toppled bales. Very extensive damage was done to the stalls on deck. Only Ray Zook and Bob Ebey escaped seasickness.

Waves damage cattle shed.

Waves tear apart cattle sheds on the William S. Halsted. Photo credit: Robert Ebey

December 1 – – – Another terrible storm. A giant wave broke the outside wall of the cattle stalls. Twenty upright 2 by 4’s (spaced two feet apart) in a row were broken.

December 3 – – – In the English Channel all day.

December 7 – – – We reached the Copenhagen, Denmark, Harbor and anchored for 24 hours. We took on fresh vegetables, milk and water.

December 9 – – – We reached Nova Port, Poland….

Entering Nowy Port, Poland.

A tugboat pulls the William S. Halsted into the waterway at Nowy Port, Poland, December 9, 1946. Peggy Reiff Miller collection, courtesy of Ray Zook.

Next post: Trials of the S.S. William S. Halsted, Part III

Trials of the S.S. William S. Halsted, Part I

Thank you, readers, for your patience! After a grueling month of moving, house closings, etc., I’m in and loving my new office space and am excited to be back at work! Now, the promised story on the trials of the SS William S. Halsted.

Robert Ebey

Robert Ebey on the William S. Halsted, November 1946. Photo credit: Ray Zook

Seagoing Cowboy Robert Ebey has left a gem of a record of this November 1946 journey in his mimeographed booklet “A Trip to Poland with Brethren Service Heifers.” Ebey begins with a summary of the trip, which I share with you now in three parts.

Part I

September – – – Granted six weeks leave of absence from the Woodland, Michigan, Church of the Brethren pastorate to go to Europe with one of the shipments of heifers for relief….None of the heifers we were to take had been purchased by UNRRA. All had been donated by the churches of America and by such groups as Lions, Rotary, Kiwanis, etc. Because of this, we had a picked crew. The New Windsor, Maryland, Heifer Shipment Office sent word that the shipment was ready to go but was being delayed by a Maritime strike. We were to be ready to leave home on 24 hours notice.

October 10 (noon) – – – I received a telegram indicating that the strike was “just over” so I should leave at once.

October 11 – – – I got on the train and headed for Baltimore, Maryland.

October 12-30 – – – The Maritime strike continued. Each morning and evening the news reported, “We expect settlement within the next few hours.”

November 1 – – – The strike is over. We got on board the William S. Halsted and immediately began bedding down the stalls and distributing watering pails, brackets and garden hoses.

Loading heifers, 1946

Heifers are guided into the “flying stall” to be lifted aboard the William S. Halsted. Photo credit: Robert Ebey.

Flying stall lifts heifer on ship.

The “flying stall” lifts heifers onto the William S. Halsted. Photo credit: Robert Ebey.

November 2 – – – Cattle loading started early and was completed by 3:30 p.m. The anchor was raised at 8:20 p.m. And we were finally on our way.

 

 

 

Shortly after 11:00 p.m., we felt a terrific bump to our ship. We learned we had crashed into the Esso Camden, a Standard Oil tanker laden with aviation gasoline. Both ships were set on fire by the explosion. Our fire was very insignificant just a few scorched cows and a few bales of hay. The Esso Camden soon had the help of some fire boats, but still burned out of control for several hours.

Esso Camden catches fire

Courtesy of Robert Ebey.

November 3-5 – – – Our ship returned to the Baltimore Harbor, but we were not allowed to leave the ship until the insurance men completed their investigations.

Damage to William S. Halsted.

Seagoing cowboys survey the damage to their ship, the William S. Halsted, November 1946. Peggy Reiff Miller collection, courtesy of Ray Zook.

November 6 – – – The cattle were unloaded and placed in the Baltimore stockyards. We “sea-going cowboys” were given lodging in the Anchorage YMCA and $2.50 per day for meals….

November 7-15 – – – The William S. Halsted is in drydock while repairs are made.

November 16-18 – – – We are back on board the Halsted. Fuel oil, water are loaded. At 7:30 p.m., November 18, the cattle loading again begins.

Next post: The Trials of the William S. Halsted, Part II