The Red Duster The Merchant Navy Crest

ss CITY OF CAIRO

A tribute to the British Merchant Navy - they also served!

The Ellerman Hall vessel ss CITY OF CAIRO torpedoed on 6th November 1942

No.7 Boat Log

Below is a verbatim account from the original log of Leslie Boundy. I have not altered it in anyway. My thanks to Leslie's granddaughter Lorraine Leicester.


Second Officer L. Boundy

2nd Officer L. Boundy MBE.

Friday 6th November 1942.

8.25pm Vessel struck by torpedo at No. 4 or 5 hatch. All lights extinguished, abandon ship signal given verbally. No.2 boat capsized and No.3 boat blown to pieces by second torpedo at about 8.50pm. No's 1,4,5,6,7 & 8 boats away safely, boats stood by all night picking up survivors from rafts and wreckage, boats overcrowded, No.7 boats rudder blown away by explosion, submarine challenged No.6 boat for information.

Saturday 7th November 1942.

Day opens with light airs, smooth sea, long swell. Conference held with Captain Rogerson. Having saved my sextant we decide to make for St Helena, course North, 460 miles. Boats started on our long journey under oars and sails, my boat steering by oar. Salvaged small raft containing 6 gallons of water and some foodstuffs. Total persons in boat 54, salvaged one piece timber from raft. Water and food strictly rationed owing to over-loading of boat. 5pm all boats made fast to one another for night. Noon position lat. 23 07S long. 5 00W.

Sunday 8th November 1942.

Day opens with light airs, rippled sea, long swell. Boats proceeded independently under oars and sails, water and food strictly rationed, bailing day and night. All natives reluctant to work, all people suffering from swollen, dried and cracked lips, morale good.

Noon. Breeze freshened to moderate SE trades, oars shipped, still steering by oar, very heavy work. No observations this day. 5pm, all boats tied up for night. One native, Glam Roussel died. Body committed to the deep. Cause of death, exposure and drinking seawater.

Monday 9th November 1942.

Day opens with moderate breeze, choppy sea, long swell. All boats sailing independently. Rations strictly adhered to. Wind freshening, steering by oar becoming very heavy, hands getting blistered, an extra oar set to help steering. My watch checked with Captain Rogerson's for GMT. Bailing continuously. Noon position lat. 22 07S long. 5 00W Distance to go 374 miles. 5pm, boats tied together for night. Side screen set up on weather side to help stop water from getting into boat, and give a little comfort to those people on the weather side. Took on board one native from No.5 boat, total in boat 55 persons. Swollen lips most painful. Children crying for water continuously.

Tuesday 10th November 1942.

Day opens with a fresh SE trade wind, rough sea, heavy swell. Boats sailing independently. Checked my watch for GMT. Took on board Mr. & Mrs. Rooksby from No.4 boat which was shipping water badly. Total in boat 57 persons. Bailing continuously. Shipping water and sprays. Still steering with oars, hands terribly blistered. Noon position 21 37S 6 16W. Course 299 degrees 50 miles, to go 359 degrees 350 miles. Rations slightly decreased owing to extra people in boat, water rationed to 6oz. per day per person. Morale still quite good, a few people sea sick and feeling the effect of sun burn, a small ration of Borasic ointment issued to worst cases, mostly women and children. 5pm, boats tied up for night. Swollen lips painful. All boats laying to sea anchor, decided children could have an extra 2oz of water at midday.

Wednesday 11th November 1942.

Day opens with moderate SE trades. Rough sea, heavy swell, boats sailing independently, still steering with oars, hands all blistered and torn. Jury rudder constructed from piece of salvaged plank, four brass eye screws and two six inch bolts and nuts. Mr Silcock passenger went over side and connected bottom bearing pintle. Commenced steering with Jury rudder, a huge success, those with blistered hands overjoyed including myself, rudder nursed as much as possible. Effects of exposure being felt by all, morale still good. Too rough to tie up for night, boats sailed independently, contact kept by flashing lights.

Thursday 12th November 1942.

Day opens with strong SE trades, rough sea and heavy swell. Watch checked for GMT. Mrs. Rooksby contracted a severe chill, brandy and water given, medical advice requested from Doctor, advice, same as treatment given. Mrs. Davies suffering from swollen feet, massaged with oil by Miss Birchman whom I put in charge of medicine chest. Jury rudder standing up to strain, morale still good, all people suffering from sun burn. Noon position lat. 21 24S long. 6 41W. To go 010 degrees 329 miles. 3pm Reverend Davies had severe heart attack, brandy given. Too rough to tie up, boats sailed independently, contact kept by lights. Swollen lips very painful.

Friday 13th November 1942.

Day opens with moderate breeze, rough sea, heavy swell. Boats sailing independently. Jury rudder still standing strain. Watch checked for GMT. Water and foodstuffs checked, no extra ration possible. Mrs Rooksby still sick, treatment continues with a little extra water when necessary which I could ill afford. Reverend Davies very languid. Swollen lips painful. Noon position lat. 20 53S long. 6 22W. Made good 057 degrees 37 miles, to go 008 degrees 302 miles. Boats sailing independently at night, contact kept by lights.

Saturday 14th November 1942.

Day opens with a gentle SE wind, slight sea and long low swell. Only one boat sighted well astern. Sailed all day, at 3pm dropped mainsail and awaited following boat. Mrs Rooksby much better, brandy and extra water stopped. Mr Davies much better. Exposure telling on all in boat, sunburn very painful for most people especially women and children, ointments still issued to serious cases. Mr. Silcock developed swollen feet, massaged by Miss Birchman. Swollen lips very painful. Noon position lat. 20 18S long. 6 30W. Made good 009 degrees 36 miles, to go 009 degrees 272 miles. 5pm, boat No.5 with Captain Rogerson arrived alongside, no sign of other boats. Both boats sailed independently, contact kept by lights.

Sunday 15th November 1942.

Day opens with a light SE breeze, moderate sea, long swell. No.5 boat in sight, consultation held and we decided to tow No.5 boat until dark, engine started and set at quarter throttle, both boats with sails up to assist engine as much as possible (20 gallons petrol in tanks). Mr. Gerner collapsed due to exhaustion, medical aid requested and Doctor boarded, brandy given at first then Sal Volatile with extra water, one hour later Doctor returned to No.5 boat, leaving medical advice. Noon position lat. 19 37S long. 6 25W. Made good 006 degrees 41 miles, to go 010 degrees 220 miles. Mrs Rooksby much better. 7pm ceased towing for night, found petrol used was half an inch per hour.

Monday 16th November 1942.

Day opens with light breeze, slight sea, moderate swell. No.5 boat in sight. Mr. Gerner much easier, brandy and extra water still given. 7am, resumed towing No.5 boat at quarter throttle and sail set. Morale still good although suffering from exposure and lack of water and food, strict rationing enforced. Noon position lat. 18 35S long. 5 15W. Made good 031 degrees 73 miles, to go 001 degrees 160 miles. 3pm one native jumped overboard, turned boat around, rescued him, then proceeded. 5pm ceased towing No.5 boat. Slight engine trouble. 8pm one native Eni Toolar died, body committed to the deep, cause of death, exposure and drinking seawater. Sailing independently, contact kept with lights.

Tuesday 17th November 1942.

Day opens with light breeze, slight sea and swell. No.5 boat in sight at daylight. Mr. Gerner making good progress, treatment continued. Morale still good, people suffering silently. Water and food checked, no extra allowance possible, promised extra water as soon as St Helena was sighted, morale stiffened by promise. Noon position lat. 17 50S long. 5 40W. Made good 016 degrees 46 miles, to go 354 degrees 115 miles. Bailing continues. Rudder still holding out but showing signs of strain, careful nursing required for same to last out. Contact kept by lights that night.

Wednesday 18th November 1942.

Day opens with a gentle breeze, slight sea and swell. No.5 boat in sight. Mr. Gerner recovered but still weak, treatment stopped. Noon position lat. 17 00S long. 5 27W. Made good 003 degrees 50 miles, to go 348 degrees 66 miles. To increase morale, I told people that with good luck we should sight St Helena at daylight, the effect was wonderful, all cheering and trying to sing. Rudder still holding out. At 8pm top brass eye screws were pulled out of planking, temporary repairs made to rudder, but little hope was held for repair lasting. Mr. Gerner had relapse. Contact kept with lights at night.

Thursday 19th November 1942.

Day opens with light breeze, slight sea and swell. Mr. Gerner recovered.

Daylight. Sighted the Island of St Helena right ahead. As soon as it was verified, I issued my promised extra water, which cheered the people no end. At 8am a ship was sighted on our Starboard beam, smoke floats and flares were fired, which were answered by the ship, who turned out to be the Clan Alpine. Our position then was 30 miles SSW of St Helena. I immediately gave permission for all the water to be used up, which did not take long to do as I only had four gallons left. At 9am, I went alongside the Clan Alpine and all people were taken on board, 55 persons in all including myself. Jury rudder broke off altogether alongside the Clan Alpine. Boat taken on board ship. We landed at St Helena at 2pm and all taken to hospital. Total distance covered 600 miles.

Boat's company consisted of
Name Position
28 Natives
L. Boundy Second Officer
R. Gerner Second Engineer
L. Mountain Assistant Engineer
D. Dick Assistant Engineer
M. Campbell Carpenter
H. Porterfield Gunner
J. Martin Gunner
A. Cockerill Gunner
R. Morris Gunner
Miss B. Birchman Passenger
Mr. W. Rooksby Passenger
Mrs. W. Rooksby Passenger
Mr. Dickie Passenger
Mrs. Dickie Passenger
Rev. R. Waddell Passenger
Rev. Davis Passenger
Mrs. Davies & 2 children Passengers
Mr. P. Jaspar Passenger
Mrs. P. Jaspar Passenger
Master. M. Jaspar Passenger
Mr. F. Dieckhaus Passenger
Mrs. F. Dieckhaus & child Passengers
Mr. F. Turner Passenger
Mr. R. Skea Passenger
Mr. A. Green Passenger
Mr. A. Silcock Passenger


Total 57 Persons