Merchant Navy Radio Officer, 1943-51

Ian attended Dundee Wireless College from January to June, 1943 and, with a Special PMG, joined Alfred Holt & Co. Liverpool with whom he remained throughout his time at sea.

On 8 July, 1943, he sailed from Greenock as a passenger on the Queen Elizabeth to join the Samite; the subject of the first of Ian's merchant navy books. On 4 October, the Samite was between Oran and Algiers, in Convoy UGS18, when she, with high explosives in every hold except No.3, was the first British ship to be struck by a glider bomb. Fortunately, it struck No.3. On the same voyage, on 20 April, 1944, the Samite was in Convoy UGS38 when she was struck by an aerial torpedo, and the US destroyer Lansdale, the US troopship Paul Hamilton and the Royal Star were sunk.

Ian's next ship, the Samforth, sailed from Avonmouth, for Halifax, on 7 December, 1944 and, after loading at Saint John, NB, she joined Convoy UGS75 which dispersed on entering the Mediterranean. This 10-month voyage was more of a grand tour, visiting Egypt, India, Mozambique, Uruguay, Argentina, Orkney, Norway and Finland.

After another spell at Dundee Wireless College to gain a 2nd Class PMG, Ian joined the Samnesse and, having done a brief voyage to the Continent, was promoted 1st R/O and Purser. The ensuing voyage lasted 11 months with the ship carrying, first, South African Army material and then coal. Ian then went to Leith Nautical College and returned to Holts with a 1st Class PMG and Radar Operator's Certificate.

Subsequent deep-sea voyages were on the Atreus (pilgrims to Jeddah homeward), the Glengarry (four voyages to the Far East) and the Deucalion (Australia and Indonesia).

On leaving the Merchant Navy, Ian stuck a clerical job in Dundee for two years before serving a year at Wickradio followed by two years at Portisheadradio. In 1956 he left to train as a teacher at Edinburgh University and Moray House. He retired in 1987 after 26 years in teaching, 22 as a Head of Department of Modern Studies in Viewforth High School, Kirkcaldy.

During his retirement, he has written his seagoing memoirs, all of which have been published in The Nautical Magazine of Glasgow, from 1993 to 2003. In 2005 his book 'Dundee Memories' was published by Birlinn and most recently 'Life Aboard a Wartime Liberty Ship' was published by Amberley in October 2010.

If you want to contact Ian, you can email him at

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