The photo above shows the sad burial on Washington Island in 1964, after the M.V. Southbank had stranded, and the second Officer, died after returning to the wreck. The photo was supplied by Bill Kennedy, who was the second electrician, and one of the lads around the graveside. A previous grave is in the foreground.
THE FOLLOWING IS A FIRST HAND ACCOUNT BY Bill Kennedy ONE OF THE SURVIVORS.
Here we go again, well the big day finally arrived and the U.S coast guard cutter Winnebago turned up to rescue us. Apparently they were all getting a medal for their effort, at least that was the “scuttlebutt” going around.
The problem was that we had to row out past the surf line to get to the Winnebago’s life boats, we were then brought back to the cutter and taken aboard. All the luggage was heaped on deck and the deck lieutenant was
there to sort it out. In 1964 the American attitude was that blacks were less than rubbish, (if you know what I mean) . There we had this big pile of luggage on the mid ship deck and the Officer in charge overseeing the
removal of excess cargo. All the crew luggage? seemed to be to much. Treadle sewing machines, ten gallon buckets full of as he saw it as rubbish. All it took from him was a pointed finger and the words “that over the side”
and the pile went down to next to nothing. We kept our gear, not that there was much of it. We were put up in the crew accommodation while the crew slept in the helicopter hanger. It took us 3 days to get to Honolulu, but
every day at noon we stopped and the nets were put over the side and the crew could have a swim. The second day ( I think) we were given a depth charge demonstration. We (all of us officers) sat up at the
helicopter deck, feet through the hand rails waiting for the demo. Over the tannoy we heard, object bearing red, sector 5 , depth x fathoms. The depth charge crew raced out and set up the charge on its cradle. The
lieutenant set the depth gauge on the depth charge and “WHOOSH” off it went. It had no longer left the cradle than he yelled out “I have only set it for 6 fathoms”. Well I’ll tell you my friend, the arse of the Winnebago
went down like a speed boat and took off like a rocket. The Winnebago crew were shitting themselves and ran down to the fantail (stern) they thought maybe the explosion might have damaged the propellers or the shaft.
Anyway no harm was done.
One of the nights we were aboard the electrical person (electrical officer or what his position was) came to us and said he had an electrical problem. He took us to to his workshop and showed us his drawings, for the
equipment that was causing the problem. On the top of the drawings was stamped “Top Secret”. We sorted out the problem which took about an hour or so. No more about the 3 day voyage aboard the Winnebago except to say
that the crew being coloured were definitely not welcomed aboard.
We arrived in Honolulu and were put up in the Alexander Young hotel, where we stayed for 3 days. Anyway in the coarse of the stay we were treated to a luau in the Hawaiian village which was great. I was sitting in my room
when McNair knocked on my door and came in. “How are you going , did you get any souvenirs off the ship” he said, No nothing I said, well here is something for you, and he gave me the engine room clock, which I still have
to this day. He also had the bridge clock and the barometer, I tell you these Aussies will steal anything, nailed down or not. The clock I still have today is still running but occasionally it goes a bit dolally guess it misses the
motion of the ship or something. Weird!!!!
We flew back to London via San Francisco, New York and finally London. We were booked into a hotel, what a change in temperature from terrific hot to bitter cold. Next day we were taken to the Bank line offices, where I was
taken to the boardroom and in front of 5 of my peers and had a gruelling 4 hours of questions. Thus the enquiry had begun. ” Why did you go back to the ship on the copra boat when you had already been ashore, etc etc.
No sooner had you started to answer when someone would break in and ask you something else. By the time we were finished my head was spinning. Every time I came home from a trip I had to go to Edinburgh for
another round. There was a wee guy taking it down in shorthand and he would jump up and ask me to repeat my answer. In 5 years I went to Edinburgh 4 times. The last time I went the same wee guy would jump up and go
through his usual routine, I was sick of this constant interruption and I got up and walked over to him and said “if you interrupt me again I will put you flat on your fucking arse” and that was the end of the inquest for me.
Every time I went I was afraid of 1 question, but it was never asked, was Billy Mackintosh wearing his life jacket. We had taken them off because they were a nuisance and cumbersome.
So there ends the whole sorry tail of the M.V Southbank.
You know a weird thing happened years later, I was working in Indonesia and was in Singapore on R&R, and I was sitting in a bar and I got talking to a guy next to me. The usual conversation – what do you do for a quid etc etc. Anyway
the conversation ended up about the sea. I said my first trip I was shipwrecked. What ship was that he said, and I said the Southbank. Did anything happen he said, I said that the second mate was killed. What happened?
I said the second mate had his throat cut passing through the V in the sling. What was his name? he asked, Billy MacKintosh I said. He asked me a few more questions where did he live etc, anyway at the finish up he thanked me
and said things were much clearer now, and then he dropped his bomb shell. He said he was Billy MacKintosh’s uncle.and that Billy was his nephew. How was that for coincidence. Weird!!!!