Photo of the Week
December 30, 2007
This week's image/photo is a historical and very interesting find. A CZ Images visitor from the UK recently wrote me telling me about his Dad's trip on our beloved S.S. Cristobal during WWII. This wasn't a pleasure cruise as many of us Zonians remember, but during war time when the S.S. Cristobal was called to duty as a U.S. Army Transport Ship (U.S.A.T.). This is a great find in the history of our old S.S. Cristobal.
Michael Picket is the CZ Images contributor for this wonderful piece of history. Michael writes in his emails to me:
"My father told me that when he traveled on the Cristobal it had an American crew. The ship had to travel down the West coast of Africa as the Mediterranean was two dangerous a route to Egypt due to German and Italian submarine activity.
They stopped in Port Elizabeth in South Africa and had shore leave with some of the crew. The had quite an interesting time in the bars on shore! It took some persuading to assure the American crewmen they would be welcome in the bars that had signs declaring 'Europeans Only.'
The certificate is signed 'E. J. Essersun, Master, Commander of the Wind and Waves, American', along with the signatures of two British officers. The certificate was for crossing the equator for the first time. It is dated June 1942 so it does not seem correct that the Cristobal commenced service as US Army Transport in July of the same year."
"Here is a scanned image of the Proclamation given to father when the U.S.A.T. Cristobal was a troop ship. As you can see it is dated June 1942 at in 'A SECRET LONGITUDE'.
My father Geoff Pickett was, at the time, a company Sgt Major in the Queens Royal West Surrey regiment. This was the oldest regular infantry regiment in the British army, having been formed in 1670.
According to Geoff he enjoyed the voyage out to Egypt on the Cristobal, as the food was excellent and the American crew friendly and hospitable. At the end of October of '42 British forces in North Africa had their first decisive victory over the German army at the Battle of El Alamein. My father was severely wounded in the battle, was briefly a prisoner of the Germans, until his company counter attacked to regain their positions. He ended up in a military hospital in Jerusalem and made a full recovery.
The Proclamation was carried in his Soldier's Pay Book through these events. It's a bit fragile."
Shown below is a photo of what the
U.S.A.T. Cristobal looked like when serving the war effort.
Thank you contributors!
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