The Journey to Germany
LAST UPDATED OCTOBER 2007
THE EMPIRE PARKSTONE
THE EMPIRE WANSBECK
THE SS VIENNA
The journey to Germany started at Liverpool Street Station where a train waited for us. The train was made up of the most clapped out dilapidated carriages British Railways could find.
Good enough for mere National Servicemen, I'm sure the establishment thought, "toughen the buggars up a bit" This train wound it's way slowly to Parkstone Quay at Harwich where a troopship waited. Conditions on board were cramped and the crossing rarely smooth, the worst vessel being the Vienna. This was said to have a flat bottom and even small waves tossed it about like a cork.
The passengers were in bunk beds with little space. Everyone was sick on the two occasions I travelled on this boat. Dustbins were provided but overflowed onto the floor. The whole ship stank of sick. How they ever cleaned it for the return journey I will never know. Still again "good enough for our lads" the top brass must have thought.
I Holland what a relief to find clean modern trains waiting for us. These were paid for we were told by a grateful Dutch government. The trains were better than even the best in Mainland Britain. They even had dining cars where decent food was served.
The final part of the journey to Winterberg was in the back of a Magirus Truck or, if you were lucky, in a VW Kombi.
During the three years or so in Germany I made the trip about 5 times each way. Every time was stressful, tiring and one was ordered about like cattle. It was certainly one of the less attractive elements of a posting to Germany.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE SHIPS USED ON THE HARWICH/HOOK ROUTE
SS EMPIRE WANSBECK Built in 1943 it was originally named the “Linz” and was owned by North German Lloyd. It became a war prize in 1946 Completed her last Hook - Harwich crossing 26th Sep.1961 1962 sold to Kavounides Shipping, Piraeus, renamed ESPEROS and rebuilt as a passenger/car ferry. Used on the Venice - Rhodes service Later laid up near Perama until 1980 when she was towed to Gandia, Spain where she was scrapped. The “Empire Wansbeck” was the smallest of the three and in normal conditions was not a bad ship to travel on. Get a rough sea and it would bob about like a cork.
SS VIENNA. Built
1921. In 1941 it was bought from the London and North Eastern Railway and
became a hospital ship and troopship.The SS VIENNA was withdrawn from service
in July 1960 and was towed to Ghent two months later, where she was scrapped.
SS VIENNA was a name to strike fear in to the hearts of strong men when
it was the one they were to travel on. It could turn a smooth sea into
a typhoon struck ocean.
HMT EMPIRE PARKESTON