Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

War Hero Ian Set to Revisit Scene of His Great Escape

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

War Hero Ian Set to Revisit Scene of His Great Escape

Article excerpt

Byline: Mieka Smiles Reporter news@eveninggazette.co.uk

A WAR hero has been awarded the chance to revisit the scene of his dramatic escape to safety. Veteran Second World War Royal Navy coder Ian Gordon, then 19, struggled desperately to escape as his ship, the Tunsberg Castle, began to sink beneath the icy waters of a Norwegian fjord.

An exploding mine had ripped through the quarterdeck killing five men and jamming shut a solid steel door entombing Ian and his shipmate in a tiny cabin below.

The former Middlesbrough Evening Gazette journalist, now 88, said: "We hadn't been closed up at action stations long before we felt the vibration as the ship increased speed, then almost immediately afterwards there was a loud explosion. We had hit a mine.

"The steel deck came up beneath us and we were both sent sprawling. The steel door that provided our only means of escape was jammed tight shut.

"We knew the ship was sinking and we were really struggling for a while but thanks to Tony Andersen - a Norwegian telegraphist who I shared my post with and was much stronger than I was - we eventually forced the door open just enough for us to get through. It was the most frightening experience of my life."

It wasn't the first time Ian has escaped tragedy on board a ship.

He recalled: "At the beginning of June 1944 we left the Beaulieu River to join the frigate HMS.

"We gathered in the wireless office where our group signals officer unrolled a chart of the Normandy coast. He described the general plan for the invasion - our first official intimation that this was the real thing. Our group was to land the Canadians on Juno Beach.

"After the initial assault on Juno on D-Day I was off watch and fast asleep in the after mess deck when two 500lb bombs struck us amidships. Up on deck I could see that some men were already in the water, no doubt having been blown there by the explosion. …

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