After a decent leave, Gordon and his mate Patrick Joyce were posted to an old American cargo ship, the Empire Tarpon. This was operated by MOWT (Ministry of War Transport). He understood the vessel had been laid up for years but now thrown into service on the Trans-Atlantic convoys. Life on board was somewhat frugal and Gordon suspected the Chief Steward of short-changing the rations by making illegal arrangements with onshore chandlers who paid him with drink. He had the habit of parading around the ship at 0600 shouting “Business as usual, business as usual!” He also referred to Gordon as “that clerical gentleman” knowing that Gordon was numerate and had rumbled his plans. Supplies of food were so scarce that for several days, instead of bread and potatoes, they had beetroot three times a day, breakfast, lunch and supper. Gordon was so hungry on one occasion that he stole a loaf from the officers’ mess and he and his five mates devoured it. He subsequently had sympathy with anyone stealing food in similar circumstances but carried a sense of guilt for the rest of his life. He never ate beetroot again.
They sailed in convoy towards the American coast where American escorts were to accompany them to Galveston to pick up steel, timber and cotton.