All went well until joining the homeward convoy. The wintry weather was grim and visibility was poor.
The convoy consisted of 12 - 14 cargo ships and tankers but 3 were lost in one day to submarine attack. He saw a tanker break into two sections with the bow sinking within minutes. There was a navy escort which endeavoured to rescue survivors but Empire Tarpon continued to sail on to arrive at Liverpool unscathed.
After a short leave, the skipper of the Empire Tarpon insisted that Gordon return to the ship by sending a telegram “Return to ship immediately at Norwich”. This was a confusing message as “Norwich” should have read “acknowledge”. Gordon was surprised at the skipper’s insistence but it appears he valued his numeracy skills to assist with the ship’s wages and finances. Gordon nearly “missed the boat” literally when he was ashore posting a letter to Frances, when he heard the ship’s whistle. He dashed back to leap aboard into the clutches of his mate, Patrick Joyce. Absence would have resulted in a court martial.
The Atlantic Ocean can be rough at any time but it was a surprise when one of the most experienced seamen, Latvian or Estonian, fell to his death from the mast. One of the navy gunners had done a bit of first-aid and he was delegated to deal with the body. The dead seaman was wrapped in a tarpaulin with a Union Flag draped over, notwithstanding his nationality. The skipper read the burial service from the Prayer Book and the ship’s company stood silent as the body was passed over the ship’s side. After a verse of “O God, our help in ages past”, they returned to duties as the Atlantic gale continued.