A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Don Seltzer
Date: 2014 Feb 24, 13:45 -0500
Here's another story about armed guards aboard merchant ships, from a friend who joined the merchant marine as a radio operator just after WWII.
'Coming out of North Vietnam with a load of French Foreign Legion munitions in the early 1950's, we took a couple of French Moroccan Goumier troops as guards for the downriver trip. The skipper, making a sad mistake, gave them sick bay as their quarters.
Pretty soon they they had used up all the morphine they cd find in the drug locker.
Toward evening we took a little rifle fire from one of the river banks, and the Goumiers woke up and fired back, shooting out of the sick bay's portholes. They were still drugged, and pretty soon they had let the recoil of their automatic rifles drive them back from the portholes. But they kept on firing, and some of their rounds that our guards fired zinged about inside the ship.
The skipper had me send a message to the French river authorities demanding that the guards be removed. Then he told me (since I had my high school French) to tell the guards to hand over their rifles. "Donnez moi les fusils, s'il vous plait, messieurs," or something like that. (I was polite as I cd be, and, anyhow, I think they wanted to go back to finish their sleep.) '
- Charlezzzzz, noting that a little rifle fire wdn't hurt a big freighter unless it hit the helmsman. Or (oh dear) the radio operator. But nobody got hit.