Ten crewmen from four British ships stranded in the Great Bitter Lake on the Suez Canal since the Middle East war in June 1967 have been brought home to England by the Captain of one of the vessels, Tom Payton.
GV & GV PAN BOATS IN CANAL
MV of Captain with Interviewer
"What did you see happening?"
----I'm very pleased we've got our men out of that place.
Interview with Captain Payton (sound) with overlaid shots of stranded vessels, Israeli patrol boat, night shelling between Israeli and Arab forces, crews relaxing on board stranded vessels.
TRANSCRIPT: SEQ. 3:
REPORTER: "What did you see happening?"
CAPTAIN PAYTON: "We saw the Israelis obviously intent on destroying one target in the Egyptian side. We believe this was a missile base because we actually saw missiles being fired from there.
REPORTER: Did you see the rockets taking off?
CPT. PAYTON. You couldn't see the rockets..they travelled at a fantastic speed, but you can see the vapour trail they make. I only saw this once, but some of the crew who had been there some time saw them fired several times.
REP: And the Israeli aircraft were bombing them pretty hard, were they/
CAPT. PAYTON: They were determined to put this out of action before it became too much of a serious threat, deviously. They didn't like this at all.
REP: Were they flying fairly close to your ships?
CPT. PAYTON: I didn't see them flying close to the ships. I heard them on one occasion, and one of the ship's officers told me it was quite frightening. They were flying about 50 feet above the water and he really thought one of these planes was going to hit the ship.
REP: And at times, I gather, there were shells as well, whistling overhead.
CPT. PAYTON: I didn't experience any gunfire directly over the ship, but I was told by the ship's officers that they have heard the shells whining overhead, when they have an artillery duel which apparently take place spasmodically. I saw some artillery fire at nighttime from the northern end of the lake. Of course you could hear it, and at times it was sufficient to wake you up 1/2
REPORTER: All this must have provided very severe living for the for the ten crew who were left on these ships
CPT. PAYTON: Yes, well of course it was an interesting experience for them. They were all pleased to have been there, but they were jolly glad to get out of it in the long run. It was not amusing, because you got the very high temperatures..a feeling of being completely cut off. Rather like being in prison really. They had very limited activities..they could visit other ships, they could have sailing races with them. There was a wonderful feeling between the various nationalities.
REPORTER: How would you describe the position now in the canal zone, Having spent a week there.
CAPTAIN PAYTON Well, it's a jolly good place not to be. It could be extremely dangerous if the war increases. I'm very pleased we've got our men out of that place."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Ten crewmen from four British ships stranded in the Great Bitter Lake on the Suez Canal since the Middle East war in June 1967 have been brought home to England by the Captain of one of the vessels, Tom Payton.
Altogether, there are fourteen ships stranded in the Great Bitter Lake. The British vessels are now left completely abandoned with the return home of the remaining ten crew. Captain Payton, who spent a week on the ships arranging the homecoming, spoke of his experiences:-