Bitter Recognition in the Great Bitter Lake by Pat Dowd

One of the last days before graduation, four inmates at Residence were having dinner together. Not unexpectedly, their conversation was about future jobs, plans and holidays.

The most exotic project was described by Patrick Dowd. After his brother Bob arrived from the US, they would travel with Russel Pollack to the Suez Canal to do some diving. Somewhat surprised, the friends asked for more details. Well, he explained, one of my family’s cargo ships has been sunk in the Suez Canal by the Israeli army and we want to investigate how badly the hull is damaged in order to decide, whether it could be salvaged and if so, how that could be done.

This drew the attention of On Hoter-Ishay, one of the Israeli colleagues, who sat at the table as well. He asked Pat what the ship looked like and where it has been sunk. Having got the descriptions he calmly and with a shy smile said: „Pat, you don’t need to go there, I can give you all the details. The hull has two bad holes from grenades, one at the water line and the second somewhat deeper. In fact I was part of the unit that shelled it.”

Small footnote: Most certainly On was the only member in our promotion who was wounded in a war. He carried deep scars on his upper body from injuries he had sustained in combat as an officer in the Israeli parachute squadron.

P.S. The day after graduation Pat, his brother Bob and Russ went to Egypt nonetheless to verify the situation. The ship had been one of the fourteen vessels trapped in the Great Bitter Lake south of Ismaelia when the 1967 war broke out and the Egyptians blocked the Suez Canal. The “S.S. African Glen”, with huge United States flags painted on both sides of the hull, was obstructing the Israelis’ view across the canal and they therefore struck it with air-to-land missiles and sunk it. Bob and Russ, both licensed scuba divers, swam into the ship through a 10 by 10 meter large hole at starboard, exactly where On said it was.

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