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Haunted Cabin and Murder on Orsova

This week I was contacted by Henry Chalder who joined P&O around the same time as I did in 1973. Henry joined ORSOVA. His experience on her was rather scary and sad.

Henry's Story

In 1973 I had joined the P&O ship ss Orsova as a bedroom steward and was to share a cabin with 8 others. When I went to the cabin for the first time I only found one crew member there, the rest had been sacked. Later there were replacements for the sacked crew, they all seemed OK but after a few weeks sharing the cabin, I noticed odd behaviour by some.

A four-berth tourist cabin on ss Orsova. Imagine how cramped an eight berth crew cabin must have been back in 1973.

SS Orsova, was built by Vickers Armstrong in Barrow-in-Furness,

in 1954

One of them accused me of getting the cockroaches after him? It resulted in me having a scrap with him in which I was the victor, but there were problems with other members of the cabin, one of them threatened to put pins through my eyelids whilst I was asleep.

During the time I was in the cabin things seemed to have got worse, their behaviour seemed abnormal after a while and indisciplined. One day I was dosing off to sleep in my bunk and two members were getting ready to go on shift and were chatting whilst doing so, during which time I fell asleep, I had a strange dream of a dwarf brown cloaked individual that had just walked up the gangway, I started to talk to this individual who seemed completely ignorant of me, but I carried on talking mentioning the ships I'd been on and names of people I had known during that time.

The dwarf-like creature pulled out a silver salver and started to throw objects into the salver and puffs of coloured smoke started to appear, all the time this dream was going on I appeared to have 2 minds, one looking down on myself, the other the speaker. It all culminated in me running away from whatever the dwarf was up to in fear, getting into a lift and jumping off the side of the ship but waking before I hit the water.

I awoke in a sweat but expecting to see the two who had been chatting as if the chatting to myself in the dream had something to do with their conversation as I was now in possession of some quite personal information of the ships and the persons of possibly one of the two from the dream.

When I confronted the two who were talking in the cabin that evening, I told them of my dream and the information I had received about one of them, they retorted that they had discussed the ships they had been on and of whom they'd known whilst on duty but not in the cabin, at the other end of the ship!

SS Orsova was named after Orșova, which is a port city on the Danube in southwestern Romania. It is situated just above the Iron Gates, at the point where the Cerna River meets the Danube. Orsova's bow featured the Iron Gates as a figurehead.

I later mentioned the dream to other members of the cabin who had also had a similar dream that resulted in them running to a lift getting out of the lift and diving over the side of the ship!

Later during cruising a member of the cabin had to be sedated because he was having hallucinations in the cabin like blood running down the bulkheads and a band playing on the ceiling, he was taken to the sickbay and apart from a brief period back at work he never worked again.

We all started to talk about our experiences in the cabin after that and about our trouble sleeping, we thought there was something wrong with the cabin as we were all having nightmares by now, all except one person. He was Armstrong, a quiet unassuming man who never talked much and seemed quite oblivious of what was going on.

At the end of the cruising, I immediately asked to be transferred to another cabin and was refused by the Petty Officer as all the members of the cabin had asked for transfers all except Armstrong.

The Petty Officer enquired as to what was going on in the cabin, I told him there was something evil about the cabin, he promised to transfer me after the next cruise. I just couldn't wait and wandered around crew accommodation for a spare bunk in another cabin and found one. From that day on I had uninterrupted sleep. I did just one more week cruise and signed off the ship. A week later I read a small article in the Telegraph that there had been a murder on the SS Orsova, it was Armstrong, he'd been stabbed in the chest, the captain had turned the ship to the nearest port to try to get better medical help but he died on the way. A few months later the ship was sent to scrap.

Orsova was withdrawn from service at the end of 1973. She was sold to shipbreakers in Taiwan and arrived at Kaohsiung on 14 February 1974 to be broken up

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One of the replies was as follows

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Barry Armstrong
Barry Armstrong

I was an ABS on Orsova at that time. This happened in November 1973 when we had left Bridgetown Barbados. The first I heard about it was at breakfast when I asked who had been stabbed I was told Barry Armstrong. I said it can't be his name I'm Barry Armstrong. Cut a long story short I found an officer and told him my name. I was immediately taken to see the Skipper and they checked the crew manifest, sure enough there were two of us with the same name. The Skipper immediately ordered the radio officer to send a signal to P&O head office so that the welfare people could contact my parents in case it got into t…

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