"Walker" moaned Rosser, as he stumbled through the stateroom door of the Stirling Castle mopping his face with a cold towel, "I am a sick son-of-a-bitch - what day is it anyway? How long do you suppose we are going to be on this damn tug." Walker told him they were still two days out. Their passage on the Stirling Castle was to take from February 10th 1943 to February 20th 1943.
The afternoon of Saturday February 20th brought shocking news, the Yankee Clipper on which Rosser and Walker had tried to book for air passage from Montreal to London, had crashed in Portugal, killing fifteen passengers and seriously injuring ten others. A German radio broadcast had previously claimed on February 17th that a British passenger-cargo vessel out of New York bound for Europe and carrying a group of oil technicians had been sent to the bottom. Obviously wrong, but the story of the oil technicians struck horror in the heart and mind of Bernice Rosser.
February in the North Atlantic is not pleasant at the best of times but here too was another menace lurking under the waves. So it was with great joy that the news that land was sighted on Friday 19th February and it was shortly after lunchtime on Saturday that the Stirling castle with Rosser and Walker onboard docked in Liverpool.
and Rosser checked into the Adelphi Hotel In Liverpool where they were
introduced to wartime rationing for the first time, Rosser had found
that Scotch was particularly difficult to come by. Also after a trip
out he announced to Walker "these sons-of-bitches drive on the
wrong side of the road."
However Rosser's introduction to war torn England became even more shocking, when he learned that the whole of the business portion of Liverpool and much of the surrounding industrial area had been flattened by the Luftwaffe.
Wartime photograph of Liverpool showing the destruction
On the Sunday Walker and Rosser went to church where they found that the stained glass windows had been removed and the openings boarded up. On Monday February 22nd [Gene Rosser's 31st birthday], with the help of the Thomas Cook travel agent they boarded the Liverpool to London Express and at 11:30am they arrived at Victoria Station, the station buildings lay in a crumpled heap. Both checked into the Russell Hotel in Russell Square. They took a taxi to Finsbury Circus where they took detours around the heaps of dust and rubble and observed the business offices wore solid board fronts. The courage and fortitude of the Londoners, after three years of war impressed Walker and Rosser. Finally they arrived at Britannic House, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company headquarters in London.
Walker and Rosser meet Philip Southwell and discover their destination
At Britannic House they met Philip Southwell for the first time , Southwell had come in from the field to specifically meet them. The three of them dined out on Gene Rosser's birthday at the R A C Club, the wartime menu consisted of boiled salt beef, braised pigeon, jugged hare with port wine sauce. The conversation centred around the loss of the Yankee Clipper in Portugal.
On Tuesday they met with the Board Chairman and other important directors, this was the first time they learned the closely guarded secret. On a large wall map they were shown the area known as Sherwood Forest. It lay between the cities of Nottingham and Lincoln and the town of Southwell (sometimes pronounced 'Suthle'). No connection with Philip Southwell.
They felt ready to pick up the 'English Project'. Rosser said to Southwell "With the help of our buddies we'll kick the hell out of the Nazis". Southwell replied "We will do it with Oil from Britain's own oilfields".