Deciding not to wait in a long queue as his crewmates went single file down to their living quarters, George Billing went to go to an office to finish a letter instead.
It was a decision that saved his life because within minutes a torpedo slammed into his ship close to where his bunk was.
George is now 95 and lives in Waikanae, on the Kāpiti Coast, with his wife Marilyn who he's been married to for many years.
But his time in the Royal Navy during World War II and his near-death experience is never far from his mind.
George, who grew up in Sidcup, Kent, in England, joined the Royal Navy a few days before his 18th birthday and became probationary writer.
In August 1944, as the war raged, George was on board the HMS Nabob, a ruler-class escort aircraft carrier, where he worked as a writer looking after pay and records of the crew.
One of the ship's operations was to provide an anti-submarine cover role in Operation Goodwood as other ships planned to attack the imposing German battle ship Tirpitz, which was hiding in the Altenfjord, Norway, after being damaged.
Bad weather prevented the attack and while the task force was withdrawing, on August 22, at about 5.15pm, Nabob, which was northwest of the North Cape, in the Barents Sea, was spotted by the German submarine U-354.
The submarine fired an acoustic torpedo at Nabob creating a 10m gaping hole on the starboard side below the waterline.
About 30 crew were killed and a further 40 injured, but the ship was prevented from sinking by the ship's damage control team which used timber to bandage the bulkhead.
George was lucky to survive the surprise attack.
"I was in the office writing a letter home when suddenly, whammo, everything was thrown into the air and the lights went out.
"I was thrown into the far corner in pitch darkness."
But he could have been a worse situation.
"We had been shut down from action stations and at 5pm everyone was going below to go to bed.
"To go below, there was only one way to go down, and everyone was queuing up.
"I didn't want to queue so I went into the ship's office, which was closeby, to finish writing my letter.
"If I had gone below, I probably wouldn't have made it, because my bunk was in a corner, and the torpedo on the other side of the bulkhead.
"No I don't think I would have made it."
Crew who weren't necessary to keep Nabob afloat were transferred to the HMCS Algonquin and HMS Kempthorne while Nabob went to Scapa Flow for emergency repairs, and then to Rosyth where she entered dry dock.
The damage was deemed beyond economical repair and she was decommissioned of which George played a key part in as well as being promoted to leading writer.
The submarine which inflicted the damage didn't last long.
"It was sunk the following day by an aircraft that dropped depth charges."
It wasn't George's only close encounter with a bomb.
About a year before he joined the Royal Navy he was living in Sidcup, Kent, an area nicknamed Bomb Alley.
"I was on night duty making sure everyone had their lights off, and a bomb came down and went off a very short distance away.
"It picked me up and chucked me down.
"Just part of the normal bombing raid which happened every night."
George thinks he's probably the only surviving member of the Nabob alive considering he joined the Royal Navy at such a young age in January 1943.
"Most of the crew were in their middle 20s upwards."
George has a wide range of military medals; one of the largest is the Russian Ushakov Medal.
The Nabob had been in a convoy to Russia before being ordered to help with Operation Goodwood.
He is a member of the Russian Convoys Club which meets a few times a year.
Each Anzac Day George attends a ceremony to remember those who lost their lives in war.
Even this year, as ceremonies were cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic, George got up early, and stood by his letterbox, to pay his respects.