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Page 31 - Sydney Harbour in World War 2

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1976/6/1 (458 reads)

the rigging, we let the raft go and jumped on that. And we just got on that when the second torpedo struck her. I think she sunk pretty well right after the second torpedo struck her. We didn't see her go down, it was so foggy and dark. But the suction of her going down brought us toward her. Vfe thought she was going to haul us down with her • we were that close to her. There was just two of us got on the raft--but we could hear fellows running • they must be running to the lifeboats. One lifeboat floated up the next morning. And one fel? low was dead in it. The second torpedo struck right underneath the lifeboats. But there were some jumped overboard that got picked up. We picked up two fellows just after the second torpedo. You couldn't steer the raft very well. We tried to pad? dle it but it would swing on us • and we started to drift out the channel. The navy- boat picked us up. It picked up those that were in the water before it picked us up. Every once in a while they would shine the light on us to see if we were all right. At first they were trying to get the sub? marine • they had depth charges. But I heard it said they couldn't detect submarines down there because of so much iron ore in the water. It seemed like a long time but I think we were on that raft only about an hour and a half. I think there were 12 saved; I think around 24 lost. Some were picked up the next morn? ing that had floated. The captain • his legs were broke and he floated. There was a fel? low in the lifeboat was dead. And there was a fellow had jumped overboard was dead • died from the cold water, although he was just in it maybe half an hour. He was an Indian from India. Couldn't stand the cold. I know cause we used to jump overboard swimming in the summertime • and he could only stay in for five minutes the longest. Capt. John Parker, North Sydney: I was in a small Danish ship in late September, 1940 • we were loaded with general cargo for England • and we came into Sydney Harbour to join the convoy. We went out of here in convoy and we met the remainder of the con? voy off Scatari • and we proceeded toward the United Kingdom. 34 ships • it was a slow convoy • S C 7. Including 2 or 3 lakeboats, which stood a very poor chance of getting across, we had no escort because this was after Dunkirk and all the disasters that overcame the small British warships. They were very short of everything and they were expecting an invasion in the Channel. Everything was pretty terrible. I don't think we had a gun. There was a thompson sub-machine gun on board, but it wasn't good unless the submarine became a target. There was no anti-aircraft or anything like that at the time. Well anyway we pursued our way to England. And a little over two weeks after we left here • this was a slow convoy and several of then were limping, so the commodore was taking his time, trying to keep these ships together • we were north of Rockall Bank, 200 miles off the coast of Ireland. Weather deteriorated one afternoon very badly and by dark it was blowing a gale and very poor visibility. Wfe felt an explosion • couldn't see very far • the ships were all blacked out. The nearest ship would be 3-400 yards away • a ship on each side and ahead and astern • but you could hardly make them out. The wireless operator opened his set: "The convoy's sending out a message it's been torpedoed." There were a lot more explosions and fires started in some of these ships • they were tankers. We saw the big one along side of us get topedoed • and then came the order for dispersal. In that night between the evening raeal and daylight they got something like 16 or 17 ships • the remain? der scattered and they got more later. Our ship wasn't struck. (Were there survivors?) Capt. Parker: We never found out because we were ordered to Cape Breton's Magazine/31
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