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Hos'pital Ship SunkI in Bristol…


Hos'pital Ship Sunk I in Bristol Channel. ALL WOUNDED SAVED. I WONDERFUL WORK OF RESCUE. i The Secretary of the Admiralty makes the following announcement His Majesty's hospital ship Rewa was torpedoed and sunk in the Bristol i Channel about midnught on January 4 on her way home from Gibraltar. All the wounded were safely trans- ferred C) patrol reikis, and there wk-re only three casualties amon g her crew, three lascars bciing missing. j She was displaying all the lights and markings required by The Hague Con- vention, and she was not, and had not been, within the so-called barred zone delimited in the statement issued by the German Government on Jan. 29, 1917. The Rewa was a steel triple-screw steamer of 7,308 tons, owned bv the British India Steam Navigation. Com- pany (Limited), and registered at Glasgow. Built at Dumbarton in 1906, she was 456ft. in length and 56ft. 2iin. in breadth. THE "OPEN ROUTE." ANOTHER PLEDGE VIOLATED BY GERMANY The torpedoing of the Rewa lis a clear violation of Germany's pledge to respect ships carrying wounded in the zone she herself i declared to be safe. The Germain Government statement referred to bv the British Admiralty declared that" tliev would "no longer suffer anv enemy hospital ship in the maritime I zone which is situated be- tween the lines Flamborough Head to Terseirclilng, on the one hand, arid Ushant to Land's End, on the other. "Should enemy hospital ships be e-fl- countered in this maritime zone, after an appropriate lapse of time, they will be considered as belligerent, and will be attacked without further considera- tion." The German. Government hvpocritic- ally pointed out at the time that they "believed themselves justified in adop- ting these measures, as the route frotai Western and Southern France to the West of England still remains open for enemy hospital ships, a-nd the transport of English wounded to thetir homes can cowsoequentlv be effected now as heretofore without hindrance." It was while iiing tlils "open route" to the West of England that the Rewa was atUioked and torpedoed. SURVIVORS' STORIES AT SWAN- SEA. SUPERB CONDUCT OF SHIP S CAPTAIN AND OFFICERS. The tale of the rescue is an extra- ordinary one. and the fact that pr^e- tically all were saved, including a number of bad "cot" cases, and that during a period of darkness before moon rise, is little short of miracu- lous. Swansea, which figured prominently in the rescue work, passed one of the most exciting days in. iits history on Saturda.v. when the whole of the occu- pants of the liner, including some 250 wounded, were landed. From stories given by survivors it appears that the vessel, which ulti- i n-telv had a total complement on board of 5.53 souls, called at a Greek port and at Malta, for wounded cases, and sushequentlv a few more were taken aboard at Gibraltar. The vessel ex- perienced very hOd weather in the Mediterranean and was four days late in enterin g the Bristol Channel. After dark on Friday might the ship was lighted up (in accordance wi,th present j practice) and she proceeded at ahout four knots up .Channel, being ttieti less than a hundred miles from her destination. Some say that just he- fore the attack suspicious lights were observed, and whilst they were being steadily regarded a torpedo struck the vessel with a terrifie. crash right amidships ("right on the hospital x-ross," as one man observed). It was a- most effective shot. and completely de> flyed all chance of saving the vessel. Those who had retired to rest were suddenly awakened and made a dask on deck, leaving everything they possessed below. Some left watohes and money under their very pillows. A member of the crew stated that the fights on the lower deck were extin- guished by the force of the explosion, and. there was wild groping in the darkness for some vestiges of clothing to enable the men to go on deck. WOUNDED FIRST. Afterwards wonderful oixler was j maintained, and the majority of those ahoard joined in singing hvnins. The cond-t of the e->r>*ain and officers I was superb. Orders were given and I carried out with splendid accuracy- and with the exception of a couple of I)oa,ts (which had apparently been de- stroyed by the explosion) every boat was successfully launched, and whilst the ship was obvilously and rapidly iettlitig down on a perfectly even keel (she hiving been holed right through) the boats were all manned without the slightest accident. There were about 30 "cot" cases, and these were first got out and placed i.n the boats. There were four women cin board—nurses—and these were at- tended to next. At last the crew and officers, crowded on -the deck were embanked, and with the exception, it is believed, of the three lascars wlio cannot be aoc-ounted for, and were probably killed by the effects of the torpedo, every soul on board was taken into the boats. The crew consisted to a large extent of lascars ajid Portu- guese. F.ULL SPEED TO THE RESCUE. About ten minutes afttr the last, boat was loaded the hip, which had been sinking evenly, plunged head foremost into the waters and disap- peared. Fortunately, just, before the engines stopped wireless messages had been scsiit from on board, and they were picked up by two or three vessels, includiaig a tank steamer, and and two patrols or Tni???wpepers, and these cra?t diverted thEr courses and ?t?er?d at fuH speed for the scene of the disaster. The boats kept close to- gether, and after being adrift for be- tween one and two hours they were picked up "by the rescuing steamers, which, to their intense relief, hove in sight in the moonlight.So smartly was the work of transferring '550 people from boats to ships done that thev./Were all got aboard an,d safely stowed din about an hour, and the vessets bea-ded for the nearest avail- able port. The expedition with which the work was done may he judged by the fact that it took two hours only after their arrival i.n port to. bring them ashore. ) HEROISM ON BOARD. I Many deeds of quiet Jjeioism were performed. The solicitude for the wounded was remarkable, libble in the extreme. One of the nurses gave all her heavy garments to cover men who were very ill, and in turn an officer gave feer his overcoat. Men of all ruuka gave every rag they could spare in order to keep the wounded as comfortable and warm as possible. Members of the crew as well as officers had rushed to their boa;ts with such alacrity that thev had very little clothing on themselves. They we without boots and soaks; many without slai-i-ts and many with- out trousers; several had underpants, but no other garments. Yet they were busy when, required for action, and patient through all those three or four hours until help arrived. The tmk of getting the men ashore wao difficult, as the tide was low art first, but was coming iii, bl't. Before the position became more favourable those who were able to help had a very difficult task. SCENES AT LANDING. PITIFUL PLGHT OF THE srR- I VIVORS. I Great excitment prevailed at Swan- sea. all day ou Saturday, and the in- habitants rose to the occasion. In spite of great difficulties they managed to accommodate the survivors and provide for their wants. They were, in the majority of cases, in a !<pe- less ptight, and maavy had to IK pro- vided with clothing on landing. Some had only blankets about them. Nearly all the crew had lost everything they possessed. The local V.A.D., ° uuder Mr Powell (Q.M.), did splendid work in respect of transport, and were readily assisted by the local chamber of commerce, who provided as much feod and clothing as was immediately required at the docks, and many of the men were taken to the Exchange temp-warily on landing. Motor-'buses end .cars were speedily got together to transport the wounded, the worst of the -as(,s beting taken to the local mili- tarv hospitals for the time being. During the day the military wound- ed were aU despatched from the town bv the ambulance tran whieh had been sent. The rest of the survivors were taken to the Chamber of Com- merce, the Exchange, the Sailors' Home, and the Hotel Metropole, which are all handily situated in the vicinity of the docks. Another special train was despatched to take away the naval and "walking" cases on Sun- day. At the Sailors' Home on Satur- day night there were over 150 men crowded into the living apartments, most of whom were obliged to sleep on the floors for the night, aiid the town was scoured by Mr Morgan (the ..sacretary) and Mr Brunt'(the superin- tendent) for such necessities as blan- kets. TOWNSPEOPLE'S AID. I Manv of the most .active members I of the Chamber of Commerce were hard at work until late on Saturday evening, without taking any meals. Various shops in the town were called uporu by telephone for clothing and articles required, and meals were pro- vided by various tradesmen. Boots, mufflers, caps, braces, and all kinds of clothing were brought in from various quarters. "END OF A PERFECT DAY"! The members of a local public body turned up in full force to feed and entertain their unexpected, but very welcome, guests, waiting upon them and washing up the-dishes as if to the manner born. Others provided them with postcards, letter paper, stamps, and telegraph form in order that they might communicate their safetv to; their relatives auid friends. Later on, when every man had had his wants suplied. there was aai entertainment and speeeh-maki'ng. The proceedings closed by or.e of the guests standing up and, amid applause, singing "The End of a Perfect Day" All the- crew were loud in praise of the arrangements by which such a com- plete rescue was made, of the occu- pants of the vessel, which may rightly be regained as the most remari-ible incident in co-nnection with the ,1', two There was after the" torpe doing very little excitement, except amongst a small section of lascars, but one man had evidently lost his wits when hmd- ed, and at the police-station was evi- dently under the belief that everything he saw was on fire. INJURED MAN'S FORTITUDE. I One man from the stllp went about all day taiking very little notice of anything, and making no complaint. He was in need of clothing, gave his list in when asked, took what was offered, and said, "Thanks." No one thought there was anything seriously the matter with him until iha wearing, when he collapsed. He ill ,:r*t the o' l^Lal i t he was goiing to It was then found he had several ribs broken and other injuries—"a really had case"- arud he had made no complaint. Durng the whole of Saturday in- terested crowd s watched te motor-am- bulances which were arriving, and de- parting fnm the Hotel Metropole, the manager of which and his staff gave splendid assistance, and the resources of the hotel were severely taxed.











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