Hide Articles List

12 articles on this Page





I STORIES OF SURVIVORS. I I STRUCK NEAR ENGINE ROOM. r THRILLING STORY OF GALLANTRY. I The following account of the sinking of the Apapa was given by the second engineer oiffcer, who was on watch at the time the vessel was btruck by a torpedo from a German submarine "I had relieved the watch at 4 a.m., and found everything in order; the ship was making about 13 knots. About 4.10 a.m. there was a tremendous crash, which shook the ship from stem to stern, accompanied by a terrific rush of water into the cngme-room. A torpedo had struck the ship about the starboard thrust re- cess, and the water striking the bulkhead came pouring on to the starting platform, where I was standing at the time. I immediately called the fourth engineer, who was on watch with mo to assist in stopping the engines. After this we went round to the back platform and shut off the centrifugal pumps, to prevent the swamping of any of the boats by the discharge water from the condenser. While we were carrying out those duties the telegraph iang, 'Finished with engines.' "1 then looked into the stokehold to see that all the men had got, clear, and was making my way to the starting platform, but was swept off my feet by the rush of water, which .at this time was breast high. With a hard strugg'e, during which I lost my shoes and cap, I man- aged to grasp the lever of the reversing engine and from that to the drain cook levers, and so gained the ladder leading to the middle plat- form, when I noticed ono of my greasers hang- ing on to the handrails round the crank pit. "Real ifng the danger of attempting to reach him from below, and knowing that there was little time to lose if we were to escape death by drowning in the engine-room, I mounted the ladder to the middle platform; then, by laying on the grating, caught hold of his hands, and succeeded in hauling him up, but was very nearly exhausted in doing so. J found afterwards that the greaser had been thrown against the middle column by the rush of water and was partly stunned, which accounts for his not being able to get away without my assistance. On reaching the top platform I found the senior third engineer waiting for me. He had in the meantime seen that all the other engineers had got away safetly. Being very scantily clad (only singlet, pants, and stockings), I made for my room for some clothes, and managed to get hold of a coat and a pair of boots. With those in my hand I hur- ried to the promenade deck, and found that the boats were being lowered, there being no panic or excitement. On reaching the boat to which I was stationed (No. 8 port side) I found the car- penter and his crew had already got the boitt in the water, and partly filled with passengers and crew allotted. While waiting until full the complement were gOt into the boat I put on my boots a.nd coat which act wag just completed when there was another terrific explosion on the starboard side, a second torpedo having struck the ship which caused terrible havoc. There was an interval of about seven minutes between the first and second explosions. "After the second impact the vessel heeled over to starboard, and I could see the end was coming very quickly, so I hurried' the two or three remaining persons over the side into the boat, which had to pull clear before. I could get down. "The ship by this time was almost on her beam ends, so thero remained no alternative but to climb down the side of the ship and jump into the water. Although having no lifebelt, being able to swim, I struck out for the boat, and by means of a life-line Ya,,4 pulled on board. "It was then we had time to look round for the other boats some of which fared very bad- ly. The funnel had fallen, across No. 5, and No. 9 was blown up by the explosion of the second torpedo; the fate of the occupants can bo conjectured. I CHIEF ENGINEER DROWNED. I "The chief and fifth engineer were in No. 5 boat. They jumped into the water when the funnel fell. The fifth, Mr Marshall, managed to reach No. 7 boat, and was saved, but Air Guy, the chief, was lost. Mr Guy had been through the ordeal on two previous occasions. Unfortu- nately, this proved the third and last. Mr Brown the junior third, was also lost.. He was in the chief officer's boat which met with an accident, causing the loss' of of the oocupants, including the chief officer. "The Apapa disappeared about 4.35 a.m At daybreak our boat was picked up by a coa.st.ing steamer, and we were taken on board and very kindly treated. The chief engineer gave me a change of clo-thing, of which I was much in need. "We landed about 9 a.m., and were taken to a hotel, every attention being shown to us. Those who required clothing were provided through the agency of tho Shipwrecked Mariners' Society. Ihe other boats were picked up by drifters and taken into port. "The loss of life was mainly due to the das- tardly act of the enemy in firing the second tor- pedo when the boata were in the water." It will be noted, by the foregoing narrative, that the second engineer of this vossel per- formed an act of bravery in saving the life of the greaser for which ha should be recognised. It is difficult to imagine the condition in an engine-room, and the tremendous risk taken by those on watch when the ship is struck in this vital part. This case is only one of many in which the engineers and men below have carried on when the water has risen above the platform, in order to stop the engines so as to take the way of the ship; otherwise it is impossible to launch the boats with safety until it is too late. When it is considered that very frequently there are onIt a few minutes between the time the ship is struck and her final plunge, the necessity of bringing the vessel to a standstill, so to spea.k, means the saving of many lives. Imagine, then, the courage required'to remain in a position down in the bottom of the ship with the water swirling round, and the danger of explosions from steam pipes into the bargain at the same time knowing that at any moment you may be trapped and all chance of being, saved cut off I TERRIFYING EXPLOSION. ine Germans would have you believe that their torpedoes are meant only to destroy ships. Their actions, however, prove that they are in- tended to destroy the lives of people, whether they are connected with the war or not. The torpedoes of the Huns are meant for murder." Such is the statement of a. survivor of the Elder-Dempster steamer Apapa made to are-. presentative of the Courier. "The. crash of the explosion was enough to waJken the dead, and although it was four o'clock in the morning you can take iit from me that no one would be able to continue sleep- ing. The five blasts on the syren which quickly followed put boyotid all doubt that the ship was in distress, and that it,was a case of every- one on deck The Huns in their submarine, lying like a dark shadow on the surface of the water some distance awav knew also what the position was, that their shot had gone home and thait their victim was doomed. One can imagine, there- fore, the devilish g!ee with which they would put the second torpedo in position to discharge at the sinking ship. It was not as if the first torpedo had failed in its mission of destruction; the ship was going down before their eyes. The second torpedo was sent to murder the helpless people who had rushed from their cosy berths to effect their escape from the hand of death. In this the Germans met with perfect success, and the second torpedo smashed by its explosion one of the boats containing twenty or thirty passengers, many of whom were killed and others drowned. f, Asked to describe his own personal experiences, this gentleman stated that he had never wit- nessed so much tragedy in hik life as was screened by this cinema, of real life before his eyes. A few moments later and the ship was plunged in darkness, and the only light wa that which came from the moon. "Passengers, he said, "rushed up on deck carrying rugs and blankets with them and the work proceeded of lowering the lifeboats. One of these, as I have already Told you, was smashed to altoms by the explosion of No. 2 torpedo, but the other boats made away as quickly as possible. "There was a very thrilling experience for those people who happened to be in the boat into which I had been put. The wind and the tide had kept us close up against the hull of the Apapa, and we could not get away from her. When, therefore, we saw the big ship be- ginning to heel ovrcr in our direction, we began to feel vcii-y uncomfortable. We saw the huge black hull leaning over towards us and coming down, slowly but surely like tho side of a great building which was going to crush down the little craft entirely out of existence. Have you ever had a bad nightmare ? Somebody called out, 'Let's jump for it-5 It was good advice, because our oarsmen were quite unable to get out of the track of the sink- ing ship. I jumped. And when I recovered from the shock of the cold immersion, I saw the enormous ship, with a terrible rattle as her machinery broke loose, come down with a splash and a clatter, boro her way through the surface of the water, and then disappear. STRUCK BY FALLING FUNNEL. I I had tried to keep my eye on the little boat from which I had become separated and to my horror I saw the funnel of the ship come down right in the middle of the boat and literally wipe it out.. What happened to the passengers I cannoit say. Of those who were left in the boat—I fancy others were following my example of jumping—some must have been killed out- right. it was a harrowing spectacle for me, and I was glad when—a few momenta later—there was no trace left of the hideous incident." "Captain Toft, who was on the bridge with the chief officer, went down with his ship, and was eventually found clinging to an upturned boat, and was picked up. "lie had shown splendid nerve throughout the ordeal, and it was due to the fine discipline of the crew as a body that not more than forty of the crew and thirty-nine of the passengers were lost. All the boalfcs that were needed were launched, and although the ship went down eighteen minutes after receiving the first tor- pedo, I believe that everyone had a chance to get away from the vessel. I was in the water only half an hour before I- was taken, on board one of the lifeboats from which, thanks to the moonlight, I was spotted a good few yards awav." LANDED ON A PLEASURE BEACH. I Inquiries in other directions led to the dis- closure of some remarkable incidents. In one lifeboat were three persons, two ladies and a gentleman, the latter dressed in nothing but his pyjamas and bedroom slippers. The trio probably presented as curious a spectacle as could well nigh be imagined. Their boat had drifted to they knew not w here, until suddenly land wa.s espied. Tho pyjama-elad oarsman pulled in the direction indicated, and prosently the boat bumped and stuck, her bows slightly lifting. Investigation showed that they had reached land, and were in fact on a famous pleasure beach, where thousands disport themselves every summer. Tho ladies were assisted out and all three paddled their way on to the dry sands and then ran up the beach, reached the pro- menade, and disappeared into the first hotel they saw. It was oertainly the most unconventional entry ever made into that helol-these two ladies accompanied by a gentleman in pyjamas! Then there is the curious case of the deck boy, who was rescued without knowing or eeeing anything. Ho was asleep in the forecastle when the crash came. Leisurely he got up and dressed, and when ho had finished the lights went out. He went on the deck, was collared by an officer, who pushed him into a boat, which was lowered and rowed away from the spot without the least delay. To this boy all wa.s blackness, and he did not even have the satisfaction of seeing the big ship go down.