« PreviousContinue »
18 some of the passengers ro- three days, the 19th, 20th, and marked to the captain, “If 21st, made only 100 knots. there is no blockade, as the After such stormy nights, and Germans say, why haven't you in suoh bitter temperature, & more raiders out, instead of breakfast of cold oanned orab, only one, and why havo 80 or dry bread with sugar, or few been able to come out?” rice and hot water plus a very There was of course no answer little gravy, or bread and muobto this! The captain further watered condensed milk, was remarked that even if there not very nourishing or satisfywere & blookade it would ing, but very often that was always be possible to get all we had. This weather of through it at the week-end, courge pleased the German capas all the British blookading tain, who said that no enemy fleet returned to port for that ship would or could board him time! The Wolf, he said, under suoh oonditions. In fact, came out through the blook- he said no enemy vessel would ade at the week-end, and got be out of port in such storms! home through the blookade They alone were sufficiently at the week-end. It was quite terrifying to the landsmen simple, we were to do the amongst us; the prospect of same!
having to take to the lifeOn the 20th we were off boats if the Germans took it Bergen and saw the coast in into their head to sink the the distance, the noxt day we vessel if she were sighted by an were nearer the coast, and on enomy ship added to the fears that night we encountered the of all of us. There had been greatest storm we experienced no boat-drill, and the lifeboat on the cruise. The wind was accommodation was hopelessly terrifio, huge seas broke over inadequate for more than eighty the ship, the alleyway outside people now on board. It is the cabins was awash all the cortain, with the mixed crew, night, and the water oven in that there would have been a vaded the saloon to & small gavage fight for the boats. extent. Artiolos and recep. The prospect, looked at from taoles for water that had not any point of view, was alarmbeen made absolutely fast in ing, and one of the greatest the cabins were tossed about; anxiety for us all. many cabins were drenched On February 22 we rounded and running with water. The the Naze. Here, we thought, noise of the wind howling and we should certainly come across the seas breaking on the deok some British vessel. But that was so alarming to those in day and the next passed-it the outside cabins that they seemed as if we too were to assembled in the saloon, as get in during the week-end ! sleep was out of the question, and hope of resoue disappeared. The ship, though steaming full The bearing of the Germans speed, made no progress that towards us became markedly night, but went back, and in changed. We were almost in
their olatches now, the arrival passed a floating mine, and at Kiel and transference to we knew that before long we Rubleben were openly talked should be going through a of, and our oaptors showed de- mine-field-not a very cheeroided inolination to jeer at us ful prospeot with floating and our misfortunes. We were mines round us in a fog. But told that all diaries, if we had we were all too far gone to kept them, must be destroyed, care; nothing could be much or we should be severely pun- worse than imprisonment in ished when we arrived in Ger- Germany, and some of us many. Accordingly, those of were discussing the prospects us who had kept diaries made and conditions of this when, ready to destroy them.
at 3.30 on that Sunday afterSunday, February 24, dawned, noon, we felt a slight bump, & oold cheerless day. We were as if the ship had touched now in the comparatively nar. bottom. Then another bump, row waters of the Skager Rack and then still one more! We -our last ohance had nearly were fast! Were we really to gone. Most of us were re- be saved at the very last signed to our fate and saw no minute? It began to look hope, but some said we still like it, but it would not do might see a British war vessel to build too much on this when we rounded the Skaw, slender foundation. The on. At midday the sailor on the ginos continued working, but look-out came into the saloon no progress was made; they and reported to the captain were reversed, still no movethat a fog wae coming on. ment. The fog was fairly “Just the weather I want," thiok, we could just make he exolaimed;" with this lovely out through it the line of fog we shall round the Skaw the shore, and the waves and get into German waters breaking on it some distance unobserved." It looked, in- away; and two syrens were deed, as if our arrival in going at full blast, one from Germany were now a dead a lightship, one from a lightcertainty.
house. The German officers But the fog that the cap- became agitated, a boat was tain weloomed was just a little got out, soundings made, and too much for him; it was to various means adopted to work prove his undoing instead of the ship off, but all were of no his salvation. The good old avail. The captain admitted German God, about whom we his charts of this particular had heard so much, was not spot were not new and not going to see them through good. It was impossible to this time. For once we were tell the state of the tide at to be favoured. The white this moment; we all hoped it fog thickened after the mid- might be high tide, for then day meal, and, luokily for us, our rescue would be certain. it was impossible to see far The engines were set to work a head. Soon after two we from time to time, but no movement could be made. done at four tomorrow mornDarkness fell, and found us ing, and we shall then proceed still stuok fast. Our spirits on our way to Kiel.” had begun to rise, the prospoot Some of us had talked over was distinctly brighter, and a plan suggested by the second soon after six o'olook the ag- mate of one of the captured sistant lieutenant went ashore ships, by which a neutral in mufti to telephone to the among the crew should connearest port, Frederikshavn, trive to go ashore in one of for help. What reply he re- the tug's boats in the dark. ceived we never heard, but ness, communioate with the we did hear that he reported nearest British Consul, and inhe was on a German ship from form him of the situation and Bergen to Kiel, and wanted the desperate case we were in. help. Lorenco Marques to We promised him £500, to Kiel, vid Ioeland, would have be raised among the “saloon been nearer the truth!
passengers,” if by so doing our About eight o'clook we heard resoue should be accomplished. from one of the neutrals among We remained in the saloon the crew that the captain of talking over developments & salvage tug was shortly when we heard that a Danish coming aboard to inquire into gunboat had come nearly matters. The ladies among us alongside, and that her oomdecided to stay in the saloon mander was coming on board. while the captain of the tug He had presumably received interviewed the German cap- & report from the captain of tain in the ohart-room above the tug. We heard afterwards it. On the arrival of the tug that he had his suspioions captain on the bridge the about the ship, and had ladies in the saloon oreated & brought with him on board veritable pandemonium in the one of his own men to saloon, singing, shrieking, and make inquiries of the crew, laughing at the top of their among whom were Norwevoices. It sounded more like gians, Swedes, and Danes, & Christmas party than one while he kept the German of desperate prisoners in dis- commander busy in the saloon. tress. The Danish captain The previous mistake of tak. departed; what had been the ing the Danish oaptain on to result of his visit we did not the bridge was not to be know, but at any rate be repeated. The commander of know there were women on the gunboat was to come into board. The German captain the saloon. So the ladies came down from the saloon, could not remain there and asked pleasantly enough what make their presence known, all the noise was about, and but some of them contrived said, “I have offered the to leave some of their garsalvage people £5000 to tow ments on the table and settee the ship off. Money is nothing in the saloon—muff, hats, to us Germans. This will be gloves, &o. These the Danish
to the bororo, door hoe het ons and or was
commander must have seen; never was order more willingly and not only that, for he and gladly obeyed. But first saw some ladies who had we had to see how the ship stood in one door of the stood with regard to the shore. saloon before they were sent We went out on deok to look to their cabins when he there was the blessed green entered at the other one. shore, clear of fog, less than He also saw a passenger in half a mile away, the first really khaki uniform, the Australian solid earth we had seen near at Major of the A.M.C., and other hand since we left Colombo passengers standing with the exaotly five months before. It ladies in the alleyway. If he did not take us long to dress had entertained any suspicions and throw our things into our as to the correot obaraoter of bags. When we had done so the ship, which the Germans and were ready to go to the were of course trying to oon- lifeboats, we were told that we coal, they must have been might take no baggage whatstrongly oonfirmed by now. It ever, as the lifeboat was from was too late for us to be a shore station and could savo sent to our cabins, as a Ger- lives only, not baggage. man sailor oame and ordered. The German captain took We had achieved our object. his bad luck in good part;
It was a night of great un- but he was, of course, as rest, but, finally, most of us lay sick as we were rejoiced at down in our clothes. For very the turn events had taken. many nights we had been un. He had known the night able to rest properly owing to before he could get no help the violence of the weather, the from the Danish authorities, possibility of having to leave as they refused towing assistthe ship at any moment, ande till all the passengers and general anxiety ooncerning had been taken off the ship. our desperate condition. At But he had hoped to get off four in the morning we heard unaided at four in the mornthe engines working, as the ing. Ho professed great anger oaptain had told us they with the Danes, saying that would, but still no movement if they had only helped es oould be heard. Soon the he requested, the ship could engines ceased : it was evident have been towed off in the then that the attempt to get night, and we with all our the ship off must for the pres- baggage could have been ent be given up. The wind landed at Danish port was rising and the sea getting alongside & pier the next rougher, and at 6 A.M. & Ger- morning, instead of having to man sailor oame and knooked leave all our baggage behind at the doors of all the oabins, on the ship. I fanoy not saying, “Get up, and pack many of us believed this; if your baggage, and go ashore.” the ship had been got off, wo It seemed too good to be true; should have brought up at Kiel and not at any Danish out the hawser dirootly afterport. And, as the tag oaptain wards; he would have received said afterwards, if he had no pay for his work, and towed the ship off, the Ger. we certainly should not have mans would have most likely landed in Denmark.
A fine lifeboat manned by that the Wolf had gone sturdy Danish sailors was ashore in the same place ! alongside the ship; the sea All our fellow-countrymen on was very rough, but our ship board her would then have steady, firmly embedded in the been free, and they could have sandy bottom. Once more we given information and saved us all olimbed a ship's ladder; as well. the lifeboat was rising and Once on dry land we walked falling almost the height of ap to the lighthouse. There the ship with the heavy seas, we were received with open and desoont into it was not arms. The kindly Danos could easy. But nothing mattered not do enough for us. We had now; once over the side of the only what we stood up in; we ship we were no longer in dried our olothes, other dry German hands, and were freo. garments were offered us, hot The waves dashed over and drinks and food were supplied drenched us as we sat in the liberally, and we were generlifeboat; we were sitting in ally made much of. We had ioy water, all of us more or come baok to life and warmth less wet through. At last the once more. The lighthouse lifeboat orew pulled for the staff and villagers vied with shore, the high seas sweeping each other in their efforts to over as all the way. We make us feel at home and oomgrounded on the beach; the fortable, and after interviews sturdy sailors carried some, with some Danish Government others jumped into the water officials we were taken to and waded ashore, and we hotels in Skagen, the name of were all on terra firma, free the nearest town, a small sumat last, after weary months mer bathing resort just to the of waiting and captivity. We south of the Skaw. After had been saved at the eleventh lunch, the first square meal wo hour, almost the fifty - ninth had had for months, we set off minute of it; we were at to telegraph to our relatives the gates of Germany, being and friends, and announce we due at Kiel the very next were still in the world. It day. It was & miraculous was one of our greatest escape if ever there was one, anxieties on board, that we and oame at a moment when could not communicate with all hope seemed gone. Would our friends, who we know