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We escaped torpedo, Fire and shipwreck

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We escaped torpedo, Fire and shipwreck

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We escaped torpedo, Fire and shipwreck.
Passengers and crew of the Dutch motor vessel Tajandoen had a thrilling experience on 7 December 1939. When their ship was torpedoed they were picked up by the Belgian steamer Louis Scheid, which was herself wrecked, an a hidden rock a few hours later. The story is reprinted from the columns of the Evening Standard and the Manchester Guardian.

When the Dutch motor vessel Tajandoen was torpedoed in the North sea on 7 December 1939. The explosion set fire to oil floating on the sea, and the survivors in lifeboat had to race away from the spreading sea of fire, which crept upon them. The captain of the ship, Mr J. B. Roederink, revealed this when he and 62 of the crew and passengers (including five women and two children) were landed at an English South West Port. The Belgian ship, and Louis Scheid (6,057 tons), which rescued them was herself wrecked on a hidden rock near the coast and the survivors took to boats for a second time within a few hours. Captain J. B. Roederink said all the passengers of the Tajandoen, and the number of the crew were in their bunks when the explosion occurred. It was a terrifc explosion and the ship went down in a quarter of an hour. We got all the passengers and crew away with the exception of two engineers and four seamen will stop. Then began a grim race and safety. The explosion had allowed our fuel oil to escape onto the sea, and had ignited it. The surface around the vessel was soon a huge blazing lake which spread away from the sinking vessel. As it spread the lifeboat crews worked desperately to keep their boats ahead of the blazing oil fortunately for all the boats they won the race. The first intimation that the Belgian rescue ship had hit a rock was when rockets rent the blackout. Coastguards saw the vessel, brilliantly lit from bow to stern, and called help. The vessel came on to the beach within about 100 yards of an hotel. Several times, the lifeboats made gallant efforts to get alongside, but their work was hampered by heavy seas. The coxswain of one of the lifeboats, said We had a very rough trip in lashing rain. It was terrible. The first time we went along to the port side of the Louis Scheid we took of 40 the second time, we took off 22 more of the Dutch crew and passengers. All but five thus accounted for. They had to jump with ropes around them. It was with the utmost difficulty we got them all on board. A small boat carried the survivors from the lifeboat to land and then they were half carried up the steep cliff. The officers and crew of the Louis Scheid, who remained on their vessel after the removal of the survivors of the Tajandoen, were later rescued by breaches buoy. Although it was foggy, a rocket carrying a lifeline was shot across the steamer, and the breaches buoy apparatus brought into operation. In a short time all the officers and men have been brought ashore. Spectators could see the seamen bobbing over a choppy sea as they were hauled through mist and driving rain onto the sands. A lifeboat and a tug stood by of the rocky shore. Police and villagers for miles around hurried to the beach to aid in the labourious work of rescue. One man said it was a terrible night. There was no respite from the lashing rain and tide. We had to rush the apparatus to another point, 2 miles away, to bring the vessel within the length of the rope.

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Sources

The Second Great War.
Edited by Sir John Hamilton

The War Illustrated.
Edited by Sir John Hamilton

2194 Days Of War.
ISBN-10: 086136614X

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