On this day in Yorkshire 1942

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Fifteen Days on Raft

The fifteen days’ ordeal with little food or water of survivors from a British merchantman sunk in the North Atlantic by enemy action has been told to the representative of a Boston (Mass.) newspaper, and a cutting from the newspaper of the interview has been received by Mrs. Powell, of Drake Street, Keighley, whose son, First Wireless Officer Stanley Powell, was one of the survivors.

The cutting was sent to Mrs. Powell by a nurse at the Brighton Marine Hospital, Boston, where the survivors are recuperating. Of the crew of 41 only five are believed to have survived.

The newspaper states that only 12 of the crew managed get free of the ship before she plunged to the bottom rapidly after a torpedo from an unsighted submarine crashed into her side. Of these 12, fully seven are believed lost.

The five survivors were picked up by a coastguard vessel, and among those on the raft was First Wireless Officer Powell. After the ship had been sunk there were three rafts with three men in each of them, and also the life-boat with three men clinging to it.

They managed to stay together for the first three days; then one of the rafts started to break up. Two the men left the raft and swam to the one that was later picked up by the coastguard.

The survivors took one of the flotation tanks from the wrecked raft and made a shelter out of it, in which two men at a time could find refuge from the cold, raw wind, the rain and spray which lashed the men aboard the raft. The third raft also disappeared and was not seen again by the survivors.

The nurse, in her letter to Mrs. Powell, states that Wireless Officer Powell, who was suffering from exposure and privation, was now “doing fine.” Powell, who is 21, has been the Merchant Navy since he was 17.

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