In the darkness of 21 August 1940, eight hundred miles to the west of the Canary Islands in mid-Atlantic, the freighter "Anglo-Saxon" is ambushed by a German raider. Seven men escape in an eighteen-foot boat on the open seas, equipped only with a compass. Thus begins a ten-week ordeal of hunger and thirst, death and survival.
On 24 September, they wrote the last entry in their log: "All water and biscuits gone, but still hoping to make land." For the remaining thirty-seven days the men subsisted on rain, seaweed, minute sea creatures and, of course, the diminishing reserves their bodies retained.
At one point, so tormented were they by thirst, they even tapped their precious compass and consumed its mixture of distilled water and alcohol. They also contemplated suicide, fought with each other, and weathered a three-day hurricane.
On 30 October, after a 2,700-mile voyage, they beached in the Bahamas, where they become instant heroes and celebrities.
The "Anglo-Saxon" survivors' story caught the imagination of millions through the widespread media coverage of the time and, at a time when the US was neutral, opened American eyes to the terrors of the war in Europe - but has since been largely forgotten.
Today, the jolly boat is the only survivor of this harrowing episode. It was preserved at Mystic Seaport, America's leading maritime museum, until 1997; it is now a central exhibit at London's Imperial War Museum. J Revell Carr, the boat's custodian for a quarter-century at Mystic Seaport, has breathed fresh life into this gripping tale of heroism on the open seas.
- Publication Date:
- 15 / 04 / 2004
- 157 x 241 x 35mm