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Dyddiad: 30 Ebrill 1918



Destroyers Rescue 57 of Them Off the Oronsa and All but Three of Her Crew.
British Steamer, Amid a Large Convoy, Was Torpedoed in Bright Moonlight.

LONDON, April 29.—A party of fifty-seven American army Young Men’s Christian Association workers under Arthur E. Hungerford arrived in London last night. The steamer Oronsa, on which they sailed, was torpedoed yesterday morning and sank in 12 minutes. All the passengers and all but three of the crew were saved.

The vessel was struck amidships when proceeding at about ten knots in a large convoy under the protection of a number of destroyers. It was a bright moonlight night. There was an immediate heavy list, and three minutes later the boilers blew up, extinguishing the lights all over the ship.

Two of the members of the crew who lost their lives were caught below and went down with the ship. The third man was the ship’s baker, who, after reaching his lifeboat station, went back for his money belt.

Destroyers which were sent to the rescue immediately, picked up the passengers in lifeboats within half an hour and landed at a British port. The Americans are all safe and well. On their arrival in London they were taken in charge by the American Y. M. C. A. and Red Cross.

Saw Only a Periscope.

The submarine was not seen at the time the vessel was torpedoed, but several of the survivors told a story of a periscope appearing for a moment in the midst of the lifeboats.

"It was said the periscope was seen from nearby torpedoboat destroyers which, however, did not dare fire for fear of hitting the lifeboats," said the Rev. Charles Vickery of Salina, Kan. "If the periscope did appear it was only for a brief moment. While the lifeboats were being picked up one American and one British destroyer circled the spot, dropping several depth charges."

The number of persons on board the vessel was about 250. One of the ship’s officers told The Associated Press that the Americans had conducted themselves in an admirable manner. They were the better able to do this because they had spent, most of their time aboard the ship in military drills and daily and nightly lifeboat drills. Every man knew his station and duties as though by instinct.

Although the time was brief, all the boats were launched successfully. Most of the Americans had little clothing and no baggage. Several of them lost their passports and all their money.

"The Americans behaved like veterans, and were of the greatest assistance in launching the lifeboats and handling them," said one of the officers of the ship.

No Excitement on Ship.

Mr. Hungerford, leader of the Y. M. C. A. party, gave to The Associated Press the following account of his experiences:

"The thing that struck me most was the calm, businesslike way with which our men took things. There was not a man flurried. There was no panic., no

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fluster, merely a bunch of men getting themselves and others out of t'ne ship in orderly fashion.

"Our men were in cabins along four corridors, all opening into the central stairway. There were bulkhead doors at each of these corridors, and my one fear was that these doors might be carelessly closed before all the men behind them were out. So I stood at the foot of the stairway and watched the men file out. I went, through the corridors, to see that everybody was out, and then shut the bulkhead doors myself.

"The men were marshaled in little groups under their Corporals, and they went to their stations just as they had done a dozen times in our drills aboard ship.

"The sound was exactly as I had seen it described many times in the newspapers—a dull thud as the torpedo struck the outside shell of the ship, and then a muffled explosion somewhere far down below.

"I lay in a bunk with my clothes on, but T got out immediately and stood at my station at the foot of the staircase. Soon after I got there I heard the sound of another explosion, which was accompanied by the going out of all lights.

Getting Away the Boats.

"When all the men had got on deck I went up and climbed into No. 1 lifeboat, whence I watched the orderly procedure aboard the other boats up and down the whole length of the ship. My boat was the last one away except No. 9, which had a little trouble with the ropes.

"It was a wonderfully calm night and the ship’s headway did not bother us much, as the engineer had been able to reverse the engines before the boilers went out of commission, and the ship
was barely moving by the time the boats were lowered.

"As illustrating the calmness of our men I might mention that two of them who heard the explosion did not get out of bed until the alarm bell rang two minutes later, because they had been told there was no danger unless the alarm bell was rung.

"Another man was not awakened by either the explosion or the bell, but he responded immediately when somebody pulled him out of bed and told him, 'Drill ordered. Go to your station.'

"One of our men named Gurney (who comes from Providence. R. I.,) tried hard to save his typewriter. He got it as far as the deck, but was not allowed to take it into the lifeboat. He said he
had heard typewriters were very scarce now in England, and was not going to part with it unless such a course were necessary.

"Sam Downer of Downer, N. J., had his camera with him and tried to take a picture of the flares and ships by moonlight from the lifeboat.

"Almost all our men brought their overcoats off the ship, but few more things, as they mostly went to the members of the crew who generally came away in their shirts."

Gale Seeman of Los Angeles and E. C. Pullen of New York State had narrow escapes in getting into lifeboats. Each of them caught his feet in one of the ropes with which his boat was being lowered. Mr. Seeman was thrown into the water head down, with his feet entangled, but was saved by Robert Peckham of Springfield, Mass., who cut the rope and dragged him into the lifeboat as it was pulling away. Mr. Pullen was able to get clear of the rope by his own efforts.

Among the other passengers Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Thring had the most exciting experience. Mr. Thring is an Australian, who was invalided from the British Army several months ago after two years of fighting in Africa and at Gallipoli. He went to Australia, where he was married, and was returning to England with his bride to settle the estates of two brothers who were killed recently in France. The torpedo struck just beneath the cabin in which Mr. and Mrs. Thring were. They were thrown from their berth and injured severely. The stateroom-door was jammed so that it could not be opened. Mr. Thring broke the partition and carried his unconscious wife to the deck, where he, too, fell unconscious. Both were carried to a lifeboat by A. H. Bogue, a Y. M. C. A. man of Highland Park, Ill.

After being taken aboard the destroyers the survivors had a trip of five hours to port, where a crowd gathered at the pier to meet them.

"There was a long delay in getting our destroyer into her berth," said the Rev. H. S. Mallison of Flint, Mich. "I suggested to the men that we gather at the bow and show we were in good spirits by singing. We sang 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' 'God Save the King,' and 'Onward Christian Soldiers,' and the crowd on shore cheered.

Greeted by Viscount French.

"I noticed an elderly man in military uniform, standing apart on the pier, who seemed to be affected deeply by our singing. When we got ashore I was not surprised to see him take charge of us, line us up in military fashion, and then shake hands with each one of us and congratulate us. He was Viscount French, Commander of the Home Defenses, who happened to be in port. Hearing that some American survivors were coming in, he insisted on going down to greet them personally."

Accompanying the American party was a British Y. M. C. A. man, Harry Holmes, who had been in the United States for three months, where he had married Miss Knecht of Dayton, Ohio. After a speaking tour which had occupied the greater part of his time, and in which he visited the principal American cities he was taking his bride back to his home in London, while he was to go on to take charge of Y. M. C. A. work on the western front. Both Mr. and Mrs. Holmes got away from the steamer without incident.

"It has been a nerve-racking experience," declared Mrs. Holmes, "but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything."

The Americans were met on their arrival in London by a delegation from the American Red Cross here and were taken to the Kingsley Hotel, where fifty-seven complete outfits of clothing and an ample dinner awaited them. The men among them who had lost their money were provided for and arrangements were made to replace missing passports. There was also an American Red Cross doctor at the hotel who examined each man and prescribed "along night’s sleep" for all.


Seven of Those Aboard the Orissa [sic] Were from New York.

The Pacific Steam Navigation Company's steamship Oronsa, which was sunk by a U-boat when carrying a party of Young Men's Christian Association workers to France, left an Atlantic
port on April 12. The Y. M. C. A. party was drawn from the Middle West and the Eastern States. Seven persons on board were listed by the War Personnel Committee of the Y. M . C. A. here as coming from New York.

The Rev. Samuel Robb Leland is a Methodist Episcopal Minister and a graduate of Columbia University. He was engaged in association work here and before that he preached in Buchanan,
N. Y.

Henry S. Jewett was a reporter on The Evening Sun. He also did welfare work for R. H. Macy & Cos. George H. Macrum is an artist. He organized and taught art classes. He has lived in France. John Ruff was on the police force for eleven years as patrolman and physical director. George Henry Shafer as a leader in the West Side Y. M. C. A. for five years. He has been a police chauffeur for ten years.

Arthur Hungerford is a newspaper man who has worked here and in Baltimore. He is in the Y. M. C. A. publicity department. He was on his way to France on a special mission. Charles J. Pearson was purchasing agent for the Cross & Brown Company prior to volunteering for association work. Some years ago he was with the Rochester Germicide Company.

The list of Y. M. C. A.workers [o]n board the Oronsa follows:
ARMSTRONG, J. M., Lapeer, Michigan.
BENNETT, RALPH C., 2,424 Augusta St.. Chicago. Ill.
BOGUE, A. H., Highland Park, Ill.
BORDWFLL, THEODORE IVAN, 8 Central Av., Warren, Pa.
CHAMBERS, T. E. M., 2,025 Maple St., Evanston, Ill.
COOK, PHILIP, 1,933 St. Paul St., Baltimore, Md.
DARK. HARVEY E., Wooster. Ohio.
DAWSON, THOMAS B., Providence, R. I.
DOWNER, SAMUEL W., Downer, N. J.
EVANS, EVORE, Honesdale, Pa.
GURNEY, ALFRED H., Providence, R. I.
GRIER, JAMES HARPER, 200 West College St., Canonsburg, Penn.
GRAY, JOSEPH M. M., 3,921 Troost Av., Kansas City, Mo.
HOLMES, A. H., late from Australia.
HOLMES, Mrs. A. H., Dayton, Ohio.
HERRON, SCHUYLER F., 2 Rangley Park, Winchester, Mass.
HEFFLON, JOSEPH H., 51 Myrtle Terrace, Winchester, Mass.
HAIGH, A. P., Waukegan, Ill.
HERVIG, HENRY E., 2,148 N. Kedvale Av., Chicago, Ill.
HUTCHINS, CARLETON C., 6,407 Euclid Av., Cleveland, Ohio.
HUNGERFORD, ARTHUR E., Mt. Washington, Md.
HEARTZ, PERCY E., Fort Collins, Colorado.
HOYES, GEORGE H., 835 Lincoln St., Topeka, Kan.
JEWETT, HENRY S., 14 East 38th St., New York.
JOHNSON, REUBEN MONROE, 1,445 Fairfield Av., Indianapolis, Ind.
LAHYM, FRANK E., Traverse City, Mich.
LELAND, SAMUEL ROBB, 901 Ogden Av., Bronx, N. Y.
MACRUM, GEORGE H., 121 East 23d St., New York.
MERRIAN, CHARLES WOLCOTT, 228 Madison Av., Grand Rapids, Mich.
MALLINSON, HORACE HORATIO, 620 Newall St., Flint, Mich.
MURRAY, JAMES GARFIELD. 1,027 North Gales St., Indianapolis, Ind.
MATHES, EDWARD TILDEN, 529 High St., Bellingham, Wash.
MATTHEWS, JOSEPH ALDERSON, 7,547 Hampton Av., Hollywood, Cal.
NOBLE, CHARLES G., 107 N. Traub Av., Indianapolis, Ind.
NAHAS, SAMUEL, 56 Fairview Av., Malden, Mass.
PEARSON, CHARLES J., 265 West 81st St., New York.
PUGSLEY, JOHN BUTLER, 16 William St., Brockline, Mass.
PECKHAM, REUBEN WALLACE, 91 Massachusetts Av., Springfield, Mass.
RUFF, JOHN, 23 S. Elliott Place, Brooklyn, N. Y.
RANDALL, CHARLES P., 1,030 Erie St., Oak Park, Ill.
SEBLEY, ROBERT PURDY, 5304 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, Pa.
SNOW, FREDERIC FOSTER, Baltimore, St., Cumberland, Md.
SHAFER, GEORGE HENRY, 3,044 Albany Crescent, New York.
SEAMAN, GALE, 1,307 Alpha St., Los Angeles, Cal.
TAYLOR, DONALD J., St. Helens, Oregon.
WALKER, SAMUEL EDWIN, East Northfield, Mass.
WILLIAMS, ALBERT FRANKLIN, 144 Foley St., Freeport, Ill.
WIGHT, ARTHUR LUKE, 1 Loren Park, Malden, Mass.
WHITEHEAD, GEORGE D., 75 Baldwin Place, Bloomfield, N. J.

The Oronsa was of 8.075 gross tonnage, and was built at Belfast in 1906.

World War history: daily records and comments as appeared in American and foreign newspapers, -1926. (New York, NY) 28 Apr. 1918, p. 116-7. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

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