Newspaper Article titled: Sailors Tell of 83 Days on Raft

Sailors Tell of 83 Days on Raft


(As Told To The Associated Press)

Editor's Note: These two Netherlands merchant sailors spent 83 days on a life raft between the time their ship was torpedoed early in November in the south Atlantic and their rescue Jan. 25. They drifted 2,200 miles from a point 200 miles off South America, below the Equator, to the northern tip of that continent, where they were picked up. Their amazing story of fortitude and hardships as told upon their arrival in Miami from South America.

Miami, Fla.—There were five of us on the raft, but two of us were to die. The first, Franklin Beasley, of Hannibal, Mo., began to go blind, then moaned through the nights, and on Jan. 10 breathed his last.

Lieut. James Maddox of the United States Navy was still alive. He said a prayer over Beasley's body. The rest of us each said a prayer, too, and we put his body overboard.

That left the two of us, and Lieut. Maddox and Basil D. Izzi , 20, of South Barre, Mass.

A week later to the very hour three of us went through the same ritual for Lieut. Maddox. He, too, began to go blind. He had been married only about a year, and Just before he died he moaned a bit about his wife, about how he loved her.

Took Inventory

When we first got on the liferaft after our ship was sunk, we took inventory of our food and water. We had nine cans of condensed milk, two pounds of Australian chocolate, and 10 or 12 gallons of water.

The food lasted 16 days, the water, 23. The day after our water gave out it rained for the first time, a good heavy rain that let us catch about six gallons and funnel it into our water cask.

On the 20th day a ship hove into view, about three miles away. Its crew saw us and must have mistaken us for a submarine, for they fired three red rockets and sped over the horizon.

Two other ships passed later without seeing us at all.

Lured Shark.

With our food gone, we made a noose out of some rope and put it over the side, then hung our feet in the water and wiggled our toes to attract some sharks swimming nearby. One swam through the noose at our toes, and we caught him. We ate his heart end liver and a bit of meat.

Barnacles began to develop on the bottom of the raft. We pried some loose, ate the larger ones and used small ones as bait, hold' Ing them between our fingers to attract small black fish. We grabbed the fish as they nibbled at the barnacles, and caught about 20 that way.

But that wasn't enough. We caught a couple of five-foot sharks with our bare hands and ate them entirely up, gnawing the bones.

Ate Raw Birds.

We went through a five day storm that sent waves washing completely over us. But it also caused some black birds to alight on our raft, and we caught several and ate them. Their entrails we used to attract fish, which we caught with our hands.

We had one knife on board, but on the 22nd day adrift it was accidentally dropped overboard. We took the lens from our flashlight and broke it in half to use for cleaning fish and what few birds we caught.

Every night we were on the raft, even before the first death, we prayed for Divine help end guidance. We are of the Dutch Reformed Church, Izzi was a Catholic, and Lieut. Maddox end Beasley were also Protestants, we're not sure Just which church. We asked Izzi if Protestant prayers were ell right with him for our group praying, and he said yes.

Sometimes we joked about what we would eat if we could have anything we wanted. Bacon and eggs and pie were the favorites. We made Izzi some clothes out of a lifejacket, for he had very little on when the ship was sunk. The two of us had shorts end shoes (Hoogendam) and dungarees (Van-der slot).

Day of Rescue

Then came the day of our rescue. We could hardly believe our eyes when a ship steamed to us and picked us up. We forgot about bacon and eggs and asked for peaches, and ate two bowls full. We asked for a third, but a doctor told us to take it easy.

The doctor tried to give us hypodermics to put us to sleep but our skin was so leathery that his needle broke and he gave it up.

(Hoogendam. 17, and a seaman since he was 12, wieghed 80 pounds when picked up, having lost 65 pounds during the long days adrift.

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