Corporal Describes Sinking Of Ship in Which Friends Died

Corporal Describes Sinking Of Ship in Which Friends Died


Two Torpedoes Sent Vessel To Bottom Within Four Minutes

HALIFAX, June 20-(C. P.)-Sinking of a ship including Canadian Military personnel among its complement is described in a letter received here from Cpl. John V. Chisholm, Halifax man now in England with the Corps of Military Staff Clerks.

Two torpedoes sent the ship to the bottom less than four minutes after the first one struck, Chisholm wrote, and he said “many fellows” were lost. Among those who went down with the vessel he named “Cal Leng, Wilkinson, Rose and McGovern.”

(He was believed to be referring to CSM. Calvert Leng of Halifax, Sgt. Farrel McGovern, Ottawa; Cpl. Leslie Wilkinson, Toronto, and Cpl. Lloyd Rose, Sydney, N.S., all members of the C.M.S.C., whose loss has been announced.)

(Cpl. Chisholm was named in a list of 35 survivors of a shipping loss made public at the same time.)


“It was certainly a terrible experience and one I would not care to repeat,” Chisholm wrote. “It happened about 10.30 at night. I had just gone to bed, as I was on No. 1 morning submarine watch, due at four o’clock.

“Wilkinson and Rose were my cabin mates and were also in bed. When the first torpedo struck, the force of the explosion threw me out of bed and onto my feet.

“The water was then pouring into our cabin. It was on “C” deck, just above the ship’s water line and nearly amidships.

“I had on only a pair of pants and shirt and I didn’t wait to get any more clothes on. I ran out to the corridor and saw a steward hurrying with a flashlight. So I followed along and got to the boat deck, where the lifeboat was to which I had been assigned.

“Thirty of us had managed to get clear when the next torpedo struck, and I thought the end had come as tons of water and debris of all kinds, including rivets out of the boilers, rained down upon us as she went down.

“We were about 30 feet away when the ship plunged. However, we managed to stay afloat until next morning. At about 11 o’clock a destroyer came in sight and picked us up. I was the only survivor of the local bunch-Cal Leng, Wilkinson, Rose and McGovern all were lost.

(Apparently the four had been stationed here before leaving Canada.)

“I can’t imagine how Wilkinson didn’t come through. The first torpedo put all the lights out, but I heard Wilkinson. He cried out, ‘We’ve been hit,’ or something like that, and he was then moving around all right.

“I called to him to follow, and thought he was behind me. Of course, with the noise and confusion, I couldn’t be sure. His boat was the one I was assigned to, and he didn’t make it.

“Rose, who was sleeping directly above me, may have been hit with something-some of the debris flying about. I was hit myself and somewhat dazed for a few minutes.

“I think a lot of the boys waited to get into some clothes. This proved fatal, as the ship went down in less than four minutes.”

“It seems tough so many fellows had to get it that way. However, I suppose it’s the fortune of war. It all seems more or less of a dream now, but what a dream!”