When Reginans Were Lost
THE LEADER – POST, REGINA, SASK., MAY 26
SEA DISASTER DESCRIBED BY SURVIVOR
A Regina survivor from the ill-fated transport Nerissa, Sgt. Frank Stojak tells movingly of his experiences before and after the vessel was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland resulting in the loss at sea of 122 persons, five of them Reginans.
Adrift for 12 hours on a raft in the cold North Atlantic, the lashing salt waves, cheerfulness at its lowest, are described in a letter to Miss Dorothy Taylor, 1136 Athol Street, his fiancée. Posted May 9, the letter, carried by North Atlantic clipper air service via New York, arrived in Regina May 21.
Stojak lived at 4401 Second Avenue, North Regina, and was reported safe in England following sinking of the Nerissa.
SINGING IN CABIN
“We were in the cabin singing hymns, songs and joking,” writes Stojak. “There were five of us in the room this night. Everything was getting along fairly well when all of a sudden, Boom! Darkness and falling debris and thick smoke.
“We had been torpedoed.
“I grabbed a life preserver, put it on and scrambled to my boat station, grabbed hold of a life boat and made sure I stuck to it. I scrambled on it and soon there were only a few of us left.
“We were in the cold, salty water for about 12 hours before we were picked up. Things happened so fast we didn’t have time to think about anything or get frightened. All we were worried about was our personal safety.
“When we were picked up we were treated by about the swellest bunch of fellows anyone could run across. They gave us dry clothing, food and their bunks. They took us into port to army barracks where we met another hearty welcome. Here we received our issue of clothing, and what not, some good wholesome food, beds and many friends.
“It was really terrible. Imagine peace and quiet, jokes and real friendship one moment, then terror, horror, panic the next with your boat gone and only a raft to stick to through the darkest hours of a long cold night with the waves increasing in height each hour, cheerfulness down to its lowest, and this for 12 hours. No fun.
FRIENDS ARE LOST
Stojak said except for what he had on at the time, he lost everything. “But dearer and nearer to me,” he continued with feeling “I’ve lost all my friends from Regina. Everyone has gone. It’s terrible, unbelievable and ghastly. I’m very, very sorry for their own sakes and their parents, wives, children and friends. It’s a hard pill to swallow.
“And think how lucky I am to be able to tell you all this.”