i am bound to them,
though i cannot look into their eyes
or hear their voices.
i honor their history,
i cherish their lives,
i will tell their story.
On the morning of 8 November 1940, the steamship ss Agamemnon (1930 ton) carrying freight, was in a convoy, in Barrow Deep on the English East Coast, on the way from South End to Cardiff (another source says from Newcastle to South End). The Captain was Douwe Sparrius, my maternal grandmother’s father.
At about 13h55 a German bomber dropped 2 bombs on the front deck of the ship, and one bomb fell next to the ship. The front of the ship began sinking immediately, and thick smoke rose from the engineroom. The engine was stopped and the crew tried, under leadership of C Mentink, to lower the lifeboats who were always ready to be launched. But as the front of the ship was listing too much, this was no longer possible. Within approximately 3 to 5 minutes the whole ship had sunk.
The crew had jumped in the water, and held on as far as possible to planks from the wreckage and one lifeboat that had come loose. After about 45 minutes the crew was picked up by the British destroyer HMS Cattistock, but my great-grandfather, Captain Douwe Sparrius, who had not been wearing a lifevest, probably drowned due to exhaustion. He and the English radiographer C Hubbuck were never seen again. The body of the British Cannoner Sgt Kenneth Thorpe was found. That same evening the crew was dropped back at South End. Three crew members were hospitalized.
this telegram was to inform the family of Sgt Kenneth Thorpe of his death.
Sources: various internet sites. www.google.com
francois has always been fascinated with history, and so all those family stories have always meant a lot to him. after he had heard the story about the ship and his great-great grandfather, he googled it, and found some info, including a photo of the ship. isn't the internet awesome!
jacki janse van rensburg - SCRAPPIN TIMES scrapbook shop, benoni, gauteng, south africa