April 13, 2012

Dramas at sea

Miracles On The Water
by Tom Nagorski

Miracles on the Water is a riveting account of the sinking of a British passenger liner by a German submarine in World War II. The S.S. City of Benares, was 600 miles out in the North Atlantic on September 17, 1940, when it was torpedoed by U-48. Among the Benares' passengers were 90 children being evacuated to Canada. As the Benares sank, passengers and crew abandoned ship during a fierce storm. The gale-force winds and icy swells overturned or swamped many lifeboats. 

Even though the Benares had sailed with a convoy, none came to its rescue for fear of more torpedoes. The nearest help, the HMS Hurricane, was 300 miles away. By the time it arrived, many lives had been lost due to drowning or exposure. In its search, the Hurricane missed Lifeboat 12, which contained 46 people, six of them children. The eldest was thirteen, the youngest, nine. Lifeboat 12 endured eight harrowing days on the open sea before being rescued. 

Nagorski, whose great-uncle was among the survivors, used eyewitness accounts to create a vivid story of courage, tragedy and hope that is even more dramatic than that of the Titanic. This is a book you will not want to put down; its stories will linger long after you have finished it. 

Highly recommended.

For a fictional account of the Benares tragedy, read Wish Me Luck by James Heneghan. For a review, go to http://sisterslibrary.blogspot.ca/2012/03/tragedy-at-sea.html.

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