Six exhausted seamen, clinging to a raft after their ship had been bombed, owe their lives to a penny whistle. Blasts were heard on a trawler when the men had almost given up hope. The story was told to the Daily Mirror when survivors landed at a British port.
"Our ship was attacked by a Nazi plane," the first mate, Mr. R. Crawford, of Belfast, said. "Its lights were on, so we held our fire, thinking it was a British plane. Then bombs dropped around us and we let go. But it was too late. The ship gave a lurch and sank in a few minutes. We tried to launch a boat, but failed. Then we jumped. Six men, only, four of whom could swim, managed to clamber on to a raft, intended to carry three."
During the night the men lay in icy water.
Francis Devaney, twenty-year-old seaman, said that during the next day two ships and twelve planes passed, but the men were not seen; though they rigged up a coat on an oar and whistled.
"When sundown came we offered up a prayer feeling that we could not survive another night," said Francis. "Suddenly, as a big wave lifted us, we saw a trawler. We blew our whistle, each taking a turn as the other became exhausted. After minutes of suspense we raised a weak cheer. The trawler had sighted us!"
The first mate landed wearing the coat he had used as a signal and he carried the small whistle which had saved his life and the lives of his companions.
"It's precious," he said.
The other men rescued were Second Mate N. Stewart (Carlisle), Bo'sun J. Ingleby (North Shields), B. Thomas (Sligo), and Ali Ahmid (Cardiff).
British censorship laws prohibited the Daily Mirror from naming the shipwreck from which Captain Frank Devaney and the other members of the crew survived. The vessel was the Stanleigh and we think we've found her final resting place.