Wednesday, December 24, 2014
70th Anniversary of the Sinking of Leopoldville
December 24, 2014...Christmas Eve.
Seventy years ago on the night of Christmas Eve, the Leopoldville was torpedoed by a German submarine in the English Channel. I have written about W. S. Connor who was a survivor from the Leopoldville. I had the pleasure of meeting him and arranging for him to speak at the local Rotary Club of his experience. If you would like to know more about this, I found an excellent article about it just here.
The first book that I read about the Leopoldville was Mr. Connor's book that he loaned to me:
"A Night Before Christmas" by Jacquin Sanders.
(And I did return the book to that dear man! I have my own copy now. Mr. Connor passed away in the year 2000. I am thankful to have met him.) Mr. Connor's name is not mentioned in that book but it amused me when he told me that although he was not mentioned BY NAME, I might recognize him in the book. This puzzled me until I read the account of a soldier giving out candy and gum to the guys up on deck and he was called "Deep Pockets". Mr. Connor came into the travel agency (which is how I met him) and he passed out peppermints and gum to me and my co-workers! Men don't change really, he was just the same as he was as a young man! He told me that there was another man writing a book and that he should be included in the listing of survivors for that book...I now have that book also, and it is:
"Leopoldville: A Tragedy Too Long Secret" by Allan Andrade
I love both of these books and I recommend them both to you.
When Mr. Connor was passing out his gum and candy to us at the travel agency, he said to me, "Ever hear of the Leopoldville?" When I answered in the negative, he said, "No, you wouldn't have, it was kept secret for 50 years!" After I spoke with him and looked further into it, I was astounded at this and am still surprised that so little is known about it.
It brings tears to my eyes to tell you that I had some heartfelt comments on the posts that I had written about the Leopoldville from relatives of those who had served on the Leopoldville or the Brilliant (the ship that bravely took on some of the survivors.)
Tomorrow, the movie, "Unbroken" will be released. I hope it will raise awareness of some of the true stories of World War II. The families that were affected by the deaths of the men from the Leopoldville deserve to have this story told. I will always remember W.S. Connor. Mr. Connor stayed with the ship and went down in the sinking. He survived in the very cold water and was picked up by a small boat. It was reckoned you could only survive about 30 minutes in the water. When I asked him how long did he think he was in the water, he said, with a faraway look in his eye, "I guess about 30 minutes then".
Prayers for those who are missing loved ones this time of year and for those whose stories are known to them alone.
Merry Christmas to you all.
PEACE ON EARTH. GOOD WILL TO MEN.