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.



  1. Great post! Yes, so many stories are known only to the men who survived to have them.

  2. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones, too, dear Kay! A very timely and moving post. I, too, am glad you had the pleasure to meet Mr. Connor in person.

  3. A blessed Merry Christmas to you and your family! My heart is with all who are grieving at this time of year.

  4. Oh darn! I'm using Art's computer and my comment did not post. Arrghh!

    I just wanted to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas! You do really meet the most interesting, amazing people!

  5. The stories of any war are both fascinating and abhorrent. I have been able to read a lot about the Revolutionary War and the Civil War perhaps because they are so far removed in time. I have known people who returned from the horrors of war since the first world war. I cannot bear to deal with much about any of them. But the story of the Leopoldville is one I will look at because you recommend it. Merry Christmas

  6. These happenings need to be honored each year and never forgotten. I hope this Christmas finds you and your family healthy, happy and enjoying the day. Merry Christmas!

  7. Just stopping by to wish you a very blessed Christmas!!

  8. A little late, but may I wish you a Merry Christmas, Kay, and to all your family, too.
    Your blog is so interesting because you mention many things that I had not heard of before.You were very fortunate to meet Mr. Connor! I wish you a wonderful 2015, too....And a happy twelve days of Christmas!

  9. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you Kay! Thanks for stopping by!

  10. I,d heard about this but it,s amazing how many secrets get buried during any war. I noticed during the last Falklands conflict news coverage was strictly controlled and BBC reporters that you were used to seeing popping in every war location around the world seemed to be weirdly curtailed when it came to reporting on a UK concern. The overall message was always upbeat and positive yet its emerged in the last few years it was 50/50 and a close run thing with a lot of the best weapons being used to attack British troops and ships sold by the UK to Argentina before the conflict. They also sold large amounts afterwards as it was a great advert for the product. Sad but true. Merry Christmas.