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Date: 1 April 1915



Brecon Man on Board.

Curious Story of Two Watches.

The following is an extract from a letter received from a well known Brecon man ill the Brecknockshire Territorial Reserve Battalion at Milford Haven. The letter is dated Monday:—

"We had a very vivid idea yesterday of the brutality of German piracy. After 10 p.m. We bad a 'phone message that a passenger boat bad been torpedoed by a submarine, and that the survivors were being brought into Milford, and asking if we could lend blankets. The Quartermaster went to one place, I to another other, other sergeants elsewhere, and in a very few minutes we had a pile of 196 blankets for them, and I was off with them to Milford in a motor car. Our boys acted splendidly. When they were woke up and told what had happened it was, 'Yes, Sergeant, yon can have mine; have them all if you like,' and other remarks of the thing broke upon us, you could see fists clenching and teeth almost grating, and many wish was expressed to put rifles to our shoulders. The Quartermaster and I were congratulated upon our promptitude in getting the blankets to the Institute at Milford for them—had them there in half an hour. It turned out to be the Elder Dempster steamer 'Falaba,' bound from Liverpool to West Africa. There were 250 persons on board, of whom about 120 were saved. The Germans gave them 10 minutes to clear, but in less time than that they shot the torpedo, and down she went almost immediately. The passengers and crew were jumping off when she was struck, and the Huns callously laughed at them when in the water. One man told me be saw two women go down, but others say all women were saved. There were no children aboard. I was with them until after half-past 11 o'clock, and mixing up with the survivors brought the full horror of the despicable business home to me most acutely. It's sheer murder, and makes one's blood boil. The most pitiable sight was the poor negroes and negresses. They were wrecks. This morning I found there was a Brecon man amongst the ship's officers. J. O. Larkin, Charlie Brace, and I went down to try and find him, but he had left by the early train, and I failed to discover his name. He was in the next room to where I sat, and just after I left one of our people found that he knew me and came to tell me so. Unfortunately he forgot his name. Most of them are gone away to-day. I met a soldier who had been wounded in France, got an appointment in West Africa, and survived this disaster. It was a painful sight this morning seeing passengers and crew searching a heap of clothing on a trawler is the hope of finding their own. Saw one officer fish out his khaki coat and pull his 1s 10 guinea watch out—it was stopped. Just afterwards one of the crew found his waistcoat, pulled out his 3s6d watch, which was going! I saw it, the tie was 9 o'clock. It's an appallingly brutal business, and leaves a most horribly nasty taste in the mouth.

"Brecknocks Help 'Falaba' Survivors." The Brecon County Times Neath Gazette and General Advertiser for the Counties of Brecon Carmarthen Radnor Monmouth Glamorgan Cardigan Montgomery Hereford. 1 Apr. 1915. 8.

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