The City Of Benares

  • Thread starter Michael Shetina
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Kyrila Scully

Kyrila Scully

Member
Thank you, Derek. I shall indeed look for that book you recommend. I do have questions, but rather than tax you I shall read the book first and see if it answers them, or creates new questions.

My personal interest is in understanding what went on in the minds of the survivors during the sinking, while they waited for rescue, and how they got on afterwards. I shall email you my reasons for wanting to know.

Kind regards,
Kyrila
 
Martin Owen Cahill

Martin Owen Cahill

Member
As a young boy I read a survivor's story in one of our reading primers. I was struck by the sense of few survivors and and many children being on the ship.
How the survivor was on a raft to be eventually rescued by a navy ship. He was taken down, his teeth chattering with the bitter cold , to the engine room to be stripped naked out of his wet cold clothes to warm up.

Derek, thanks for joining us, it was an event that for me was appaling given the majority of the passengers were children being evacuated.
I only hope the U boat kapitan would have reconsidered had he known what he was firing at.

regards

Martin
 
Kyrila Scully

Kyrila Scully

Member
I believe I read somewhere that the German captain was remorseful when he learned of the passengers on the ship. It was a different time in history, when people still had some sense of morality, and children weren't thought of as "collateral damage."

Kyrila
 
D

Derek Bech

Member
Our small group of survivors have all been reunited in recent years mainly as a result of the researchers writing books. Amongst us we have always remembered the date 17th September and have held three memorial services which has brought us all together. We all have a very strong bond and although we remember those who perished we also give thanks for the years given to us to complete our individual lives.

For those interested in the sinking of the 'City of Benares' you might like to read an account written by Bess Cumings (nee Walder) on "FORGIVING AND FORGETTING". It can be found on the web :-

http://cowo.culham.ac.uk/assemblies/011s_forgiving.php

Derek Bech
 
Mike Poirier

Mike Poirier

Member
Dear Mr. Bech,
I remember reading about your experiences in the Ralph Barker book. I enjoyed that book, but am curious as to what you thought about which book best told the story of the wreck. Colin Richardson recently published his account in Titanic Diaries by Anthony Cunningham. Am glad there is a new book out. Have you seen ET's sister site- garemaritime.com
It deals with ocean liner and ocean liner disaster like yours.
Mike
 
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Derek Bech

Member
Dear Mike,
The book by Ralph Barker "Children of the Benares" was one of the first full accounts on the sinking of the 'City of Benares'. I knew Ralph fairly well and he made a very detailed research when writing his book and the details are correct. He has always maintained contact with 'the children' and attended our three Memorial Services held in London.

The most recent book "Miracles on the Water" written by Tom Nagorski covers the event in more detail. Like Ralph, Tom visited each of us 'children' to obtain more information. His book is very well written and is also a true testimony. Tom also maintains contact with all of us. As I have said previously Tom's great uncle was one of the survivors who was in Boat 12 which was 8 days adrift before rescue. The story of Boat 12 and how they survived is told fully in his book. Much of this information was unknown to me until I read the book - 65 years after the event !!!
I am aware of yet another book being published later in August 2007. This will also feature some of the events of the sinking of the 'City of Benares'. I will post these details when I know more.

Derek Bech
 
D

Derek Bech

Member
I now have the details of the new book I mentioned before. The title of the book is "YOUNG VOICES" and is written by Lyn Smith in association with the Imperial War Museum in London. It is published by Penguin Viking Books. (web page www.penguin.com).

The book uses the personal accounts made for the Imperial War Museum by over a hundred children who suffered great hardship and loss during WW2. Some accounts are most remarkable and distressing. There is mention of the 'City of Benares' from some of us survivors.

The book is worth reading as it opens up many untold stories.....

Derek
 
D

David Railton

Member
Can anyone tell me where I can find a list of names of surviving crew of the 'City of Benares'?
 
T

Tessa Purvis

Guest
Hi

I would also like to know some information of the survivors that were adrift in boat 12. My grandfather(George Purvis) was one of the men on that boat.

If anyone could help, would be greatly appreciated.

[email protected]

Thanks
 
J Burdette

J Burdette

Member
I've been googling it over and over and I can't find anything. Does anyone know if the wreck of the SS City of Benares has been found? And if it has (was it ever lost?) has there been any dives down to it and/or photos taken?
 
Amanda Lewis

Amanda Lewis

Member
Hello. I am not sure if anyone is still following this thread. I am writing to you on September 17, 2014, the 74th anniversary of the sinking of The City of Benares.
For anyone who is interested, I have written an historical fiction for young people called, simply "September 17: A Novel". It is a fictionalized account of the disaster, told from the perspective of 3 of the children who survived. Any of you who are interested in passing the story on to young people might find the book useful. The main characters are Ken Sparks, Bess Walder and Sonia Bech, but there are many adults who also come into the story, most of whom have been mentioned on this thread.
The book has been published in Canada (where I live) and in the United States. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book goes to the charity Save the Children. It is available through Amazon.
You can also find out more on my web site at Amanda West Lewis
Thinking of you and all of the children who were lost that day.
Amanda Lewis
 
DeborahHeiligman

DeborahHeiligman

Member
Susan, I would love to talk with you about your grandfather's memories. I think Miracles on the Water does a good job of describing his role on Lifeboat 12, but if you have more memories I would love to hear them. (I am working on a book about this incident. Please email me at [email protected]
 
P

Peter Miles

Member
I was one of the survivors as listed. We were rescued by HMS Hurricane.
The following books have been written about the sinking of 'City of Benares'
1) Children of the Benares by Ralph Barker (published in 1987)
2) Children of the Doomed Voyage by Janet Menzies (published in 2006)
3) Miracles on the Water by Tom Nagorski (published in 2007)
All accounts are well writen and acurate.
In case anyone is interested I have in my possession the complete passenger/crew list for the last voyage. This was given to me by Ralph Barker and which was part of his research for his book.

Hello Derek,
I know your post goes back 11 years, but I'm wondering whether you still have the complete passenger list of the SS City of Benares sunk on 18th September.
I am researching the life of Stanley T Johnson, whom I've found on a passenger list. I know he survived, but I can't find his name on any list of survivors. I need to be certain that he was actually aboard the ship!.
Thanks,
Peter
 
DeborahHeiligman

DeborahHeiligman

Member
Peter,
I am working on a children's book about this incident. I am sorry to report that Derek is no longer alive. He died in 2016. I visited his sister Sonia and another survivor this past summer. I have found a ship's manifest on Ancestry.com. His name is on it. Tried to attach it here. Let me know if you can see it.
Best,
Deborah Heiligman
www.DeborahHeiligman.com

41039 b001557 00147
 
P

Peter Miles

Member
Hi Deborah,
I'm so sorry to hear that Derek passed away, and I'm very grateful that you have stepped in.
Yes, I can see the ship's manifest - many thanks!
Do you think that means Stanley T Johnson actually boarded the ship?
As mentioned, there are list of survivors (albeit incomplete) in the internet, and I have yet to find his name on it.
All the best for youyr book! Sounds like a great project.
Kind regards,
Peter
[email protected]
 
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