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18 - Story of Tragedy



from The Treasury of Newfoundland Stories published, by Maple Leaf Mills Limited, in 1961

On Sunday night, November 10, 1940, while passengers on board M.S.Maneco were waiting for the lines to be cast off on the homeward trip to Bell Island, the news was quickly circulated that a motor boat was on fire in the tickle. A telephone call to this effect had been received from the island. Capt. Saunders of the Maneco lost no time in leaving the wharf to assist the distressed craft. Coming across the tickle a sharp lookout was kept for the burning boat, but although the surface was brightly lighted nothing of that nature could be seen. There was nothing to indicate the horrible tragedy that had occurred while the Maneco was tied up at Portugal Cove. And it was only when the ferry reached the tramway wharf that the first real details of the disaster were learned.

Instead of a boat on fire, the unbelievable news was that a collision had occurred between the other two ferry boats plying on the tickle - the M.Y.W. Garland, and the little Golden Dawn.

Earlier persons on the wharf and along the beach heard a resounding crash outside the point of beach. Terrified screams for help had come from the direction of the crash, and then an outburst of fire, on the Golden Dawn. Those who heard and saw the terrible drama of death on that memorable night will always remember it.

By the time the Maneco docked a small boat owned by Walter Dicks and manned by him, Ned Snow and James O'Rielly, put out and rowed to the scene of the tragedy. There it picked up the four persons who were sole survivors of that carefree company of 26 souls who had sailed on the Garland from Portugal Cove earlier that evening, entirely unaware of danger. William Shanes and Mark Butler were also on the scene in another boat and helped in the rescue. The four survivors were Norman Ash, owner of the Garland, Harbour Grace, Gerald Tucker of St. Philips and two brothers, John and James Quilty of St. Thomas'.

A snow squall which swept over the tickle shortly before six o'clock has been described as the cause of the collision. The two vessels were travelling in opposite directions at their regular rate of speed. The Golden Dawn had left the Beach Trading Company's wharf about 5.45 without passengers, after returning from a trip in the bay. She had turned and was heading for Portugal Cove when her captain sighted a masthead light approaching and altered course to clear the oncoming vessel. then a sudden snow squall blinded him. As it passed, he was startled by a white shape looming up on the starboard side, and in the next instant the stem of the Garland plunged into the side of the Dawn amidships with terrific force. The men on the Dawn shouted to those on the Garland to keep her engine running and hold her "nose" in the hole, but the engine of the Dawn had stopped. She was swung about by the Garland, and the two vessels lost contact. All this happened in less time than it takes to tell it.

The Dawn, helpless, drifted away. And it was then that engineer Rose showed his presence of mind by soaking his overcoat with kerosene and setting fire to it on the top of the wheel-house. The light attracted attention on the beach. An eye witness said that the Garland continued on her course without reduction of speed, heading straight for land. However, with her bows stove in, she quickly sank, taking the majority of those on board to their doom. She was only 600 feet from the point of beach.

An empty cask was bobbing on the surface over the grave of the Garland, as well as a hatch and to these two floating objects the four survivors clung until rescue reached them from the shore. Sad to relate, the others who were on board had no such means of surviving in the deep water.

Early next morning search began for the 22 bodies laying in the cold depths off the beach. Altogether, thirteen bodies were recovered.



Back to: The Treasury of Newfoundland Stories Menu

This page transcribed by James Butler, 2000
REVISED: August 2002 (Terry Piercey)

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