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This Day in Norwood History-August 14

Norwood Boy Rescued After 7 Days in Open Lifeboat

Harold Leonard Small, Norwood high School, Class of 1941

14 Aug 1942, Fri The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts)

NORWOOD, Aug. 14 — Harold Small, son of Mr. and Mrs. Philip Small of Washington st., who was aboard a large merchantman torpedoed in the South Atlantic on July 22, arrived home yesterday for a brief visit with his folks with a tale of spending seven days in an open lifeboat before being picked up by a British ship.

As his lifeboat started to pull away from the stricken ship a sub broke water and several of its crew came out on deck, one armed with a machine gun which he tried out in the water. Several members of the lifeboat crew were apprehensive that they were about to be machine-gunned. Small said, but the submarine pulled up within hailing distance and the officer in charge, a 35-year-old blond giant, asked them if they wanted cigarettes, hot food or water.

Several hours after the sinking, Small stated, a giant amphibian soared overhead with United Nations markings on it and dropped flares and food, and the crew were optimistic that they would soon be picked up. Two days after the sinking, Small stated, the crew had a note dropped to them by a bomber that there was a man floating a short distance away, and the boat made off in the direction indicated and picked up C. D. McMasters, a member of the crew, who had become separated from the others when the ship went down.

After drifting for seven days, working towards the shoreline & the time, the three boatloads of survivors were picked up by an English ship and finally landed ashore.

Local Man Spends 7 Days In Open Boat

Picked Up By British Ship

The Norwood Messenger – August 14, 1942

Snatched from death out of the windy and storm-lashed Atlantic one day last month, was sturdy, dark-complexioned Harold Small, who with his twin brother, Gordon, has defied the Axis since war was declared seven months ago.

Hale and hearty today is Harold Small, seaman aboard a ship that must remain, until after the war, anonymous. Tanned, dark-haired and undisturbed is Harold after an experience at sea that would shame Conrad.

Military secrets must be preserved, and Harold has no intention of giving away the details. Suffice it to say that Harold was a member -of the crew of a huge merchantman that was torpedoed and sunk in the middle-south Atlantic on the «afternoon of July 22nd.

Gay blades and none-too experienced seamen were joking at dinner time, 5:15, one day last month, when a terrific shutter shattered the aft-end of the giant freighter.

With traditional calm and military sea tradition the crew merely walked calmly to their life boat stations. No sign of «a submarine could be discerned. Veteran seamen agree on this, and yet a torpedo had hit just aft of amidship.

Harold Small was just about to rise from his seat at the mess table when the detonation told all a torpedo had buried its heinous nose into the hull of the huge freighter. With other members of the crew Harold got top-side to survey the situation. There was no panic. Harold flopped a warning hand to a shipmate crawling into a life boat and said. “I’ll see you in Jersey City” which brought a roar of laughter to some forty guys looking on.

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