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Collection 624 Ephemera of the ZamZam Incident

 Collection
Identifier: CN 624

Scope and Contents

Diaries, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, oral history interviews, correspondence, photos, and other materials relating to the passengers, mainly American missionaries, who were aboard the ship Zamzam, sunk in the south Atlantic Ocean in 1941 by a German warship. Materials describe the sinking, the subsequent experiences of the passengers as German prisoners and the internment of some for the duration of the war, and reunions held in later years by the survivors and their families.

Dates

  • Created: 1941-2012

Conditions Governing Access

Because of the fragility of the McCallister scrapbook in folder 4-1, it is unavailable for researcher use; photocopies of the originals are available in folder 4-2.

Video 3 may not be copied. Anyone wanting to get copies should contact ITN-Fox Movietone.

Historical Information

ZamZam was a ship of neutral Egyptian registry which was shelled and sunk by a German warship in the south Atlantic Ocean April 17, 1941. The ship was carrying, besides the crew, about 200 passengers, mainly American missionaries. Only one person died as an immediate result of the shelling. The passengers and crew were carried to German-occupied France, where citzens of neutral countries were released and citizens of belligent countries were put in internment camps.

Historical Timeline

1909 - The Leicestershire, an ocean liner was built by Harland and Wolf in Belfast, Ireland, for the Bibby Line. Her gross weight was 8,059 gross tons, length 467.2 feet x beam 54.3 feet x depth 31.7 feet, one funnel, four masts, twin screw and a speed of 15 knots. (Her gross tonnage in 1941 would be 8299 and her speed 14 knots.) The ship was launched on June 3rd and delivered to her owners On September 11th. Her maiden voyage was from Birkenhead, England to Rangoon, Burma.

August 1914 - The ship was requisitioned by the Indian colonial government to serve as troop transport and carried the 17th Lancers regiment from Bombay, India to Marseilles, France. She also carried Indian and Burmese troops to the Persian Gulf before being returned to her owners.

November 1917 - The ship was requisitioned by the British government to serve as troop transport and convoyed 2,000 troops from Plymouth, England to Bombay, India.

April to August, 1918 - The ship was part of the transport of 2,000 troops British troops to Archangel in northern Russia and then of the convoy that brought 5,900 American troops to London and Liverpool.

December 1918 - The ship carried 3,000 Australian troops from Liverpool, England to the Australian ports of Freemantle, Melbourne, and Sydney.

Ca. 1918 - After the ship was returned to her owners, they changed her from coal to oil burning and otherwise modernized the ship. The coal bunker was turned into cargo space.

1930 - The Leicestershire was purchased by the British National Expedition Company, Ltd., and renamed British Exhibitor

1933 - The British Exhibitor was purchased on September 28th by the Egyptian Company for Travel and Navigation after the bankruptcy of the previous owners. It was renamed the Zamzam and for two months of each year at least carried Islamic pilgrims back and forth from Mecca.

1934 - Zamzam was transferred to Societe Misr de Navigation of Alexandria, Egypt in May and continued carrying pilgrims.

1937 - May. German naval captain Bernhard Rogge is in England as one of Germany’s delegation to the coronation of King George VI. While in Dartmouth, he noticed four masted ships in the harbor and asked the British naval officer acting as his escort. He was told they were ships of the Bibby line and that during World War I, the British government had requisitioned these ships as troop transports. In April 1941 Rogge would remember this information when he identified the Zamzam as a four masted Bibby liner.

1939 - Zamzam is laid up in Cairo in October.

1940

October 28 - While in the harbor of Alexandria, Egypt after returning from a voyage to Japan, the ship was damaged during attack by Italian planes on British warships berthed nearby. She was struck on the port side by a bomb which set fire to the bridge, destroyed the captain's quarters and damaged the smoke stack.

December - Zamzam resumes service under Captain William Gray Smith and is to carry passengers and cargo on the Alexandria - Cape Town - New York route, via the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, South Atlantic Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea.

1941

February 24 - Zamzam arrived at Jersey City, New Jersey with 99 passengers after a sixty day journey of some 13,000 miles and later travels on to Boston. She sailed blacked out because of wartime conditions.

March - The ship was held several days in Hoboken harbor because of a suit filed against the owners by stevedore Michael Pnziano, who claimed he had suffered a skull fracture while working on the ship. It was allowed to sail after the owners posted a $50,000 bond. March 20 - The Zamzam sailed from Hoboken, New Jersey (at 9:30pm), sailing for Alexandria, Egypt, with planned stops at Baltimore, Trinidad, Recife, Capetown, and Mombassa. Besides Captain Smith, there were 141 in the crew, including officers. Besides cargo, the ship carried 202 passengers. (There are many different reports of the exact number of passengers.) And of the passengers, 137 were missionaries (including many married couples and children) sailing to Africa to their mission stations there. Seventeen were Roman Catholic workers sailing to South Africa. The rest were from twenty-one different Protestant denominational and nondenominational missions. Besides the missionaries, there was also a large contingent (24) of the British-American Ambulance Corps, volunteer ambulance drivers going to North Africa to serve as noncombatants with the Allied forces.

March 23 - Zamzam arrived at Baltimore

March 30 - Zamzam arrived at Trinidad. According to the memoirs of the German naval captain, Bernhard Rogge, while in Trinidad, the ship's captain received orders from the British Admiralty to sail to a prearranged course. (The ship was carrying a British cargo and therefore had to conform to British regulations.) His request to sail with lights (showing his neutral status) because he had women and children aboard was refused and he was told to again blackout the ship. On the voyage between Trinidad and Recife, the portholes were painted black. German naval authorities would later point to these actions as evidence that the ship, although neutral, was not acting in a neutral manner. The Germans would also claim that a large part of the ship's cargo was contraband by German definition.

April 9 - Zamzam departed from the city of Recife, Brazil (capital of the province of Pernambuco)

April 14 - Ship changes course, the captain says later, in response to an SOS from a Norwegian ship attacked by a German warship.

April 17 - The German surface raider Atlantis (sailing at this time under the name Tamesis) shelled the ship at approximately 5:00 AM, knocking out the radio with the first shell so no SOS was sent. Most passengers got into lifeboats, which were in terrible condition, possibly because of the shelling. Some of the lifeboats capsized minutes after being put in the water. All passengers and crew were taken on board the Atlantis. The Zamzam was boarded by the Germans, who removed any remaining people and all supplies useful for the Atlantis. They placed time bombs aboard which sank the Zamzam.

April 18 - The Atlantis met with its supply ship, the Dresden, and transferred all the Zamzam passengers except three (Ned Laughinghouse, Robert Starling, Frank Vicovari) with wounds too serious to be moved. The passengers lived on the Dresden as prisoners.

April 26 - The Dresden and Atlantis meet for the last time.

April 28 - Passenger Ned Laughinghouse died in the Atlantis sickbay of wounds received during the shelling.

May 13 - The Dresden sighted a British convoy and evades it.

May 19 - First news stories on the loss of the Zamzam, presumed sunk, published and broadcast, stating that the fate of the passengers and crew was unknown.

May 20 - The Dresden reached St. Jean-de-Luz on the coast of German occupied France after a long, circuitous journey that included slipping through the British blockade. The Americans passengers were disembarked and taken to the resort town of Biarritz, France. The American consul at Bordeaux, Henry S. Waterman, was there to deal with the needs of the Americans. The passengers and crew from countries at war with Germany were taken by sea to Bordeaux. (At this point, the Germans were apparently not considering Egypt a neutral nation.) They were then separated into groups of men and women and sent to different internment camps. Most of the women are eventually exchanged for German women in Allied countries, but many of the men remain in prison camp until the end of the war. Among the internment camps that the men were kept imprisoned in Germany, Bulgaria, and France were Tost, Giromagny, Westertimke, Marlag und Milag Nord. Among the camps in Germany that the women were kept in was Liebenau. The German government announced that a German warship had sunk the Zamzam and the passengers had been taken to occupied France.

May 21 - Consul Waterman cables the US State Department and the US embassy in Vichy, France (with a copy to the US embassy in Madrid, Spain) about the arrival of the Zamzam passengers and the anticipated evacuation of the Americans through Spain and Portugal.

May 24 - DuWayne G. Clark and George W. Poland, Jr., of the US Spanish embassy staff arrived in Biarritz to assist and escort the Americans. They were also assisted by the American consuls in Bordeaux and Biarritz.

May 31 - The American passengers, except for the ambulance drivers, are released by the German authorities to American embassy personnel on the French-Spanish border at Hendaye. There were a total of 119 people. With them were Poland and Clark as well as Theresa Welch of the Madrid embassy and Nathaniel C. Wilson and Charles Carr of the American Red Cross office in Spain. They traveled to Portugal, via San Sebastian, Spain, by train.

June 1 - The American Zamzam passengers cross the Spanish/Portuguese border by train at Fuente de Õnoro at noon and are met by members of the US Lisbon embassy.

June 2 - The American passengers arrive in Lisbon and then travel by bus to Sintra, Portugal, where they stayed until arrangements were made for their voyage back to the United States. Life magazine published a brief article on the sinking of the Zamzam.

June 9 - First three passengers from the Zamzam return to New York flying on a Pan American Airways flying board and landing at the marine field at La Guardia field. They were Charles J. V. Murphy, an editor of Fortune magazine; David Scherman, the photographer for Life magazine; and Charles A. McCarthy of the British-American Ambulance Corps.

June 21 - Some passengers (most of the single women) of the Zamzam arrived back in New York harbor, aboard the S. S.Mouzinho.

June 23 - Some passengers (eight families) of the Zamzam arrived back in New York harbor, aboard the S. S.Serpa Pinto. Life magazine publishes an extensive article about the sinking of the Zamzam and the voyage of the passengers to occupied France. The article was written by Charles Murphy, a writer for Fortune magazine and a Zamzam passenger. It was illustrated with many photos taken by David E. Scherman, Life photographer, also a passenger.

June 24 - Fifty-three passengers (including the Danielson, Buyse and Arthur Barnett families) of the Zamzam arrived back in New York harbor aboard the S. S.Exeter.

June 27 - Twenty Zamzam missionary passengers speak of their experiences to a packed auditorium of approximately 2000 at the Baptist Temple in Brooklyn, New York. The meeting was sponsored by Africa Inland Mission, Sudan Interior Mission, and South Africa General Mission.

June 30 - Some passengers of the Zamzam arrived back in New York harbor.

July 28 - Some passengers of the Zamzam arrived back in New York harbor aboard the Excalibur. These were Jim Stewart and Tom Greenough, two members of the ambulance corp who had escaped while in France and had gotten to Portugal.

August 2 - Some passengers of the Zamzam arrived back in New York harbor on the USS West Point. These were the remaining members of the ambulance corp, except for Frank Vicovari, who was still a prisoner of the Germans.

November 11 - Elma Elam, a Southern Baptist missionary and survivor of the Zamzam, died shortly after telling the story of her experiences to the Saline County School of Missions in the USA. Later, Elam Memorial School in Shaki, Nigeria was named after her.

November 21 - The Atlantis was sunk by the British naval vessel, HMS Devonshire, off the coast of South Africa. A photo of Scherman’s from the June 23 issue of Life magazine had been used by British pilots to confirm that the ship was the Atlantis.

December 15 - Life magazine published an article about the prisoners life on the Dresden, illustrated with photos taken by Scherman and seized and then released by the German censor

1942

June 29 - Some passengers of the Zamzam arrived back in New York harbor on the Drottningholm. These were 10 Canadian women who had been exchanged for German women held in Canada. These women had been released from Liebenau camp on September 12, but had been forced to live in Berlin on very limited resources until arrangement were made for the exchange.

1944

February 25 - Francis Vicovari is repatriated. He had been on the Atlantis when it was sunk, was rescued after two days on the ocean by a German submarine which was sunk and was rescued by another German submarine. He was then taken to L' Orient in German occupied France and was in an internment camp until he was exchanged.

October 23 - TASS, the Russian news agency, announced that the Russian army fighting in Bulgaria had liberated a German prison camp that contains 104 survivors of the Egyptian crew of the Zamzam. In 1945 Percy Knauth,a correspondent for the New York Times, found many of the crew living in a small town in Yugoslavia.

1945

April 27 - Walter Guilding released from his internment camp at Westertimke, N. Bremen, Germany when the British army occupies the area. He is perhaps the last Zamzam passenger to recover his freedom.

May 8 - V-E Day, the end of the war in Europe.

1947

March 20 - Africa Inland Mission, the agency of several of the Zamzam passengers, sued the shipping line and the travel agency in Africa Inland Mission vs. the Alexandria Navigation Company and Thomas Cook & Son-Wagon-Lits, Inc. charging negligence. The case was heard in the Supreme Court, New York County before Justice Joseph A. Gavaagan and a jury. The court dismissed AIM’s complaint on March 20. December 23 - The mission having appealed to the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, the appeal was granted and a new trial was granted in the case. 1948

March 12 - New trial scheduled.

May 27 - At approximately this date, an out of court settlement was reached between the parties involved. The defendants agreed to pay 50% of the mission’s claim of $24,448.79. Of this sum of $12,224.40, the mission received $9,543.30. The rest went for lawyer fees and expenses.

July 20-21, 1991 - Reunion of Zamzam survivors and family at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.

June 19-20, 1993 - Reunion of Zamzam survivors and family at the Fatima Retreat Center at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

July 27-28, 1996 - Reunion of Zamzam survivors and family at the Fatima Retreat Center at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

August 17-19, 2001 - Reunion of Zamzam survivors and family at the Fatima Retreat Center at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

August 15-17, 2003 - Reunion of Zamzam survivors and family at the Fatima Retreat Center at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

August 4-6, 2006 - Reunion of Zamzam survivors and family at the Keswick Conference grounds in Whiting, New Jersey.

July 30-August 1, 2010 - Reunion of Zamzam survivors and family at the Mennonite Central Committee Welcoming Place in Akron, Pennsylvania.

April 15-17, 2016 - Reunion of Zamzam survivors and family at the Fellowship Hall of the Messiah Lutheran Church in Lindsborg, Kansas.

Extent

5.37 Cubic Feet (10 Boxes (DC), Audio Recordings, Oversize Materials, Photographs, Videos)

Language of Materials

English

Arrangement of Materials

[Note: In the Arrangement section, the notation “folder 2-5" means “Box 2, Folder 5"]

The material in this collections consists of various documents relating the sinking of the Zamzam which were either donated to the BGC Archives or were collected by the Archives staff. Their organization was supplied by the staff. The main subjects covered by this collection include the sinking of the Zamzam; the experiences of the passengers afterwards and their reflection on the experiences; the German warships Atlantis and Dresden; the reunions of Zamzam survivors and their families.

Series: Paper Records

Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title

Date Range: 1941-2006

Volume: 4.6cubic foot

Boxes: 1-10

Geographic coverage: United States, France, Spain

Type of documents: Letters, magazines, books, newspaper and magazine clippings, Zamzam reunion materials, notes Notes: All materials donated by one person are described together.

Exceptional items: Folder 2-3 contains an annotated bibliography by Wilifred Danielson (who was one of the children on the ship) of books, articles, websites and much else that related to the sinking of the Zamzam. The annotations are filled with useful information and the bibliography is probably the best single resource on all things relating to the incident. The copy in the archives is dated November 2006. Mr. Danielson frequently updated the bibliography. Mr. Danielson frequently updated the bibliography and the folder also contains a 2016 update.

Folders 1-1 and 2-5 contain the memoirs of the captain of the Atlantis, Bernhard Rogge and his adjutant Ulrich Mohr. Both books include chapters on the Zamzam and tells the story of the sinking from the German point of view. There two slightly different versions of the Mohr book in the folder, one of which was given to Florence McCallister by Arthur and Peggy Barnett, all survivors of the Zamzam.

Folder 1-2 contains Eleanor (Danielson) Anderson’s account, written many years later, of her family’s experiences during the sinking and afterwards and how the experience strengthened their faith in Jesus Christ.

Folders 1-2, 1-3, 1-4, 1-14, 2-1, 2-4, 3-3, 3-4, 3-5, 3-7, 10-19, 10-21, 11-1, 11-2, 11-3 all contain book length accounts written by survivors, most within a few years of the sinking. All were passengers. The books by Guernsey (folder 1-14), Olga Guttoemson (folder 2-1) and Peter Levitt (11-3) also contain accounts of their experiences in German internment camps. Folder 10-9 contains an account in German by Carol Gossage of the experiences of the seven Canadian women, including Guernsey and Guttoemson, during their internment. This 2009 book by Gossage includes two pages of bibliography about the Zamzam incident. The book in folder 1-4, edited by S. Hjalmar Swanson, emphasizes the experience of the Lutheran-Augustana Synod missionary families among the passengers. It contains brief accounts written by several of the missionaries about various aspects of the experience, as well as a list of the missionaries on the ship and their mission agencies. Guernsey’s book also has photos, although only from the internee’s time in Germany. Folder 2-4 contains the memoirs, in French, of Father Eugene Nadeau, one of the several Canadian members of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Bonds of Wire in folder 9-3 contains a brief account of the priest Phillipe Gaud reault, whoalso was a passenger. The book describes the voyage of the Zamzam and the experiences of Father Nadeau and his fellow priests in internment camps in Germany. James Stewart’s experiences, as recorded in his diary from January to August 1941, a unpublished manuscript he wrote in 1941 after returning to America and other documents was published by his family in 2012 and this book is in folder 10-21. The experiences of the Hult family as they waited to learn the fate of their father on the ZamZam, are told in On Our Way Rejoicing in folder 3-3.

Folder 3-4 contains photocopies of the preface and a chapter from T.O. Dosumu-Johnson's 1980 memoir, Reflections of an African Nationalist. The preface refers to his experiences on the Zamzam and the chapter also has a brief section on the sinking and his internment by the Germans (followed by internment by the British when he returned to Sierra Leone.) Folder 3-7 contains a 1945 book in Arabic about the Zamzam in Arabic, Zamzam Al-ghariqah by Muhammad Kazim. The same folder contains an English translation of the book, done by Wheaton College Graduate School student Lucy Shafik in 2020. A first-hand accunt of the Zamzam story written for children is in folder 11-2.

Folders 1-3, 1-4, 1-14, 2-1, 2-4, and 2-7 contain accounts written within a few years of the sinking. Authors include Sylvia Oiness (folder 1-3), Isabel Russel Guernsey (folder 1-14), Olga Guttoemson (folder 2-1), and Eugene Nadeau (folder 2-4). All were passengers. The books by Guernsey, and Olga Guttoemson also describe in detail their experiences at Liebenau internment camp and in Berlin before they were able to sail home. Folder 10-9 contains another account in German by Carol Gossage of the experiences of the seven Canadian women, including Guernsey and Guttoemson, during their internment. This 2009 book by Gossage includes two pages of bibliography about the Zamzam incident. The book in folder 1-4, edited by S. Hjalmar Swanson, emphasizes the experience of the Lutheran-Augustana Synod missionary families among the passengers. It contains brief accounts written by several of the missionaries about various aspects of the experience, as well as a list of the missionaries on the ship and their mission agencies. Guernsey’s book also has photos, although only from the internee’s time in Germany. Folder 2-4 contains the memoirs, in French, of Father Eugene Nadeau, one of the several Canadian members of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The book describes the voyage of the Zamzam and the experiences of Father Nadeau and his fellow priests in internment camps in Germany. James Stewart’s experiences, as recorded in his diary from January to August 1941, a unpublished manuscript he wrote in 1941 after returning to America and other documents was published by his family in 2012 and this book is in folder 10-21. The experiences of the Hult family as they waited to learn the fate of their father on the Zamzam, are told in On Our Way Rejoicing in folder 3-3.

Folder 3-4 contains photocopies of the preface and a chapter from T. O. Dosumu-Johnson's 1980 memoir, Reflections of an African Nationalist. The preface refers to his experiences on the Zamzam and the chapter also has a brief section on the sinking and his internment by the Germans (followed by internment by the British when he returned to Sierra Leone.) Folder 3-7 contains a 1945 book in Arabic about the Zamzam in Arabic, Zamzam Al-ghariqah by Muhammad Kazim with an Englisih translation by Lucy Shafik..

Several folders contain non-book passengers accounts of the experiences. There is, for example, the material in folder 2-7, which was compiled and donated by David A. Stewart and consisted of his father James W. Stewart's unfinished account from 1941 of his experiences on the Zamzam and afterwards; his diary of the events covering January 1 to September 19, 1941; and photocopies of many relevant documents, mainly from the offices of the British American Ambulance Corps. These materials were first published privately and then in a second edition as a mass market book. A copy of the second edition of this book is in folder 10-21. Folder 10-20 contains a transcription by Lynette Mathewson of the diary kept by her grandmother, Mabel Hall, from March to June 1941, including her accounts (sometimes written a few days after the event) the sinking of the Zamzam, the internment on the Dresden, and the journey of the American passengers through occupied Europe into Spain and back to the United States.

David Scherman, the photographer from Life magazine, was one of the major actors in the Zamzam story. His unpublished manuscript telling the story of the entire incident and what happened to the participants in later years is in folder 3-5.

Folder 10-1 contains a transcript of an interview with Florence McCallister about her and her husband Irl’s experiences. This interview was apparently made not long after their return to the United States in June 1941. The same folder has a much longer manuscript about their experiences. This may have been the basis for the account the McCallister had printed in their home town newspaper Daily Journal [Wheaton, Illinois]. Copies of these editions of the paper are described on the Location Record for oversize materials. The same folder has notes for other talks she gave, as well as a speech by her granddaughter on her grandmother’s experiences.

There are many, many newspaper and magazine clippings. Some of these cover the Zamzam story itself in 1941 (folders 2-2 and 10-3 through 10-8) and other later ones are retelling of the story after several years, usually by one of the passengers.

Folder 10-7 contains a brief report for the in-house journal of the U.S. Foreign Service of the work of the U.S. consuls in assisting the passengers in Occupied France.

Folder 10-4 contains copies of French and English newspapers available in Biarritz or perhaps St. Jean-de-Luz at the time of the passenger’s arrival. Folder 1-12 contains the three issues of Life magazine from 1941 with stories about the Zamzam.

Folder 2-6 contains two issues of Collier’s magazine from 1944, with the beginning and end of an account by British-American Ambulance Corps commander Frank Vicovari’s account of the sinking of the Zamzam and his captivity aboard various German vessels.

Folders 1-5 through 1-10 contain materials donated to the Archives. These include many newspaper clippings, most from 1941, about the sinking and the return of the American passengers to the United States; text of a talk by Lemuel Blades about his grandfather, Ned Laughinghouse (the passenger who died from wounds received during the shelling), and a poem Laughinghouse wrote about the voyage just days before the attack; a transcript of a diary of the incident kept by passenger Irl McCallister and edited by Leonard Buck (the Archives does not have the diary and received only the transcript from Rev. Buck); a transcribed copy of a letter written June 30, 1941 by Alice Landis describing her experiences (the Archives does not have a copy of the original letter; the transcript appears to have been made much later); a brief sheet prepared by Eleanor Anderson on the experiences of James W. Stewart of the Ambulance Corp before and after the sinking (folder 1-10). Other materials about Stewart’s adventures on the Zamzam and after are in folder 2-7 and on microfilm reel 1.

Folder 10-1 includes documents on the compensation that the McCallisters (and the other passengers) were required to repay to the U.S. State Department for assistance they received from the United States government when they were in occupied France.

Folder 9-5 contains photocopies made by Wilfred Danielson of a wide variety of documents from the National Archives of the United States relating to the Zamzam incident. There are, for example, reports from the American consuls in France who assisted the passengers when they arrived and statements that they took from various people about the sinking. There are lists of the ship’s passengers and cargo; correspondence between the State Department and people asking about the fate of the ship and lists of documents relating to the case in various archival files.

Folder 1-11 contains printouts of material found on the Internet about the Zamzam and the Atlantis and passenger James de Graaff-Hunter

Folder 1-12 contains the three issues of Life magazine from 1941 with stories about the Zamzam.

Folder 2-2 contains copies of newspaper and magazine clippings gathered by the Archives staff about the Zamzam.

Folders 3-1 and 3-2 contain the newsletters of the informal Zamzam survivor group, started and largely maintained by Eleanor Anderson. These reports are a treasure trove of information on various aspects of the Zamzam story. There are 32 of them all together, and they often contain reports of presentations made at reunions are notes and greetings from various Zamzamers, or copies of relevant documents, etc. Boxes 5 to 8 contain Anderson’s correspondence with many survivors of the Zamzam and their families. These folders contain a great deal about the 1941 incident and also the story of the later lives of the people involved, in some ways a very typical and in some ways a very unusual group. Many, of course, were missionaries and the folders allow the tracing of American missionaries’ lives in many parts of the world. But there are also many folders of correspondence with non-missionaries such as Peter Levitt (folder 7-3), photographer David Scherman (folder 8-3) and several members of the British American Ambulance Corps. There are also two interesting letters from the wife of an Egyptian crew member of the Zamzam in folder 6-7. The correspondence in these files is interesting for its tracing of the lives of a group of people for several decades from the 1940s on, as well as for what it tells about the Zamzam story.

Zamzam survivors and their families began holding reunions in 1991. Folder 10-18 contains some programs and other materials that Florence McCallister saved from several reunions. Folder 1-13 contains some of the materials, including attendance list and photocopies of newspaper clippings, from the 2006 reunion.

*****

Series: Audio-visual materials

Arrangement: Chronological by date

Date Range: 1972, 2006

Volume: .02 cubic feet

Geographic coverage: United States

Type of documents: recording of a lecture, oral history interview, a video documentary

Exceptional items:

T1 - (Side 1, 50 minutes) A lecture given by Mabel Hall, accompanied by slides or a filmstrip of photographs taken by David Scherman (the Archives does not have the photographs), with a very brief question time at the end. She describes the experiences of the Zamzam passengers from March to June 1941, with most of the emphasis on the sinking of the Zamzam, the time on the Dresden, and her reflections on the spiritual meaning of the experience. Side 2 of the reel is a recording of the exact same lecture, of much poorer audio quality.

T2 - (60 minutes) Oral history interview of Arthur Barnett by Bob Shuster. Introduction; son of Albert and Elma Barnett; father’s Australian background; immigration to the United States; father’s call to missions; joining AIM in 1905; how his mother came to the United States, became a missionary, became engaged to Albert Barnett; Arthur’s birth in 1910; call to be a doctor; family’s return to the United States in 1925; contacts with the Westervelts; formation of the Westervelt Missionary Home; Arthur’s education in the United States and medical training; attempt to go to Africa as a missionary in 1940; meeting his future wife Margaret Stevenson; getting an exemption from his draft board and being ordained as a Baptist missionary; importance of being married before going to Africa; marriage; Arthur Glasser; selecting the Zamzam to sail to Africa; description of the ship; meaning of the name Zamzam; the crew of the ship; decrepit condition of the ship; delay in sailing from Hoboken, New Jersey; the Barnett’s tiny cabin on deck; memories of the voyages; comments on the later Zamzam reunions; controversy of observing blackout regulations on the ship and zigzagging; description of the Easter service on board; the shelling of the ship by the Atlantis on April 17; their lifeboat smashed; destruction of their cabin; reaction of Zamzam crew; abandoning ship; passengers being picked up by the Atlantis motorboats; more on the shelling of the ship; miraculous escape of almost all of the passengers and crew; witnessing to a German crew member; Captain Rogge’s Lutheranism; the Lord’s protection during the sinking

T3- (97 minutes) Oral History interview with Alice (Landis) Schellenberg by Bob Shuster. Family background; growing up on a farm; conversion and call to be a missionary while attending a Keswick Conference in New Jersey; grandmother’s desire to be a missionary; siblings who became missionaries; attending Moody Bible Institute 1937-1939 and 1942; Will Houghton; Wilbur Smith; street preaching and visits to Cook County Hospital; attending Moody Church; decide to join AIM; father’s expulsion from the Mennonite ministry and Alice’s attendance at Calvary Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; healing of a lesion on her lungs; attending the Summer Institute of Linguistics in Siloam Springs, Arkansas; Kenneth Pike and Eugene Nida; first impression of the Zamzam; her cabin and roommates; preparations to go to Africa; importance of prayer backing for missionaries; encouragement to her from the ladies missionary society at the church, including a poem she read after the sinking; leaving New York City harbor; relations between missionaries and other passengers; the crew of the Zamzam, memories of the voyage; evening devotions by Roy Brill the night before the shelling; the importance of her umbrella; the shelling of the ship on the morning of April 17; instructions from the captain the day before the attack; finding a lifeboat; leaving the lifeboat for the raft; the appearance of a rainbow; reaction of passengers and crew to the sinking; being picked up by the Atlantis; treatment of the Zamzam passengers and crew by the Atlantis crew; Captain Rugge of the Atlantis; accommodations on the Atlantis; transfer to the Dresden; treatment of the prisoners on the Dresden; crew of the Dresden; activities of the prisoners on the Dresden, including sewing and carving; importance of the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John to her; lack of hysterics or depression among the prisoners; morning devotions; poor condition of the food; voyage of the Dresden through northern waters through the British blockade to occupied Europe; reports to the world of the sinking of the Zamzam; her father’s reaction to the news; landing in France; visit of the American consul; wandering around the town of Biarritz unguarded; train trip to Portugal; sightseeing in Portugal; saying good-bye to British prisoners on the Dresden and their internment; Mr. Walter Guilding learning Greek while in interment camp; sailing back to the United States with Jewish refugee children; pretending she was at Horn and Hardart’s Automat while a prisoner; arriving back in New York harbor and meeting her family and friends from Calvary Church; speaking about her Zamzam experiences around the country; meeting her future husband; sailing to Africa again after encouragement from the Bible; difficulties before sailing; Deuteronomy 11:26-28; “we saw the hand of the Lord in little things.”

V1 - (300 minutes) The Rainbow Odyssey. Homemade documentary by James. J. Murray. It consists of four parts. The first part is video of various documents relating to the Zamzam, including the passenger list, letters from passengers in German interment camps. The second part consists of scenes shot during the 1991 Zamzam reunion. The third part consists of segments from the 1953 NBC television program about the sinking of the Atlantis. The fourth part is audio only (approximately 80 minutes, recorded November 27, 1983) of Mrs. Doris Young describing her experience on the Zamzam, the Atlantis, and the Dresden.

Additions and Accruals

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by a variety of donors in 1992, 2006, 2007, 2010, and 2016, including generous donations from Eleanor Anderson, Arthur Malcolm Barnett, Lemuel S. Blades, Leonard Buck, Wilfred Danielson, Mary Fix Fawcett, Lynnette Mathewson, Douglas and Kathy McCallister, James J. Murray, Alice Landis Schellenberg, David and Marilou Stewart.

Accession: 92-99, 06-6, 06-25, 06-26, 06-27, 06-29, 06-31

November 20, 2006

Bob Shuster

Accession 07-33

Revised April 17, 2007

Bob Shuster

Accessions 07-38, 07-39, 07-40

Revised June 18, 2007

Bob Shuster

Accession 07-49

Revised July 20, 2007

Bob Shuster

Accession 07-51

Revised August 3, 2007

Bob Shuster

Accessions 07-49, 07-56, 07-60, 07-63, 07-67, 07-73

Revised: February 19, 2008

Bob Shuster

K. Hayward

Accession 10-54

Revised: August 21, 2010

Bob Shuster

Accession 12-16

Revised July 6, 2012

Bob Shuster

Accession 16-11

Revised April 18, 2016

Bob Shuster

Related Collections

Collection 20: contains folder with clippings and correspondence from George and Marguerite Belknap, passengers on the Zamzam.

Collection 81: Includes personal files for Zamzam passengers , Fred and Anna Brill, Leonard and Daphne Buyse, Walter and Clara Guilding, William and Lily Mundy, J. Fred and Dorothy Young, Arthur and Margaret Barnett, W. Ted and Mamie Fix, Jessie Blanchard, Carol O. Turner, and Harriet Halsey. T266 in Collection 81 includes memories of William Guilding about his early days as a missionary, including a very, very few words about the Zamzam experience. Several other relevant files listed in guide, including material on Africa Inland Mission's lawsuit against the shipping company and travel agent.

Collection 330: Includes several postcards and letters to and from Walter Guilding in internment camp in Germany.

Collection 478: An oral history interview that includes Paul Buyse’s description of hearing about the sinking. His parents and siblings were on board.

Collection 487: Oral history which includes a brief description of a talk at which Clara Guilding described her experiences on the Zamzam.

Collection 496: Includes a scrapbook of clippings about the sinking of the ship.

Collection 502: Oral history interview which includes brief comment on the impact of the Zamzam sinking on other missionaries.
Title
Collection 624 Ephemera of the ZamZam Incident
Author
Bob Shuster
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Billy Graham Center Archives Repository

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