The West Australian Wednesday, May 20, 1914
This article is titled: SHARK-INFESTED WATER.
REMARKABLE STORY OF THE SEA.
A most remarkable and sensational story of the sea was unfolded by the officers of the P. and O. liner Marmora on the arrival of that vessel at Fremantle yesterday It appears that on May 6 three days after leaving Aden for Colombo, the third officer, who was on watch, heard a cry for help. At the time the vessel was steaming along at the rate of about 16 knots. But, being early dawn, he was unable to distinguish any object in the waters. Thinking possibly that one of the passengers or a member of the crew had fallen overboard, the officer lost little time in reporting the matter to the commander, the result being that the vessel was at once swung, to port and then proceeded back on the line of her course. Immediately, the cry was heard, life buoys were thrown over the side and life-boats were manned.
After proceeding back some distance the cry was again heard, but as no object could be distinguished from the Marmora's bridge, the starboard lifeboat, manned by a picked crew in charge of one of the officers, was lowered. It was not many minutes before the boat returned to the ship with what appeared to be the lifeless form of a native huddled in the bottom. The man, however, was only in a state of collapse and with the application of restoratives, he soon recovered. It was at once seen that the native was not a member of the Marmara's crew, and no little curiosity was manifested amongst the officers as to how he came to be swimming in the waters 400 miles from land.
As soon as he had recovered sufficiently; the native, through an interpreter, related a most sensational story. It was learned that he had been a trimmer on the Begolia, one of the Anchor line of steamers. The previous day the man fixes the hour at 11 a.m. he had been engaged in emptying ashes from the stokehold when by some means he fell into the shute through which the ashes were being projected, and was precipitated into the sea. Apparently, his predicament was not observed by those on the Begolia, for no attempt was made to rescue him. According to his statements to the Marmora's officers, he continued to swim around for hours in the desperate hope that some passing steamer would pick him up. The afternoon wore on, but nothing was sighted, and as night fell the desperate man began to give up hope. To add to his fears, sharks, with which the waters in those parts are infested, began to make their presence known, and it was only by dint of much splashing with his arms and shouting that he managed to frighten them away. But the respite was only a short-lived one, for the monsters often re-appeared. Throughout the night he managed to keep on top of the water, alternately floating and swimming. Owing to the presence of the sharks, however, he was never allowed to take more than a brief rest.
It was a welcome sight when just as daybreak was commencing to set in he espied the lights of a steamer heading towards him. Summoning all his reserve of strength he shouted frantically, but when he saw her pass him he was afraid that his appeal for help had not been heard. His relief, however, when he saw her turn on her course can well be imagined. In all probability the native after his rescue did not correctly remember the hour of his precipitation into the sea, and that the incident must have occurred much later in the day. In any event, the accident to the man-on-the Beolia and his rescue by the Marmora are of a remarkable character On arrival at Colombo the native was handed over to the authorities who sent him back to his home at Cattack.