A Magnificent Accomplishment

            However much individuals and conditions in Newfoundland may at times be the subject of criticism, deserved or undeserved, there is not much wrong with the heart of this community.  It is the same – whether it be ship owner or ordinary sealer – personal interests count for nothing; risks and dangers are not given a second thought, when duty calls to render aid to those in peril.  It is the spirit that finds prompt expression on the part of all.

            Few may fully realize outside those immediately concerned just how great a sacrifice and possible loss were represented in the response made by the sealing ships in abandoning their pursuit of the seals at once, and in rushing back through two hundred and fifty miles of ice-strewn sea in order to do anything and everything possible for the survivors of the Viking disaster.

            The reply of those who have participated in this relief expedition may readily be anticipated “What else was there to do?”  The fact that they at once carried out what was regarded as the one and only thing to do is what characterizes the act as splendid, and in the gloom cast by this unfortunate calamity, it is a refulgent light which The Telegram feels should not be over-shrouded.

            But for unerring judgment displayed by the captains, and the prompt assistance of the stout hearts and sturdy ships that arrived on the scene – rescuing men at death’s very door – bringing food and medical supplies to survivors who were facing privation and were in need of medical aid. – reinforcing those devoted women and the menfolk on Horse Islands, who had given of their own scanty supply of food, and had been ministering to the sick and injured until they were dropping from exhaustion – in assisting the injured across the four or five miles of ice – but for such wonderful service the Viking disaster would have been far greater than it is.

            Little has been said, and least of all by those of the vessels engaged in the work, of the danger to which they were exposed.  With the steamers four or five miles off shore, with the wind from the east packing the ice tighter and tighter into the bay, owners, captains and crews could have been under no misapprehension of the risk that was run from rafting ice or as occurred to the fleet in Green Bay in the Spring of 1915, of being jammed where they were for the rest of the season.

            One may not fully realize all that it has meant to the sealing crews, doctors, and others to convey to the shore the quantity of supplies landed yesterday and to bring back the men from the island to the relief ship Sagona, but it is possible to recognize that it was a magnificent achievement that does high credit to all concerned.  The successful performance of their mission is, we are certain, the first consideration of the sealers.  It is sincerely to be hoped that, the work accomplished and the voyage resumed, fortune will smile on their efforts.

The Evening Telegram, March 20, 1931  

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