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Tapscott & Widdicombe.

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Hugh Ferguson



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Registered: September 2006
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The sole survivors from the Anglo Saxon, in hospital in Nassau and receiving visitors.

(From the book, TWO SURVIVED, by Guy Pearce Jones).
· Date: Sat, 8 December 07 · Views: 413
· Tags: 1 · Filesize: 526.5kb · Dimensions: 757 x 762 ·
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Hugh Ferguson

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Registered: September 2006
Posts: 5,535
Sat, 8 December 07 07:12

The epilogue to Guy Pearce Jone's book reads:- For eight days Tapscott & Widdicombe were confined to their hospital rooms and not allowed to see anyone but doctors and nurses. Tapscott was in the worse condition. There was grave question, the first two days, whether he would be able to survive.
In addition to the effects of exposure, starvation and prolonged thirst, both suffered from pellagra. Their mental and nervous systems were badly deranged. They suffered from insomnia. Both were frequently hysterical or sunk in despondent apathy. Tapscott, who had held up so well in the boat, now had long spells of melancholia during which he wanted to die. Widdicombe seemed to recover his mental balance more rapidly than his stolid companion.
However, under the skilful treatment of Dr. J.M. Cruikshank, chief medical officer, and his staff, the two young men improved, and on the eighth day their first visitors were H.R.H. the Duke of Windsos and the Duchess. From that time on their recovery was rapid. Benefits were held for them and they enjoyed their hour of fame.
In February, Widdicombe was able to go home and went to New York to join the Furness-Prince Liner, Siamese Prince. Although improving, Tapscott was not yet in shape to return to work.
The final irony of the epic fight for life was reserved for Widdicombe, who within a day of arriving safely back in the U.K., was one of the entire complement of the Siamese Prince lost when she was sunk by U.69 on 17th Feb.1941.
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Hugh Ferguson

Senior Member

Registered: September 2006
Posts: 5,535
Sat, 8 December 07 15:44

For anyone interested in an extensively researched account of the sinking, and the aftermath of this tragedy, I strongly recommend Anthony Smith's book, SURVIVED. It is a paperback, published in 1998 by Quintin Smith, 10 Aldbourne Rd.
London, W12 0LN. ISBN 0 9533225 0 5.
I first heard an account of the attack by the surface raider WIDDER on the Anglo Saxon and the 70 day ordeal of Robert Tapscott and Roy Widdicombe, given by Anthony Smith, on BBC's radio 4 in Aug.1990.
The book is dedicated to the crew of the Anglo Saxon and of the 23,726 others who did not reach port.
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Hugh Ferguson

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Registered: September 2006
Posts: 5,535
Tue, 11 December 07 14:11

At wars end, the commander of the Widder, Korvettenkapitan Helmuth von Ruchteschell, faced trial charged on 4 counts one of which was, that the WIDDER had fired on the lifeboats of the ANGLO SAXON, and had failed to ensure the survival of any men in them (according to testimony supplied in an affidavit by Robert G. Tapscott).
On 21st May he was found guilty on the first three counts (including the above).
It was believed by some that his successful flight from a war crimes trial at the end of W.W.1 may have been held against him in assessing his punishment. Few Germans were were permitted to speak in his defence, and Tapscott's written evidence stood on its own. One captured Allied officer who spent 80 days in a Ruchteschell raider, later wrote: "War is a systematic method of killing one another, lawful on both sides...to us, at least, Ruchteschell was a Christian and a gentleman."
Helmet von Ruchteschell only served a fraction of his 10 year sentence. He died aged 58 on 24th Sept.1948 in the Hamburg-Fuhlsbuttel prison, 16 months after judgement had been imposed upon him and shortly after learning he was to be released on account of ill health.
At that time, Robert Tapscott was serving once again in the M.N., in the FORT BEDFORD. He died in 1963, aged 42.
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