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A Sailor’s Account of the Catastrophe. An Affecting Story. [by telegraph.] [The following telegram (for which we are indebted to the Rev. J. W. Fairclough, Wesleyan minister) arrived too late for insertion in last night’s Guardian ] : Wyndham, Thursday Afternoon. Frank Denz, one of the sailors saved from the Tararua, states :—I was married in Auckland two and a-half years ago. We had one child, fifteen montns old. I persuaded my wife to visit Melbourne, as the Company allowed me to take her for half price. When she came on board, Captain Garrard came forward and said, “ I’ll give you half of the fare, and you can buy a new dress with it. ” Poor girl! she never got it. When we got to Port Chalmers, my wife and Mary Kelly went to Dunedin. I warned them carefully to come by the 3 o’clock train ; I wish to the Lord I had told them 6 o’clock. The man who had been at the wheel before, relieved me for a few minutes, while I got some coffee. I took the coffee, and came out to drink it just as the vessel struck. She was full almost at once. My wife, Mary Kelly, and another woman clung to me naked. The back wash of the sea that broke over carried us right aft. The women all screamed at first, but were soon brave, and believed us when we said there was no danger. They were put in the smoke house and covered. I put a rug and my jacket on my wife. Mary Kelly would not go into the house, but helped with the ropes, and seemed to wish to encourage the men; but they were not afraid. They made the same noise as ever; you would have thought, to hear them swear, that they could not sink. I was not more afraid than the rest, but the wife kept clinging to me, and that made me weak. The captain was cross, and scolded me ; but I could not push my wife away at such a time. I wish to God I had taken my chum’s advice, and put her and the child in the second mate’s boat ; then I would pot have now to look for them on the beach. When the carpenter was ordered out of the boat for the mate to take charge, he said—“ Thank God, I’m safe.” The ship was the safest place then. If the wind had not come up, she would have been there yet. The men complained of one of the hands in the boat; ho was afraid of getting wet, and kept looking for the sea, and missing stroke. The captain had him hoisted out, when he said “ Praise God, I’m out of her.” I was ordered to take his place. I was crying, as I could not bear leaving the wife and child. The captain was not cross then, but he persuaded and held out his arms for the child to go to him. I gave her to him, and said, “Now, Captain, you’ll look after her, won’t you.” Ho said, “ Yes, Frank ; I’ll be sure of that. ” I tied the baby’s hood on ; this is it (holding up a little blue hood). I found it on the beach. I tied this shawl (holding it up) round the wife, and lashed it on with two manilla yarns. See how it is torn with washing off. That’s all that is left to me now. I would not take LSO for these two things. I had Ll 9 and a watch ; I gave them to my wife to make her feel safe, and so that she would have something if I was drowned. She cried out to the other women, “Don’t be afraid; Frank will save us. He’s going in the boat.” She thought, poor girl, I could do anything. I think I hear her now. Our boat was 24 feet long, but it upset end over end, and not sideways. That will show you how the sea was. We all got ashore but the boy who cleaned the brass on the ship. Just before we upset the poor chap said, “I believe it’s through me that the vessel struck, for I’m very unlucky.” I daresay those on board thought it very hard that we did not come back, but they saw the fix we were in. I would have gone back to the vessel if I had been sure of being lost. Perhaps I would not now, but all that , day I would. I never prayed so much in my life before; I prayed for help, and then ran again and again to the point to see if there was a steamer coining from the Bluff I saw, when the sea broke away the side of the smoke-house, the captain lead the women forward. He had my little girl in his arms. When the cook came ashore he told me that Mary Kelly was washed off at the same time as himself ; he did his beat to save her, but could not. Dr Campbell was setting the engineer’s leg when he was washed off. Long before dark all the women were drowned, and all the children, but my child. The captain was in the rigging holding her. There were about forty men in the rigging. I kept my eye on them till it grew darker. The last thing I saw was the captain holding my little girl. I’m sure he died with her in his arms, but he couldn’t save her. No ; it was not to be ; it wasn’t to be,” and playing with the little blue hood, he sobbed audibly.

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Bibliographic details

THE TARARUA DISASTER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 337, 6 May 1881

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THE TARARUA DISASTER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 337, 6 May 1881