Tag Archives: French Equatorial Africa

107– April 17 – This Day in Baptist History

German U-Boat Sinks the Zam Zam – 144 missionaries on board
Florence Almen had gone from America in 1936 and had served for a term in French Equatorial Africa. After returning to her homeland for a year of furlough. Florence said her farewells to family and friends and boarded the Zam Zam on March 21, 1941, for her return to her labors.  The ship carried 201 passengers, including 144 missionaries.   They made their way to Baltimore and picked up additional crew and then continued on to Brazil. Leaving Brazil for Cape Town on April 9, they traveled without lights and maintained radio silence, for the German U-boats were very active. All seemed to go well until April 17, just two days from the arrival in Cape Town. A terrible vibration rocked the ship, and the screaming crash of shells awakened passengers and crew. The old ship was under attack.
They found that their lifeboat had been hit, but they finally discovered another.  As the lifeboat pulled away from the listing Zam, they found that it, too, had been riddled with gun fire and was filling with water. Florence Almen did not know how to swim, but heroically to lighten the load, she jumped overboard. As she did so, she cried out to the Lord, “I’ll be seeing your face today, Lord Jesus.” She further testified, “I wasn’t alone. God was there. Underneath were the everlasting arms. I felt His Presence—really real.” In a short time, they heard a motor and discovered that the German captain of the raider (the Tamesis) had sent a launch to pick up those in the water.
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from:  This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 156-157
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267 – Sept. 24 – This Day in Baptist History Past


Few know the sacrifices of our missionaries


1942 – The S.S. West Lashaway, a ship on which the Shaw family, missionaries to French Equatorial Africa (now Central African Republic) was sunk by a German U Boat in the early days of WW II. The shipping lanes of the Atlantic were in constant danger of German subs, and later, for a while, the Japanese Navy ruled the Pacific in those awful days. Harvey and Carol Shaw had volunteered for missionary service in Africa in 1937 and now were forced to return with their three children. As the German torpedo ripped through the ship, Mr. Shaw, his daughter Carol (7) and son Richard (13) were thrown into the sea. Mrs. Shaw and daughter Georgia (11) were trapped in their cabin and went down with the ship. The survivors still had to survive fire from the German sub. When it left they found life jackets and rafts. Mr. Shaw didn’t make it, but the rest did after drifting for twenty-one days, and seeing the Lord wondrously provide food and fresh rain water. Finally they were rescued by a British destroyer after they nearly destroyed them with sixteen volleys of cannon, thinking that they were an enemy submarine. The sailors wept when they realized what they had nearly done. Other missionaries raised the Shaw children, and Richard later entered the ministry, and his sister Carol served the Lord as well. Few know of the sacrifices of our missionaries. [Polly Strong, Burning Wicks (Cleveland, Ohio: Baptist Mid-Missions, 1984), pp. 207-8. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 523-25]. Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon




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