Out of Gloucester


 

Thursday, February 1, 1945

Mildred Silva Swept by Fire; Abandoned at Sea
Disaster Happened off Virginia Coast; Four Men Landed
Four Others Believed Picked Up

The Gloucester dragger Mildred Silva caught fire and was abandoned at sea off the coast of Virginia by her crew of eight men, according to reports reaching here this morning. Four men, who were in one dory, were picked up and landed at a Virginia port and are on their way home, it was believed, and the other four were probably picked up by another fishing vessel in the vicinity.

The Mildred Silva, an 85-foot vessel built in Essex in 1928, left Gloucester about a month ago and has been landing fish at Portsmouth, Va. She is owned by United Fisheries Co. and others, including Capt. Manuel G. Silva.

United Fisheries Co. had not heard from the skipper, Capt. Fernandes Pereira of Staten street, by this noon, indicating that he was not among the four men reportedly landed by a cutter at Chincoteague, Va.

The crew included Johnny Joseph, Antonio Fragata, Antonio Rao, Frank Roderick, the engineer; John Almeida and Manual Jarnado, all of this city, and a Boston man, it is believed. The Mildred Silva customarily has a crew of nine, but one man is believed to have stayed ashore on this trip.

NAVY REPORT - Norfolk, VA, Feb. 1

The Fifth Naval District disclosed today that the schooner Mildred Silva had been burned and abandoned in the Atlantic off the coast of Virginia. The Navy did not reveal the cause of the fire. According to the latest information, four survivors of the schooner Mildred Silva have been rescued and four are listed as missing. The Navy would not say whether any other members of the crew had gone down with the ship.

Friday, February 2, 1945

Four Men Still Unaccounted For
Four From Burned Mildred Silva Reach Home; Others May Have Been Rescued

The four rescued men aboard the ill-fated Gloucester dragger Mildred Silva, arrived at their homes in this city, late this forenoon, while the remaining four in the crew of eight are still missing at sea.

The four rescued include Capt. Fernandos Pereira, 44 years; Antone Fragata, 37 years, engineer, John I. Malaquias, 38; and Antone Regalotte, 47 years, of Somerville.

Missing men include
Antonio Rao, 46 years, cook, married, two children
Manuel Janardo, 44, married, two children
Manuel DeAlmeida, 40, married, one child
Frank Roderick, 40, single.

It is believed that it is possible that the four missing men may have been picked up by the crew of a naval craft which for war reasons may not be able to reveal the rescue until she enters port again.

Malaquias in telling about the tragedy, said that they were on their way into Portsmouth, VA, with 30,000 pounds sea bass, on their third trip since leaving Gloucester for winter southern fishing, when about 3 o’clock Thursday afternoon, with a half gale raging and whipping up plenty rough seas, the oil stove in the cabin was tipped over by the force of the sea against the craft, and immediately the boat seemed enveloped in flames.

The skipper ordered all hands to abandon the craft and the eight men made the deck, launching the two dories, one of which got away from them because of the seas. However, they all piled into the second dory, not having even time enough to secure their effects, some of them losing what cash they had in their pockets, a considerable amount.

They rowed down to the first dory, picked it up, and then divided into two groups. Capt. Pereira, Malaquias, Fragata, and Regalotte went in one dory, and the four remaining men in the other dory. The skipper looking back at the boat and noting that there was plenty of smoke, but not so much fire, decided to return to the dragger in the belief that there would be far more chance of being rescued if near a burning craft that might be seen for miles rather than to chance staying afloat in a dory, where the freezing temperatures and high seas might snuff out their lives. The other dory apparently continued on rowing toward shore. They were some distance off the Virginia coast at the time.

When the first dory got back to the dragger, the skipper and Malaquias boarded the dragger forward, and stayed only a very few minutes, long enough to secure a supply of water and some food to withstand a siege on the ocean. The after part of the ship was a blazing inferno, according to the crew. They planned to seek the second dory and split the food and water supply with them, but they never saw the second dory and her crew afterward.

They then rowed away from the dragger and were afloat for five hours before they saw the outline of a large vessel coming toward them. They realized that with the wind blowing as hard as it was, they would have to get on the wind’ard side of the craft to make the watch hear their shouts for help. They had nothing else with which to signal but their voices according to the crew. This they did and fortunately for the four men, their cries were heard by the watch aboard the ship and the four men were taken aboard, everyone of them numbed from the cold and plenty weary. The crew of the larger vessel took good care of the rescued men and when told the story spent the next three hours circling around the area in a radius of some six miles to look for the other four men, but without success.

Capt. Pereira had intended to take this trip into New York instead of Portsmouth, where his other two trips were landed, but the stiff breeze forced him to change his mind and so he was again bound into Portsmouth.

Saturday, February 3, 1945

No Further Word From Four Missing Local Fishermen

Up to noon today, no further word had been received as to the fate of the four Gloucester fishermen adrift in their dory after having to abandon their burned and sinking dragger, Mildred Silva, last Wednesday afternoon off the Virginia coast.

Hopes are still held here that the four men may have been picked up by a passing steamer or war craft and are being taken into some port. The possible rescue craft could be bound overseas and because of the war, would not find it advisable to break radio silence to relay news of the rescue ashore. In that event the men might be carried in a foreign port. The missing men are Antonio Rao, Manuel DeAlmeida, Frank Roderick, and Manuel Janardo, all of this port.

[Through the entire month of February, hope was still held that the missing crew members had been picked up by a passing vessel.  Some time after February, family members and friends had to admit to the fact that they would never see these four men again.]

 

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