A Brave Newfoundlander (Johnny Burke)
(Wreck Of The SS Ealing)

All hardy sons of Newfoundland
who sailed around the Horn,
Hear of Noah Gudger, boys,
a Newfoundlander born,
Who boldly saved a shipwrecked crew,
a noble seaman bold,
For two long days and weary nights
exposed to wind and cold.

He joined the ship in Harbour Grace
and signed a common hand,
And with the pluck of native boys
could cold and hardship stand;
But to relate, sad was their fate
for she became a wreck,
With seventeen poor Christian souls
all huddled on her deck.

To man the boats the crew were forced,
the vessel sinking fast,
And each poor fellow bent on oars
made sure it was their last;
When some from cold and hunger died,
exposed to wind and wave,
And buried like all heroes bold,
deep in a sailor's grave.

Some thinly clad to face the storm
while in that open boat,
While others shivered with the cold,
not time to grab a coat;
To cheer them up brave Gudger tried
with kindly words to speak,
Those poor lone seamen in the boat
with hunger getting weak.

And out of seventeen brave young men
who rowed her for the shore,
Died in the boat at duty's call
till all were gone but four;
And but for Newfoundland's brave son,
bold Gudger strong and true,
He steered the boat and made the land
and saved a shipwrecked crew.

####.... Johnny Burke [1851-1930] of St John's, NL ....####
Published in Burke's Ballads, pp.26, c.1960, compiled by John White and archived at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Libraries, Centre For Newfoundland Studies - Digitized Books collection.

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From Wikipedia:
Horn - Cape Horn is the most southerly point of South America, and marks the northern boundary of the Drake Passage; for many years it was a major milestone on the clipper route, by which sailing ships carried trade around the world. However, the waters around the Cape are particularly hazardous, owing to strong winds, large waves, strong currents and icebergs; these dangers have made it notorious as a sailors' graveyard.

Excerpted from the archives of the New York Times, January 17, 1896:
15 Sailormen Lost - The steamship Ealing wrecked at Drumhead (±85km from Canso, NS) about three miles from land and listed to starboard. Following Captain's orders the crew managed to launch two port boats and stayed by the wreck for several hours. Toward daylight the ship sank and the sea began breaking heavily around them. One boat with a crew of six was lost. In the larger boat, which required continual bailing and was provisioned with twelve biscuits and a cask of frozen water, two engineers died on the second day, the captain in the morning of the third day and then six others from the cold. On the fourth night they landed in Canso, exhausted and severely frostbitten. Noah Gudger, who shipped at Harbour Grace to work a passage to New York, proved to be the boat crew's salvation. His hardihood enabled him to hold out after all others were exhausted and to steer the boat into port. If the boat had landed a quarter mile down the harbour, it is certain all would have perished.

Excerpted from The Hobart, Tasmania, Mercury, 2 Nov 1896, as reported by Lloyd's Shipping Gazette:
A Terrible Tale Of The Sea - Cardiff (Wales) steamship Ealing, an iron vessel, stranded on a sunken rock off Green Island, Nova Scotia, January 6, 1896. Second mate Thomas Thomas arrived home in Cardiff with the loss of both legs and all his fingers as the result of frostbite. Thomas, Captain Alfred Meek, the chief and third engineer, and 13 members of the crew were four days in an open boat without food and scantily clad, the thermometer registering six below zero. Before the boat reached land no fewer than nine of the crew, including the captain, had frozen to death. Other survivors also suffered amputations. Thomas reported that two firemen died by noon of the second day; the following morning another fireman and the captain were found dead in the bottom of the boat which had a foot of ice all around it; during the third night one of the engineers and one of the firemen went raving mad, almost capsizing the boat by rushing from one side to the other - their screams were horrible. On the last morning the chief engineer, third engineer, and a fireman were found dead - they were simply blocks of ice. A small boat launched from the Ealing with the chief officer and six of the crew has not been heard of.

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