The News Breaks
May 19th was not only
the day the Dresden arrived in France. It was also the day of the
first public news about the Zamzam's unknown fate. It had been six
weeks since there had been any contact with the Zamzam, as
she had left Brazil. On May 19th radio broadcasts and newspaper headlines announced that the Zamzam was lost, presumed to be sunk, with
very little hope of any survivors.
As the news spread, the anxiety of
waiting now turned into grief. A
missionary father in Africa learned he had probably lost his wife and
six children on the Zamzam. A missionary mother and her ten
children in the Midwest were told of the possible death of their husband
and dad. Young teen-age sons and daughters,
left in the United States when their parents had sailed on the Zamzam,
faced the possibility that they
were now orphans. Elderly parents mourned the probable deaths of their missionary
sons and daughters. Mission boards and friends gathered to weep and to
Grief Turned to Joy
But, how fortunate the timing was!
On the very next day, May 20th, the news went out by radio
and newspapers, that Americans from the
Zamzam were alive and well and in France. Grief was suddenly
turned to joy! How good it was that the time of real grieving had been
only twenty-four hours. It could have been days and days.
But what happened to
the Zamzamers after getting to land? The Americans were detained in
Biarritz, France, for nearly two weeks, while passports and visas
were re-issued. Then they were taken by bus and train to the border
of France and Spain and were officially declared free. Within
a few weeks, ships brought
them from Portugal back to the United States.