THE WRECK OF THE MEMPHIS by Capt. Edward L. Beach


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Captain Beach's father was the captain of the Navy's cruiser Memphis and as such he had to stand trial for the loss of his ship when an Act of God--a volcanic tidal wave--sank the ship in Santo Domingo harbor in 1916. The trial was a naval formality but the captain was reprimanded for not having enough steampower in his boilers to ride out the wave. (He had been ordered by his admiral to conserve coal and the wave leaped up on the brightest of sunny days.) Throughout the whole ordeal of the incredible walls of warm red, yellow and green water, which had been caused by an eruption in the ocean floor, the men of the Memphis behaved with great valor. (Three were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.) Author Beach's account of the minute-by-minute heroism of the officers and crew is, of course, a clear vindication of his father's actions also. It is magnificently pieced together from eyewitnesses in the boiler rooms (where men stood their posts in clouds of escaping steam), from logs and diaries and from trial records in which all the survivors were interviewed. Of 850 men on board only 15 were lost, since the ship was beached by the waves. This book will be compared with A Night to Remember, Walter Lord's story of the Titanic disaster, which was more colorful but not half as furious.

Pub Date: Aug. 29th, 1966
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston