As pumps kept the Zamzam afloat, passengers donned life-jackets and scrambled into lifeboats.
Soon many passengers were floating in the ocean itself, their lifeboats having capsized because of damage by shrapnel. One boatload included my mother, Lillian Danielson, and her six young children, ages 1 to 10. Holding her baby as her other children bobbed nearby, she called out, "Be brave, kiddies. Never forget that Jesus loves you."
Other passengers had found their lifeboats already overloaded or launched, and so they had courageously and intentionally slipped into the ocean, hopefully waiting for help.
For the most part, instead of panic there was a sense of calm, buoyed by an awareness of God's presence.
Before long the enemy raider, bearing a Nazi flag, motored toward the listing Zamzam and her passengers strewn about the ocean. The Zamzamers looked cautiously at the German crew lining the deck, holding machine guns. What lay ahead? Was death near?
Just then, a most beautiful rainbow arched across the morning sky. For many, the rainbow was a gift from God, a sign of promise and hope.
New courage filled the Zamzamers. One by one, they were pulled from the water and taken aboard the raider. German officers and crew, some with tears, warmly greeted the soaked and shaken survivors. The machine guns were put away; they had been ready just in case of the likely scenario of sharks appearing.
After rescuing the Zamzam's passengers and crew, German sailors brought clothing and other supplies from the Zamzam to the raider. Then three time bombs finished sinking the crippled Zamzam. In funeral silence, the Zamzam passengers watched as the Zamzam rolled over and slid from sight, eventually coming to rest on the deep ocean floor.
Apologies were given by the Germans, explaining that, because the Zamzam had been traveling in blackout, she was suspected of serving the Allies, maybe as a troop ship or a supply ship. Instead, the Germans now had on their hands civilian men, anxious women, hungry children, and crying babies! And 142 of them were Americans! With the United States not in the war, this was indeed a delicate international situation.