Saved by the Ile de France!

55 years ago to this day  my grandparents and I were rescued from  the jaws of the Atlantic!  As the  Andrea Doria  was inclined to reach the bottom of the sea 45 miles south of Nantucket Island, the French liner Ile-de-France carrying nearly 2000 passengers  became our  salvation.  It sent lifeboats to  a dangerous scene where  1706 Andrea Doria passengers were  attempting to disembark.  The young men who rode the life boats back and forth showed  courage and competence.  No one was lost in their hands.

But I can only describe it as ” the ride from hell!”.  Besides my grandparents and me, there were dozens of traumatized passengers in the crowded lifeboat.  We were all heaving; the smell  of soured dreams  has left a lasting impression.   It took us about 45 minutes to reach the Ile–only to find out we had to rescue ourselves by climbing a steep rope ladder along with the  towering hull.  Some passengers were  luckier– they were hoisted up in their lifeboats.

After climbing what seemed to be a skyscraper over the ocean,  we reached a window at the very top of the Ile-de-France.  Survivors were greeted with “Bon soir!”  It was a good evening indeed  knowing that we would be transported to New York.   Pressed along the guard rail,  many Andrea Doria and  Ile-de-France passengers  watched in horror  the sinking of the  crown jewel of the Italian line.  Those of us too weary and tired to gawk,  lay on deck chairs where we were offered coffee and croissants,  among other French specialties.

Captain Raoul de Beaudean  and his crew will always be  heroes in my mind.   If they hadn’t decided to turn around on a foggy night on the Atlantic,  risking insurance complications,  collision at sea,  delayed arrival to France, and more,  more than 730 Andrea Doria survivors may not have been saved.

Posted in Andrea Doria, Serving our Seas, Survivor Stories | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

3 Responses to Saved by the Ile de France!

  1. FROGER says:

    Bonjour Madame
    Je suis la petite-fille du commandant Raoul de Beaudéan. Vos mots me touchent énormément. Mon grand-père était un homme très humble et plein d’humanité. Il a fait ce que toute autre personne aurait fait dans ce cas-là, mais je suis très fière de lui, et je suis heureuse de savoir que grâce à lui, vous avez pu dérouler votre vie.
    Bien amicalement
    Bénédicte Froger-Deslis

    • pierette says:

      Bonjour Mademoiselle,
      Je suis tres contente de vous connaitre et de recevoir votre message. Votre famille doit etre tres fiere d’appartenir aux racines du Commandant de Beaudean. Je serais toujours remerciante de ses actions prudentes et humaines. En plus les passagers du navire Ile etaient tres accueillent.
      Mes livre etaient publies en anglais et en italien. Mais le dernier n’est plus disponible.
      Je saisi cette occasion de vous souhaiter une tres bonne annee.
      Pierette

  2. FROGER says:

    Are your books translated in French ?

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