Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Poon Lim - Number One Survivor


Poon Lim was a second steward on the British ship the "Ben Lomond," On November 23, 1942 the Ben Lomond was torpedoed by a German U-Boat about 750 miles east of Brazil. The ship went down quickly, and most of the 55 passengers drowned in the attack. Lim, aged 25, jumped aboard, floating for several hours before he found an empty Carley float liferaft and climbed into it. The raft had several tins of biscuits, a forty litre jug of water, some chocolate, a bag of sugar lumps, some flares, two smoke pots and an electric flashlight.


He quickly ran out of the rationed food and water, and had to improvise in order to stay alive. He dug a nail out of the raft and bent it to improvise a fishing hook, which he used to catch food. He would use rotting fish to lure gulls to the boat, which he would wrestle to the ground to eat. For water, he drank rain water which he caught with canvas.

Re-creation of his raft

On April 5, 1943, after 133 days in the life raft, Poon Lim reached land and a river inlet. Three Brazilian fishermen rescued him and took him to Belém three days later
Poon was granted numerous rewards, and a book was written that fictionalized his story.


King George VI bestowed a British Empire Medal (BEM) on him, and the Royal Navy incorporated his tale into manuals of survival techniques. After the war, Poon Lim decided to emigrate to the United States. Poon died in Brooklyn on January 4, 1991

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