Report 13: Don’t cry for me Argentina – Our song from Bahia Blanca.
In early September 1955 our trip from Hamburg to the East coast of Argentina was interrupted by a broken Gaff beam at the last mast, the jigger. The safety of maneuvering the vessel was no longer guaranteed. Montevideo port was chosen to repair the damage. All deck-boys were happy for this unexpected stay in the capital of Uruguay. After a few enjoyable days the journey had to go on. Here comes now the Report 13.
After a few days at sea and back in port, we quickly found out that Bahia Blanca was nothing for sailors. We ended up in a place where there was only the horizon, deep green pasture to the left and right. Buenos Aires was about 700 km away in north. We did not even come to a town center, but only to a short pier, on which stood a large grain silo. Otherwise all was surrounded by pampas, cows and horses, and the certainty that our ship will quickly be filled up with grain and immediately after that set sail northwards.
But this did not work out. After the Pope in Rom had excommunicated the Argentine President Juan Peron two months ago, which meant that he was kicked out of the Catholic parish, naval officers attempted a coup just at the moment of our berthing in Bahia Blanca.
The situation was confused. A bargain for the government was said Evita. On one hand the Navy was not at all interested in maintaining the fabulous splendor of Juan Peron’s wife Evita, who died three years ago. On the other hand, the Peron government and the loyal military still believed they could contain the insurgent naval parts, with mobilizing the general public love for Evita, with Evita doubles, few in number, but the most admired actresses and singers that Argentina ever had. But the coup hit us as well. Our aspired short stay at a silo was involved with military uncertainties as well. The loyal army feared an attack from parts of naval coup troops from the sea, and the Pamir should float as a blockade ship in the fairway to the port, or, if necessary, be sunk to block the entrance to the habour. Although we were not afraid, but we set free our anger. Should we sit among grazing cows in the pampas and turn our thumbs while our ship is sunk?
Some commander got wind of this. To moderate our irritation, he sent an Evita double without much advanced notification that, wearing a neat outfit, and claimed with no apparent modesty in fluent English, and claimed with no apparent reluctance that the Argentine people loved Evita and the President more than anything, which the rebels could not damage. When this convinced us somewhat, her people turned on a large gramophone, and we heard from the Evita double, a song we had never heard „Don’t cry for me Argentina… .“
That was wonderful, so nice that we had quickly learned the chorus and repeated it loudly. Now we worshiped this woman, but not for long, because hours later we were told that der President Juan Peron had fled the country, where on the navy rebels succeeded. Therefore, our role as blockade-runners was abandoned and our immediate departure was prepared. We remained with the song on the lips. All were humming and singing it until all sails were set and during the trip to Europe.
When we were standing in the quayside bars, it didn’t take long and all the guests sing along, perhaps in some pubs to this day.