Three Brethren nurses en route to Nigeria were among the 120 missionaries on the Egyptian freighter Zam Zam when it was shelled by a German raider in the South Atlantic, April 17, 1941. They were Ruth Utz, Alice Engel, and Sylvia Oiness. The passengers were already apprehensive about traveling in a thirty-year-old ship under wartime blackout, but they would have been more alarmed had they known the boat was carrying contraband. The Germans knew it, and they shelled the ship without warning.
As the passengers prepared to enter lifeboats, some of them were pushed aside by frightened crew members. Although the Zam Zam was severely damaged and was later scuttled by the Germans, no one was killed during the attack or in the confusion of abandoning ship. The missionaries prayed and sang hymns; those who had managed to snatch their Bibles before leaving shared them with others. Their faith sustained them through a month on a German prison ship, the Dresden. Some of the Zam Zam's passengers were sent to prison camps in Europe, but the Americans (the U.S. had not yet entered the war) were taken to Portugal from German-occupied France, when the Dresden made land, and returned to New York on ships crowded with refugees.
Source: Preaching in a Tavern, Kenneth I. Morse