news reached LFS Burnham I was the first to be dispatched to Linden to see
what was going on."
—Hamilton Green, at the 40th anniversary function to mourn the lives lost, July 2004.
"On the day of the tragedy, my mother was visiting her mother living at Soesdyke, and was scheduled to return to McKenzie via the Son Chapman. When we got the tragic news, we hoped for the best but expected the worst. While waiting for word on her whereabouts, tragedy began unfolding in the community with reports circulating of Indians being beaten and their properties being burnt. Still etched in my memory forty years later is the burning of a building (might have been Lalta Paul's) at Wismar. That, to me, became symbolic of the racial disturbance in McKenzie. By nightfall, there was a dusk-to-dawn curfew with British soldiers and 'volunteers' parading the streets of Wismar and McKenzie and ordering residents indoors...
dead silence of the night, we heard loud noises of people shouting and banging
on doors a few houses away. Then we heard chilling screams. The next day,
we learned that an Indian who lived in the 'four-range houses' next to us
on Cedar Street was killed. "
—Emile Mervin, letter to Stabreoek News, July 14, 2004.
A bitter day at Linden
Monday, July 26th 2004
It was July 13, 1964, I had just left Christianburg government school and was heading for home at Lee Ting alley, when I observed an unusual amount of people standing on both banks of the Demerara river in the vicinity of Linden. What I was told as the reason why those people were standing there made me begin to cry immediately knowing that my mother travelled every Monday on the Son Chapman.
I was not so fortunate as Emile Mervin (who I know) whose mother nearly died on the Son Chapman (14/07/2004). The memory of that tragedy brought back woeful, frightening and unforgettable feelings, events and terror which took place on that fateful day. My mother was a huckster who travelled to Georgetown every Sunday evening to purchase commodities and returned the following day with the Son Chapman.
Unfortunately on July 13, 1964 she did not make it back to Wismar where she lived and sold her commodities from a stall erected at the side of Burnham Drive in the vicinity of Poker's Sand road. She was the woman whose father pleaded with her not to travel with the Son Chapman on that particular day because he had heard rumours of a bomb being placed on the launch. Maybe it was because she had left nine children including an eighteen months old baby at home that she insisted in travelling with the launch. She did not make it to Linden alive.
I was fifteen years old and was preparing to write the College of Preceptors Examination. Forty years later I can still picture the chaotic scene with screaming, crying and some people even swearing and cursing on that bitter memorable day at Linden. Mother has gone and may her soul rest in peace.
(Letter in Stabreok News)
"I remember that day clearly when the news got to Linden,
I was at the Christianburg school and by that time bodies had floated as far
as the Christianburg cemetery."
-PNC Leader, Robert Corbin, speaking of when he was a child at Christianburg, Wismar.
"I have received information that dynamite is being stolen from Mackenzie and is being sent to the PNC in Georgetown by a launch owned by someone called Chapman or by a private truck. I understand, also, that certain police constables or officers help in transporting it to Georgetown.
that a set of four boxes came down on Monday, 1st July 1963 by Chapman's launch.
Please take necessary action."
-Cheddi Jagan, see Cheddi Jagan: Selected Correspondences 1953-1965, edited by Professor David Dabydeen
GUYANA UNDER SIEGE