The thing is, by the time the alarm was raised, and by the time the sound of the alarm reached Nassau, and by the time the air-sea search began, it was already too late. Four little boys, all between the ages of four and eight years old, from Delectable Bay, Acklins, would be gone forever.
On Saturday 14th August, 1971, four little boys, the Rolle Brothers and Derick Hanna were out playing, like all children do on a hot summer’s day in the islands. The boys were playing in an old wooden dinghy that had been onshore, sitting on the beach, for some two years. Worn with age, and cracked dry from the hot sun, no one would dare go out in it because it wasn’t watertight.
Some hours had passed before someone went out looking for the boys, to call them home. When they went to where the boys were supposed to have been playing, all four were gone, including the old wooden boat.
The alarm that was raised in Delectable Bay, did not reach Nassau until Sunday 15th August, 1971. The island did not have a telegraph. It took 24 hours before a fisherman managed to get a message to a passing freighter. The freighter telegraphed Crooked Island. Crooked Island telegraphed Nassau.
Monday 16th August, 1971, came and went. No sightings or news of the boys.
It wasn’t until Tuesday 17th August 1971, that Bahamian and American searchers, Bahamas Air-Sea Rescue and US Coast Guard started the search. By boat and plane, they searched for any sightings of the boat on the water. They flew over nearby cays in the hopes that maybe the dinghy and the little boys, were somehow swept ashore somewhere.
The US Coast Guard gave assurances that the search would continue indefinitely.
Nick Wardle of the Bahamas rescue unit gave a most flippant comment about the missing boys “they are apparently little terrors, you might say.”
(Pensacola News Journal Wednesday 18 August 1971)
The full search for the four missing boys began in earnest on Tuesday 17th. Despite the statement from the Coast Guard that the search would continue indefinitely, just 24 hours later, the search would be called off.
After combing 1,000 square miles of Atlantic ocean and dispatching two planes, nothing could be found. Not even a piece of driftwood.
Four little boys, from Delectable Bay, Acklins would be lost, forever.