S.S. Yorkbrook and its cargo March 1937

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JTV
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S.S. Yorkbrook and its cargo March 1937

Post by JTV » 21 Feb 2006 09:07

Hi

I have lately been trying to find out exactly what happened to cargo of freigh ship S.S. Yorkbrook at March of 1937. This ship has cargo of weapons and ammunition from Finland officially designated to Yemen, but in reality it seems to have been on way to Nationalist Spain. Some sources claim that the ship was sunk in Biscay while according others it was captured by Republican ship(s) and forced to harbour of Bilbao, where the cargo was unloaded. I would be especially interested to know if anybody knows what happened to 42 Japanese 75-mm mountain guns m/1898 (Meiji 31), which were among the cargo.

Jarkko

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liki
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Post by liki » 02 Mar 2006 08:57

Yorkbrook was not sunk in Biscay, the ship has cargo of weapons designated to Republican army,not Nationalist.

The cargo was unloaded in a basque town called Bermeo and Basque army utilized weapons and ammunition of this ship though I don`t know if utliized the japanese 75 mm guns.

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Maribel-bel
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Post by Maribel-bel » 03 Mar 2006 03:09

I didn’t know anything about this ship, but just by chance, reading another different topic somewhere else, I’ve met the Yorkbrook. It seems that was firstly captured by Francoist cruiser “Canarias” but later this cruiser got involved on March-5th’37 into a sea battle near Bilbao. During the battle, the cruiser left apart the Yorkbrook, and it was again captured by one of the Basque ships which drove it to the coast where the entire cargo was downloaded

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JTV
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Post by JTV » 03 Mar 2006 07:43

Thanks liki and Maribel-bel. liki, are you absotelutely certain the cargo was originally intended to Republican Army? I am asking because before the ship sailed from Finland Finnish left-wing press made of lot of noise about the cargo being intended to Nationalists. The matter of Yorkbrook and the weapons among its cargo (mainly the above mentioned mountain guns and their ammunition) also became under discussion in Finnish Parlament after the cargo "went missing". During the discussion minister in charge (Minister of Defence?) claimed that the mountain guns had been shipped without some vital pieces belonging to their breech mechanisms and the plan had been to sent those parts only once the guns had safely reached their destination - so these vital parts would have remained in Finland. Anyway, as the Finnish official story seems remarkably false, I would not would not be terribly surprised if the particular minister was somewhat "creative" with his reply in that Parlament hearing. :lol:

Unfortunately I don't speak Spanish, but the pretty poor quality (babelfish) translation I got from this webpage suggests that Republican Army would have used 56 of these guns (listed as "Cañón de montaña Arisaka 75 mm. M1898") - and 42 of those in the northern front. Could these be the 42 mountain guns from Yorkbrook?

http://www.sbhac.net/Republica/Fuerzas/ ... tLinea.htm

Jarkko

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liki
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Post by liki » 03 Mar 2006 09:34

Hi JTV,I am ABSOLUTELY certain that the cargo was destined to Republican Army, because the destination of Yorkbrook was a port called Santander, city under Republican goverment.
As say Maribel the ship was captured by Francoist cruiser "Canarias" but the basque navy in the famous battle of Machichaco (there is a monument in Bermeo) got liberate it and it was driven to Bermeo where the cargo was downloaded.Yorkbrook was during four days in Bermeo and posteriorly went to Bilbao,where I miss the trail .

Weapons and ammunition were delivered one part to the basque army and another part to North army, mainly to Santander.
The nationality of the ship Yorkbrook was Estonia.
I do not know more about the subject.

Sorry for my english.

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JTV
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Post by JTV » 03 Mar 2006 14:35

liki wrote:Hi JTV,I am ABSOLUTELY certain that the cargo was destined to Republican Army, because the destination of Yorkbrook was a port called Santander, city under Republican goverment.
As say Maribel the ship was captured by Francoist cruiser "Canarias" but the basque navy in the famous battle of Machichaco (there is a monument in Bermeo) got liberate it and it was driven to Bermeo where the cargo was downloaded.Yorkbrook was during four days in Bermeo and posteriorly went to Bilbao,where I miss the trail .

Weapons and ammunition were delivered one part to the basque army and another part to North army, mainly to Santander.
The nationality of the ship Yorkbrook was Estonia.
I do not know more about the subject.

Sorry for my english.


Thanks, that information helped me a lot. I remember reading that the "ships" of Basque Navy were actually rather large armed fishing boats - is this correct?

I think you English is just fine.

Jarkko

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liki
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Post by liki » 03 Mar 2006 16:46

Yes,you are right, the ships were fishing boats.
In this link, you can see some of them.
http://www.gipuzkoa.net/kultura/museos/ ... buques.htm
The problem is that the web is not translate to english,but at last you can see the pictures.

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Re: S.S. Yorkbrook and its cargo March 1937

Post by Mats Werner » 15 Sep 2009 13:45

Hi,

Found this site and discussion when googling S/S YORKBROOK. My reason is that I am currently writing a blog-story on the S/S ALLEGRO-affair which came after YORKBROOK although with the same parties involved.

The reason for this blogstory is of course todays speculations around the M/S ARCTIC SEA which was recently hijacked outside the Swedish coast on its way to the Mediterrean. Russian ships finally boarded the ARCTIC SEA outside Kap Verde and brought it back to a Russina harbour. Speculations says that the Finnish timber-load in reality hid a weapons-load.

The parrallells to the ALLEGRO-affair were too many so at last I pulled out the capsule with folders that I saved from my fathers lawyers-firm-archives when the archives were burnt after his death in 1972.

My father represented legally the Swedish merchants that acted as representatives of the seller of the arms-loads both on the YORKBROOK and the ALLEGRO. Seller was the german air-colonel Joseph Veltjens (good friend and emmisar of Herman Göring) who owned Germanys only officially recognized arms-dealing company.

Officially both the YORKBROOK and the ALLEGRO-loads were meant for the Imam of Yemen who was the official buyer.
The real buyer was however the Spanish communist government represented by a Sr Ozores.

YORKBROOK loaded its cargo in Helsingfors Finland. But as the second deal came. Mr Veltjens had realized it did not look so good if he - as the only German armsdealer approved by the nazi government - sold arms to the communists, so he tried to hide the second deal behind his assistant who was instantly upgraded to formal arms dealer in his own rights. Veltjens also tried to escape the commissions to his formal Swedish representatives by posing as this second deal (with which he had nothing to do....) came to his Assistant via another Swede but this time an estate broker.

So the ALLEGRO was destined for Gdynia in Poland where it was rescheduled for Yemen (irl Barcelona).

French and Swedish newspapers speculated in that Göring got cold feet and told Franco about the cargo and hoped that he would beat the communists to them.

The only thing which is officially recorded is that of the over 13000 crates of ammunition that arrived in Barcelona, only 1000 contained ammunition. The remaining appr. 12000 crates just contained bricks!!!

So someone still cheated on the Reds in spain! If Franco got hold of the missing ammunition we don't know, but certainly Mr Veltjens did not die poorer....

In 1956 the whole thing ended as the remaining estates of Veltjens and his former representatives settled the legal procedures. None of the persons involved were then alive anymore apart from all the lawyers involved......
Last edited by Mats Werner on 15 Sep 2009 14:18, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: S.S. Yorkbrook and its cargo March 1937

Post by Mats Werner » 15 Sep 2009 14:14

To jarkko,

You are right about the speculations regarding the "real receiver" of the arms cargo. Eric Ericsson wrote a book called "Lola" in the end of the 40ies where he claims he and the secret Finnish communist party exchanged the content of the YORKBROOK arms crates to identical crates filled with building bricks that suppossedly went to the Francoists (National army) while the real arms was loaded on another ship later and went to the Republican army/Spanish Government.
As far as I can see from actual documents, the real buyer was all the time the Red Spain and the only indication about Franco being involved are newspaper clippings about Veltjens-Göring getting a bad consciense and letting Franco know what was coming hoping that he would intecept the YORKBROOK and get hold of the cargo.

Rgds
MATS

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Re: S.S. Yorkbrook and its cargo March 1937

Post by Mats Werner » 15 Sep 2009 14:38

To Jarkko,

I just found the delivery-lists from Joseph Veltjens dated September 5th 1936:

"Pos. 19 49 Canons de montagnes, mod japonais, cal. 75mm "comme neuve" avec
Pos. 20 25.000 chrapnels avec cartouches bon état, cal. 75mm"

Price for the canons was 2000 Golddollars each and for the ammunition 2.70 Golddollars each.

These canons (although only 30 pcs) where also offered by one of Veltjens previous compadres, Mr W Daugs. I have a copy in German of a three pages long letter from this Daug to one of the Swedish agents.

"30 Stück japanische Gebirgskanonen M.98 L/13.3, Kal. 75 mm System Arisaka, incl. Munitionswagon mit allem Zubehör sum Preise von USA$ 1.800 pro st."

Rgds
MATS WERNER

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Re: S.S. Yorkbrook and its cargo March 1937

Post by Mats Werner » 15 Sep 2009 14:42

To Jarkko,

Also found a copy of the YORKBROOKs konossement. There the Pos. 19 is altered to 42 Japanese Mountaincanons and Pos 20. to 25000 pcs of ammunition.

Rgds
MATS WERNER

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Re: S.S. Yorkbrook and its cargo March 1937

Post by Mats Werner » 15 Sep 2009 17:11

For those able to read Swedish, I just now published the first of 6 blogs about the ALLEGRO-affair including the full content of the YARDBROOK-cargo. http://matswerner.blogg.se

Rgds
MATS WERNER

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Re: S.S. Yorkbrook and its cargo March 1937

Post by JTV » 15 Sep 2009 17:50

Thanks a million Mats, that is truly excellent new information. Do the documents shine more light concerning what kind of role Transbaltic Oy played in the these deals? Officially Finnish state sold the armaments to Transbaltic Oy, which according its own announcement in year 1936 was representing firms of Daugs and Veltjels in Finland.

According "Military Small Arms in Finland 1918 - 1988" by Palokangas page 94 the particular deal with 75-mm Japanese mountain guns and ammunition included also:
- 110 pcs 7.62-mm Colt M/1895 machineguns (á 3,000 Finnish Marks)
- 6.2-million rounds of old (World War 1 and older) Russian-made 7.62 x 54 ammunition.
- 320,000 rounds of 6.5 x 55 Swedish ammunition.
So, these might have been in also gone to Spain with the above mentioned mountain guns (although they probably would have hard time trying any use to Swedish 6.5 x 55 ammunition in Spain).

Also it also would be very interesting to know, if there are any hints, where the materials Finland sold to Transbaltic Oy in year 1937 ended up? This deal was at least as substantial, as it included:
- 12 pcs 7.92-mm Parabellum machinegun
- 19 pcs 7.92-mm Bergmann machinegun
- 20 pcs 8-mm Hotchkiss machinegun
- 14 pcs Chauchat M/1915 light machineguns
- 46 pcs Lewis light machineguns in .303 British
- 52 pcs Lewis light machineguns in 7.62 x 54R
- 6 pcs 7.62-mm Colt M/1895 machineguns
- German World War 1 era 76-mm minethrowers + their ammunition
- 2.5-million rounds of .303 British ammunition
- Smaller amounts of 6.5 x 50 Arisaka, 7.92 x 57JS, 8 x 50R Lebel and 8 x 50R Mannlicher ammunition.

Jarkko

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Re: S.S. Yorkbrook and its cargo March 1937

Post by Juha Tompuri » 16 Sep 2009 21:49

JTV wrote:Thanks a million Mats, that is truly excellent new information.
Yep, thanks from here too Mats, and welcome to the Forum.

Couple of related info (some translation help would be nice):

Battle of Cabo Machichaco
http://www.gudontzidia.eu/en/combate-de ... hp?o=5&a=5

A youtube newsreel(?) about the Yorkbrook "case"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qag8dI8A ... re=related

About Suomi submachineguns being delivered
http://sanchobeurko.atspace.com/c/recre ... usiles.htm

As above, and a suggestion of Finnish weapons officially delivered to Estonia, actually ending to Spanish Republicans:
http://www.sbhac.net/Republica/Fuerzas/ ... usiles.htm

A LOT of Estonian (and IIRC Latvian and Lithuanian) military equipment was sold and ended up to the Spanish Republican side.
It would be VERY interesting to find out the route and was Transbaltic an active operator also at these deals too.


Regards, Juha

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Re: S.S. Yorkbrook and its cargo March 1937

Post by Mats Werner » 18 Sep 2009 05:59

Hi Jarkko and Juha,

My own focus was on the ALLEGRO-AFFAIR when going through the acts. There was a folder with a number of "Veltjens delivey lists" that maybe could be of any interest to you and I also remember having seen references to Tranbaltica.

At the moment however, I have put the files back in store as I am working on another project.

I promise however to go through the papers again during the autumn and see if I find something that I can forward to you.

Rgds
MATS

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