S.S. Yorkbrook and its cargo March 1937

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

Post by Hoss » 18 Sep 2009 06:41

Arms intended for the Republicans, or the Reds? Simple choice of terms can speak volumes.

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

Post by Mats Werner » 20 Sep 2009 06:15

Hi Hoss,

Excuse me if I have been careless with words. The Spanish Civil broke out when Franco and his compadres (konservatives, clergical and nationalistic parties) wanted to overthrow the second republican government that consisted of communists, socialists and liberals.

The government was therefore "communists" or "Reds" but still "republican". OK?

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

Post by Mats Werner » 27 Jan 2010 07:49

At last!

I promised to come back with the "stock-list" from Joseph Veltjens from the time of the Yorkbrook- and Allegro-affairs.

Now I had a chance to go through all files again and found this list which I have published on
http://matswerner.blogg.se/veltjens

The copy was weak from the start but you can use the magnifying procedure of your browser and read it rather easily.

I have also added another chapter on the "Allegro-affair":
http://matswerner.blogg.se/category/the ... ffair.html

Here you can use the Google Translator and get a poor but still - translation of the text into any of the Google-languages.

Best regards
MATS

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

Post by Juha Tompuri » 27 Jan 2010 21:59

Thank you Mats very much.
Most intersting.
Have to digest your info for a while.
I'll have to check couple Finnish books of mine about Finnish seamen trade union leader Niilo Wälläri and a leftist politican K. H. Wiik.
IIRC they both knew something about the arms trade issue.

Regards, Juha

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

Post by JTV » 29 Jan 2010 20:22

A huge thanks to you Mats. There are lot of interesting stuff listed there in Veltjels stock. Much of the equipment listed is likely from Finland, or materials that Finland has recently sold to Estonia. Some may originate Poland, Latvia or Lithuania.

For example 7.62-mm Madsen M/20 light machineguns - both caliber and model fit to Madsen light machineguns, which Finland supposedly sold mostly to Estonia in 1936 - 1939.

81-mm Finnish-made mortars and mortar ammunition could also be from either source - Finland had supposedly sold 81-mm mortars and ammunition for them to Estonia in year 1936.

100,000 Finnish offensive hand grenades with 5.5-second fuse are quite a surprising item. But the descreption fits nicely to Finnish M/32 stick hand grenade.

Another surprise are 500 Finnish 7.62-mm Lahti(-Saloranta) model 26/32 light machineguns, since supposedly these were exported only to China (1,200 weapons in year 1937).

Colt M/1895 might also originate at least partially from Finland - unknown number (100+) was exported year 1936.

Jarkko

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

Post by Nick Veltjens » 14 Jun 2010 06:42

Hi Juha
I am somehow not totally convinced that the "evidence" for the activities in connection with the Yorbrook is reliable. I know, for instance, that Göring was not involved at all with any Spanish supplies until April 1936, and then it was through his Sonderstab W (for Wilberg). By this time, Veltjens had already since February that year had contact with the leader of the coups, General José Sanjurjo, who was in exile in Portugal. He had made arrangements with him for deliveries of arms and ammunition including fighter planes, but by the time when they were delivered in March/April, Sanjurjo had been killed in an air crash, which actually caused some confusion between Franco (Southern front). and Mola (Northern front). Veltjens was allowed by Göring to continue his supplies to Spain, not because he was Göring's friend, but because he had raw material (tungsten and mickel) in possession, and because he had foreign currency, which Göring did not want the government to have to spend.
As far as I can gather from what is known about the Yorkbrooke affair and from my mother's own recollections, neither my father nor Göring were involved in that affair. The various stories about it appear to be very inconsistent with each other, My father was however very much involved in the Allegro affair, the one with the delivery of bricks instead of arms and ammunition. I have been told some of that by him when I was a child, and much later by my mother. I am also grateful to Mats Werner, who gave me much detailed information about that, which I will use to update my book (Seppl, a step ahead of politics, http://bit.ly/9e04HQ) in its next edition.

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

Post by Nick Veltjens » 17 Jun 2010 01:40

Further to my post, the proceeds my father received from the Allegro affair, he did not keep. He donated 1 million Reichsmark to a charity for widows of soldiers who died in the Spanish Civil War, and the remainder (after costs) he transferred to Mola;s war chest account., which had been the reason in the first place for his taking on the request by the Russians in Paril.

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

Post by Juha Tompuri » 06 Feb 2011 22:42

Thank you Nick for your information - sorry for the late reply.
Juha Tompuri wrote:I'll have to check couple Finnish books of mine about Finnish seamen trade union leader Niilo Wälläri and a leftist politican K. H. Wiik.
IIRC they both knew something about the arms trade issue.
I've read the relevant parts of the book, and the Wälläri one is more informative at this issue. The E. Tuomioja written Wiik book(s) perhaps mix up things and anyway - Wiik only had second hand info about the issue.
What Wälläri writes is:
-S/s Yorkbrook visited Finland/Helsinki three times, officially was loaded there with timber but in reality got military cargo.
-First visit was on Sept-36, second not mentioned (Japanese artillery pieces, LMG's and SMG's as cargo) and the third left Helsinki 22th Feb-37
-The real destination of the cargoes were the republican government.
-When preparing the third trip the ITF(International Transport Workers’ Federation) chairman Edo Fimmen asked Wälläri to hire a reliable radio operator to the Yorkbrook, because he was afraid the the captain of the Yorkbrook might steer the ship to a francoist controlled harbour.
The idea was that when entering near republican waters, the radio operator would call the republican vessels to "capture" Yorkbrook.

Regards, Juha

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

Post by Nick Veltjens » 07 Feb 2011 00:24

Thanks Juha
Personally, I believe that all the shipments by the Yorkbrook were organised by the Soviets, as all of the cargo was alqways paid for by Russia. They did, however, not want to be seen publicly to be involved because of their agreement with the UK and France not to interfere in the civil war., so devised all sorts of camouflage propaganda. As a consequence much of the information cannot be traced and turns out to be contradictory.The Russian admiral Nicholas Kuznetsov wrote in his memoires (http://admiral.centro.ru/memor02.htm) that the Basques could not be supplied via the Mediterranean conveys from Russia. see an extract6:

“A member of the government of the Basque country said that his country badly needed weapons and food. He complained:
"France has refused to supply us with what we need most of all, while the Germans and Italians are overtly helping Franco. Their planes supported the insurgent attacks on lrun and San Sebastian. It was not the insurgents, but actually the foreign interventionists that captured these towns."
In the port of Bilbao we saw many Spanish ships laid up. They feared to venture out to sea. Only French and British ships carrying Basque ore continued to run regularly. They would return to Bilbao empty.”

Also, the timing of Sept 1937 appears to be flawed, as the ship had been captured in July 1937.:

TIME Magazine July 1937
“Meanwhile the Spanish Rightists were so pleased that Generalissimo Franco ordered released to their British owners the freight boats Caper, Bobie, Sanjold, Dover Abbey, Mirupanu, Yorkbrook and Seven Seas Spray, captured since last July running food and munitions to the Spanish Leftists. The Rightists last week retained the cargoes of these ships as "prizes of war"—thus boldly exercising a belligerent right—sent the empty tramps clanking home to England.”

The stories circulating at the time and later were certainly confusing, as discovered by Matts himself in an email to me:

“Another book that I found online and as such deals with both "YORK BROOK-like" ALLEGRO "stores are Michael B Miller's" Shanghai on the Metro. "It appears in his description also mainly based on the data from the Finnish communists on the basis of Erikson's book" Lola "and must therefore - in light of the court documents that I read - are considered as pure fiction.”


So you can see, the "evidence" is rather shoddy, and cannot be believed.

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

Post by Ironmachine » 07 Feb 2011 08:35

Here is the official report by the commander of the Canarias about the ship's operations from 4 to 10 March 1937:
http://www.marinavasca.eu/pdf/Parte_de_ ... NARIAS.pdf

The relevant part about the Yorkbrook is this:
Apenas rebasado el cabo Prioriño traté de establecer el régimen de 26 nudos en la idea de alcanzar mi puesto de vigilancia a las 0900 del siguiente día: sin embargo, hube de desistir de ello de momento ante las violentas reacciones del buque contra la mar gruesa del NW que reinaba. Con velocidad de 16 nudos contorneé el banco Laxiñas gobernando después sucesivamente sobre cabo Prior y Estaca de Bares; a las 0200, siete millas al N de Ortegal y ya a régimen de 26 nudos, puse la proa a 86º, rumbo que debía conducirme al centro de la zona de espera asignada al buque. A 1020, muy próximo ya a esta posición y con el buque en zafarrancho de combate a título de ejercicio avisté por la amura de Br. un vapor que trataba de ganar Santander; hice por él sin pérdida de tiempo, resultando ser el mercante Yorkbrook, bandera de Estonia, cuyo nombre figura en la lista oficial de sospechosos; previas señales y preguntas de rigor le di orden de dirigirse a Pasajes que obedeció en el acto siguiéndole yo a corta distancia mientras cursaba radiograma al Velasco para informarle de la detención llevada a cabo e interesar su servicio de escolta; entendí que no cabía otra solución dentro de la misión principal que me había sido encomendada; noticias posteriores aseguran que el vapor de referencia no llegó a su destino y lo lamento porque sospecho que hubiese sido una buena presa; doy por hecho que mi aviso no fue recibido en el Velasco, o si llegó fue demasiado tarde.
Nuevas visicitudes me obligaron a alejarme del Yorkbrook y a olvidar cuanto a su detención pudiera referirse[...]
There is nothing there to support the idea that either the Yorkbrook was on route to the "National" part of Spain nor that the Nationals had been informed about the ship.
Regards.

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

Post by Juha Tompuri » 07 Feb 2011 20:00

Hi!

I should note that all the finnish info about Yorkbrook kept on smugling finnish origin arms to the Spanish republican side AFAIK comes fron a single source: finnish extreme leftist ITF leader Niilo Wälläri.
How truthful he is, I don't know.

As I can't read spanish, and the babelfish version of the Canarians commared report is like this...
Hardly exceeded the Prioriño end I tried to establish the regime of 26 knots in the idea to reach my sentry post to 0900 of the following day: nevertheless, I had to stop at the moment of it before the violent reactions of the ship against the heavy sea of the NW that reigned. With speed of 16 knots I skirted the Laxiñas bank successively governing later on end Prior and Stake of Bars; to 0200, seven miles to the N of Ortegal and already to regime of 26 knots, I put the prow to 86º, course that had to lead me to the center of the zone of delay assigned to the ship. To 1020, very next one already to this position and with the ship in mess battle by way of exercise I sighted hauls in by it of Br. a steam that tried to gain Santander; I did by him without loss of time, being to be Yorkbrook merchant, flag of Estonia, whose name appears in the official list of suspects; previous signals and questions strictly speaking I issued order to go to him to Passages that I short-distance obeyed in the act following to him while she attended radiogram to Velasco to inform to him into the carried out halting and to interest its service of escort; I understood that another solution within the main mission did not fit that had been assigned me; the later news assure that the reference steam did not arrive at its destiny and it moan because I suspect that it had been a good prey; I give by fact that my warning was not received in Velasco, or if it arrived it was too much behind schedule. New visicitudes forced to move away to me to me of the Yorkbrook and to forget whatever to their halting could talk about
... could someone (Ironmachine?) please give a more readable summary about it?

Was there anything relevant about the issue?
A youtube newsreel(?) about the Yorkbrook "case"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qag8dI8A ... re=related
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 9#p1376070

Regards, Juha

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

Post by Ironmachine » 08 Feb 2011 08:12

could someone (Ironmachine?) please give a more readable summary about it?
Hope this helps:
Just after leaving behind Cape Prioriño I tried to gain a speed of 26 knots to reach my search position at 0900 the next day; however, I had to give up temporarily due to the ship's violent reactions against the heavy seas from the NW. At 16 knots I bypassed the Laxiñas shoal and then sailed towards Prior Cape and Estaca de Bares; at 0200, seven miles to the north of Ortegal and already with a speed of 26 knots, I put my course to 86º, which would take me to the center of the waiting area assigned to the ship. At 1020, already very close to that position and with the crew at battle stations as an exercise, I spotted to port side a steamer trying to reach Santander; I close to her without loss of time, it was the merchant Yorkbrook, from Estonia, whose name appears on the official list of suspect ships; after the standard signals and questions I gave her orders to sail to Pasajes and she obeyed immediately with my ship following at close distance while sending a radio message to the Velasco [destroyer] to inform her of the capture and ask for her service as escort; I realized that there was no other solution due to the main mission that I had been given; later news state that the steamer did not reach its destination and I'm sorry because I suspect that she would have been a good catch; I think that my message was not received by the Velasco, or perhaps was received too late.
New incidentes forced me to sail away from the Yorkbrook and forget eveything about her capture[...]

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

Post by Nick Veltjens » 08 Feb 2011 12:56

Some rumours had indicated that my father together with Hermann Göring had organised the shipments with the Yoprkbrook. This cannot be true, as by that date my father transported supplies to the nationalist side exclusively using his own ships, while Göring operated solely through "Sonderstab W", named after General Helmut Wilberg and Erhard Milch state secretary of air. My father was the only "outsider" to be permitted to continue supplying Franco, because he had foreign currency and important raw materials at his disposal. The rumours were, in my opinion, Soviet propaganda out of revenge for the Allegro affair, were my father sent bricks instead of arms.

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

Post by Juha Tompuri » 22 Aug 2012 20:13

Some related documents:
http://contentdm.warwick.ac.uk/cdm/sear ... /YORKBROOK

Regards, Juha

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

Post by Nick Veltjens » 23 Aug 2012 01:42

Thank you Yuha. That seems to confirm what I said in my last post.
Nick

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