How many German merchant ships captured at the war's onset

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Felix C
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How many German merchant ships captured at the war's onset

Postby Felix C » 28 Nov 2017 18:28

Did the UK and BCE gain many German ships via capture?

Knouterer
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Re: How many German merchant ships captured at the war's onset

Postby Knouterer » 03 Dec 2017 10:37

According to the official history of the Royal Navy (The War at Sea by S.W. Roskill, vol. 1, p. 151), by the 5th of April 1940 the German merchant navy had lost 58 ships (approx. 300,000 tons) through capture or scuttling, 82 ships (480,000 tons) had successfully avoided the Royal Navy and reached home, and 246 more (about 1,000,000 tons) still remained in ports abroad.

The number of ships captured was small because captains had orders to scuttle their ships when intercepted and many even had explosive charges set for that purpose.
"The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it." Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

Knouterer
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Re: How many German merchant ships captured at the war's onset

Postby Knouterer » 03 Dec 2017 17:58

A few German ships were captured intact. The moment war was declared a platoon of the 2nd London Scottish (Territorial battalion) charged up the gangplank of the banana boat Pomona in the South West India Basin (London docks). The captain and crew were taken prisoner and marched off.
A few hours later a sharp-eyed guard noticed that the ship seemed to be settling in the water; a party went aboard and closed the sea-cocks the German crew had opened.
The battalion lodged a claim with the Prize Court for capturing and saving the ship, but this was rejected on the grounds that the ship had entered British territorial waters before the declaration of war and was already under British control, which meant that it was not a "real" capture.
"The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it." Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

Sid Guttridge
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Re: How many German merchant ships captured at the war's onset

Postby Sid Guttridge » 06 Dec 2017 13:37

The German merchant navy was first ordered to head for neutral ports on 25 August. As a result, most were able to reach temporary safety in neutral ports before the Royal Navy entered the war ten days later.

Some ±50 German vessels were in Latin American ports. A minority made it home in the first northern winter, when visibility was poor in the North Atlantic and the British blockade force was not yet fully operational. Only a few were intercepted, most of which scuttled themselves because it was difficult to get a prize crew aboard quickly.

Later German blockade runners were less successful and most were scuttled when intercepted. In fact, Italian merchant vessels were more successful in getting home from Latin America from mid 1940 than were German ones. Most remaining German vessels in Latin America were scuttled in port, but were mostly raised and entered Latin American merchant fleets in Allied service. The Italians were less prone to scuttle their ±50 merchant ships in Latin American ports and most of their vessels there ended up in local fleets.

Even ex-Axis merchant vessels working for neutral Argentina in exclusively American waters benefitted the Allies, as they released other shipping for the Allied war effort.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Polar bear
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Re: How many German merchant ships captured at the war's onset

Postby Polar bear » 09 Dec 2017 19:26

hi,

quite a number of german ships were captured in the harbours of the Dutch Indies (i.e., Indonesia) when the war began between the two nations with the German attack on the Western Front on May, 10, 1940.
The majority of them were sunk later by German surface raiders and submarines.

greetings, the pb
Peace hath her victories no less renowned than War
(John Milton, the poet, in a letter to the Lord General Cromwell, May 1652)


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