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Volume 12 Issue 140

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Armed
tlercha
of fhe German armed merchant vessels made
lengthy commerce-raiding voyages during
bothwars. They often resuppliedU-boats on
distant stations,'fi ere Kormoran is off the coast
of N atal with U -124. The raideris disgurbed
superficially as a (then neutral) Japanese
freighter.

In both world wars, merchant shiyts ioined in the sttuggle for Of all these makeshift warships, the raiders were by far the most
control of the sea lanes. To augiment its cttiser patrols the successful in both world wars. They not only accou4ted in total for over
1,25 million gross registered tons oi precious merchant shipping, but
Royal Narry employed Armed Merchant Cntisers, while the also caused endless disruption in resultant delayed sailings and clr-
Germans sent out metehantmen with concealed, atmament to cuitous routings, In addition the British in particular needed to devote
prey on AIIied commerce. considerable resources in warships in therr apprehension, It was a
peculiarly German pastime, the handful of Japanese and ltalian ships so
There exists a link between raiders, armed merchant cruisers (AMCs) converted achieving virtually nothing,
and Q-Ships, three unlikely groups of ship, The British armed merchant AMCs were viewed even by the Brrtrsh as vulnerable but necessary
cruisers were overtly-armed auxiliary warships, usually passenger lin- stopgaps, to be put back into commercial service at the earliest oppor-
ers of medium size, converted to plug (on a temporary basis) the gaps ln tunity. Though proving vulnerable to both submarine and surface raider,
the numbers of regmlar warships. Where their function was readily their contribution to the long-term success of distant blockade should not
apparent, however, this was not the case with the raiders, The first of be overlooked,
these were armed German express liners, relying on speed rather than The Q-Ship concept has become over-romanticized and rs discussed
deceptron and farling lamentably in the role. They were replaced by a elsewhere, but it was the nearest British equivalent to the rarder: dis-
variety of merchantmen, most of the them powerfully armed in a variety guised innocence traillng lts cloak to attract a particular variety of prey,
of ingeniously covert ways and dependrnq on a convinclngly lnnocent in this case the U-boat.
appearance to.approach their targets. In many respects these later
raiders were influenced by the Q-Shrps, very much British compromises Gunnery practice takes place aboard theGermancommerce rajderWolfin
19 18 after her triumphant return from a cruise, during which she laid mines off
developed as a desperate measure to meet a submarine campaign for Ceylon and South Africa as well as taking 14 Allied merchant ships. Sfie was
which there existed no effectlve antidote, They were sklppered and the firstraider to carry an aircraft, her FriedrichshafenE 33 being christened
crewed by redoubtable men with an eye for the unorthodox, 'W6lfchen'.

.:.. :l:?...::.:..47;:...:7:....L.:<?.r.:1,:.:a::.a.:.:.:.:.

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3"""a1"t
Seead/erwas unusual as a raider, even and released. Von Luckner headed for whrch he clarmed to have srghted, wrth consrderable resource to con-
by World War I standards: she was by Brazilian waters, successhlly stoppi no The Seead/er crursed, unreported, mandeer a local schooner, all the cre';;
iar the oldest, she was herself a prize, and sinking two Brrtish merchantmen up the Chilean coast to latrtude 35" were eventually interned for the dLua-
and she was a sallinq ship. The qreat on the way. Wrth crurser patrols dr South before opening out north west- tion. In 225 days at sea the Seeacl]er
drawbacks of sail were offset by an verted to address prroritres else wards rnto the Pacific, crossinq the netted 16 ships of 30,100 grt.
auxiliary diesel and a totdlly innocuoLts where, the raider slipped through equator in early June. With the USA
appearance, Built in Scotland during wrthout trouble. Operatrng rn a fairly now in the war, their ships were also Specification
1BZB as the Pass of Belmaha, she had tight area near the isolated St Paul's farr grame and three small inter rsiand Seead/er
been under the still-neutral American Rocks, Seeadler took nine ships in two traders were taken in June and July. Displacement: 4, 500 tons
flag when taken as a German prize by monrhs. Overloaded wilh prisorers, Fate now took a hand, With no refngter- Dimensions: length 83.5 m (274,08 ft);
the U-36. Suitably armed, and well dts von Luckner sent them to Brazil in a ated fresh provisions, the crew beqan beam I l.B m (38.75 ft); drauqht 5.5 m
gnlsed as the Norwegian ftma, she captured French barque; interro- to develop scunry. Von Luckner accor (18,08 ft)
sarled at the end of 1916 under the qated, they were able to indicate a dingly made for an unpopulated tsland Propulsion: one auxiliary diesel
command of the able but flamboyant likely intention by von Luckner to dou- for rest and recreation. After a few deliverinq 900 bhp (671 kW) to one
Felx, Graf von Luckner, the self-styled ble Cape Horn. Thrs he succeeded rn days ashore, the Germans suffered a shaft
Seeteufel (sea devil). dotnq, rn poor condtttons, on 19 April storm whrch wrecked the Seeadler on Speed:9 ktsunderpower
Thoroughness of preparatron paid 1917, despite very tight survetllance on the reef. Desprte takinqi open boats to Armament: tlvo 105-mm (4.13-in) gnrns
off for, on Christmas Day, north west of the area by British cruisers, one of neiqhbouring rslands and drtemptlng Complement:64
the Faeroes, the shrp was stopped by
the British auxrliary Pada searched

U-36 caplured a sailing vessel on her


way toEnglandunder aprize crew.
C ommis sione d as Seeadler, she
accountedfor I 6 vesse/sbefore
g:rounding on a reef in the Society
Islands. Her captain Later claimed to
have buried a fortune in gold on
Mopelia, butitwas never found.

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M6we
It was the failure of their liners as rard- C, TecklenborgforLaeiszandsucces- much was by now (1915) known, She by his excellence as a raider comman-
ers that prompted the Germans to ex- sor to the fleet's 'Flying Ps' of the sailinq differed from them in havingrthe ability der,
ploit the innocent appearance of'run of ship era. As a reefer, her speed was to carry and lay up to 500 mines. Her On New Year's Day 1916, lhe Mowe
the mill' merchantmen. Such was the superior to that of the averaqe freiqth- captain was Nikolaus Burqgraf und laid over 250 mines in the Pentlanci
M6we, converled from the reefer Pun ter and she was fitted out along the Grai zu Dohna-Schlodien, whose aris- Firth, one of which claimed the British
go a new ship completed in 1914 bY I. lines of a Britlsh Q-Ship, about which tocratic Ruritanian name was belied battleship HMS Krng Edward VIl, n

The failure of liners as commerce raiders led to a


t search for less conspicuous potentiai raiders with *
i
,4. greater endurance. The brand new banana boat
:',,X I Pungo was com missioned as the Mowe on .l &
jjl November I9I5, and became the most successful
,i raider of the Greatwar. I

2782
Mciuze (continued) Armed Merchantmen of the World Wars
A view of one of Mowe's two 500-mm
(19.7-in) torpedo tubes and one of
her 1 50-mm ( 5.9 -in) guns. Her
minelaying raid sank the Britkh
bafllesfirp King Edward VII.

cidentally sailing for the flrst time in


her career as a 'private' ship rather
than a flagship. Having laid the remain-
der of his mines off French Biscay
ports, zu Dohna-Schlodien began acti-
vitres as a 'conventional' raider. At thts
he was remarkably successful, taking
15 ships (all but one Brlrish) of 57,520
tons in a little over sx weeks rn the
central Atlantic despite Qrreat activity
on the part of British cruisers. Her cap-
tures made her self-sufhcrent rn both
bunkers and supplies, yielding also
useful up-to-date rnlelltgence in many
cases. Necessary attention to machin-
ery also obliged her return, which was
on 4 March 1916, her exploits having
become so noted that the High Seas Dohna-Schlodien sailed agarn on 22 ratders rn World War II, Surprisingly, beam 14,4 m (47,2 ft); draught 7,2 m
Fleet escorted her into Wrlhelms- November 1916 and, rn another 16 the ship herself survived in mercantile (23 6 ft)
haven with a squadron of battleships weeks, he added another 25 ships (21 service until April 1945, being finally Propulsion: one trrple-expansion
after a 67-day cruise. As in the case of ofthem British) of 123,265 tons. Several sunk by Bntish submarine torpedo off steam engine deliverig 3,200 hp
SMS Emden, the British almost had been defensively armed and of Norway. (2385 kW) to one shaft
admrred the commander for his audac- these the Olaki had succeeded in in- Arrnament: four sinqle 150-mm (5. f -in)
ity, which was enhanced by humanity flicting some damagre before being Specification and one 105-mm (4. l3-in) guns, two
towards hrs captives. overwhelmed, Without doubt the M6we single 500-mm ( 19.7-in) torpedo tubes,
I:aden wrth a Pour le M6rrte and ]ron Mowe's exploits provided an exemp- Displacement: 9,800 tons and 500mines
Crosses (First and Second Class), zu lar for the largest numbers of German Dimensions: Iength123.7 m (405, B ft); Complement:235
GERMANY

Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse


Norddeutscher Lloyd of Bremen own-
ed superlative liners rn the aqe when
speed and elegance on the North
Atlantic were normal. The seal of ex-
cellence was accepted as the captur-
ing of the coveted Blue Riband and
NDL took both the east and westbound
records on three occasions between
1897 and 1907 with a trio of flyers, one
of which was the Kaiser Wilhelm der
Grosse completed in 1897 by Vulkan,
Stiffening had been worked in dur-
ing their construction to allow their
shipping of armament durrng hostilt-
I ies. To have considered them serrous-
Iy as raiders, however demonstrated
muddled thinking, Superflcially their
size which permitted their mounting a
reasonable armament and maintaining
speed in a seaway, miqht have
appeared advantageous but therr
common problem was therr enormous
fuel consumptron, Built for prestige
rather than economy, as well as being
instantly recognizable, such ships pos-
sessed all the characteristics that any
speciflcation for an ideal raider would
avoid. Below:With their size, speed and Above : Winner of the BIue Riband in I 897, ltre Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse was
The Kaiser Wilhe]m der Grosse was s ea keep ing, liners seemed jdea,l fitted out as a commerce raider inAugust 1g14. Spanish authorities turned a
the only one of the German giants raiders, but the career ofKaiser blind eye to her use of Rio De Oroas a base, andifi e was sunk there by the
actually in home poft as war became Wilhelm der Grosse proved this to be elderly British crurser Highflyer.
wrong. High fuel consumption cut
range drastically, and her famous
silhouette ensured recognition.

z 16.1
K aiser Wilhelm der Grosse (continued)

-nevrtable and was rapidly painted all- By 15 Augn-rst she had arl;e a -i- ::: :: l:--: s:cceeded in intercepttng Specification
black and equipped with her arma- opera.ing area scuth','.ej':: ;.: ::----.- :- -:: a'.-ailable colliers in the K aiserWilhelm der Grosse
ment, saihng under her new requiar Cananes tnd createo consle:iio..l- -:r :: -: ::: ;rr-.-.len.
throuqth and coalinQt Displacement: 24 300 tons
by quickly takrng fow Bntrsn sltps. .'. :s : cr: I:ss on 26 Auqnrst, it Dimensions:length 198.0 m (649.6 ft):
naval captatn ReYmann, from beam 20. I m (65 9 ft); drauqht 8,4 m
Bremerhaven on 5 Augtust ]9 14. By get- Two the Union Castle's Galician ano ,'.as d:a::-:.-:ail-.- -lierupted by the
tinq away so quickly and hugginq the the Royat MallsArlanza, were spared arr.;al c-::: --..,: ts: ,,sh i52 mm (6 in) (27.6 ft)
as a result of the large number of pas- crurser HlvlS i.g:77er Refusing to Propulsion: two trple oxpansion
Norweqian coast the shiP was ahead
of the Royal Narrys establishment of sengers carrted, but the refrigerator surrender .he l:er ','. as smk rn 90 mi- steam engines delivering 2B 000 ihp,
the Northern Patrol and she entered ships Karpara and the Nyanga wete nutes in an urequal contest. lyinq on (20880 kW) to two shafts
the Denmark Strait from the north on 7 sunk. With this short cruise the ratder her side tn shallo-r,- ',.;arer A fil1her Speed:22 5 kts
was so short of fuel that she had to put rardrng crutse into the South Atlanttc Armament: slxsingle 105-mm (4. 13-in)
August. Here she stopped and sank and two single 37-mm quns
the Brrtish trawler Tubal Cain all of 225 into the isolated anchorage of Rio de was thus frustrated. A cruise of22 days
qiross tons, Oro on the Spanish Sahara coast, Whiie had netted three ships of 10,695 grt. Complement: 584

Meteor
Her first mission was to the White Firth, a real danger to the Grand transfernnq to a neutral fishinq craft.
Minelaying is a very cost-effecttve Thouqh located, the minefleld claimed
form of maritime warfare and, ioliow- Sea, scatterinq mines over a great Fleet's use of the Cromarty anchorage,
ing the political controversy conse- length of the shallow coastal Wearing Russian colours she was, the destroyer HMS lpx later in the
quenl upon the initial U boat campaton approaches to Archangel as soon as however, sighted and challenged off day.
in World War I, the Germans switched the ice broke, Following the loss of Kinnarrd Head by the 1,620-ton Ram
quickly lo the use of half a doze'r raLd' several ships, thrs important supply sey, an armed boardinq steamer, The Specification
port was closed until the British could Meteor duly hove-to at short range and Meteor
ers in the minelaying role, Of these the
Meteor was an excellent example of send a minesweepinq force north to allowed the British ship to launch a Displacement: 3,650 tons
apparent innocence. Built by Ramaqe the Whrte Sea. She followed this op- boat with a boardinq party before Dimensions: Iength Bg l5 m (292 5 ft)
& Ferguson rn Leith in 1903 for the eratlon by a short perrod in the Baltic dropping her drsgurse, ratsing the beam 1 1 3 m (37,08 ft)t draught 5,1 m
Currie Line's Leith-Conttnentai ser- approaches, sinktng three small Scan- German ensiqrn and opening up with (16.75 ft)
vice the TJenna was caugrht in Ham- dinavian ships that were deemed to be quns and a torpedo Overwhelmed Propulsion: one r r ipie-expans. on
carrying contraband cargoes. This 2l- the,Ramsey sank in four minules her 43 steam engine delivering 2,400 ihP
burq at the outbreak of hostilitres and
detarned She was qrtven a basic con- day cruise netted slx ships of about suwivors being rescued by the Ger- (1790 kW) to one shaft
version (the fust to a carqo ship) to 12,760 qrt, man ship and very well treated. Re- Speed: 12,5 kts
Meteols activities were suspected tribution was swift however, with the Armament:one 150-mm (5,9-1n) two
carry not only a respectable armament
by the Britrsh, who mounted several lsl and 2nd Ligrht Cruiser Squadrons single BB-mm (3 46-tn) and two sinqtle
bur also nearty J50 tnines, recommis- 37-mm guns, two sinqle 450-mm ( 17.7-
siomng as the Mefeor in May 1915 but sweeps to intercept her, but without and hve ol Lhe Harwrch force cruisers
putting to sea to catch her. Warned by jn) torpedo tubes. and 350 mines
retainrng her wholly Britlsh appear- success. Then inAugust 1915 she took
ance wtth its origrnal white-banded bold advantage of her appearance to Zeppelin of the British approach, the Complement: 187

black stack, tay a full outfrt ol mines in the Moray Meteor was scuttled, all on board

NrlZ ,I
ZN Baralong
tress call from the White Star lrabrc, and put the marines aboard. All frve which (as usual to conserve torpedoes)
The first attempt at convertmg a mer
which had been torpedoed. Hurryingt Germans found were summarily shot was operating wtth gun armament on
chantman to a decoy ship was with the
to the spot, Ihe Baralong came across as feelinqs were still running higth over the surface, Ordered to heave to, she
cross-channeller Vienna but, thouqh
she had the speed deemed necessarY the Papayanni ship l'/icosian being unrestricted submarine warfare and ran slowly toward the U 4l and suc-
her appearance was so dtstinctive that shelled by Ihe U-27 (Wegener). Run- rn particular, the recent srnking of the ceeded in gettrng within 460 m (500
ning in under American colours, the Lusitania with the loss of nearly 1,200 yards) before swinqing and unmask-
she looked out of place anywhere else
Q Ship passed behind the target, passengers. ing her gnrns, Several hits went home
Her naval continqent, therefore, trans-
ferred to the 8a ralong a 4,194-grt ves- horsted the white ensign and unco- In September 1915 Baralong en before the submarine could submerge
sel burlt in 1901 and hired in as a naval vered her armament in a well-re- joyed a second success. She had and, so severe was the damaqe that lt
supply ship, She was fitted ait with hearsed 30 seconds, ln this early exer- changed her identity and appearance surfaced agatn almost immediately
cise the ship carried a squad of now sailing as Ihe Wyandra. She de- and foundered. There were onlY two
three 12 pdr guns concealed bY droP parted Falmouth followrng the rapid
marines and so surprised the German survivots,
screens, and her holds were fllled with
that the submarine's gun crew were loss of three Britrsh shrps north of To preserve her cover, the ex-Bara-
empty casks to keep her afloat iftorpe-
picked off by nfle flre as the larQler Ushant and, on the morning of 24 Jongr was transferred briefly to the
doed
gmns got off 34 rounds. Many hit and the September sighted the burning hulk of Mediterranean before betng returned
Not attached to any command, the to her original role in 1916. As a
submarine foundered rapidly. A hand- the 6,650-grt Wilson ship Urbtno aban-
ship covered 22500 km (14,000 miles) proneer she had proved the possibili-
around the British Isles without suc- ful of survivors boarded the still-float- doned after being shelled by the U-41
ing but abandonedl'/tcosjanl rnstead of (Hansen). The Q-Ship's appearance ties of decoy ships and others were
ceeding in sightrng a U-boat. Finally in
August 1915, while in the Western sinking her, Baralong ran alongtside completely fooled the submarine converted,
Approaches, she intercepted a dis-
:i
Baralonq /ooked/ike a
typical, harmless
merchantmanbut
carried a concealed
armament.lnitially
flying the neutral
Americanflag, she
surprised andsank
U-27 inAugust 19j,5-

2784
O-Ships:
Wolves in Sheeps Cloflring
As the German U-boat campaigm gathered pace in 19 15 it
became apparent that mostU-boatswere surfacing to attack
by gunfire, conserving their small supply of torpedoes. A
number of merchant shipswere secretly fittedwith
concealed guns: the first U-boat to surface nearby was in for a
disagreeable surprise.

It took the experience of war to demonstrate to the Germans that in their


U-boats they had a weapon that could effectively dispute British control of the
sea. Except for static minefields, the British possessed in '1914 no useful
countermeasure against submerged submarines, Asdic (sonar) and depth
charges still being in the future. Fortunately the U-boat had shortcomings that
could be exploited: its submerged speed and endurance were low, and its
torpedo stowage limited. lt usually remained surfaced in transit, therefore, and
habitually sank yet unconvoyed merchantmen with its deck gun to conserve its
few torpedoes for more difficult targets. To take advantage of this vulnerability,
the decoy ship was proposed (Churchill gives credit for the original concept to
Admiral Sir Hedworth Meux) which, with a suitably concealed armament, would
invite submarine attack, striking back as opportunity offered.
Secrecy was obviously paramount and the first five ships (soon popularly
christened 'O-Ships') were fitted-out in Admiral Jellicoe's distant domain at
Scapa. lt was one of these, Il,e Prince Charles, that claimed the f irst success in
sinklng the U-36 on 24 Jlly 1915.
A useful Grand Fleet alternative was to use trawlers to tow small coastal
subrnarines, submerged but linked by telephone, to discourage U-boat attacks
on..the important British fishing industry. On 23 June '1 915 Ihe TaranakilC24
combination accounted Ior lhe U-40 east of Aberdeen. Subterfuge obviously
but it was essential to use constant variation on the theme, particularly Above: The armament aboard the Below: AQ-Ship in action. TheIJ-boat
arine.:com.manderS became more suspicious following uhexplained British Q-ship Hyderabad r,rras a/J has surfaced to sink by gunfire what
able to be concealed.The curious appears to be an unarmed freighter,
bell- sh aped we apon in the saving its few torpedoes for more
foreground is a Sutton-Armstrong difficult targets. But at close range the
anti. subm ari ne bomb thrower, merchantman suddenly opens fire.
nolmally hidden by the false cargo
hafch.

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Q-Ships: Wolves in Sheep's Clothing
:: rOedoes ratirer than gunf ire, targets were ln greater danger. While this is true it tmproved .weapons were solving the submarine probiem, while making any
:annot be gainsaid that by obliging the submarine to expend its torpedoes, the solitary ship loo_k consprcuous. Alltold, the British fitied out about 1BO O-Sh'1ps, a
C-Ship reduced the U-boat's time on station, with proportionately greater time considerable effort which, despite deeds of great heroism. was only meagrely
sDent on unprofitable transits. rewarded. Only 11 U-boats were sunk by ihem and, of course, eight were
O-Ship techniques were rapidly refined with caref ully organized panic, partial destroyed by only four ships.
abandonments and fake damage to lure the unwary U-boat in to complete the Rather unwisely, the British Admiralty resurrected the concept in 'i 939 Under
<ill. This was soon extended to a pair of partial abandonments and enhancing the direction of Gordon Campbell VC, best-known of the eariier skippers and
authenticity by actually allowing a torpedo to hit, the ship being filled with now a vice admiral, nine freighters were taken up and armed with up to nine
buoyant material to offset the consequences. 1 02-mm (4-in) guns, four torpedoes and depth charges, enabling them to tackle
More and more complex ruses were required as the U-boats took ever fewer not only submarines but, in theory, the expected surface raiders. Several were
chances and, by August 1917 when several O-Ships were lost, the scheme was lost, none achieved anything and an idea that had seen its day was put quietly to
considered to have run its course. ln additlon, the general use of the convoy and rest.

'O'ship cutaway drawing key Above: PC boats were purpose-built 700-ton pafrol zesseJs dr'sgutsedas
merchantmen, with false upperworks and derricks which causedseyere
TDepthchargehatches 24Doubebottom 44 Pivot to counteeeight
2'12-pdrOF(quickfiring)gun 25 Bolerroom (allows entire unilto topweightproblems. Armedwith one 4-in and two 12-pdr guns, theywere
3 ColapslbLewheehouse 26 Boller quick yturn upside down based at Pembroke.
(quicklyfodsdownwhen 27 Funneluptake when gun is rcquired)
gun s requ red) 28 Funnel 45 Anchorwinch
4 Ready use she I locker 29 Wire ess aer als
5 Rudder 30 Brdge
6 Singescrew 31 Compass platform
7 Steerlng compartmenl 32 W rcless/chart room
8 Hatchcombing 33 Dropsidetoconceal gun
I Wardroom 34 Llferafts
l0 Officers'mess 35 Coal
36 Bi ge kee
12 Magazine 37 PO mess/quarters
T3 Derr cks 38 Lookout post
I4 Winch 39 Electr cal stores
T 5 Waterllne 40 Gunnerv stores
'16 Ga ley 41 200-lbbombmagazlne
'17 Lifeboat 42 Royal Navy 200 lb bomb
'r8 Gig thrower
19 Ventllators 43 Counterueight to deck
20 Covered compan onway gun (resembles deck
21 Bulkhead house when gun is
22 Engine room revolved round to norma
23 Engine below-deck posltion)

2786
The after deck ofHyderabad featured a pop-up gun, seen here raised to the
firing position.
Q-^Sftrbs depen ded for their success on the German u-boat
captain deciding to surface and sink the apparently helpless merchantman
with his deckgun.

Aborze: Hyderabad's after deck


shows its QF gun on the
dis appe aring p/a lform. Hyderabad
was the only specially-constructed
Q-SfrrF, the others being conversions
of all kinds ofvessels. She never saw
action in her intended role, serving
as a depot ship rn lVorfh Russia rn
r9 19.
Carmania
Slster to the Caronia, Cunard's Carma-
nia was an eleqant ship completed rn
1905 by John Brown, and made the
headlines in 1912 with the rescue of
hundreds from the b\azing Vulturno in
mid Atlantic, Days after ihe declara-
tron of war, the ship was beinq qutted
rn a Liverpool drydock, raprdly
emergdnq a drab grey and armed with
eight 119,4-mm (4.7-in) guns, She
sailed immediately to join Admiral
Craddock's North Atlantrc command.
At the same time, the similarly-sized
German liner Cap Trafalgar ol Ihe
Hamburgr-Sud line had slpped out of
Buenos Aires, where she had initially
taken cover, and run north to the iso-
lated island ofTrinidada offthe Brazi-
lian coast, There the ship expected to
be armed with 150-mm (5,9-in) qn.ns
from the cruiser SMS KarJsru,he but
was met rnstead by the httle qnrnboat
Eber from West Africa, which passed
over two 105-mm (4. 13-in) and four 37-
mm guns, most of her crew and a new
commandinq offlcer. The third funnel
(a dummy) was cut away and the re- man had only one 105-mmweapon that Churchill described as a 'brilliant ac- Carmanl'a rs se en at M alta in I I I 5.
maining pair repainted interestrngly in would bear, rt outranged the British tton between two naked ships'. Really She suffered over 80 hits from Cap
British Cunard colours I 19-mm weapons so range was rapidly too large to be suitable for an AMC, the 'frafalgat, andwas only just saved
Regn-rlar German collier movements closed, It was almost suicrdal, with Cunarder returned to commercial ser- from j oining her opponent on the
of specific periods led the Admiralty to even the German 37-mm weapons in vice in 1917, finally being scrapped in bottom of the C aribbean. She was
suspect activity in the vicinity of Trinr action, A serious fire on the Carmanra's 1932. really too large to serve as an Armed
dada and the Carmania was ordered to bridqe structure went unheeded in M erch ant C ruis er, and returne d to
checkthe island. On 14 September she order to allow the British ship to hull Specification commercial service in I 9 I 7.
arrived to find the Cap Trafalgar aI the enemy: round after round hit on the Carmania
anchor, havinq returned from a frurt- waterline from less than 915 m (1 000 Displacement: 19, 524 tons
less fortnight's cruise. The approach of yards) and the Cap Trafalgar evenlnnl- Dimensions: length 198, I m (650 0 ft)i (15660 kW)to three shafts
Ihe Carmania was observed, colliers ly foundered, blazing. Only by stre- beam2l,9 m(71.75 ft); drauqhtB,T m Speed: 18 kts
scattered and the German liner stood nuous effort was the Carmania saved, (28.5 r"1) Armament: eiqht single I 19-mm (4,7-
out to sea. The Cunarder had the having been hit nearly B0 times by the Propulsion: three sets of direct-drive in) guns
speed advantaqe but though the Ger- enemy's tiny armament and after what steam turbines delivering 2 I,000 shp Complement: not known

-#
F'
1..
h''

Above : The elegant Cunard liner B elow : F inding her se If in Bue no s


Carmania was con vetted to an Aireswhenwar broke out, the
auxiliary cruiser in August 19 14 and brand-new liner Cap Trafalgar
t
lii
j oine d C r addoc k's N or th Atlantic
squadron. She tracked down the
steamed north to meet the German
gunbo at, Eber, which supplied her
't G erm an liner - cum- nider Cap with guns. Disguised as a Cunard
Trafalgar, which was disgured as a liner, she had the misfortune to meet
Cunarder and sank her after an epic a real one, Carmani4 armed as ar
ri duel off Trinidad. AMC.
. ri'i
:l':1
Lcrsf Stqnd of lervisBag
Pressure on the Royal Navy was so intense rn 1939 that Armed. Merchant Cruisers
were sometimes used as surrogate warships. In october JewisBay was escorting a
conuoy from Nova scotia to England but was attacked by the Gernran pocket Below:SSJervis Bayrn ftappier days before the
battleship Admiral Scheer. I n the tradition of Grenville, the unarmoured war She was equipped to receive gans with the
merchantmanclosedwith theenemy, her ancientarmament spittingdefiance as the minimum of modification, andwas converted to an
convoy scattered. Armed Merchant Cruiser in a matter of days in
1939 before sailing for Scapa Flow.

In both world wars the UK's merchant fleet was


the only effectrve means by whrch the Brrtish
could transport personnel and supplies on any
sca1e, Its destructron would remove the nation's
abliity to wage war and, to this end, the Ger-
mans in World War II employed not only their
prime weapon, the U-boat, supplemented by
auxiliary raiders, but also long-range aircraft
and heavy ships of the regmlar navy. Though
formidable enough, the auxihary raiders had
neither the speed nor the firepower to tackle a
properly escorted convoy and were used in
long-range forays against 'independents', On
the other hand, all regular units of 203-mm (8-
in) cruiser size and above were considered
suitable lor operations against convoys, and
most of them were so employed at one time or
another,
Among them, and purpose-designed for the
task, were the three so-called 'pocket bat-
tleships', rnnovative armoured cruisers of about
I2,000-ton displacement, They were 26-kt
ships propelled by a multi-dlesel installation to ready in the Atlantic, but the Admiral Scieer westward through the Kiel canal to avoid being
grve maximum economy and an estimated was due for refit and did not sail for another sighted lrom a neutral Sweden and had calied
range of 35000 km l9-kt cruis-
(21 750 miles) at year, finally leaving Gotenhalen on 23 October at Stavanger on 28 October wrthout belng re-
ing speed, Though only moderately protected, 1940. Although the Norwegian campargn was ported, By 3l October she had passed through
each ship packed a heavy punch, the six 280- over, the invasion threat to the UK was strll The Denmark Strait (between Iceland and
mm (1l-in) guns of the main battery being sup- considered very real, resulting rn the Royal Greenland), still undelected by the British, to
plemented by eight 150-mm (5.9-in) and six Navy's cruiser strength being concentrated whom her sudden presence on the convoy
105-mm (4 l3-in) gmns, eight torpedo tubes and close to home waters and aerial reconnaiss- routes came as an unpleasant surprise.
two spotter aircraft. The early and rather un- ance qiven the priority of early detection of
necessary loss of the Graf Spee had somewhat invasion preparations, With intelligent use of
dented their reputatron, but the remaining pair darkness and spells of poor weather, therefure,
were still viewed as formidable opponents. German raiders were finding it reasonably
At the outbreak olhostillties, both GralSpee easy to break out into the Atlantic,withoui
andDeutschland (later renamed Liltzow) were berng apprehended, The Scieer had passed
Last Stand of.J ervis Bay il

Jewis Bay was one of 56 passenger On the same day that the Scheer departed
liners requisitioned as armed Stavanger, the slow (r,e, 9 kts or less) convoy
merchant cruisers in I I 39 -40. S he HX84 ieft Halifax, Nova Scotia for the UK, This
was swiftly converted on the was the period of acute shortage of long-
outbreakof war,eightold 152 mm ranged escorts, and its 37 shrps lost its local
(6-in) guns fitted and her originAl Royal Canadran Navy cover at about Lhe longt-
Every covered by a coat of drab grey.
She stedmed for Scapa, but the haste
tude of St John's, Newfoundland. Close cover
of her conversion proved could not expect to be relnstated from the Brit-
counterproductive and after a ish side untrl the convoy had passed 19'West,
collisionwith a destroyer she put in Between these points lay over 3200 km (2 000
atTyneside, where she received a miles) where the ships had io rely almost com-
new skipper, CaptainFegen, and pletely on their 'ocean escort', For a troop-
was repainted in her old colours. convoy, this escort was raised from the sorely-
stretched Home Fleet; for any other it was
usually token cover from armed merchant
cruisers (AMCs) The philosophy behind the
use ofsuch ships is not easy to comprehend, for
they stood a chance only against the Germans'
alxiliary raiders which were, in any event, not I
used agalnst convoys, They could expect,

.-..,]I--r
-ar!}ei<+ ,,e,j!*ra
Jbi;jS dtuk

er€t:)&.:i

nil
u*JJ
r
:'

!:ir;Fl

2794
Armed Merchantmen of the World Wars
.herefore, to be prtted eventually against a reg
:lar warshrp and thrs contest could have oniy
cne conclusion. Four AMCs were based on
Hallfax at this trme and HX84 was allocated one
cf them, the 14, 100-ton Jewts Bay.
Same livery
One of the five shrps ongrnally burlt in i922 to
:he account of the Austrahan government for its
rmmigrant and refrigerated services, lhe Jervis
Bay had passed by way of the Aberdeen and
Commonwealth Line to the interests of Shaw,
Savrll. Despite thrs, she retained her livery of
oufl funnel over a distinctive Brunswick green
hull (preserved to this day on the OCL contain-
er shrps) and had no coat ofnaval'crabfat'. She
was crewed by a typrcal mlxture of ariicled
merchant navy men, reservists and naval regu-
lars under the overall command of Captain
Fogarty Fegen RN Her arma.ment consisted of
On the sante day that theGerman pocket
battleslrb Admiral Scheer/eff Stavangar in
Norway to raid into the Atlantic, Jervis Bay
sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia, escorting a
convoy of 37 slow merchant ships.

e'a d i t t 9*6a a:'.a.r. . a' 1

Q-*.'. ,.*
Last Stand of.J ervis Bay

- -t'---- - --

i'
I

t:
t

Above: JewisBay as sfi e appeared on 5 November


I 940 , when she was sunk by Admiral Scheer. Uslng
an armed merchant cruiser to escort a convoy
demonstrcted confused thinking : German
merchant raiders picked on solitary targets to
preserve their cover; only a regularwarship would
attack awhole convoy, and against such
opposition therewas little an AMC could do.

Left : The German' pocket battlesfrrps' Admiral


Scheer (foreground) and Deutschland were
powerfully- armed long-range cruisers desrgrned
for protracted commerce-raiding voyages.
Capable of 28 kts and shipping the largest guns
allowed by the Treaty of Versailles, they were
intended to be fast enough to evade anywarship
they could not destroy. Admiral Scheer was flte
most successfu I raider ofthe class, sinking I 37,000
tons of Allied shipping.

bear probed out to maximum range under loc-


al control, There was no alternatlve but to
abandon yet while the ship was obviously
finished, the Scheer remained to ensure her
destruction rather than pressing on after her
primary objectrve, the convoy, now scattered
and disappearing into the gloom,
Supreme sacrifice
Jewis Bay'ssupreme sacrifice had caused no
obsolete 152-mm (6-in) guns, with rudimentary salvo that fe]] with considerable spread across rnjury to her enemy but had bouQtht the vltal
fire control taken from cruisers long scrapped, the central columns of the convoy, time that allowed her charges to scatter, Not all
Scheer, coming south, had been informed escaped, beingr strll close enough to be sav-
through rntellgence channe]s of two closely- Severe damage aged by the Scheer, which succeeded in des-
spaced eastbound convoys and had located Several ships, including lhe Jervis Bay had troying a further five ships and damaging
HX84 wrth one of her Arado floatplanes, Actlng sighted the newcomer but were still deliberat- others. Among the latter was the Eagle Oil
cautlously in case the convoy was accompa- ing on her identity when she opened fire, tanker San Demetno which, with accommoda-
nied by an old battleship (as yet an unusual Fegen's reaction was immediate. Through the tion and bridge gutted, but wlth machtnery
event) the German tlmed her arrival for late commodore, he had the convoy initially turn sound and cargo intact, was abandoned, then
afternoon, As expected, she sighted smoke away and drop smoke floats whrch in the calm reboarded by her crew and sailed across half
ahead but it turned out to be an tndependent conditlons were quite effectrve, The lone AMC, an ocean to safety with no navigational aids,
r.eefer Mopan which, wrth a l5-kt speed, was meanwhlle, headed drrectly lor the enemy,
not convoyed. While her loss was to be regret- While thls offered the the smallest target with Fewrescued
ted, the removal of her crew and her sinking almost maximum rate of closure, it also meant To his eternal credrt, the skipper of the
delayed the Scieer for a precious hour, though that that only her forward guns could hope to Swedlsh ship Stureholm was sufficiently stirred
this advantage was offset by the shlp not get- bear, For the whlle, however, this was by Ihe Jer'is Bay's sprrit to return to the scene
ting off the vital raider report that would have academic as the German was well out of range, once it was ful1y dark. It was a venture fraught
alerted the following convoy to its danger. This was in fact how it remained, for the wlth rlsk but he gambled that the Scfieerwould
enemy's shooting was excellent, Scieels third be fully engaged hunting down the fugttives,
Convoysighted 280-mm salvo found its target, penetrating His persistence saved 56 of the AMC's men, but
Dusk was already overlaying the calm face deep through the soft sktn of the liner. Steering Feqen was not among them, The Victoria Cross
of the sea when the mass of the convoy was and one boiler room were immediately out of that the latter was awarded had been rtchly
slghted by the Germans at about 23775m actlon, the bridge smashed and the radio room earned by a dedicated crew fightlng a
(26 000 yards). Proceeding ali-unsuspecting on ruined, abruptly halting the continuous stream hopelessly inadequate shlp.
a broad front of nine columns, it made an un- of raider warnings that was betng transmitted, As for the Scheer, she went on to complete
missable target and the Scheer swung to star- Wlthin 15 minutes the ship was a wreck, dead her cruise in the South Atlantic, eventually re-
board to open her full marn battery, She in the water, ablaze and settling, Several of her turning safely to Germany the following April
opened proceedings with a three-gmn ranging quns were out of action whtle any that could with 17 ships of about I 15 000 grt to her credit,

2792
Armed t lerchant Cruisers
InWorldWar I the British Admiralty successfully employed
Armed Merchant Cruisers to assist the cruisers implementing
the blockade of Germany, and they also served to escort
convoys and seek out the German surface raiders. These roles
were to be resumed in 1939 against a new generation of
submarines and commerce raiders.

No f leet is ever large enough to cope with a major war, and every significant
mercantile power has a long tradition of taking up selected tonnage from trade
to act in auxiliary roles. Exigencies of war. however, invariably keep such
stopgaps in service far longer than desirable, and involves such ships in situa-
tions with which they cannot cope.
The American CivilWar demonstrated the use of the powered merchant ship
in the roles of trade destruction and protection, as well as in blockade running.
The British Admiralty, while custodian of the world's largest f leet, was moved tb
offer subsidies to operators of better class tonnage to work in such useful
auxiliary f eatu res as extra bun ker space, suitable stiffening f or guns and machin-
ery capable of higher than legend output. From time to time such ships were
exercised cursorily in their intended roles, but disappointment was expressed
that the fitting of that popular bogey, the torpedo tube, did not automatically
make its recipient a formidable warship in its own right. Encouragement was
nevertheless given to include a reasonable proportion of RN reservists among
the crews of such ships, recognized by the award of an Admiralty warrant to
wear the blue rather than the red ensign. The crew of aGermancommerce raiderwatchone of theirvictims sink.The
Although 20th century technological advances brought radio and aerial recon- Royal Navy armed over 50 liners to supplement its hopelessly overstretched
naissance, the ocean was barely shrunk by them and a large number of ships cruiser squadrons, but even if an AMC tracked down a raider it usually came
were slill required to seek out a solitary raider. secondrn the resulting battle.
The British in 1914 made the initial error of requisitioning a number of very
large ships as AMCs (as did the Germans with raiders) in an apparent misjudg- They rapidly took rheir place in the again-successful Northern Patrol, thouqh
ment of their precise role. They were soon replaced by medium-sized tonnage. the loss of the Rawalpindi in November 'l 939 (described elsewhere) led to th6ir
Armed defensively, British AMCs were used in three majorways. They played temporary withdrawal. Losses to U-boats were the major cause for concern,
an important part in searching the vast oceans for raiders, though when they these reducing the general level of surveillance to a level that enabled German
found one they were usually worsted, though this was considered a justifiable raiders to break out into the Atlantic with ease. Once again there was a poor
risk. They were vital to the imposition of a successf u I blockade, particularly with qtlgwils ,against raiders but, though the Admiralty wislied to strengthen rhe
the 'lOth Cruiser Squadron. ln both of these duties their weatherlines and AMCs' offensive power, there was little that could be done.
endurance were superior to those of regular warships, which could thus be By mid-1941 they were removed from the more hazardous convoy routes
released for more appropriate activities. Finally, subsequent to June 1917 and ald,py the end_of '1 943, most were back on trooping duties, releasing their
the establishment of an Atlantic convoy system, they were used to cover at sizeable crews for newer ships. Between 1939 and 1045 15 were lostilO of
least those commencing in Nova Scotia. With the oceans free of surface raiders these to submarines and three to surface raiders. Despite controversy surround-
in 1917, this was acceptable but, when revived in 1939, it certainly was not. ing their use their cumulative achievements were substantial.
By the Armistice, 1 7 AM Cs had been lost to all causes, but any off icial disquiet
with regard to their vulnerability was more than offset again in 1939 by a Convoy escort with avengeance: an east-bound convoy is seen from the
shortage of cruisers even more acute than that of 1914. With stocks of suitable battleship HMS King Georgre V. In the centre is the AMC CaJifornia, which was
(and venerable) equipment at major bases throughout the Commonwealth, the commissioned inOctober 1939 andarmedwith eight 6-inguns. Shewas later
Admiralty put 50 liners in hand for AMC conversions. converted to a troopship and was sunk in July 1943.

27?3
ffi ia*atpindi
unusually reinforced by HMS ly'ew- the latters captain, Edward Kennedy ly'ewcasf/e actually siqhted the enemy,
The Northern Patrol was re-instituted
rmmediately on the outbreak of World casile, a powerful new 152-mm (6-in) found himself wrth the Cner'senau on but lacking radar in very poor condi
War II in 1939. As in l9l4 the barrter cruiser, together with the ex-P&O liner his other beam. By delayrng the out- tions, was unable to keep contact, so
rnitially comprised old regular cruis- Rawalpindi (completed by Harland & come, he hoped that his flankinqt cruis- that the rapid and far-reachingi dts-
ers soon relieved or supplemented by Wolff ln 1925) whtch, like her sisters ers, ly'enzcaslle and HMS De]hi, could positions made by the Admtralty to
AMCs, of which 13 were available by Rajputana, Ranchi and ftanpura, had become involved possibly damaging apprehend the pair came to nought
the end of October, Extremely vulnel- been conveded to AMCs, one of his adversaries sufficiently to
able to attack, the line was given dis- On 21 November the German battle- allow the Home Fleet to take a hand. Specification
tant support by regular sailies of the cruisers Scharnharst and Gnetsenau Niceties, however, were soon over Rawalpindi
Home Fleet lrom Scapa Flow, It en- had left Wilhelmshaven to mount a and lB modern 280-rnm (11-in) enrns Displacement: 16,697 tons
joyed a goodiy measure ofsuccess and qurck diversionary raid in the north, were soon in action agrainst the AMC's Dimensions: length 167.0 m (547 83 ft);
an organized enemy raid aqainst it was and the first-named came uPon the eiqht ancient 152-mm weapons, To her beam21.7 m(71,33 ft); draughtB,6 m
inevitable, Rawalpindi at dusk on 23 November. credrt, the Rawalpindi did achieve a (28.33 ft)
Late in November 1939, two 203-mm As the pocket battleship Deutschland single hit orr the Scharnftorsf's quarter- Propulsion: two q uadruple-expanston
(B-in) 'Counties were patrollinq the was thougrht to be coming nofih, the deck but, at 7315 m (8,000 yards) was steam engdnes deliveringt i5,000 ihp
AMC reported the newcomer as such, taking full salvoes in retum from two (11lBS kW) to two shafts
distant Denmark Strait supported by
three AMCs while three of the little'C' as she desperately tried to disappear directions. In less than a quarter hour Speed: 17 kts
class cruisers were between the into the shifting fogbanks of the winter the blazing shrp was flnished, finally Armament: eiqht single 152-mm (6-in)
Faeroes and Scotland. In the fierce evening Strangely, considering the shattered by a magazrne explosion andtwo 76-mm (3-1n) guns
gap lletween the Faeroes and Iceland, area, the Scharnhorst had signalled Only 38 of her crew were saved, most- Complement:309
hvo 'C' and one 'D' class cruisers were, the liner to heave{o but, iqnoring thts ly by the Germans, and 271 were lost,
Ir

An ex-P & O liner, Rawalpindi was I


fittedoutas anAMC and used to :;
bolster the cruiser patrols in the r I

N or th Atlantic. I n N ovember I 939


shehad flre mr'sfortune to meet il
Scharnhorst and Gneisenau between
the Faeroes and lceland, andwas
sunk after avaliant fight
,'1;.

,*
irdi
;F

Orion
The Hamburg-Amertka (HAPAG) ton was plastered at close range and while the raider operated with training ship in the Baltic where she
frerghter Kurmark (completed in 1930 sunk with the loss of 17 hves. another the Komel and an auxiliary, a was bombed and sunk in May 1945
by Blohm und Voss) was a poor choLce I he rarder's eventual operatino area partnership that yielded several rrseful
for conversion to a raider. Such ships was to be the westem Paciflc and she prizes notably the 16 700{on Ranqi- Specification
needed machinery that would run reli foliowed a central track down the lone- lane ano a group oi sLrps warur.o to Orjon (HSKl/Schiff 36)
ably for lonq periods with minrmal ly waters of North and South Atlantic load from the phosphate terminal at Displacement: i5, 700 tons
maintenance, but this vessel had a roundrnqi Cape Horn on 21 ItlaY. BY Nauru. Dimensions: lenqth 148.0 m (485,6 ft);
hand me-down steam turbine set re mrd June she was layinq mines off New In February L94l the raider ran tnto beam 18.6 m(61 0 fi)t drauqhtB 2 m
moved from a converted ltner. Not only Zealand: these accounted for foui the lndian Ocean, homewardbound. A (26,9 ft)
was it uneconomic but lt was unpre- ships includrnq the 13,400-ton mFelrng arLth a Brrrish o-iser was Propulsion: one set ofgeared steam
dictable, Ntagara, carryrng Qtold bulhon, avoided only because she had a spot- turbines delivenng 6,200 shp
The converted ship left Oermany as Normal Allied trade was re-routed ter aircraft airborne. Progless was (4625 kW) to one shaft
the Orjon in April 1940, convincrnqly and the Orion had a very thrn ttme for a leisurely, meanderinq and fruttless, Speed: 14 kts
disgruised as the Dutch Beemsterdijk perrod Thus it was mrd-Auqust before only the 5,800 ton Britrsh ship Chaucer Armament: six single 150-mm (5.9-in)
This identity was soon changeC to that she claimed her next victim a small being added before Bordeau-t was one 75-mm (2.95-in) one twrn 37-mm
of a Soviet ship and on 24 APril tn French ship near Noumea Only a few successfully reached in Auqust 1941 and four srnqle 2O-mm gnrns, two triple
mrd-Atlantrc, she met the Ropner ship days later she destroyed the defen- after a 510 day cruise that netted 1l 533-mm (2f in) torpedo tubes, 230
Haxby. whrch tqnored the German in- srvely armed NZS Co Turaklna in the ships of 73,577 grt. Being so unreliable mrnes and one Arado Ar 196 floatplane
struction to stop and refrain from radlo Cook Strait after a brisk flqht For a mechanically, she was demoted to a Complement:377
transmission For this deflance the Bri-

The Blohm und Voss- built


m er cha n tm a n Kurmark was
commissioned as Orionin December
I 939 and was given six I 50-mn guns
from the old battleshtp Schleswig-
Holstein. Slre enJ oyed a successful
cruise to thePacific and back,
returning toBordeaux after 5 l0 days.

/"'"--.. - =*-d

c'7qA
The Cruise of fhe Atlontis
The cruise of fft e Atlantis b egan at the end of M arch I 9 40 and lasted for I I months
despite the best efforts of the Royal Navy to catch her. She accounted for a Below.'Atlantis broke through the British blockade
successjon of British merchant shlbs rn the So uth Atlantic and Indian Ocean before in March 1 94 I by passing the Denmark Strait in
appalling weather. She opened her account in May
turningforhome. by sinking a fast merchant ship sailing for Britain
car rying v alu ab le refi n e d chr omium.
Shrps of the Bremen-bassed Hansa Line made
good sublects for conversion to raiders in
World War II because of their powerfirl con-
struction, 'tweendecks and economical diesel
propuision. The company's Kandelfe1s became
lhe Pinguin while the Golden.fels went to war as
the AfJanils, the most successirl raider of them
all.
She took the standard six 150-mm (5 9-rn)
guns as a main battery, o1d weapons saved
from ships of the Kaiser's naw, T$io of these
were sided on the long forecastle, disguised as
deck cargo. TWo more, together with four tor-
pedo tubes, were srted amidships at upper
'tweendeck level and firing through ports
closed-off by healry hrnged flaps below the
split superstructure, The last two were on the
centreline aft, one exposed on the after deck-
house and the other concealed abaft No. 5
hatch. A disappearing 75-mm (2,95-rn) 'bow
chaser' was set rn the eyes of the ship, and half a
dozen20- and 30-mm automatic weapons were
also embarked. The large No, 2 hatch was con-
verted for working two trouble-prone Heinkel
He 114B floatplanes, stowed beneath,
Of the cargo outfit, three of the iour sets of
kingposts were made removable for altering
the ship's profile. A dummy funnel was also On 3l March 1941, a bare week before the Action followed the next day, however,
devised, though its sheer size was self-defeat- German invasion of Norway was due to be when the Harrison ship,Scientist refused to stop
rng, The ship's dresels, while requiring more mounted, the Adanlrs sailed, disguised as a when ordered, showed the raider her stern
regular maintenance, were more reliable than Soviet freighter, Kim, for the passage over the and began transmitting the 'QQQ rarder warn-
steam plant after considerable periods at sea. top of Iceland. Narrowed by the ice edge, the ing, It tookseveral l5O-mmsalvoesto persuade
With her wartime complement (some six Denmark Strait was dangerous and iikely to be her to submit, wrth fire gaining hold, The 6,200-
times more numerous than the peacetime harbouring a marauding British cruiser, But tonner had been bound from South Africa to the
crew), voyages of unknown duration, and the shrelded by the appalhng weather, the raider UK with foodstuiis and valuable refined chro-
likelihood of large numbers of prisoners passed unobserved, For passage down the mium, A torpedo flnished her.
aboard from time to time, accommodation and North Atlantic,Ihe Atlantis proceeded at a low
provisroning had to be very carefully planned, and economical speed, finally berng directed Minelaying
Renamed Atlantis or, offlcially HSK2 (HSK by SKL (the Seekriegsleitung or Naval Opera- Her presence thus established, Allanlrs kept
being an abbrevration for Hilfskreuzer, or aux- tions Directorate) to advertise her presence on ahead of retribution, makrng for the Cape of
iliary cruiser) the ship came under the com- the Freetown Cape route in order to draw Good Hope and spendrng a nrght laying mines
mand of Kapitdn Bernharde Rogge, a puncti- Allied warshrps from the Norwegian seas. off the Agulhas light, a focal point of the South
lious but very able off,cer, whose long experi Crossing the equator on 24 Aprii, the ship was African coastwrse route. Having heard also the
ence in sailing ships had taught him not only repainted in more appropnate Japanese col- report of a 'suspicious Japanese shrp', Rogge
seamanship but also the values of patience and ours. made into the Indian Ocean, changing rdentity
an acceptance of hardshrp, In ice clogged wa- On 2 May the first British ship was encoun- again to the Dutch Abbekerk.
ters olone of the worst wrnters in memory, the tered, the Eilerman cargo-passenger liner Crly Five weeks elapsed before the second 'krll,
ship began trials rn March 1940 in company of Exeter. Rogge did not molest her as he the Tonsberg-registered Tirrana whrch, being
with the Onon andWtdder Together with the would have been embarrassed by the iarge new and fast, required 150 rounds of gunflre to
Komet, Pinguin and Iior they were to form the number of passengers aboard, Even so, the stop, Strll serviceable, she was sent back to
so-called 'first wave' of raiders which, with reg- British watch was suspicious of the stranger France wlth a prize crew and prisoners.
ular warships, were to conduct a co-ordinated and reported her presence, Among several further pnzes taken in the next
onslaughl on Alhed shtpping

Atlantis as slre appeared a week


before her destruction by HMS
Devonshire. She carried six gn:ns
taken from pre-World War I
battleships: two in the forecastle; two
below the superstructl[e; one in the
bow; and one exposed on the stern.

27?a
Cruise of.theAtlantis

lwo months was a near-sister, the Tallyrand


whrch, though valuable, had too iittle fuel on
board to be returned, Rogge therefore trans-
ferred such bunkers as she had and sank her.
Effective use now was being made of the aged
floatplanes to identify targets and remove their
radio aerials with a trailing grapnel to prevent
alerts being transmitted,
Ships taken read ltke a roll-call of famous
lines such as Ellerman, Athel, Reardon Smith,
Ben and Chareurs R6unies, Each sinkinq
meant loss of hfe, a valuable shrp and a vital
cargo (tungsten, lead, steel, leather, teak, rice,
wheat and frurt). Though Rogge to hrs credit
kept violence to a minimum, force was usually
required for a raptd result and few ships sub-
mitted on demand, A transmitted alert by the
victim could easily be monitored by the rarder
and it usually attracted a full salvo into the
bridge structure,
By October 1940 AUantts was again over
borne wrth prisoners, over 300 of whom were St Helena rn May and two off Recrfe in June, Of Atlantis adopled a successionof disguises during
these, the 5,370-ton British Balzac manoeuvred her career, becoming firstly aJapanese freighter
transferred to an unkempt and ancient Yugo and then aDutchvessel, andwas masquerading
slav freighter for a harrowing four-week pas- with great skr]l, obliqing the Germans to ex- as a BIue Funnel ship when she chanced upon a
sage to East Africa, Thrs ship had been taken pend about 250 rounds of 150- and 75-mm re al one, ffi e Automedon.
west of Sumatra, and was followed by two small ammunition before heaving to. She had been
Norwegian tankers, one of which had a valu hit only four times,
able parcel of 500 tons of diesel oil aboard Realizing the dependence of German raid- ranged by the cruiser's 203-mm (8-rn) guns, the
ers and submarines on their supply ships, the AUantis could make no effectlve reply and
Boardingparty British concentrated effectively on the latter's erght hits were sufficient to reduce her to a
Now masquerading as a Blue Funnel ship, destruction. Following the recent loss of nine, blazing wreck. Her remaining mlnes ex-
the Ailanlis met a real one, the Automedon Ihe AtJantis reluctantly agreed to top up the ploded, and the ship followed her22 victims to
which, apparently deceived, made no attempt homebound and and ever-thirsty Orton before the bottom. TheDevonshire did not dally as her
at evasion. She did however, refuse to stop and doing a last clrcuit around the world in the aircraft had reported also the U-boat's pre-
had her bndge blasted. This krlled all senior latrtudes of the 'Roaring Forties'. Though sence.
personnel and the usual German boarding par- flnding both iuel and suppltes, she took only Over 300 survivors were thus adrift but the
ty unearthed a trove of hrghly classified docu one ship, the Norwegian Silvaplane. It was to submarine surfaced, took some aboard and
ments in her strong-room, whose destruction be her last. Over 18 months at sea were teiling towed the remainder, putting all aboard the
nobody had ordered. Realizing their worth, on the ship and crew, so Rogge made for home, fortuitously-close supply shtp Pylhon during
Rogge sent them direct to Kobe in Japan by On passage rn the South Atlantic, two U the following nrght, This ship remained on sta
one of his tanker prizes. Partrcularly useful to boats were revictualled, the second (U-126) tron and then history unthrnkably repeated it-
the Japanese were the latest British assess- actually being alongside on22 November l94l self, for on I December, with two U-boats
ments o[ possrble reacttons lo a malor war in when a three-funnelled ship was sighted: no alongside, another Brrtish 'County' was sighted,
the Far East They elreatly influenced the liner this but the British cruiser HN4S Devon Thrs time rtwas HMSDorsetshire, commanded
Japanese plans and the latter recognized Roet- s,hire, whose aircraft checked out the German, by the same Agar who hadwon hrs VCin CMBs
ge's contribution with high honour. now purporting to be a Dutch-flagged Blue in the Baltrc 1n 1919, He dtd not need to fire a
For rest, refit and a further change of dis- FunnellerPolypiemus, The British soon estab- shot, remaininq 12800 m (14 0OO yards) distant
guise the AUantis made for the isolated island hshed via Freetown that the claim was bogus while the Python was scuttled, His caution was
of Kergnrelen in the South Indian Ocean. She and (not repeating HMAS Sydney's faial error justified for one of the ship's erstwhile custom-
grounded on a rockpinnacle, however, requir- with the Kermoran only four days before) ers approached closely enough to fire an un-
ing a great deal of effort to refloat and repair closed only to 15545 m (I7 000 yards) before successful spread of five torpedoes,
with the meagre resources available, opening fire and remainrng at high speed, Out- A complex German and ltalian submarine
Sailing again in January 1941, and profittng operation eventually rescued the 400-odd sur-
from routing charts taken fromlhe Automedon, vivors, though some (perhaps approprtately)
The career of Allantiswas finally terminated by the had had to spend up to 20 days in open boats,
the raider made several useful captures north cruiser HMS Devonshire, which caught her
east of Madagascar: one Brockelbank liner, resupplying a pair of U-boats in the South Atlantic. Atlantts herself had been at sea for 622 days,
and Andrew Werr 'Bank' and a loaded tanker The Britishvessel did not make the mistake of had covered I8500Okm (115000 miles) and
sent, with the prisoners, as a prize to France. Sydney andsfiot the raider apart from long range. had drsposed of 145 697 grt ofAlhed shipplng,
Two fruitless months were spent on ihe Cape-
Australasia route and, having reprovisioned
several Itaiian submarines, Rogge doubled the
Cape and re-entered the Atlantic on B Aprtl,
It was obvrous that the British were using
evasive re-routinq and encouraging smart
transmrssions of QQQ warnings, so the raider
was obliged to adopt the more violent techni-
que of sudden onslaught by night. The first
such exerctse proved an embarrassment, the
victim turning out to be the Egyptian Zamzam
with over 200 passengers, half of whom were
still-neutral Americans,
Shortly afterward, lhe AUantts experienced
extraordinary luck, To conserve fuel, she was
drifting on the Freetown-Cape route when the
Britrsh HMS l/e/son and HMS Eagle passed in
the darkness withrn 6 km (3 7 mrles) without
seeing her,
Rewards were thrn, with two prizes taken off

2ls6
GERMANY
Armed Merchantmen of the World Wars
Widder
]"4ost raider commanders acted with as
ruch humanity as their trade wor,:-ld
Jlow, and only von Ruckteschell of the
Widder was later arrarqned as a war
:riminal, Older than his peers, he dif-
-ered also in being from the naval re-
serve, He was a quick{empered intel-
Iectual, obsessed with attacking and
pulling out in the shortest possible
trme, His attitude was not helped by
permanent anxiety abour his unpre-
dictable machinery, his ship being a
near-sister of the equaily-temper-
amental Orion,
After conversion from the HAPAG
Neumark (completed in 1929 by
Howaldtswerke), lhe Widder entered
the Atlantic in May 1940 by the usual
northabout route, covered by the eEeat
drversion of the Norwegian campaign
but having several brushes with British
submarines. Her prescribed operat-
ing area was the teeminqt zone bound-
ed roughly by the Panama-Europe and
Panama-Cape of Good Hope routes, survivors, von Ruckteschell left all 59 the same treatment to the crew of the Orion, Widder suffered from
.Li]ce
Her first victim was the BP (then Anglo- from his next victim, Ihe King John, in Greek Lnlonjos Chandris, the ailing engine trouble and her captain
lranian) tanker Brjtus,h Pelrol on 13 their lifeboats, in tropic waters and Widder returned to Bordearx after a tended to make his attacks by night,
June..Von Ruckteschell, nervous of nearly 400 km (250 miles) from land. 180-day cruise that netted l0 ships of blasting the victim at close range.
being reported, hammered the hap- The usual stalkrnq and raprd night 58,605 qrt, Her captain went on to com
less vessel with 150-mm (5,9-in) shells attack saw 30 shells and a torpedo mand the raider Michel but his ship Propulsion: one set ofqeared steam
and a torpedo. He took a Norwegran being put into the Norwegran tanker decommissioned, to survle the war turbines delivering 6,200 shp
tanker, tr?ossfona with no resistance Beauljeu, unnecessary force that, as al- and, ironically, to serve briefly under (4625 kW) to one shaft
and returned her to Brest with a prize ways, cost innocent lives. In the central the red ensign, Speed: 14 kts
crew but, on meetinq the British Davr- Atlantic Widder accounted also for Armament: sx sinqle I 50-mm (5. 9-in),
sran, reverted and continued flring one of the last great square-nggers. Specification one 75-mm (2.95-in), one twin 37-mm
even when her crew were rn the life- Erikson's Killoran, dating from 1900 Wrdder (HSK3/Schiff 2 t ) and four single 20-mm guns, two twin
boats, closrng to a point where automa- and under the Finnish flag, Next came Displacement: 16,400 tons 533-mm (21-in) torpedo tubes, 60
tic weapons were beingT used to rake the 5,600{on,4n glo-Saxon, from which Dimensions: length i52.0 m (498,7 ft); mines, and hvo Heinkel He I 14
her decks. Somewhat overburdened only two survivors reached land after a width 18.4 m (60.4 ft); draught 8.6 m floatplanes
with that perennial raider's problem, 70-day boat voyaqe Finally meting out (29 2ft) Complement:363

Thor
Though one ofthe smaller ofthe auxih- ranqe. Both ships were about equal pofi and Holt, Once hit, the British ship cleaninq, the tanker blew up, des-
ary rarders, Thor was one of the most armament, but the great bulk of the raprdly took flre and blazed uncontroll- troying herself and several other ships
successful, A modern steam-furbrne liner soon suffered critrcal damaQie that ably, so badly that a white flag was said including the Thor.
driven ship capable of a good turn of forced her to stop, Thor, also dam- to be shown to end the action before
speed, she was converted from the aged, was keen to avoid more and the the old liner sank. No ship ever ex- Specification
Oldenburgr-Portuqiesische Linie Santa action was broken ofl It was another posed the questronable use of the Tftor(HSK4/Schiff I0)
C.n:z (completed in 1938 by Deutsche month, however, before the raider AMC more than the Z,hor, Displacement: 9, 200 tons
Werff), and broke out into the Atlantic struck again, sinkrng a whale factory The raider arrrved home again in Dimensions:length 115,61 m (379.3 ft);
durinq unseasonably foul weather in ship and a largre refriqterated cargro the same month after a 329-day cruise beam 16.7 m (54.8 ft); drauqht 7,1 m
June 1940, wastinq no time Qtetting to ship off Brazil, that netted 12 ships of 96,574 gfi Fol- (23,3 ft)
her operating area in the Central and On 5 December 1940, farther south, Iowing a refit the Tior sailed again in Propulsion: one set ofgteared steam
South Atlantrc, Between I and 17 Juiy the German was surprised by another November In the South Atlantic she turbines delivering 6,500 shp
the raider took sx prizes, startinq with AMC, the Carnaruon Casfle Another claimed five prizes in quick succes- (4845 kW) to one shaft
the Rotterdam-l,loyd ship Kertosono. brisk action developed in which the sion, using her aircraft effecttvely, Five Speed: 18 kts
With nearly 200 prisoners already raider inflrcted about 20 hits at no cost more were sunk in the Indian Ocean Armament: sx sinqle 150-mm (5,9-in),
aboard, the Tftor sighted a large liner to hersell Badly damaqred, the British belore the Thorlett for Japan. arriving one 60-mm (2,36-in), one twin 37-mm
east of Rio de Janeiro on 28 July, While vessel was obliged to disenqage. in Yokohama on l0 October after a and lwo lwrn 2O-mm guns, rwo twin
such a vessel made a temptinq tarqlet It was March 194i before two more 324-day cruise that netted l0 shipS of 533-mm (2I in) torpedo tubes, 90
this one moved wrth deliberation and ships, Brilannr'a and Trolleholm were 56,037 grrt. She was berthed with the mines and one Arado Ar 196
the German captain suspected a Bnt- sunk in the central Atlantic and then supply ship Uckermark (better known floatplane,
ish AMC. He was correct: she was the on 4 April the Thor met yet another under her earlier name ofAlfmark) for Complement:346
Alcantara, and she raprdly closed the British AMC, lhe Voltaire,late of Lam- refit, but on 1l November while tank-

Thor faced spjri te d oppos i tion


during her first cruise, having to fight i i
three batUes against British Armed
Merchant Cruisers. Her second
t,
I
rl
voyage ended in J apan, where she ll:l
was destroyedwhen a tanker
berthed next to her inYokahama i*,
e x ploded w hile t an k- cle aning. rJl
il!
',;i I ii
i:l

i!,,
*:.+=,:'=_.

tTaa
Ef aigri"
Pinguin and Allanljs were the two I n J anuary 1 94 1, Pingnrin atfacked tft e
:::ost successful of the German aLxrli ex pa tri a te N orwegian Antar ctic
ary raiders and, coincrdentaliy, were whaling fleet off SouthGeorgia in the
:rrgrnally near sisters of the Hansa South Atlantic, capturing I 4 vessels,
ine, a Bremen concern noted for the including three factory ships. Most
quality of its ships, As with several managed to reach France under
cther raiders, the erstwhile Kandelfels prizecrews. Shewas sunkwith heavy
(completed in 1936 by AG Weser) had Ioss of life by HMS Cornwall.
an important subsidiary minelaying
role, carryingr 300 for fle1ds planned to was loaded with many of the raider s
be laid off Austraha and India, In June mines. Between them, the ships latd
1940, at the height of the Arctic sum- from Newcast to Hobart (including the
mer, the ship sailed northabout, Bass Strait), after whrch the tanker was
through the Denmark Strait and down sent back to France with a prtze crew.
the thinly-populated median line of the The Antarctic summer months were
Atlantics. Still on passage, near Ascen- then busy for the whalinq fleets and
sion Island on 31 July, she came across January 1941 saw the raider descend
the Liverpool-reqistered Dom ingo de on the extensive expatriot Norweqian
Larrunaga which, very susprcroLls. fleet by South Georgia, capturing two
steered away, transmittinq a raider factory ships, a tanker and I I catchers.
alarm. Raiders were always acutely These were sent in staqles back to raider s remaining mines exploded, Propulsion: two diesel engrnes
sensitive of beingr compromised and France most arriving safely, the ship drsintegrated and Qrotng down delivering 7,600 bhp (5665 kW) to one
lhe Pinguin reacted ferocrously after a Pinguin doubled the Cape of Good with about 550 lives, nearly halfofthem shaft
two-hour pursuit Hope and made for the Horn of Africa, Allied seaman pnsoners. The Pinguin Speed: 16 kts
Augn-rst and September were spent the busy southern approaches to the had been at sea 328 days and netted 28 Armament: srx single 150-mm (5.9-in),
in waters southeast oi Madagascar, Red Sea. Here she sank the Cian ships of 136 551 qrt. one 75-mm (2.75-in), one twin 37-mm
five good-sized prizes beingr claimed. Buchanan and the Brittsh Emperor tn and foL,r srngle 20-mm guns lwo fwin
One ofthese, IheBenavon from Leight, May 1941, but the latter qtot off a raider Specification 533-mm (21 in) torpedo tubes, 300
put up a stout defence in which half of warning that brouqht the nearby heavy P inguin (HSKS/Schiff 33) mines and one or two Arado Ar 196 or
her crew were krlled. crurser HMS Cornwall to the spot Not Displacement: 17, 600 tons Heinkel He 1 14 floatplanes
Off north west Australia rhe Pinquln decerved by the German's pose as a Dimensions: length 155 0 m (508.5 ft); Complement: 420
took the Norwegian tanker Slorslad Norwegian Wilhelsen-hne shrp, the beam 18 7 m(61.4 ft); draughtB.T m
which temporarily renamed Passal, cruiser opened flre Unfortunately the (18 s fr)

Stier
Armed with six 150-mm (5.9-in) wns AJtmark). After the qroup broke up,
and two torpedo tubes, the Sfier was Stler remained Ln company with the
converted from the Atlas-Levante TannenfuJs and early on 27 September
Lrnre Carro (completed in 1936 by both ships were hove-to engaged rn
Krupp-Germania) and sailed from Rot- paintinq and maintenance. VISibility
terdam on 12 May 1942 Her passage was only about 3 km ( 1.9 mrles) and the
through the Dover Strait was contested sudden appearance of another ship
by British MTBs and shore batteries caused some anxious moments The
two of her escorts bernq sunk along stranger was, however a merchant-
wrth two of the attackers By 19 May' man and the nervous Sfuer opened frre
she was safely at Bordeaux whence rmmediately, but wrthout halttng the
she broke rnto the Atlantic and headed shrp. She was, in fact, only a standard
south, Sdels first victim was the Britrsh Amerrcan 'Lrberty' shtp, the Slep,hen
freighter Gemstone on 4 June, but her Hopkins, armed with a single 127 mm
inexperience showed only two days (5-rn) gun aft and a parr of 40-mm quns
later when, to srnk the tanker Sfanvac forward but these were immediately
Calcutta, she expended 148 rounds of brouqtht into actLon and sewed mag- ,rbls the Amencans were lelt rn therr Stier operaledfor a while with the
150-mm ammunition and a torpedo, mflcently Even as theSljerclosed she boats, only 15 out of 57 surriving thetr raider Michel fhe lanker Uckermark
while takinq a couple of hits from the took a hit that jammed her helm and as ordeal After 139 days at sea the ^Sfrer and the freighter Tarurenfels jn lfte
tanker's defensrve armament The she slewed, a second hrt that caused had netted only four shrps of 30,062 grt. South Atlantic- The last rescued
South Atlantrc seemed desefied and It havoc in the engrne room Werght of survivors from the raider after the
was not until 9 August that a third shtp fire was with the German, however ba ttle wjth Stephen Hopkins.
the Da-Lhousje was sunk on the Cape and the gallant Hopklns was drsabled Specification
Town-Trinidad route. ancl sunk. 'ihe Sler lwhLch overestt Stier (HSK6/Schiff 23) Armament: srx single 150-mm (5.9-in),
In mid-September in this vast emp- mated her opponents armament as Displacement: I 1,000 tons one twin 37-mm and four single 20-mm
ty ocean the shrp met wlth another one 152 mm/6 rn and two lO2-mm/4 rn Dimensions: lenqth 134.0 m (439.6 ft); guns, two srngle 533 mm (2l-rn)
rarder, the Mtchel, Ihe frerqhter Tan- or 127 mm guns) was badly ablaze beam 17 3 m (56 B it) draughtT.2 m torpedo tubes andtwo Arado Ar23L
nenfu./s (with a cargo from Japan) and eventually blowrnqi up Whrie her sur- (23 6 ft) floatplanes
the tanker/storeshrp Uckermark (ex- vivors were rescued by the Tannen Speed: 14 kts Complement: 324

e
i

One of the secondwave of commerce raiders, Stier's cruiselrad a bad start in


May 1942 when she and her escotts were intercepted by British MTBs. She
escaped but only sank four ships in a five-month voyage, being destroyed by
the heroic crew of the US Liberlysftrp Stephen Hopkins, who fought to the very
end.

g
\.,
';r.
':>.
rs .1 .6

2798
ffi lH"t
The Komet's route .a ::r ,c:r: _:: tke Mtchel. the Komel carned an
Armed Merchantmen of the World Wars

atea wds untque. so-L:.: =-:-s:-+ i6 LS boat but adapted for minelaying
(after conversion fuom ine Ncrddeuts rather than torpedoes, The craft's en-
cher Lloyd Ems, completed in 1937 by gines both failed and she was scuttled.
Deutsche Werft) from Norway in early Larger moored mines were carried by
July 1940 and, with the ice-breaking the rarder and she used one of Pino
assistance of Germany's then-ally the uln's captured whale-catchers to liy
USSR, passrng north of the Asian land them off Australia and New Zealand,
mass, enterinqr the Paciflc via the Be- The raider then crossed the Paciflc
ring Strait just two months later. As the to sink three merchantmen near the
smallest of the rarders and not rce- Galapagos islands before rounding the
strengthened, she showed remark- Horn and f,nally reachrng Hamburg in
able powers of resistance even tn thrs November l94l after 510 days at sea
'summer' ice, at the cost of a damaqed The voyage had not been very suc
rudder, cessful with only seven ships of
Her operating area was in the west- 431,832qrt to show for nearly 18
ern Pacific and she meandered south- months at sea, Refirrbished, she sailed
ward along a still-neutral Japanese agarn rn October 1942, taking the risky
chain to meet with the raider Orron and coast-hopping route down the Enqlish
the storeshrp Kulmerland. On 23 Channel. The British were well aware
November, nearly five months after ofher progress and, desprte her heavy
sarling, the Komel took her flrst ship, escort, cauqht her off Cape de la Komet saiJed from Norway inJuty 1940 and, with the assistance of Hitler's
the 546-ton New Zealand coaster Hagiue with a powerful destroyer and then-ally-.the SovietUnion, she passed northof theRusslan /andm ass, entering
Holmwood whose failure to broadcast MTB force. The rarder blew up, leav- the Pacific via the Bering Strait in September. She was well equipped, carryiig
an alarm resulted rn the loss, two days ing no suwivors. two aircraft and a midget torpedo boat.
later, of the 16,700-tonRanErilane Thrs
ship, together with others sunk off
Nauru, was credited jointly to the two
Specification Propulsion: tw^o^diesel engines and four single 20,mm guns, two twrn
Komet(HSK?/Schiff 45) one
delivering 3,900 bhp (2910 kW) to and two single 533-mml2 t,rn; torpeOo
raiders, which also heavily shelled the Displacement: 7, 500 tons shaft tubes, 2ZO mines one LS minelaying
phosphate loading facilities of the is- Dimensions: length 115.0 m (377.3 ft), Speed: 16 kts boat wrth 30 speciat mines, Jdffi'
land, beam i5.3 m (50.2 ft); draught 6.5 m Armament:s^ixsingle lSO-mm(5.9-in), AradoAr lg6floatplanes
At the end of the year, the qoup (21.3 ft) one 6O-mm (2 36-in), one twin 37-mm Complement: 220
^

broke up and Komef headed south to


the Antarctic, arriving just one month
later after lhe Pingutn, though at a , By her own efforfs, Komet a ccounted for only half a dozen British ships in an
dtfferent meridran. She lacked the lat J L9-month voyage. Re-fitted at Hamburg she attempted to break ouidown the
ter's fortune, however, and the pau '" ChannelinOctober tg42,butwasinterceptedoff Capedela{agueandsunk
met briefly in March i941, at the so- withallhandsbytheBritisfiMTB236.
lated island of Kergmelen, -.
it
:: ,g
,# ri
,*a
'' :::--..
l:::
.a::'
;ii:r
i11i,
iii r

-a
a :-

ffi ili[n"t
Widdels captain, von Ruckteschell, ing the Cape of Good Hope for a brief
went on to command one of the last raid on the Cape-lndia route, While
raiders, Michel, a new shrp that had the LS boat was used on occasion, the
been seized in 1939 while building as captain's usual tactics of a sudden
the Bielsko in Danzig to Polish account. overwhelming night assault were
Shortly after Operatton 'Cerebus' she more normal. Such an attack was on
was cheekily sailed westward on 13 the Gloucesler Caslle in July 1942;
March 1942 through the English Chan- though the old liner was carrying only
nel; her passage was under heavy a handful of passengrers the death toll
escort and hotly contested by the was strll 93.
Royal Navy, but she got throuErh with in New Year's Day 1943, Ihe Michel
hght damage, clatmed her 15th victim, the Britrsh
The ship carried an LS (leichles Empire Marchtn the usual night attack
Schnellboot), a 12.5-m (41-ft) high- From ciose range, the freiqhter was
speed craft armed wrth two 450-mm the recipient of 64 150-mm (5.9-in) and
(17,7-in) torpedoes. These were used 16 105 mm (4 13-in) rounds, over 300
effectively to reduce the American rounds of automatic fire and four torpe-
tanker Connecfcut to a pyre ln the does. Mrraculously, 25 survrved thrs
South Atlantrc on22 Aprll At flrst liqht frenzred attack,
on I May the raider met up with the The raider now crossed the lndian
Blue Funneller Menelaus which was Ocean for a reflt in Japan after 358 days
not deceived by von Rucl.leschells at sea and 14 ships netted. She saiied
pretence of being a British aLxiltary again in June under the ex-captain of
and took off at hiqh speed, signalling lhe Thor srnkrng rwo Norwegran
raider warnings and avoiding the LS freighters west ol Austraira before Shipping some of the guns from Widderand un der the command of the former
boat's torpedoes. crossing the Paciflc to dispose of the raider's captain, Michelsailed from Flushing in March 1g42. Her torpedo boat
For almost a year, the Michel oper- Norwegian tanker lndra near Easter was used to sjn k the US tanker Connecticut an d the raider spent a year in the
ated in the South Atlantic, once doubl- Island. With her overall score at 17 South Atlantic before sailing to Japan.

t?oo
Michel (continued)

snrps of 121,995qrt, the rarder made Speed: 16 kts


:or Yokohama and, a bare 100 km (60 Armament: six single 150-mm (5.9-in),
miles) from port, was sunk by torye- one 105-mm (4, 13-in), two twin 37-mm
does I?om the US submarine Tarpanon and {our sLngle 20-mm guns two luin
l7 October 1943. This last raider took 533-mm (2 1-in) torpedo tubes, and two
263 of her own down wrth her, Arado Ar 196 floatplanes
Compiement:400
Specification
Mjchel (HSK9/Schiff 2B) Michel reiifled at Kobe in J apan
Displacement: 10 950 tons before sailing on another raid, this
Dimensions: length 132.0 m (433 I ft) time commanded by the ex-captain
beam 16.8 m (55,1 ft); draught 7,4 m of'Ihor. She increased her score to I B
(24 3 ft) before setting course for Yokohama,
Propulsion: two diesel engines butwas torpedoed and sunk60 miles
delivering 6,650 hp (4960 kW) to one short of safety by the submarine USS
shaft Tarpon.

GERMANY

Kormoran
In common with several other raiders,
Kormoran (the ex-HAPAG Sleier
mark, completed in 1938 by Krupp-
Oermania) went northabout, through
the Denmark Strait, disqmised initially
as a Sovret freighter. She was a new
ship, propelled unusually by a diesel-
electric installatron, Her orders were
wide-ranging: besides operating rn
the Indian Ocean, the South Atlantic
and off Australasia, she was to lay
mines off Austraha New Zealand, the
East Indies, India and South A-frtca, as
well as carry spares for submarines
operating in the South Atlantic.
For the first three months of 1941 the
Kormoran operated in the Atlantic nar-
rows between South America and
West Afrrca, Here she clarmed four
victims includrng the BP tanker Brjtusi
Union tn ballast, the Blue Star re-
frigrerator ship Afric Star and the Blue
Funneler Euryloc.hus, She left the area
for a perrod as a result of engdne trou-
ble but returned to destroy four more,
rncluding the Anqlo-Saxon (Shell)
lanker Agnita and T & J Harrrson's
Craftsman. The last-named was dif-
flcult to sink because of her cargo of
nets and floats, and her particularly
strong constructron. The next victim a totally misled by the confusinq signals Specification Kormoran broke into the AUantic
Greek wrth a timber cargo was slml- wrth which lhe Kormoran replied to Kormoran (HSK8/Schiff 4 1) through the Denmark Strait
larly diffrcult, wasting both time and every challenqe and unwrsely pulled Dispiacement: 19,900 tons &sgursed as a Russian freighter, and
ammunitron. parallel and to within 1.6 km (1 mile), Dimensions: lenqth 164.0 m (538 0 ft)t sailed south to operate in the central
Frustrated in her mrnelaying plans Suddenly the Dutch colours of the beam20.2 m(66.3 ft) drauqhtB,S m Atlantic and re-supply U-boats. She
by the weather off South Africa, the frerqhter were replaced by the Ger- (27 9 ft) latet entercd the Indian Ocean and
raider had an egually unrewarding man naval ensign and a storm of flre Propulsion: diesel-electric with four rendezvoused with the supply ship
time because of enemy activity off ln- was let loose, The lightly protected diesel generators supplyinq current to Kulmerland off Au s tr ali a.
dra, though two more merchantmen warship never recovered but, even two motors delivering 16,000 bhp
were sunk in the Bay of Bengral, In mid- when torpedoed and blazinq, kePt uP (11930 kW) to one shaft
October, Ihe Kormoran rendezvoused a slow but steady fire and the Kormor- Speed: 18 kts
with the supply ship KuJmeria,rd west an, too, was eventually badly ablaze. in Armament: sx single I 50-mm (5. 9-in),
of Australia, for a short period of self- both shattered ships the guns fell silent two twin 37-mm andfive srngrle 20 mm Kormoranwasin tercepted by HMAS
reflt and a (fofiunate) transfer of pris- as darkness fell, The Sydney was nev- guns, two twin 533-mm (21-in) torpedo Sydney off Wes tern Australia, but the
oners, er seen aqain and the German was tubes, 320 mines, one LS torpedo boat wily German crew managed to draw.
On i9 November l94l a cruiser was abandoned blowingtup when her rag- and two Arado Ar 196 floatplanes the cruiser towithin a mile before
sighted astern and the Germans, pos- ing fires touched off her yet unlatd Complement:397 opening fire, with devastating effect.
ing as the Dutch ship Straat Malakka, mines In 352 days at sea she had net- Kormoran was ft erself destroyed, but
steamed away and rnto the sun to gain ted I 1 ships of 68,289 grt, and the SYd not before inflicting fatal damage to
time, The cruiser HMAS Sydney, was ney, her vastly superior opponent.
I
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