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  #1  
Old 20-11-2008, 05:29
kookaburra kookaburra is offline
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Default Life Aboard the German Prison Ship Dresden

Part One Following here is a photo essay drawn from LIFE magazine on the capture and sinking of the steamship SS Zamzam by the German raider Atlantis in the South Atlantic on April 17, 1941, and the shipboard life of her passengers aboard the German prison ship Dresden afterwards.

Two American journalists, Charles Murphy, a writer for Fortune magazine,and David E. Scherman, a LIFE magazine photographer were passengers on Zamzam.I found his photos to be very evocative of an interlude at sea.


Background
Zamzam, under Captain William Gray Smith left Hoboken New Jersey on March 21, 1941 bound for Trinidad, Recife Brazil, Alexandria and East Africa. The ship had 141 crew and 202 passengers, more than half of whom were American missionaries and their families bound for East Africa. There was also a contingent of the (non-combatant) British-American Ambulance Corps aboard.

On April 17, out of Recife, Zamzam altered course to go to the aid of a ship signalling that she was being shelled.
At 5 a.m. the next morning she found herself being shelled.

This first part takes us to the point where passengers, including children, experience the shelling, and they and the crew are taken aboard the Atlantis and folornly watch their ship, scuttled by its captors, sink below a flat sea.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg dresden 1.JPG (186.1 KB, 15 views)
File Type: jpg dresden2.JPG (149.4 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg dresden3.JPG (167.9 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg dresden4.JPG (174.8 KB, 17 views)
File Type: jpg dresden5.JPG (161.5 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg dresden6.JPG (160.6 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg dresden7.JPG (93.5 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg dresden9.JPG (153.2 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg dresden9a.JPG (146.9 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg dresden9b.JPG (112.2 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg dresden9c.JPG (151.1 KB, 10 views)

Last edited by kookaburra : 20-11-2008 at 07:58.
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  #2  
Old 20-11-2008, 05:56
herakles
 
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

This has the feeling of being a very good thread!
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  #3  
Old 20-11-2008, 06:07
kookaburra kookaburra is offline
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

Part Two:The Zamzam's passengers and crew were transferred from the raider Atlantis to the prison ship Dresden the next day, April 19. One member of Zamzam's complement, Ned Laughinghouse died of wounds he had received in the shelling soon after.

Notes: First photo shows Captain Gray Smith's initial encounter with the Dresden's (unnamed) Captain (on the right), and various scenes aboard first Atlantis, then Dresden. EDIT: WRONG FIRST PICTURE- I'LL HAVE TO EDIT IN MEETING EBTWEEN CAPTAINS IN A LATER POST - IT'S ONE OF THE BEST. Clearly the captives were reasonably well treated, and there was Red Cross on board the prison ship, as it ran the allied blockade towards Occupied France and the port of St Jean de Luz, where they were to be unloaded to varying fates (discussed in Part Three). The first prayer scene is under canopies used to collect rainwater. In this post we leave them as the Dresden's satisfied captain watches his ship approach St Jean de Luz in Occupied France.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg dresdenA9b.JPG (101.8 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg dresdenA2.JPG (477.0 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg dresdenA3.JPG (175.9 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg dresdenA4.JPG (136.6 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg dresdenA5.JPG (201.3 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg dresdenA6.JPG (145.4 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg dresdenA8.JPG (167.3 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg dresdenA9.JPG (141.5 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg dresdenA9a.JPG (168.2 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg dresdenA9c.JPG (176.6 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg dresdenA9d.JPG (137.3 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg dresdenA9e.JPG (138.8 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg dresdenA9f.JPG (171.1 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg DresdenA9h.JPG (155.0 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg DresdenA9i.JPG (149.0 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg prison ship cat.JPG (151.2 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg dresdenA9g.JPG (141.0 KB, 9 views)

Last edited by kookaburra : 20-11-2008 at 08:27.
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  #4  
Old 20-11-2008, 07:02
kookaburra kookaburra is offline
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

Part 3 - Conclusion in Occupied France

Well, before we get to occupied France, I want to flashback for moment on the point of capture and the Dresden voyage. Pic 1, a child waits for the lifeboats. Pic 2, perhaps this man was making the doll for her. We see again various scenes of life aboard the prison ship Dresden: wounded men from Zamzam's shelling in the prison ship's sick bay; deck games on board; conditions aboard; posting a notice; and finally arrival in Occupied France, and a not unfriendly farewell from a German crew member who seems to have done a fair bit of fraternizing during the voyage (he was playing chess with a captive earlier).

ON landing in France, the captives were taken to the resort town of Biarritz, where we begin to see them being processed by the SS. Men and women were separated, and those from combatant countries were sent to internment camps for the remainder of the war. The American ambassador to Vichy France made extensive representations, and eventually most of the Americans were released, repatriated or resumed their missionary journeys.

But not the members of the British-American Ambulance Corps. They were sent to POW camps.

That's it. Hope you enjoyed this unusual pictorial insight into an interlude of the war at sea.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg zamzam1.JPG (169.7 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg zamzam2.JPG (134.1 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg zamzam3.JPG (163.9 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg zamzam3a.JPG (181.4 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg zamzam4.JPG (167.5 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg zamzam6.JPG (150.8 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg zamzam6a.JPG (197.6 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg zamzam5.JPG (150.1 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg zamzam7.JPG (159.1 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg zamzam8.JPG (153.5 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg zamzam9.JPG (121.2 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg zamzam9a.JPG (161.3 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg zamzam9b.JPG (149.9 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg zamzam9c.JPG (159.7 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg zamzam9d.JPG (160.2 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg zamzam9e.JPG (143.1 KB, 1 views)
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  #5  
Old 20-11-2008, 07:11
kookaburra kookaburra is offline
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

An American missionary I missed posting. Liked the signs on the guitar, so...may as well do it all.
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File Type: jpg zamzam7a.JPG (127.7 KB, 11 views)
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  #6  
Old 20-11-2008, 07:51
herakles
 
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

That was enjoyable! Almost a good news story in fact. Thanks for posting this.
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  #7  
Old 20-11-2008, 08:08
kookaburra kookaburra is offline
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

Quote:
Originally Posted by herakles View Post
That was enjoyable! Almost a good news story in fact. Thanks for posting this.
Thanks. Just a late realization note to the very first picture in post #1. They are setting out on their voyage from the U.S., but if you look to the left of the man in the pith helmet who is a double to Winston Churchill, you will see what appears to be shrapnel and splinter damage to the ship already.

And it was. Zamzam had been damaged while in port in Alexandria during a bombing raid a few weeks earlier. Also I think - with no means of being sure - that the two men in the center of the picture may be the journalists Murphy and Scherman. They just have that Time-Life journo's style about them.

It occurs to me that the fact the photographer was allowed to keep his camera and snap away freely indicates that the regime on the Dresden must have been pretty relaxed. This was, of course, before America came into the war.

Last edited by kookaburra : 20-11-2008 at 10:05.
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  #8  
Old 20-11-2008, 08:31
kookaburra kookaburra is offline
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

Here's the important picture missing at the start of the post #2 series. The first encounter between Zamzam's Captain William Gray Smith and the Dresden's unnamed Captain on the right.

Have to post this: such a key moment, the series is not complete without it.
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File Type: jpg dresdenA1.JPG (146.7 KB, 14 views)
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  #9  
Old 20-11-2008, 09:02
herakles
 
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

Agreed. It's a remarkable pictorial record in every sense of the word. 5 stars for this!

I've learned a bit more about this event from the net.

S.S. ZamZam, an Egyptian-owned ship, including 120 American missionaries (from 21 different denominations), tobacco buyers and other passengers travelling from New York to Alexandria, Egypt, via Capetown, South Africa. She was earlier the SS Leicestershire.

The LEICESTERSHIRE was built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast in 1909 for the Bibby Line and was a sister ship to the GLOUCESTERSHIRE. Her details were - 8,059 gross tons, length 467.2ft x beam 54.3ft x depth 31.7ft, one funnel, four masts, twin screw and a speed of 15 knots. There was accommodation for 230 single class passengers. She sailed from Birkenhead in September 1909 on her maiden voyage to India.

In August 1914 she was taken over as an Indian Expeditionary Force transport until November when she was returned to her owners. In 1917 she was again taken over under the liners requisition scheme, and in 1918 spent some time carrying troops to North Russia to fight the Bolsheviks. She then made a voyage to Melbourne repatriating Australian troops. After this service she was returned to Bibby Line, rebuilt from coal to oil burning and modernised. Resumed service on the Rangoon route until 1930 when she was sold to the British National Exhibition Ship Co Ltd, who intended to run her round the Empire as a floating exhibition of British goods. Converted by Cammel Laird, Birkenhead, she was renamed BRITISH EXHIBITOR and in 1931 was opened in the Thames for inspection. However, in 1932 the company went into voluntary liquidation and the whole scheme was abandoned.

The ship was then laid up at Southampton Water until purchased by Egyptian owners in 1933 to be used in the pilgrim trade between Egypt and Jeddah. Renamed ZAMZAM, she continued in this trade until 1941 when, although a neutral ship and having stopped on demand, she was shelled and sunk in the Atlantic by the German raider ATLANTIS (ex-Hansa Line's GOLDENFELS) with loss of one life. 320 survivors transferred to German ship DRESDEN.

Can only download one photo however.
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  #10  
Old 20-11-2008, 09:41
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

What a BRILLIANT thread. Most enjoyable. Thank you.
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  #11  
Old 20-11-2008, 11:04
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

Here are 3 more pictures from the same set of Life pictures that show SS Zamzam sinking.

The first one shows a lifeboat leaving the sinking Zamzam.

The second one shows a lifeboat alongside Zamzam - and finally

The third was taken from one of the lifeboats looking back at the sinking ship.

An oar from the lifeboat can clearly be seen...
Attached Images
File Type: jpg SS ZAMZAM SINKING..jpg (147.1 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg SS ZAMZAM SINKING-2.jpg (162.2 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg SS ZAMZAM SINKING-5.jpg (106.7 KB, 7 views)
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  #12  
Old 20-11-2008, 11:49
kookaburra kookaburra is offline
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

What happened afterwards

Glad some folks were interested. The Atlantis hit the S.S. Zamzam with nine shells -imagine how terrifying that must have been for the families and children aboard this unarmed ship.

There were a number of people wounded but no-one killed outright. As noted earlier, a man named Ned Laughinghouse died later on the Dresden.

The account I read suggested that the American missionaries were eventually released - now I'm not so sure. Attached here is a link to a Chicago church newspaper in which a Mr Guilding tells of the internment of himself and his wife - maybe they were British-born, and held as subjects of a combatant nation.

Here's the link:

http://www.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/...zamzam/009.htm
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  #13  
Old 20-11-2008, 12:44
John Odom John Odom is offline
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

That was a great thread. As an MK (Missionaty's Kid) I could relate to that. Many of my friends spent time as guests of the Japanese in the Philippines. My dad was sick and our trip from Panama to the Philippines in late 1941was delayed just enough by his medical treatment in Panama so that we spent the war years in the US. We were between Havana and Miami when we got the word that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. Our friends were already in Manila.
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  #14  
Old 20-11-2008, 13:27
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

GR8 stuff! I remember seeing a few of the pics from first posting, IIRC, in a paperback I had (still have, too) many decades ago about Atlantis "written" by her C.O.; who by that time was an officer in the West German Navy. Excellent! DFO
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Old 20-11-2008, 14:02
John Brown John Brown is offline
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

A great thread and excellent photos.

If I remember correctly there was a great deal of controversy surrounding the sinking of the Zam Zam and it actually, for a while, became an embarrassment to the Germans. I am writing from distant memory so am quite prepared to be corrected but...

On her voyage the crew did several things, including sailing at night without lights, that put her neutral status in doubt to German warships. When the crew of the Atantis realised what they had done, it was decided to try a 'damage limitation exercise'. In order to soften the blow that they had sunk a neutral ship with Americans aboard they decided to try and make themselves look rescuing heros rather than murderers. Accordingly, the Dresden deliberately took an exceptionally long time for the voyage to France by which time news of the sinking and presumed loss of everybody on board had broken. Relatives of the 'dead' were obviously distraught and grief stricken. America was furious that some of its citizens had been killed in an act of war when they were neutral.

Imagine the relief then when the German ship put into port with all those survivors! The Germans may not have been regarded quite as heros but the edge was certainly taken off the worlds revulsion at what they had done.

The actions of the Zam Zams crew prior to the sinking led to speculation that the whole thing had been a deliberate attempt by the British to get the Germans to attack the ship in order to bring America into the war.

Regards...John
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Old 20-11-2008, 18:28
herakles
 
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

"The actions of the Zam Zams crew prior to the sinking led to speculation that the whole thing had been a deliberate attempt by the British to get the Germans to attack the ship in order to bring America into the war."

This is a whole new twist John. And not impossible. As you know, there are rumours about other similar events.

I gather the survivors held a reunion in the 1990's.

I'm surprised that 9 shells hitting the ship didn't cause more loss of life.
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Old 21-11-2008, 05:27
kookaburra kookaburra is offline
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Brown View Post
A great thread and excellent photos.

If I remember correctly there was a great deal of controversy surrounding the sinking of the Zam Zam and it actually, for a while, became an embarrassment to the Germans. I am writing from distant memory so am quite prepared to be corrected but...

On her voyage the crew did several things, including sailing at night without lights, that put her neutral status in doubt to German warships. When the crew of the Atantis realised what they had done, it was decided to try a 'damage limitation exercise'. In order to soften the blow that they had sunk a neutral ship with Americans aboard they decided to try and make themselves look rescuing heros rather than murderers. Accordingly, the Dresden deliberately took an exceptionally long time for the voyage to France by which time news of the sinking and presumed loss of everybody on board had broken. Relatives of the 'dead' were obviously distraught and grief stricken. America was furious that some of its citizens had been killed in an act of war when they were neutral.

Imagine the relief then when the German ship put into port with all those survivors! The Germans may not have been regarded quite as heros but the edge was certainly taken off the worlds revulsion at what they had done.

The actions of the Zam Zams crew prior to the sinking led to speculation that the whole thing had been a deliberate attempt by the British to get the Germans to attack the ship in order to bring America into the war.

Regards...John
Yes, John, I too found your post very informative, and put the whole episode in a broader context. Thanks for doing that.

In fact when posting, I had in mind that this episode was a counterpoint to the famous February 1940 incident when the men from HMS Cossack boarded the German raider supply ship Altmark in Norwegian waters and released the prisoners captured by Admiral Graf Spee. Captain Dau was the notorious fellow in command of Altmark from memory. It was all a great Boy's Own story for years afterwards.

Here's one link that tells the story of the Cossack-Altmark incident, and the diplomatic cat-and-mouse game going on behind the scenes, quite well:

http://images.google.com.au/imgres?i...%3Den%26sa%3DN

Also a couple of the images:HMS Cossack comes home to a raptuous welcome (she was lost a year later). Also Altmark.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg HMSCossackArrivesLeith[1].jpg (31.1 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg AltmarkPrisonShip[1].jpg (6.6 KB, 3 views)
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Old 21-11-2008, 14:57
kookaburra kookaburra is offline
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

Well, I wanted to complete my digression into the other famous WW11 German prison ship incident here - the release of Graf Spee's prisoners from the hold of the Altmark in a Norwegian Fiord, by a boarding party from the British Tribal HMS Cossack.

Of course that cry 'Then come on up. The Navy's Here.' ran around the British world. I've mislaid my old copy of the book of that title - anyway, the tale is well told in the link on the previous post, and repeated here again. It really was a 'Boy's Own' story, and for illustration here I'm falling back briefly on the Eagle boy's weekly to tell the tale in pictures.

The Captain of the Altmark, as I had previously suggested, was indeed Captain Heinrich Dau, beastly German squarehead. Commanding the the Cossack was Captain Philip Vian - strapping, clean of limb, noble of mind, and heart of oak. A stupendous fellow.

Here's that link to the the whole gripping story again: the dreadful Graf Spee guards who ran across the ice and started sniping on the heroic rescuers. Dau's dastardly attempt to ram the Cossack by running his ship astern.

http://ahoy.tk-jk.net/macslog/Rescue...shPOWsFro.html

Afterwards: Heinrich Dow was relieved of his command shortly after the Altmark incident, and sent into early retirement. He committed suicide on the day of Germany's surrender in May 1945.

Captain Vain, with an already legendary reputation on destroyers, went on to command an aircraft carrier squadron with the British Pacific Fleet, and became an Admiral of the Fleet.

Pics here are Eagle weekly's takeout on the incident; beastly German guard climbing over the rails to go sniping; a richly-deserved Kraut funeral afterwards (five guards died); The Scotsman newspaper's photograph of Cossack's glorious welcome home; and, finally ...Captain Heinrich Dau, who at last did the right thing on VE Day in 1945.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg cossack[1].jpg (76.7 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg altmark[1].jpg (39.6 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg Altmark[2].jpg (119.1 KB, 10 views)
File Type: jpg Altmark_Incident[1].jpg (74.9 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg images[8].jpg (2.8 KB, 67 views)
File Type: jpg Leith3[1].jpg (30.6 KB, 5 views)

Last edited by kookaburra : 25-02-2009 at 08:55.
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  #19  
Old 24-02-2009, 21:06
BECA@CLEAR.NET.NZ BECA@CLEAR.NET.NZ is offline
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

What a great thread, very interesting.
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Old 25-02-2009, 07:46
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

Not "VAIN" - "VIAN"!
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Old 25-02-2009, 08:57
kookaburra kookaburra is offline
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

Quote:
Originally Posted by Commodore Armiger View Post
Not "VAIN" - "VIAN"!
Calm down, I've edited in the correction. You can do this sort of thing in a polite PM you know.
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Old 25-02-2009, 09:16
herakles
 
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Default Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

We don't encourage members to correct other members here. Certainly not in the forum.
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Old 21-04-2011, 20:27
youngmatelot youngmatelot is offline
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Smile Re: LIFE aboard the German prison ship Dresden

Quote:
Originally Posted by kookaburra View Post
What happened afterwards

Glad some folks were interested. The Atlantis hit the S.S. Zamzam with nine shells -imagine how terrifying that must have been for the families and children aboard this unarmed ship.

There were a number of people wounded but no-one killed outright. As noted earlier, a man named Ned Laughinghouse died later on the Dresden.

The account I read suggested that the American missionaries were eventually released - now I'm not so sure. Attached here is a link to a Chicago church newspaper in which a Mr Guilding tells of the internment of himself and his wife - maybe they were British-born, and held as subjects of a combatant nation.


Here's the link:

http://www.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/...zamzam/009.htm
My great uncle is the Mr Guilding mentioned. Imprisoned in Germany until 1945, he became a chaplin to his fellow prisoners and on release rejoined his wife Clara in the African Inland Mission in Macharkos Kenya until 1966 when they retired to Florida. I met up with Zam Zam survivors in2010 for the 69 anniversary.......last week it was the 70th anniversary.....what a positive bunch of people, who believe that they were "saved to serve" and continue to give thanks for deliverance from the waves. Peter Levitt who was a young boy at the time has a new book published Mar 2011 which provides his mothers account of events on the Zam Zam
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