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Picture by Michael Pocock    

Built 1939

Tonnage 4,225/8,000 tons

 Cargo: 7,300 tons of unrefined sugar.

Route: Capetown - Freetown - UK

Sunk 7 Oct 1939 by Adm. Graf Spee on pos. 09º 52'S 03º 28'W

O Dead

35 POW 

On October 7th 1939, SS Ashlea, was captured and sunk by Graf Spee, off African coast some 500 miles off Southwestern Africa, now Namibia. The vessel had as a main cargo of sugar. Once the crew was transferred to another victim of the raider, the merchant Newton Beech taken as a prize.

On the following day, all prisoners boarded Graf Spee when Newton Beach was sunk by gunfire. About 2 tons of supplies in Ashlea’s compartments were transferred to Altmark and Graf Spee. 4 crewmembers from Ashlea including Captain returned to the Graf Spee and remained as POW’s  until the German ship released them at Montevideo on Dec 13, 1939.

Crewmen seen from Graf Spee observe the last moments of merchant Ashlea when scuttling charges begin to explode. Another merchant captured by Graf Spee, the Newton Beech is seen in the background. Soon she will have the same fate of Ashlea. Picture by Michael Pocock

Ashlea heels over starboardside and sinks in mid south Atlantic. Photo by Michael Pocock 

Ashlea seen in her death throes. Photo by Michael Pocock


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