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Sister ship Empire Tourist. Photo.


Built: 1940

Tonnage:  7,241 / 10,328 tons

Cargo: Ballast

Route: Durban - Trinidad

Sunk 11 SEP 42 by Raider Michel on pos. 34°00′S 02°00′E

20 Dead

21 POW

Empire Dawn was a 7,241 GRT cargo ship that was built in 1940 by William Doxford & Sons Ltd, Sunderland, Co Durham, United Kingdom for the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). Entering service in April 1941, she served until 11 September 1942 when she was sunk by the German raider Michel.

She sailed in ballast, bound for Trinidad where she was to load bauxite and then sail to New York. On 11 September, Empire Dawn was attacked by the German raider Michel west of Cape Town, South Africa. Her position was 34°00′S 2°00′E. Although Empire Dawn indicated that she had surrendered, and the crew were abandoning ship, the shelling continued. She was sunk with the loss of 20 of her 41 crew.

The survivors were rescued by Michel. They were transferred to Uckermark, and later Charlotte Schliemann which took them to Singapore, where they were handed over to the Japanese as prisoners of war.  The continued shelling after the ship had surrendered was considered to be a war crime. Michel's captain Helmuth von Ruckteschell was found not guilty on this charge at his trial held at the Curio Haus in Hamburg, Allied-occupied Germany, from 5–21 May 1947.

It was shown that the surrender was flashed in Morse Code by electric torch, the light from which was demonstrated in Court to be too weak to be seen in daylight and amongst the flashes of explosions. Von Ruckteschell was convicted on three other charges and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment, subsequently reduced to seven years. Von Ruckteschell died in prison on 24 June 1948. Those lost on Empire Dawn are commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial in London.

By Wikipedia



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