Search: Sort by:

- D E F




Built: 1922

Tonnage: 6,433 / 9,480 tons

Cargo: 4,000 tons of coal, and 2,000 tons of briquettes and chemicals

Route: Cardiff – West Indies

Sunk 10 JUL 40 by raider Widder on pos. 18º 54”N 30º 00”W

10 Dead

38 Survivors


SS Davisian a 6,435-ton British freighter with 4,000 tons of coal, and 2,000 tons of briquettes and chemicals from Cardiff to the West Indies, and a crew of 50, had little chance to radio for help, as her antenna was ripped away by Widder’s first 5.9-inch salvo on July 10. Unable to offer much resistance with a single 4-inch gun, her crew was ordered to abandon ship, and, seeing the boats being lowered, von Ruckteschell commanded his gunners to cease firing.

But, as several seamen were observed making aft for the stern gun, he ordered his 37mm and 20mm cannon to re-open fire, killing three of them. The British claimed that the raider’s gunners continued to fire for eight minutes after a signal was sent indicating that the freighter was being abandoned, but the Germans maintained that no such signal was received.

This controversial action was to form the basis of the first of five serious War Crimes charges made against von Ruckteschell in 1947, a charge on which he was found guilty. Having removed as much foodstuff and tobacco as possible from the ship, she was finished off with a torpedo, and the survivors, six of them wounded, were picked up, bringing the total number of prisoners on board to 100.

Surveying them from the bridge, the raider’s captain was heard to describe them as, “Englishmen, not  Scots, insolent and noisy”.




Since 2007 -