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Built: 1909

Tonnage: 8,299 / 8,890 tons

Alexandria - Capetown - Recife - New York

Cargo: lubricating oil, tin plate, ambulances, trucks, steel bars, radios, typewriters, batteries, girdles, cosmetics and Coca-Cola

Sunk 17 APR 41 by Raider Atlantis on pos. 27º 41 S 08º 08W

3 Dead

327 Survivors

This 8.300-ton Egyptian passenger liner, the former Bibby Liner Leicestershire, sold to Egypt a few months before the outbreak of war, en route from New York to Cape Town - with an exotic crew of 110 Egyptians, Sudanese, Turks, Greeks, Czechs and French, and over 202 very unhappy passengers, Americans, British, French, Greeks, Canadians, South Africans, Norwegians and Italians; 150 missionaries - Catholic, Lutheran, Adventist, Baptist and 12 other denominations; 24 American volunteer ambulance drivers; 76 women, of whom   5 were pregnant –

Americans, British, French and some “very  photogenic Greek nurses”; 35 children; Charles J Murphy, editor of FORTUNE magazine, and LIFE magazine photographer David E. Sherman, and a mixed cargo of lubricating oil, tin plate, ambulances, trucks, steel bars, radios, typewriters, batteries, girdles, cosmetics and Coca-Cola - was identified as a ‘Bibby’ troopship and attacked by moonlight, without warning, from a range of 9.200 yards. The first two salvos missed, but the third salvo knocked out the radio room.

The crew, having abandoned ship and taken to the lifeboats in panic, leaving their passengers to their fate, found themselves being shaken off Atlantis’ lines so that the Germans could help the women, children and the many others who were seen floundering about in the water. Having collected as much of the passengers clothing and as many of their belongings as possible, including a little girl who had become lost, and a tricycle for someone small and deserving, the boarding party spent over five hours aboard the slowly sinking liner plundering her larder and stripping her bar

Everyone was safely picked up and transferred two days later to the supply ship Dresden , whence, despite Rogge’s wish to have them transferred to a neutral ship or landed in a neutral country, they were ordered instead to France.

By Hilfskreuzer (Auxiliary Cruiser / Raider) - Atlantis (

A Life magazine photographer aboard the doomed Zam Zam snapped this image of the German surface raider Atlantis posing as the Norwegian merchant ship Tamesis. The photograph eventually reached the British Admiralty and was distributed to Royal Navy forces hunting the German vessel.

Passengers rescued from the sunken liner Zam Zam sit or stand among their salvaged luggage aboard Atlantis and await instructions from their German hosts. The majority of the Zam Zam passengers were eventually delivered to the supply ship Dresden. Photo.



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