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Built as Ermland 1922   
Tonnage 6,528 / 9,475 dwt
Length 449,1 ft.
Beam 58,5 ft.
Draught 25,1 ft.
Cargo: Rubber, Tin and Wolfram 
Sunk 3 JAN 44 by USS Destroyer Sommers on pos. 14º 55’S 21º 39’W   
5 Dead
134 POW   

The Warmia of the Hamburg-American Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft (Hapag) was the fourth newbuilding for the shipping company's participation in an East Asia joint service with British shipping companies and the North German Lloyd. The first four ships of the Havelland class were almost pure cargo motor vessels with a small passenger facility for 18 passengers.

The Warmia and its sister ship Rhineland were equipped in contrast to the first two ships with slow-running diesel engines without transmission. The put into service in September 1922 Ermland remained until 1939 in the East Asia service and was at the beginning of the war in Kaohsiung, Formosa.

She was sent in late December 1940 as the first blockade runner from Japan to Europe and reached Bordeaux in April 1941. On the way she had met, inter alia, with the heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer.

Renamed in Weserland she ran back to Japan in the fall of 1942. Their last journey began on 26 October 1943 in Yokohama and ended on 2 January 1944 in the South Atlantic at position 17º 00”S, 21º 00" W coordinates: between Ascension and the Brazilian coast, where it was sunk by the US destroyer USS Somers.

The Warmia was the fourth new construction of Hapag for the participation in an East Asia joint service with the British shipping companies Alfred Holt & Co. and Ellerman & Bucknall, which had offered the German shipping companies Hapag and Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL) a company community, which they assumed in 1921. Hapag wanted the route, as the two British shipping companies operate primarily as a freight line and therefore commissioned by Blohm & Voss motor ships had only room for up to 18 passengers.

As the first ship of Hapag in this community service came the type ship of the new buildings, the Havelland, in December 1921. They and the second ship of the series, the Münsterland, were powered by remaining submarine diesels, the high speed of which was reduced by a gearbox developed by Blohm & Voss director Hermann Frahm.

The Warmia, named after the Prussian landscape of Warmia, formed with its sister ship Rhineland the second group of new buildings, in which at Blohm & Voss built slow-running 6-cylinder diesel engines of the type Burmeister & Wain were tested, which acted directly on the two waves, The Warmia ran on February 18, 1922 as the last ship of the original order nine months after the first ship from the stack and was delivered August 29, 1922 a year after the type ship.

The class was completed by two other ships (Saarland, Vogtland) in 1924, which received an additional deck and then could take 49 passengers on board. The Vogtland was again equipped with the drive concept of the first ships, while the Saarland was driven for comparison purposes by a gear turbine.

The Warmia remained until 1939 priority on the East Asia Route in use. Her last peace ride took her from Houston to Manila, where she arrived on August 26, 1939. The captain decided to leave the harbor immediately because of the tense political situation and on the 31st he entered Takao (now Kaohsiung), Formosa, where the ship remained for the next 11 months. She still had 706 tons of fuel oil on board, enough for 53 days of sea and over 12000 sm. From July 28 to August 5, 1940, the Warmia then drove to Kobe to take over duties in the stage.

Without any charge the Warmia left under Captain F. Krage on December 28, 1940 Kobe to take prisoner of German auxiliary cruisers. First, on January 5, 1941, she met the auxiliary cruiser Orion and the prize tanker Ole Jacob at the Lamotrek Atoll of the Marshall Islands. After taking over the 183 remaining on the Orion prisoners (including 32 Norwegians from the Ringwood) the Warmia, disguised as the Russian Tbilisi from Vladivostok, continued their solo journey home on 9 January through the Pacific and around the Cape Horn. On February 23, she sighted a single large ship, presumably a troopship.

At the supply point "Andalusia" the Warmia supplemented its supplies from the supplier Nordmark under Captain Gray and took over from the vessels used in the South Atlantic still another 148 prisoners. 56 came from the cruiser Admiral Scheer, whom she met a little later in the mid-Atlantic. On 3 April 1941, the Warmia arrived in Bordeaux as the first blockade runner from Japan.

Because of the likelihood of confusion with the same marine provider, the Warmia was renamed after this trip in Weserland and armed with a 10.5 cm gun and four 2 cm anti-aircraft guns. With a general cargo for Japan, the Weserland tried on 17 August 1942 leak. It was attacked at Cape Ortegal by British aircraft and ran on the 20th in the protection of the Spanish coastal waters. From there she returned to Bordeaux. On 18 September, Captain Krage then managed the outbreak from Bordeaux to Yokohama.

This time the ship was discovered and attacked by a Short Sunderland farther off the Spanish coast. It managed to shoot down the flying boat. Two men of the crew could be saved. Both survived, although one had sustained significant burns and the other had to have one leg amputated. On December 1, 1942, the Weserland reached Japan, although she had sighted on the way six foreign ships.

A first return journey began the Weserland on 5 January 1943 from Yokohama. The journey was stopped and returned to Japan via Batavia. It was not until October 26, 1943, that the Weserland finally made its return journey, on which, from Singapore, 35 Italian U-boat crew were on board on their return journey.

On New Year's Day 1944, the reconnaissance squadron based on Ascension launched its routine flights with its Consolidated PB4Y-1 Liberators. The second machine discovered after more than six hours of flight at 14.00 clock a ship on WNE course with 10 knots ride. It turned out to be Glenbank (which was from Cape Town on the way to Montevideo). The insecure Americans made some 12.7 mm machinegun shots, whereupon the Weserland shot back and hit exactly. The aircraft landed at 18.45 with an injured back on Ascension. To clear up the ship, a plan was deliberately set in motion and set the destroyer USS Somers (Cdr. E.C. Hughes) in march. At 20:35, the search sighted the alleged Glenbank, which was now 70 nautical miles southeast of the previous position.

The aircrft returned to Ascension and landed at 03.30 on 2 January. The search started again at 09.30 clock and found the suspect ship again. When the aircraft dropped off its message, the Weserland opened at 17:25 again very precise fire and damaged the Liberator "Baker 12". At 18.30 were three more aircrafts in the Weserland and the damaged one was accompanied by the 600 nm return flight, which, however, ended at 21.47 after constant loss of altitude on the water surface.

At 22.00 the Somers sighted the Weserland in 12 nm distance, which was illuminated by the aircraft. The Somers finally opened the fire at a distance of 4 nm and the Weserland sank at 00.30 on 3 January 1944 at position 14º 55'S 21º 39'W. Five men died and the 134 survivors were taken on board by the Somers.

The strong and very thorough monitoring is due to ultra-decoding results, which led to the loss of blockade runners Rio Grande and Burgenland until January 6, 1944. On January 2 alone, four individual blockade runners were discovered and scuttled.

DD 381 Sommers. One of the most active Destroyers at the Fourth Fleet. She chased the German Blockade Runner  and sent her to the bottom. 134 men managed to survive. Photo



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