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An artistic view of Adolph Woermann by Galerie Bremen.

Built 1922   

Tonnage 8,577 / 8,080 dwt

Length 433,5 ft

Beam 58,2 ft.

Draught 25,6 ft.

Cargo: N/A

Route: Mombassa - Lobito - Germany

0 Dead

162 Survivors

Scuttled 21 NOV 39 366 miles North of St. Helena Island, pos. 10º 37"S 05º 11"W to avoid capture by Royal Navy HMS NEPTUNE. 

At the outbreak of World War II on the homebound trip Adolph Woermann lay at Lobito and was held up by Portuguese authorities. On 16 Novevember 1939 she left Lobito trying to reach South America. Disguised as Portuguese ship Nyassa, she was traced by the British Waimarana who informed HMS Neptune. On the approach of Neptune on 22 November Capt. Otto Burfeind evacuated Adolph Woermann and sank her according to governmental orders.Crew and passengers were taken up in a friendly manner by the Neptune's crew.  It is reported that one Neptune crew member was injured in trying to save the liner by going onboard to close the flood-valves. Passengers and crew of Adolph Woermann were taken to England and interned at Seaton/Devon.

In 1940 most of the internees from the camp were taken on the Arandora Star and so were Capt. Burfeind and his crew.  On July 2 1940, having left Liverpool unescorted the day before, under the command of Edgar Wallace Moulton, she was bound for St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador and Canadian internment camps with nearly 1,500 German and Italian internees, including 86 POWs, being transported from Britain. Most were elderly Italians, who were resident in Britain. The ship was bearing no Red Cross sign, which could have shown that she was carrying prisoners, and especially civilians.

At 6.58 AM off the northwest coast of Ireland, she was struck by a torpedo from the German submarine U-47, commanded by U-Boat ace Günther Prien. It is assumed that U-47 mistook her grey wartime livery for that of an armed merchant cruiser. U-47 fired its single damaged torpedo at Arandora Star. All power was lost at once, and thirty five minutes after the torpedo impact, Arandora Star sank. Over eight hundred lives were lost. The master of the ship, 12 officers, 42 crewmen, 37 guards, 470 Italians an 243 Germans were lost including Capt. Otto Burfeind, who stayed aboard the sinking ship to help with the evacuation.

HMS NEPTUNE. The constant surveillance of Royal Navy ships was an ever present menace to the blockade runners making the break out of the South Atlantic represented a  very risky and  almost impossible enterprise. Photo.




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