The Sinking of RMS Laconia

#2
A few years ago was loaned a copy of the book about the incident by one of the survivors, whose photo is in the book.Will watch the program on i player later. But how many people know that when a merchant ship went down the pay for the crew was stopped. He spent the rest of the war in camps in North Africa Italy and Germany during which tims his wife got no cash at all.
 
#3
I saw bits of it and it looked good, except for one thing. There was a scene between a Merchant Navy sailor and a passenger which seemed critical of the fact that he was not in a fighting force, whereas the highest casuality rates of any British force in WW2 was the Merchant Navy (btw I am not ctriticising the Army, RN or RAF).
 
#4
I missed the first 20 minutes, so I was playing catch-up. The scene that lanky mentions didn't detract at all, in fact it enhanced the story. It wasn't derogatory of the MN but portrayed the ignorance of the passenger - someone doing sweet FA for the war effort and oblivious to need for people not in uniform to play a necessary part. It's an attitude that is/was widespread and lingers - from presenting white feathers to ridiculing reserved occupations. Even in the Army of today, the same attitude can be found when Combat elements look down on Combat Support and Combat Service Support.
 
#5
I missed the first 20 minutes, so I was playing catch-up. The scene that lanky mentions didn't detract at all, in fact it enhanced the story. It wasn't derogatory of the MN but portrayed the ignorance of the passenger - someone doing sweet FA for the war effort and oblivious to need for people not in uniform to play a necessary part. It's an attitude that is/was widespread and lingers - from presenting white feathers to ridiculing reserved occupations. Even in the Army of today, the same attitude can be found when Combat elements look down on Combat Support and Combat Service Support.
Correct my little Puttees. The lady who complained took the high road without knowing the facts. The two chaps were boxers, young Hardacre saved the Iy-ty.

You should have seen it all - it was ace. If the lad doesn't get me back from the beach by 2050hrs tomorrow, he will be in the doghouse.

Oh, and the best bit was where the "Confidential Files" were dropped on the nasty Polish man's head. I'm still waiting to see what Freda Smith's involvement is in it though, so might have to go onto Amazon and buy a book. Obviously with pictures and big letters because I am a mong.
 
#7
A few years ago was loaned a copy of the book about the incident by one of the survivors, whose photo is in the book.Will watch the program on i player later. But how many people know that when a merchant ship went down the pay for the crew was stopped. He spent the rest of the war in camps in North Africa Italy and Germany during which tims his wife got no cash at all.
I believe they were classed as DBS ... Distressed British Seaman and whenever a vessel was sunk by enemy action their pay was stopped until the signed on to another . It happened to my father early in WW2 .
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#8
I saw some of it and thought it was pretty bog.

Loads of factual errors, continuity mistakes and some seriously sloppy costume errors, for instance: Upside RN branch badges, a lad with 2nd Lt pips and corporal stripes on the same shirt, a Merchant Navy officer with what looked like French Navy stripes and RN PO's badges and Chief's buttons on his jacket, new style badges a'plenty with the Queen's crown etc. etc.

It did make me want to wear my submariner's jumper to work this morning though.
 
#9
What saddens me about the whole incident is the gung-ho and **** the world attitude of USAC Captain Richardson who ordered the bombing of U-156 in order to 'protect the secret Allied airbase on Ascension Island'. FFS, there must have been a better solution. :pissedoff:
 

jim24

LE
Book Reviewer
#10
The Laconia incident showed up the Allies for what was in fact a war crime, Hartenstein not only sent the open signal but actually contacted the French in West Africa to set up a rescue, but even though the U boat flew the red cross it was still attacked by the USAAC
 
#11
#12
I watched it last night and quite enjoyed it though I have to agree the attention to detail was pretty crap particularly with the uniforms, all the ships officers had different style of braid and the junior 3rd mate looked like a cross between an RN Petty Officer and an Italian Admiral; where the **** did he get all that braid?

It is worth noting that the Master of the RMS Laconia was, in 1940, the Master of another ill fated ship RMS Lancastria:

RMS Lancastria - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

You wouldn't want to sail with him a second time
 

jim24

LE
Book Reviewer
#13
The so called "Laconia Order" not to assist the crewws of ships was only issued after the American attacks on Hartenstien, but was brought up at Nuremburg to try to prove Donitz's guilt even though the court knew about the attacks by the USAAC

The only recorded case of U boats actually killing the survivour's was the sinking of the Greek freighter "Peleus" by U 852 which two moths after the attack was wrecked on the coast of Somalia, three members of the crew,Heinz Wilhelm Eck, August Hoffmann and DR Walter Weisspfenning were executed, the only U Boat crew to be sentenced to death in WW2, No action was taken against Allied officers who murdered U Boat men in life rafts although this happened a number of times
 
#14
The so called "Laconia Order" not to assist the crewws of ships was only issued after the American attacks on Hartenstien, but was brought up at Nuremburg to try to prove Donitz's guilt even though the court knew about the attacks by the USAAC
As I understand it, the issue of the Laconia Order was dismissed when it came to sentencing Doenitz, given that the British had issued a similar order relating to submarine operations in the Skaggerak in 1940 and the US in the Pacific in 1941.

The protocol that was violated required warships not to sink ships if they couldn't rescue the survivors, effectively requiring that submarines could only attack fishing trawlers or similar and that huge submarines would be required to sink troopships.
 
#15
Did you also know that a week after the event, Hartenstein sank another vessel, the Quebec City I think, and provided the shipwrecked crew with assistance that saw them safely back to land. One of the survivors wrote a book about it, The Enemy We Killed, My Friend.
 
#16
The only recorded case of U boats actually killing the survivour's was the sinking of the Greek freighter "Peleus" by U 852 which two moths after the attack was wrecked on the coast of Somalia, three members of the crew,Heinz Wilhelm Eck, August Hoffmann and DR Walter Weisspfenning were executed, the only U Boat crew to be sentenced to death in WW2, No action was taken against Allied officers who murdered U Boat men in life rafts although this happened a number of times
History is written by the winners!
 
#18
The Laconia incident showed up the Allies for what was in fact a war crime, Hartenstein not only sent the open signal but actually contacted the French in West Africa to set up a rescue, but even though the U boat flew the red cross it was still attacked by the USAAC
As I understand it (and happy to be corrected) the U-Boat flying the red cross is legally irrelevant.
A U-Boat was still an beligerent armed warship, regardless of what flag its flying. Te hcross flag does/did not consitute a hospital ship and affords no legal protection. Moral protection, yes. Legal protection, no.
As an armed warship the use of the red cross flag is a violation of the Hague Convention

I'm not defending the bombing of the U-Boats involved in rescue atempts but as far as I can tell it wasn't legally a war crime.

It is alsoworth noting that the rescue atempts were not motivated by humanitarian reasons, it is unlikely that the atempt would have been made had the bulk of survivors in the water not been Italians.
 
#19
It is alsoworth noting that the rescue atempts were not motivated by humanitarian reasons, it is unlikely that the atempt would have been made had the bulk of survivors in the water not been Italians.
You are wrong, Hartenstein was known to assist the crews of ships he sunk regardless of nationality.
 
#20
Sad but true. Unless you get to speak to the losers, you only know the half of it.
Many years ago I did chat (all to briefly) with a U-Boat Captain, he was still very proud of his score tonnage wise.
He was in his early 20's when captured by the British and spent much of the war in a PoW camp in rural Northumberland, he brought his wife on holiday to show her where he spent his time as a prisoner.
 
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