The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

Sinking of  the SS Britannia 1941

Surface Raider Thor

In addition to shipping having to avoid contact with u-boats, the German navy armed and disguised 12fast surface raiders like the Thor.

The Germans converted the cargo ship Santa Cruz and renamed it Thor:

The Santa Cruz

The Thor

The pencil drawing of the Thor that Dad made in his pocket book

The Thor sank the SS Britannia on Tuesday 25 March 1941 after the Britannia tried to outrun it and made smoke. The Britannia had a small gun but was easily out-gunned.

The exchange of fire caused devastation including the destruction of some of the lifeboats. Many crew and passengers were killed outright or injured.

There are many different versions of how many were on board the Britannia and survived including 520 on board and 331 surviving.

Those survivors able to do so took to the lifeboats and rafts. In Dad's lifeboat, Commander Spurgeon saw the Thor lowering a boat and told eveyone to ditch their passports and money.

In fact, the Germans picked up just one survivor and made a hasty exit. The captain claimed that a nearby warship was answering the Britannia's distress signals.

No warshiup emerged to pick up survivors and many died in the lifeboats before they could be picked up.

The Thor itself was wrecked beyond repair in Yokohama on 30 November 1942. She was being refitted for a further voyage of carnage when the vessel moored alongside exploded and set it on fire.

Colin Bower
1 June 2020

Link to:

Britannia Index

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