Daily Event for April 9, 2012

On June 21, 1921 the freighter Feliciana was launched at Furness Shipbuilding, Haverton Hill-on-Tees, Middlesborough. She was 450' 5" (pp) long and registered at 7,896 tons. The ship had limited passenger accommodations which were all amidships. Owned by Furness Withy she was used on the New York run and in 1923 she was transferred to the Gulf Line, a subsidiary of Furness Withy, and renamed London Mariner. She was again transferred in 1928, this time to another subsidiary of Furness, the Prince Line and renamed Imperial Prince. This lasted for five years until she was laid up at Tollesbury. She sat in the River Blackwater until 1935 when she was sold to the Charente Steamship Co. Ltd. (T&J Harrison) of Liverpool and renamed Craftsman.

On April 9, 1941 Craftsman was about 900 miles WSW of Monrovia, Liberia carrying an anti-submarine net for the protection of the harbor at Cape Town, South Africa when she was attacked by the Hilfskreuzer Komoran. At first the master, W. F. Halloway, attempted to escape, but Kapitänleutnant Theodor Anton Gunther Detmers in Komoran opened fire on the fleeing ship. The gunfire was intended to stop the ship from sending a distress signal, and the shells soon found the mark and knocked the radio out, the action also killed five crewmen and badly wounded others including the master who was blinded.

The ship surrendered and the Germans boarded her and placed scuttling charges in the ship and abandoned her taking the forty-six survivors prisoner. When the charges exploded the ship settled, but did not sink due to the floats attached to the nets. A torpedo was sent into the side and she split in open and sank, however the floats remained on the surface causing a number of ships to believe they were actually mines for some time to come.

On Apr. 20 Komoran rendezvoused with the Atlantis and the supply ship Nordmark. The prisoners, including thirty-eight men captured on Apr. 12 from the Greek freighter Nicholas D.L., were transferred to the Nordmark to be taken to Germany arriving May 20. During the voyage to Germany the Chief Engineer Officer who had been badly wounded in the attack died of his wounds, he was buried at sea reportedly with full honours.

Detmers was promoted to Kapitän zur See just days after the sinking of Craftsman, and he had already been awarded the Ritterkreuz (Knight's Cross), but his glory would not last long. After sinking three more ships Detmers was approached by HMAS Sydney on Nov. 19, 1941, during the battle Komoran was so badly damaged that she had to be scuttled, and Sydney, also damaged, withdrew into the distance, fires on board probably reached her magazine as the cruiser was seen to explode by some of the Komoran survivors. HMAS Sydney was lost with her entire crew. Many of Komoran's crew, including Detmers, were saved and spent the remainder of the war as prisoners in Australia.
© 2012 Michael W. Pocock
Imperial Prince (later Craftsman) seen between 1928 and 1935.

Roll of Honour
In memory of those who lost their lives in
SS Craftsman
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Carruthers, Robert S.
Chief Engineer Officer
Cook, David
Junior Engineer Officer
Dunn, Martin L.
Fireman & Trimmer
Ferns, Francis J.
Foster, William
Able Seaman
Richards, James H.
Died of wounds in Nordmark May 14.

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