Ashlea (1929)
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Nov. 21, 2008

I was recommended to your site whilst searching for information on my mother's uncle Charles Pottinger.  He was Captain of the Ashlea and sunk by the Graf Spee, which is well documented in your pages. Later in the war in 1945 he received the OBE but I have had less success searching for information. He was King's Harbourmaster in Alexandria Harbour and helped move a US tanker, which had caught fire, out of the harbour.  The tanker was the US Tanker Briar Creek and I can find nothing of it or the event. I wonder if anyone can help me?

Thank you,
Paul Jewell
Newton Abbot, Devon, England

Reply 1
Dec. 10, 2014

On 21st Nov 2008, Paul Jewell posted an item regarding his mother's relative, Pottinger who was a King's Harbourmaster in Alexandria, Egypt in 1945 and asked if there was any information available about his relative.

By chance I am researching the life of a friend of mine, the late Ralph Knox Miller, who was 3rd mate on the SS Ashlea in 1939 when she was captured and sunk by the Graf Spee and Pottinger was her captain at that time. He was related to an old North East of England family called Tulley. The were old time ship owners based in South Shields (Tyneside Line, Ridley Son and Tulley. There is a website for the Tulley family called the "Tulley Story", hopefully this should prove interesting for Paul. Pottinger was lucky because as a captain, he was kept on the Graf Spee and released in Montevideo, getting a lift home on HMS Exeter. My friend, only being third mate, spent only a few days on her before being transferred to the Altmark where he spent four months in a hold.

The Briar Creek was a T2 type tanker built in Alabama in 1944. Several hundred were built as support ships for the US navy and usually named after famous US places or incidents. Brier Creek, note the spelling, was the site of an American Civil War battle. She was eventually broken up in northern Spain in 1977 having been badly damaged in a collision, the same year. The London Gazette of 15th February 1946, issue number 37474, available online, has details of the Alexandria incident.

It's six years since Paul posted his query so this info may be too late for him.

Best wishes,
Ian Fletcher

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Page published Mar. 16, 2008